For any teacher or parent out there trying to figure out what is the most important learning objective for their children, let me tell you that after 22 years of working in the classroom, there’s one skill that is the most important and that’s the essential skill of independence!
But In order the cultivate independence within our children, what can we do to make sure that they grow and learn on their own terms?
We all know that boredom invites creativity! When children are bored they think outside the box, they create games, worlds and even universes that exercise their creative muscles and inspire big picture thinking at home and at school,
But what can teachers do each day to make sure that children get a chance to be creative and develop Independence? They can make sure that listed in their timetable there’s a designated time named ‘the educational void’
The educational void is a time when a child has no direct teaching, no explicit instruction and no direction. A time when they finish their work and suddenly there’s 30 minutes with nothing to do, no guidance, no lists, plans or structure. Just a familiar environment filled with educational materials, stimulants, books and the teacher in the distance!
When we include this time into the daily calendar, what we see is children initially seem a little lost. They’ll look at you with a face that says “What do I do now?” But under no circumstances should they bother you, you’re busy teaching a small group. So what happens next?
After the lost look dissolves the child starts to look around for familiar materials they understand and enjoy, They’ll explore them, select one, take it to their table and start to use it, put it back, choose another one and start to record their findings independently.
Before they know it, they’ve been concentrating, engaging and investigating for 30 minutes and it’s time for their next lesson. Independence is born and in action!
When we timetable the educational void for children, prepare the environment with familiar materials and stimulants, the most important skill of all is established!!