I recently had the opportunity to help make binary bracelets at a coding camp for kids. The experience left me with a realization of how important it is to learn with children.
After spelling out their names, the children would each letter into a series of red and green beads, binary code for 0’s and 1’s respectively. Then they would sew the sequence of beads into wearable bracelets.
I noticed three distinct approaches the adults took when helping the children in this exercise. The first, giving step-by-step instructions. Second, completing the exercise for the children. And the last group, a disconnect majority, directing children to the instructions provided by the organizers.
I found that none of these approaches were benefiting the children. I advocate learning with children and keeping these conepts in mind:
Opposed to telling children what to do and how to do it, try the exercise with them. Doing this will give you the opportunity to learn something new and you’ll be better equipped to offer assistance when needed.
Working together to learn something new is mutually beneficial. For instance, you could start your own bracelet. Double-check each others work, offer tips and tricks, and make it easy to ask each other for help.
Give time and your undivided attention. Understand the child’s strengths and weaknesses. Give them space to learn, fail, and reflect. Ask questions giving them opportunity to teach you what they’ve learned. One of the best ways to retain new concepts is by teaching others what we’ve learned.
When it comes to learning with children, think of it as a film. As adults, we are not the director of this film. We have a supporting role to play.