Your child will be learning three different things throughout their years at school:
1. They will be learning knowledge
Facts that we think they need to know. This is information that we know is true and the way we answer a knowledge question will be either right or wrong. For example, Paris is the capital of France. That's knowledge.
2. They will be learning skills
Finding out how to do things. Skills are practical and can be described as 'being able' to do something. For example: being able to tie shoelaces, being able to read a map, being able to perform an operation. There are skills within every subject that children study at school; from maths to art to history to science to music. Skills take time to develop and as we learn, we learn skills in small, progressive steps.
3. They will be learning understanding
Developing a sense of the meaning behind why we know and do things. Understanding involves a combination of accumulated knowledge, practised skills and reflection over time.
So, at the end of the school day, when you talk to your child about their learning, here are some ways to talk to them that might help you both:
- When your child says they've learned some facts in school, say 'Wow. Tell me what you know about that.' This is how you help your child learn knowledge.
- When your child says they've learned how to do something in school, say 'Wow. Show me how to do that.' This is how you help your child learn a skill (don't forget they might be at the very beginning stage of learning that skill. No one can master a skill overnight. In fact, it takes 1000's of hours of practice to truly master any skill. That's why being patient and encouraging practice of any skill is so important).
- When your child says they now understand something, say 'Wow. Talk to me about that.' This is how you help your child develop a deeper sense of that understanding. Again, your child will be at the very beginning stage of that understanding. But the more you can both talk about understanding something, and the more your child expands on the related knowledge and practices the related skills, then the more likely they will develop an even better understanding.