How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning

Finding and Keeping Focus
Activity of the Week – Montessori Thanksgiving Noun Sorting Work

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What is natural parenting?

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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My daughter, Christina, during a teachable moment at age 2, 1992.

My daughter, Christina, during a teachable moment at age 2, 1992.

I always considered natural learning an important part of our homeschool, of our family life in general. Natural learning can be an important part of your home whether you homeschool or not. Here are my favorite recommendations on how to help your child through natural learning.

1. Take the lead from Maria Montessori, and follow your child.

Maria Montessori added much to the world of education, but her biggest contribution is probably the concept of observing and following the child. It’s important to observe your child for teachable moments and for the stages of development when your child can learn a concept most easily. Maria Montessori’s concepts of the “absorbent mind” and “sensitive periods” can help you discover how and when your child learns various concepts and skills most easily.

2. Know and nurture your child’s natural learning style.

It’s very helpful to identify your child as a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. There are a number of helpful systems for classifying learning styles, but visual, auditory, and kinesthetic are the most commonly mentioned learning styles.

The traditional school system relies heavily on visual learning. I think it’s good for children to have exposure to each style of learning with the greatest emphasis on their natural learning style. Both my children liked learning visually but were also very strong in the kinesthetic learning category. Montessori education and unit studies were very fun and stimulating for my children’s kinesthetic tendencies.

Here’s a post from A to Z Home’s Cool Homeschooling with lots of links to helpful articles on learning styles. Here’s a quick learning style assessment from School Family that works whether your child is homeschooled or in a traditional school setting. Here’s information on supporting young children’s learning styles from Baby Center.

I also think it’s very helpful to focus on your child’s primary love language. The 5 Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. There’s an online assessment of the 5 Love Languages and suggestions for identifying your child’s primary love language. Knowing the favorite way for your child to receive love is helpful for learning at home. Both my children’s favorite way to receive love is through physical touch. We spent a lot of time cuddled up on the sofa, reading together.

3. Emphasize hands-on learning, especially during your child’s early years.

We used Montessori methods almost exclusively during my children’s preschool years. Montessori education presents concepts by using concrete materials before attempting abstract learning. Later on, we homeschooled with some Montessori materials and with unit studies, which emphasized hands-on discovery learning for many subjects. If your child is a kinesthetic learner, hands-on learning may be essential. For any type of learner, hands-on learning can make a much more dramatic, memorable impact as an educational experience.

What examples of natural learning do you see in your family?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone’s posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!

We’ve arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on “What Is Natural Parenting?”

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):

  1. PREPARE FOR PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND PARENTING:
  2. FEED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT:
  3. RESPOND WITH SENSITIVITY:
    • Attachment Parenting Chose Us” — For a child who is born “sensitive,” attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting “choice.” Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • Parenting in the Present” — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • Parenting With Heart” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
  4. USE NURTURING TOUCH:
  5. ENSURE SAFE SLEEP:
    • Sometimes I Wish We Coslept” — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
  6. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND LOVING CARE:
  7. PRACTICE GENTLE/POSITIVE DISCIPLINE:
    • Unconditional Parenting” — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)
  8. STRIVE FOR BALANCE IN PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE:

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

  • Healing Through Elimination Communication Part 1” — Amy at Innate Parenting explains how practicing elimination communication has helped her whole family gain awareness and healing in many areas of their lives. (@InnateWholeness)
  • Outgrowing the Little Potties” — Stacy at Mama-Om is proud to be the “weird lady” who practices elimination communication with her babies. (@mama_om)
  • Let’s Talk Diapers” — Lindsey at Mama Cum Laude started using cloth diapers because she felt they were a safer choice for her child; she stuck with them because they are convenient.

Holistic Health Practices

  • Supporting Natural Immunity” — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children’s immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting” — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter’s needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter’s learning “challenges.” (@myzerowaste)
  • Let Them Look” — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • Why I Love Unschooling” — Unschooling isn’t just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • Is He Already Behind?“Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning” — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child’s natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

  • Natural Parenting — Lazy Parenting” — To Olivia at Write About Birth, natural parenting isn’t about a fixed set of ideals, but about what is instinctual. (@writeaboutbirth)
  • I’m not the most crunchy, but I’m still au naturel” — Jessica at This is Worthwhile follows her gut and parents with respect, and that’s what feels natural to her. (@tisworthwhile)
  • Because Natural comes Naturally” — Breastfeeding, babywearing, cosleeping — Bess at mommakesmilk does these things because they feel right. (@MumtoEve)
  • What Do You Mean ‘Natural Parenting’?” — Luschka at Diary of a First Child fell into natural parenting by listening to her baby and her own instincts. (@lvano)
  • One Little Change at a Time” — Ashley at Domestic Chaos made one small change at a time until “natural parenting” wasn’t a punchline, but a way of life. (@ashleympoland)
  • WHY Attachment Parenting?” — While they might take some work to put into practice, Momma Jorje at A Slightly Crunchy Momma finds that all of the tenets of attachment parenting fit her family.
  • Yours, Respectfully” — For Kellie at Our Mindful Life, natural parenting is about being respectful: to yourself, your children, and your surroundings.
  • The Natural Parenting Label” — Michelle at The Parent Vortex explains that natural parenting is a mindset, not a set of specific choices or a few fancy acronyms. (@TheParentVortex)
  • When Our Children Are Grown” — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children parents naturally, because she is building a firm foundation for her children.
  • What is Natural Parenting to a Witch Mom?” — Lily at Witch Mom has planned out what she wants for her son, from health to socialization to interactions with the natural world. (@lilyshahar)
  • Attachment Parenting and Our Family” — Semi-crunchy Mama at Adventures in Mommyhood takes us through the way the Baby Bs have transformed their family of four. (@crunchymamato2)
  • I’m a Mama…Naturally” — Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. didn’t intend to parent naturally, but it happened by instinct.

Political and Social Activism

Finding and Keeping Focus
Activity of the Week – Montessori Thanksgiving Noun Sorting Work
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