By Tzvetelina Sabkova.
Ellie’s passion for working with children started when she was in kindergarten. There, she had such an inspirational teacher that she decided she wanted to become a kindergarten teacher herself. After spending time in Europe and obtaining a degree in Elementary Education in Canada, she moved to California where she worked as a preschool and kindergarten teacher.
MyLibook’s interview with Ellie on the effects of personalized learning was very interesting and inspired many different ideas. In the next few weeks, we will delve deeper into this topic, offering tips and educational activities on how to use personalized learning in your own child’s education.
What is personalization?
“Personalization is the action of designing or producing something to meet someone’s individual requirements.” (Oxford English Dictionary). Applied to the education field, personalization focuses on the individual needs of students in order to best adapt to their learning style and interests.
An example of personalization in a traditional classroom is letting students choose a topic for a project that requires work outside the classroom with applications in real-life situations and then have the students share the results.
Why is personalization important in children’s education?
There are several reasons that explain the importance of personalization in education. The Office of Ed Tech from the U.S. Department of Education has outlined some key features of personalization:
● “When the pace of learning is adjusted to each learner, all the learners have the time needed to demonstrate mastery.
● When learning is optimized, tailored and driven by students’ interest it can be more meaningful and relevant, which leads to greater engagement and achievement.
● Learning gaps that impede progress can be identified more quickly by parents and educators and allow learners to close those gaps.”
— What is Personalized Learning? By the Office of Ed Tech on Medium.
How can parents and educators use personalization to better support children’s learning journey?
“There is no “one-size-fits all” when it comes to teaching and parenting” — Ellie Angel
Although teachers follow a pre-designed curriculum, they can include personalized activities and adapt their lessons to better fit students’ needs:
● Using children’s names in the frame of practice exercises and open questions is a great way to learn more about students’ interests.
● Organizing the class in level groups during reading activities. This allows children to progress with peers who demonstrate similar skills and proficiency.
● Creating a topic of the month project. Ellie once initiated a Kindness Month project during which students had the opportunity to perform their own acts of kindness outside the classroom. The initial goal was to report 100 acts of kindness — the students were so enthusiastic that they came up with 300!
Parents can also create a personalized learning environment at home using some simple ideas:
● Placing books, toys, or everyday objects in accessible places so that children can explore when they want and how they want. Educators call this the third teacher since it allows children to learn from their environment.
● Reproducing something children liked from a book in real life. One way of doing this is through baking. A book about apples can easily be transformed into a sweet experience of baking a delicious apple tart for example.
● Taking into account children’s preferences to instill interest in learning activities. If your children like art, they might love drawing letters with chalk.
The most important thing to engage children is to get them excited to learn and one way of doing this is to find out what interests them.
According to Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget children go through different stages of cognitive development and are not just empty vessels ready to be filled. Therefore children need to interact with the world around them.
When educators know the children and establish a strong relationship, they can better understand students’ needs and adapt the curriculum.
Personalization requires more work for teachers and parents but it is also very rewarding, especially when students reach one of those Aha! moments. This is one of those magical moments when children have been working hard on something and all of a sudden they understand the concept and their faces just light up, which makes all the effort worthwhile!
MyLibook will be back on October 6th with an exciting “Halloween special” article. Stay tuned for more personalized activities!
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