Learning naturally processes through a series of stages as children’s brains mature. Although the boundaries of these stages are by no means rigid, distinctions do exist based on how children develop. So, what should you expect in each of these stages? How should the developmental process affect how we teach?

Getting Excited

2nd – 4th Grade

It is so much fun to watch the enthusiasm and excitement build as children begin elementary school. But, how do we keep that excitement burning in our young learners? An important reality to remember is that these early academic years are not intended to be processing years. They are, instead, collection years. Just as in the Starting Out stage, it is imperative that we continue to encourage exploration and absorption in a fun manner.

The excitement stage of learning will, naturally, start to see an implementation of targeted learning tools such as flashcards and learning games, as well as a few workbooks for writing and math. Here are a few practical ways to introduce those tools while still maintaining the enthusiasm of the Getting Excited stage:

  • Continue to vary learning experiences. Take field trips. Let science be fun exploration instead of the reading of textbooks. Use plays, puppet shows, international foods, and dress-up to teach social studies. Play games. Some subjects do require an introduction to workbooks. For everything else, though, find a way to teach through hands-on activities, picture books, living books, and games.
  • Explore. If your child shows an interest in a specific topic, explore more deeply. In later years, academic depth will become more important, and time to explore will have to be more targeted. So, for now, enjoy wide exploration.
  • Keep on reading. The importance of reading aloud together does not diminish during these early elementary years. If anything, it only increases! By reading aloud with your child, you not only reinforce a love of books. You also strengthen your child’s early reading abilities (even if she is slow to read on her own!), continue nurturing a bond through a mutual love of stories, and introduce foundational concepts through the powerful medium of literature.

As you process through this stage, you begin to use the building blocks you started storing in the Starting Out stage.