Bringing Miracles to Children’s Lives

Imagine, if you will,  school as an inspiring place where children love to go. School as an extension of home, where everyone feels safe, respected, and honored for who they are. At an NLC-based school children learn, fueled by their own curiosity, not by the promise of a reward, and NLC teachers, called learning companions fully support each child as they discover their own path.

Children look forward to the day ahead in an NLC-based school. When they arrive at school, they aren’t pinned to a desk, passively listening to a teacher, waiting for the school day to end. Instead of quietly following directions, they are free to talk with peers, play, and start their own projects. In this learning environment, each child has the chance to explore and engage according to their own rhythm and interests.

 

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As learning companions and mentors, NLC teachers share a great variety of practical and intellectual skills that relate to a child’s world. They don’t facilitate all of a child’s activities or set the pace of the day. Instead, they allow space for the learners to think for themselves and make their own decisions. Learning companions reassure children as they discover the world through play, because they understand that play is the most effortless and joyful way for them to learn. They nurture children’s imagination, because they know that imagination will serve them throughout their lives to face changes and challenges creatively. At NLC-based schools, adults trust children’s willingness to learn and their capacity for absorbing knowledge. Children acquire academic skills at their own pace, peacefully and free from pressure and judgment.

making-stilts

Learning takes place within carefully prepared rooms, as well as outdoors and in nature. In each of these environments, children walk about freely finding many engaging, fun activities that offer endless modes of creative expression. On a large table, children may tinker with all kinds of crafting materials, such as buttons, seashells, sewing supplies, paint, and clay. Art and writing materials inspire children to create their own books, letters, and diaries. The interest in reading comes from within, at a time appropriate for each child. Learners start writing when they feel a need to communicate with peers and adults, plan their projects, document their activities, and express themselves. Music, theatre, cooking, and gardening materials are accessible at all times. Children have time to play with peers, with blocks, dolls, and cars, and to process and integrate the discoveries they make in the adult world. Outdoors and in nature, children move their bodies, and soak up the fresh air and natural sunlight. Sand, leaves, flowers, soil, water, rocks, pebbles, and sticks invite them to play; shady trees offer cozy places to rest and read.

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NLC learning companions show learners that math is essential in preparing for an empowered life, is fun and useful. Learners acquire skills such as counting, adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying, measuring, and estimating are acquired while cooking, following a recipe, crafting a checker board, planning their budget, and pretending to own a market booth –or planning to participate at the farmer’s market in town. In addition, through creatively exploring Montessori materials, such as colored boards with beads, cubes, and mysterious wooden boxes, children learn about the world of numbers. In playing with these materials, children begin to understand with their whole body that geometry, algebra, and statistics are about their world, and math becomes a personal tool.

This learning environment is free from imposed competition. If children feel an urge to measure their skills with peers, they ask if someone would like to playfully compete with them. Instead of receiving grades from teachers, learners receive constructive feedback concerning their learning progress whenever they wish it.

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Caring NLC learning companions model emotionally healthy and socially competent behaviors. Children learn to accept emotions as a natural part of life, to express them through words, and then to let them go. Instead of teaching how to avoid falls—physical or emotional—NLC learning companions model how to fall and get up again. This school helps children make friends, work in groups, resolve conflict, cope with rejection, develop self-discipline, say no in a friendly way, finding new strengths from inner resources. In short, children learn how to love and respect themselves and others.

David Meixner-Pottenbrunn-NLC-web
At NLC-based schools, childhood becomes a wondrous adventure full of joyful, memorable moments. Throughout this adventure, learners rarely lose sight of who they really are. The gift of a child-centered, truly inspiring education allows them to further discover themselves, to dig deeper into the mystery of who they are, and to connect with their full beauty, talents, and gifts. Being intimate with their own talents, passions, and interests will help them as young adults as they will emerge from school with an understanding of how they might fit into the larger community and society. In addition, at NLC-based schools, learners will find all the help needed to prepare for college entry exams or other benchmarks they would like to reach when they first leave the school.

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The NLC school model is designed to help prepare youngsters to find their place in the world and understand that true happiness comes from each present moment, fully lived. This education strengthens children’s spirits, nurturing and protecting their hopes for the future.

Schools like this are possible, and you can be part of creating a school like this in your community. The New Learning Culture courses, consulting, and books provide practical step-by-step guidance and resources on how to create or transform schools. Together we can re-invent education and create the schools children, teachers, and parents deserve.

With smiles,
Carmen Gamper
[NLC book excerpt / copyright Carmen Gamper 2016]
[Photos courtesy of:
Aktive Montessorischule, Die Pfütze Meran, Italy
Montessorischule Stams, Austria
Lernwerkstatt Wasserschloss Pottenbrunn, David Meixner, Austria]

Conscious Parenting

Conscious and mindful parenting necessarily leads parents to think about conscious education. The preferred solution would be to offer children a school they love. If there is no child-friendly school in your area, NLC Consulting can help you learn how to provide an inspiring home environment and become an advocate for your children’s needs at their current school.

“Through Mindful Parenting, parents learn the power of allowing their children to live in a state of “being” rather than incessant “doing.” Instead of imposing their will onto their children, parents learn to build alliances with their children in a manner that optimizes their inherent strengths and virtues. Here, the parent-child relationship is viewed as a two-way street where transformation is deeply and mutually reciprocal.”  Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Phd

Dr. Shefali’s Mindful Parenting concepts are easily adapted to the educator-student relationship. As with parenting, educators learn to allow children to live in a state of being, avoid imposing their will on them and learn to build alliances with children.

The NLC approach provides a container for conscious educators to remain in ongoing dialogue with their students and adapt themselves, their learning environments, and teaching methods to the genuine needs of their students. In addition, educators in the NLC model learn to take care of their own needs and heal from personal childhood wounds, thus interrupting the chain of negative conditioning transferred from generation to generation.

Conscious parents are willing to learn together with their children and keep their hearts and minds open to find an educational approach that is suitable for their child.

So let’s not give up on the possibility of creating conscious schools. NLC is dedicated to helping create child-friendly schools worldwide through its online courses and personalized consulting:
– Existing schools can transition to child-directed learning and non-invasive teaching.
– Homeschooling parents can find like-minded parents, connect in groups, and share learning environments, hands-on materials, and other resources.

The NLC facebook group is an online forum for educators and parents to connect online:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/NewLearningCulture/

Here are a few links to books about Conscious Parenting:
Dr. Shefali: The Conscious Parent

Dr. Chris White’s Mindful Discipline: A Loving Approach to Setting Limits and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child


For infant and toddlers: Emmi Pikler,  Anna Tardos , and Magda Gerber discovered self-directed learning for infants and toddlers. Janet Lansbury is continuing their work and adapting it to our time:

Janet Lansbury: Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting

Discover the amazing learning and teaching possibilities of Hands-On Learning Materials

Healthy children love to be active and play; they are naturally drawn to touching and exploring their environments. Why not collaborate with this natural instinct and provide opportunities for experiential learning? Especially basic math, such as fractions, geometry, algebra etc. should be taught with tangible materials – to keep the joy of learning alive!

Hands-on experiences build a foundation for the abstract concepts of books and results in deep understanding that is rooted in the body. This is the foundation for heart-based intelligence. Through the use of hands-on materials, children can more naturally develop their skills, such as fine and gross motor, sensorial and academic skills, logical, visual, and kinesthetic thinking. They can make use of their natural capacity to focus all energies on one activity in the present moment, and master the elementary and middle school curriculum with ease.

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Many child-centered educators developed hands-on learning materials, knowing very well that children learn by doing. New Learning Culture Consulting uses selected materials, elements, and teaching skills from Maria Montessori, Friedrich Froebel, the Reggio Emilia approach, democratic education, Boris and Lena Nikitin, Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf, Célestin Freinet, Elfriede Hengstenberg, Eduard Seguin, Rebeca and Mauricio Wild, Anne Beate Huber, Claus-Dieter Kaul.

Topics, usually taught only on paper, can be introduced with hands-on learning materials: addition, subtraction, multiplication, times-tables, division, fractions, decimals, percentages, money, geometry, square-roots, basic algebra, language, grammar, science, history, astronomy … you name it!

Materials are available for each developmental stage. Some are interesting for all ages. For example, a square root board can be used for square root equations, and also to make beautiful patterns.

Many materials can be made at home with art supplies and recycled materials such as egg boxes. Visit the NLC blog for a few DIY instructions to materials or check some of the countless online resources.

When hands-on materials are provided in a self-directed learning environment with healthy boundaries, children can learn at their own pace while receiving error feedback and experiencing the direct results of their activities. This is very empowering and allows for intelligence and even brilliance to emerge.

LINKS TO VARIOUS EDUCATION APPROACHES:
(Note: I list these links because I like them. I do not receive any portion of the sales.)

Maria Montessori
Montessori materials are developed for kindergarten, elementary and high school ages. They are basically divided into practical life, sensorial language, mathematics, biology, and geography materials.

•To create your own materials/DIY:
My blog and articles

www.montessorimom.com

www.montessorimaterials.org

• To buy materials:
www.earlyschoolmaterials.com (Made in US, family-owned business)
www.montessoriequipment.com (Affordable Materials made in China or Thailand, not clear from website)
www.nienhuis.com (Founder Albert Nienhuis collaborated with Dr.Montessori)
www.etsy.com (A global hand-made market place)

Friedrich Froebel
The Froebel hands-on materials, called “Gifts” were developed for kindergarten ages, but can be provided for elementary grades, too. They train spatial, mathematical, and architectural thinking. Frank Lloyd Wright loved them! They clarify the concepts of two and three dimensions, building, constructing, structuring, recognizing, and creating meaningful patterns.
They can be used in three different ways:
– Forms of Life (to tell/hear stories in connection with the child’s life),
– Forms of Knowledge (to learn specific math, geometry or language skills)
– Forms of Beauty (to explore symmetric patterns, such as mandalas, and assymmetrical patterns)

• Philosophy:
www.froebelfoundation.org
www.froebelgifts.com

• Materials:
www.froebelusa.com
(Scott Bultman’s company, Author of “The Paradise of Childhood: Froebel Quotes”)

Boris and Lena Nikitin
The Russian parents Boris and Lena Nikitin raised their seven children in the 1960s believing firmly in the natural ability to learn and adjust to environments. They transformed their home into play and learning environments and developed highly intelligent learning materials which are being used in European alternative schools. I haven’t found them for purchase in the U.S. yet.

www.spielundlern.de
www.nikitinmaterial.de

The Reggio Emilia approach
The Reggio Emilia approach originated for kindergarten in Northern Italy after WWII. Today a few alternative schools are continuing this approach for elementary children.
To summarize, Reggio Emilia is based on the following:
– Raising awareness for community through participation in the village/town events, and providing a community space and art gallery at the school.
– Developing the child’s “One-Hundred Languages” (a famous poem by founder Loris Malaguzzi) through art. In fact the children are provided with an elaborate art studio that also allows self-directed learning.
– “Look at the child” is a descriptive term for teachers getting inspired by the child’s world and imagination, and allowing an emerging curriculum through co-creation with the child.
– High awareness of “the environment being a third teacher”, next to the child, and the teacher.

• North American Reggio Emilia Alliance NAREA:
www.reggioalliance.org

Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf
• Philosophy:
www.iaswece.org

• Materials
www.thewoodenwagon.com

Célestin Freinet
• Philosophy:
www.freinet.org

Emmi Pikler and Anna Tardos
• Wisdom for being with babies:
www.wholefamily.com
www.pikler.org

Elfriede Hengstenberg
• Materials:
www.pikler-hengstenberg.at
www.aipl.org/Autriche-A.html

Rebeca and Mauricio Wild
• Philosophy:
“Raising Curious Creative Confident Kids” (book)

Eduard Seguin
• Materials:
www.earlyschoolmaterials.com

Ancient Materials
• China: Abacus
• Incas: Taptana, Yupana

Child-friendly Furniture
www.communityplaythings.com (Made in US, family-owned business)

Great Books – Great Inspiration

Below are the books and authors who inspire me most …

Rebeca Wild: Raising Curious, Creative, Confident Kids: The Pestalozzi Experiment in Child-Based Education

Maria Montessori: The Secret of Childhood

Joseph Chilton Pearce: Magical Child

Daniel Pink: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

Peter Gray: Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

John Holt: How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development)

Janet Lansbury: Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting

Dr. Chris White: Mindful Discipline: A Loving Approach to Setting Limits and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child

Dr. Shefali: The Conscious Parent

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