Last week, I came to the realization that I have not been practicing “Extend Learning” with my own kids like I should. Here it goes…my teenage son came to me with a cooking question. He was obviously ready to learn and I completely missed the boat. I got up and proceeded to do the cooking for him. I was in the middle of cooking, when I stopped, looked over at him while he was doing his homework and admitted that I had not answered his question. I just took his question as a green light to do the cooking for him. So I stopped what I was doing and answered his original question and invited him back to continue what he had set his mind to do… his own cooking!
Extend Learning is the third and last step in Powerful Interactions. When you take Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 and combine them, you are in for the ride of your life as an educator! “The combination of intentionally building your relationship and extending a child’s learning is the essence of a Powerful Interaction” (Dombro, Jablon, & Stetson, 2011). This step is where the teacher will model how to learn and will also stretch the child’s thinking and knowledge. Below are three questions that you can ask yourself to help make effective decisions about how to extend the child’s learning.
1. What’s the right content to teach right now? When present and focused on what the child is doing at the moment (Step 1) and observing what the child feels is important to them (Step 2), these steps help you know what the child needs in order for you to move to Step 3 to extend their learning.
2. What’s the next step in my child’s learning? Once content is decided, ask yourself, “What is the next small step the child can do?” Then you can decide how to extend the child’s learning.
3. How do I make learning meaningful for my child? It will be meaningful when it relates to the child’s prior experiences and their interest.
After this realization hit, I was more cognizant of my son’s needs and allowed him to lead me as I met him where he was. I kept these 3 questions in my head to make for a successful learning experience for us both. Be open to learning from mistakes. I did!