The ingredients for a healthy learning environment

On the way home from school one day, our little girl asked if we had the following :

  • an empty bottle
  • water
  • vegetable oil
  • milk
  • ‘fizzy things for your tummy’

ingredients for healthy perfect learning environment learning teaching school #THISislearning inspire learn learning teach

We had everything except the ‘fizzy things’ but she said we could use sweets instead … that was when I knew she meant business because she was prepared to use her sweets!

So, when we got home, she bypassed her usual after school snack and instead we headed out into the garden.  Lovely 🙂

And this is what we did:

  • Filled the bottle 1/4 full with water
  • Poured 1/4 of the amount of water to vegetable oil (maths was never my strong point for ratios!)
  • Poured the same amount of milk to oil into the bottle

Then we let the mixture settle, marvelling at how the mixture separated from the milk/water and how the oil stayed on top.

I tried to use scientific terminology appropriate for a 6 year old to explain why this happened…!

Then came the really exciting part!

Our little girl dropped her sweets in the mixture one by one.  It seemed that after an initial air bubble, the reaction made another big-ish bubble rise to the surface… which you can sort of hardly see here:

ingredients for healthy perfect learning environment learning teaching school #THISislearning inspire learn learning teach 2

Ideally, we would have had those ‘fizzy tummy things’ but even the mad scientist had to start somewhere!

Lately, our little girl has been showing more and more interest in science and the human body.

She has an Usborne ‘Little Encyclopaedia of the Human Body’ which she loves and hubby and I have learnt a few things from this fab little book too!

A lot of this is undoubtedly down to her teacher, whom our little girl adores (which is a massive relief, given our house move and her subsequent change of school).  She’s always drawing her little pictures to later turn into cards that often say, “To my favourite teacher”, or words to that effect.

I suppose the point that I’m making here is this:

A great deal of the inspiration, the thirst for learning and the opportunity for growing through exploring that our little girl has, comes from her teacher.

And her teacher (and therefore her fantastic school) have such a vital role to play in this tender, vulnerable part of her learning journey; a journey which needs nurturing, encouragement and guidance, whilst also allowing for room to step back as a grown-up and letting her find her own results from her own experiments, her own answers to her ever-growing questions.

In light of the recent #THISislearning campaign which was steered mainly by Maddy Bennet and Sophie Lovett, these learning through play sessions have really highlighted the importance of the following ingredients for a healthy learning environment:

  • a thirst for learning in way appropriate to the age and learning method of a child
  • a passionate teacher able to inspire and nurture a child, while being given the freedom to recognise when to step back and give a child the opportunity to grow through their learning
  • stepping back and recognising that there are different methods of learning ~ children learn at different rates and in different ways

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Unfortunately, seemingly more and more of our wonderful teachers are led by stats and not the individual child’s needs.  Perhaps one way of achieving this learning environment is to home school.  For us, this was never something we considered at any length. Like the majority of parents, we are at the ‘mercy’ of State education  but it doesn’t mean that we can’t attempt to influence the way our education system is structured.  Or at least compliment our childrens’ school learning through following their lead at home.

What are your thoughts and observations on complimenting school learning at home?  What do you think makes for a healthy learning environment?

 I’d love to hear in the comments below or tweet me @AllSortsHere

Thanks 🙂

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6 Comments
  1. This looks like a fun experiment – we love doing that sort of thing! My 8yo came home from school the other day and showed us how at school they’d been inflating rubber gloves over cups by mixing vinegar and baking soda together – so much fun! I really think kids need room to explore and create and think for themselves. Good teachers are priceless. Thanks for mentioning #THISislearning too! xx#thetruthabout
    Maddy@writingbubble recently posted…What I’m Writing – week seventy-sevenMy Profile

  2. Really interesting post Carol. I love it when my six year old suddenly seems to develop a thirst for sharing and extending his knowledge on a particular subject (which has obviously been triggered off by a lesson at school). He seems to know everything there is to know about sharks (he makes me quiz him!) and he is fascinated by geography. I guess it’s only in Year 1 that they start to focus on more of these kind of general and humanities type subjects (as well as science in this case!) and that’s really great but I can’t agree enough that we should provide as many ‘fun’ learning opportunities as possible to counter balance the increasingly stats-led curriculum in our children’s schools. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout this week X
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about… #75My Profile

    • I know that feeling Sam – being quizzed on topics that I don’t stand a chance in!! And you’re so right, the learning seems to take on a whole new dimension this term, which is great. 🙂

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