Its amazing to see the rapid integration of knowledge that happens when children are learning with joy. There are many studies on this phenomenon, including neuro-sceinctific research that outline why this occurs, however it is still eye opening to witness it in action.
Fridays at Alithia begin with a workshop run by a qualified music teacher / music therapist / composer. The workshop is filled with laughter and games, flowing from sitting-down activities to rhythmic-movement as the facilitator reads the needs of the group, encouraging them to throw in requests and ideas.
While Bonnie uses the Sol-Fa method of teaching, which easily translates across to reading music and uses the white board to visualise bars of music, her training as a therapist enables her to to recognise the natural ebb and flow of restlessness that children have; by working with this flow, the group remain intensely engaged.
Children are welcome to leave the room at any time, however those over the age 5 are hooked. The class is aimed at children aged 5 - 10 years old, with younger siblings welcome to join in. It has been fascinating to find the level of rapid learning and engagement that is occurring with the younger children in this environment.
Parents that stay for the class and watch their children enjoying themselves while obtaining knowledge that is beyond what the adults know, are equally hooked. Learning is occurring simultaneously across a very broad age-range, which then provides an interesting topic to connect over at a later time.
Intriguingly, it is what follows this class that has been the biggest lesson to many in regards to learning through play, self-directed learning, and the benefit of mixed-age groups.
After the intense amount of playful engagement and the wealth of knowledge that has been integrated during the class, the children need time to run free.
However, a very little amount of time passes before the children have collectively invented a STEM project (that is, an activity that includes Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Mathematics). We wonder if it is the nature-setting that serves as inspiration (as Alithia is set on acreage), or that this follows a workshop in which both sides of the brain have been engaged, or it is the group itself.
The children, ranging in age from 4 to 10, find tarps, ropes, trees, sticks and the necessary tools for their projects. They have built cubbies and problem-solved harvesting difficult fruit they find, cooperating with ease as the tallest ties the knots and the youngest crawls inside to hold up the tarp, or one climbs high up the tree and passes the fruit down the line to the smaller ones, which they cut up equally and share without fuss. They have made fishing lines, spears and traps. They have planned to make model boats and rafts.
Occasionally an adult will be enlisted to hold something, help brainstorm or engage in some discussion, but the adult will wait to be invited and the busy engineering goes on without interruption.
Arts-based activities are often set-up in the outdoor space for the children to explore when they are ready. These have involved making dolls from sticks and felt, making bubble art from bottles and mesh, and masks from bio-degradable plates, leaves and paint.
In addition we have offered gardening and nature walks. Last week the children led us to the creek with their home-made fishing lines and supported each other to get across slippery rocks.
All of this, mingled with snacks, takes about an hour and half before tummies decide it’s time for a sit-down lunch, and so for those who then like to put pen-to-paper or further research their discoveries, there is plenty of time left in the day for more inquiry and fun learning.
Fridays at Alithia were ran on site for Term 3 and will move to the Valla Hall while the site is under construction. Please contact the team for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Blog
Alithia Learning runs a range of child-led programs designed for 5 to 12 year-olds. The defining characteristics of our programs are positive communication and freedom to learn.
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