Children are natural learners. They can't help it: they construct knowledge and meaning with every interaction and experience.
We can help support them as lifelong, self-directed learners by giving them a stable environment in which to explore and by being trustworthy and reliable people in their lives.
Emotional, social, and cognitive learning are fundamentally connected. When children are truly involved in learning—when they are interested and excited by the focus of their exploration—they are engaged on all three levels. Children learn best and are more likely to remember their experiences when they have direct, rather than observed, experiences; when they have multiple experiences; when there are verbal and visual prompts; and when the experiences are meaningful and purposeful.
At the Museum, a child may want to visit both Water Works and the Creek, for example, to see how the different environments affect the way the water moves. Let your child take the lead in seeking out the exhibits and activities that align with their current areas of curiosity. You may be surprised by what you learn about the skills that they are developing and the questions they're currently asking.
**Self-Directed Engaged Learning is one of the Seven Essential Life Skills described by Ellen Galinsky in her book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (2010), available in the Museum Store. We have also created a brief handbook to provide information for you to explore at home.