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Incidental Learning

Advice from a home tutor – Christy Gentle

When we travelled around Australia in 2009 we took lots of photos of our “excursions” or “sight-seeing”. This was called “incidental learning” by SIDE. During our outings we always read the signs to the children and after the outings we talked about the experience as a family.

Upon returning to our bus, I would download the photos of the outing to the computer and ask the children to sit down and write to their teacher about the outing (usually they talked as I typed an email). Our 10 year old would give a detailed and informative description of the outing including facts and figures, our 6yo would give a less detailed but often interesting outlook and our 4 year old kindy kid would say simple things like “I saw a big crocodile and he was very fat” and sometimes she would add something totally unrelated like “and I like sausages the best”, which is fine for a kindy kid.

Our teacher always wrote back to each child with positive encouragement, sometimes with questions and responses to their comments (I remember her writing “I love sausages too” in reply to our kindy kid’s comment).

Sight-seeing is an educational part of travelling and I was encouraged by our SIDE teacher to communicate these outings through pictures and emails from the children (or you could ask the children to write in their own handwriting instead), and it was considered by our teacher to be part of their learning.

All of a sudden life became school, as it should be.

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