Kate’s Corner
Jan 22 2015

  Learning Nudges

There is absolutely big learning and learning big.

Consider a baby that finally lets go of holding onto the table and stands on her own – this is big learning! This is a skill she will use constantly for the rest of her life. Then, walking supports running and running leads to galloping, jumping and skating – this is learning big.

The Washington Learning Systems Project helps teachers and families help children learn by introducing them to “learning nudges.” The strategy is to take advantage of natural experiences children learn in, i.e. grocery stores, car rides, neighborhood walks. Nudging is subtle and indirect, but it’s also intentional. It often results in “eureka!” moments of learning with quick success that encourages next steps. Little nudges absolutely begin and support big learning.

Present learning nudges to help your children learn:

  • When they are speaking, rhyme their words; “Mommy, car!” “Yes, that car will go far.”
  • Add on to their sentences; “I played in snow.” “Wow, you played in that cold, frosty snow!”
  • Script your actions: “I am setting the table for our family. I am taking everything out of the cupboard now. I have to get food out of the cold fridge and hot oven for dinner.”
  • Fill in the blank: “That was good trying. Pickles in the jar are called relish.”
  • Expand on what they know: “Bella and baby do start with B! Can you think of something else that starts with B?” Give a clue if needed, “I’m thinking of something you can bounce.”
  • Ask them to find something they know: “You are in charge of putting the Cheerio box in the cart.”
  • Match and sort: “We found a lot of sticks in the yard. Let’s make a one pile of sticks with leaves and one pile of plain sticks.”
  • Count your steps walking together. Point out colors and size of objects. Label objects.
  • Exaggerate beginning / ending sounds; “Sssssnakessss are pretty sssssilly!”

Learning nudges are quick and easy. They’re not a dragged out or tedious process but a snappy and fun concentrated focus on one learning skill. The examples above are just to get you started – but when you think about it, you’ll be surprised at how many learning nudges you already give your kids. Keep going – a little nudge at a time and voila, big learning!

I want to make a jigsaw puzzle of 40,000 pieces. When you finish it, it says “Go Outside.”

Demetri Martin