As the school holidays begin, life for home educators goes on much the same! This is because many follow an approach to life where learning happens all the time whatever they are doing.

For those families not home educating it’s an opportunity to dip into that kind of learning lifestyle by engaging in the types of activities which result in incidental learning.

Incidental learning – learning which results indirectly from being engaged in doing something – is as valuable as formal learning, and much of it you’ll probably not even be aware of. For example, the simple chat you might have after a new experience like canoeing will develop thinking and language skills. Incidental learning results from experiences, particularly new ones.

All experiences extend skills in some way, especially if you encourage observation, conversation and debate, decision making, independence, and mental and physical challenges. Basically, anything that stimulates enhances development.

Here are some of the things you could do that can result in incidental learning:

  • Exploring new places, whether that’s near to home or further afield.
  • Being outside, and in a variety of habitats, especially those you wouldn’t normally visit. Check out the wildlife charity sites like Buglife or RSPB or Wildlife Trusts.
  • Travel. Involve the kids in the planning and decision making as well as the experience of exploration.
  • Creative projects; everything is potentially creative material – think outside the norm, but if you are short of ideas Google the Youtube clips of ‘Wreck This Journal’ by Keri Smith or art sites to get going.
  • Cooking new recipes. Try out dishes from other countries, or anything you haven’t tried before. Experience new tastes.
  • Social events or workshops. Or you could try some volunteering or other things that involve being with a group.
  • Visiting galleries, museums, reserves, castles, stately homes or other places of interest.
  • Sports or any physical activity.
  • Include contrast between the sedentary and the active, indoors or out, solitary or social, city and countryside.

The more experiences you have, the more incidental learning is likely to result. Remember that the greatest influence on what the children do is what you do and your attitude to extending yourself and your limits.

So enjoy your holidays and share as much new stuff as you can with the kids. It will all impact on their learning and education in ways you might not be able to measure for they are incidental, but which contribute enormously to their development.



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I'm an active energetic person. I enjoy long-distance running and have taken part in many organised events including the 2016 Prague Marathon. I'm a keen skier and love open-water swimming, when the weather is right!