Self Directed Learning at Kids Build Together

Have you heard the quote (attributed to Plutarch) “the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled”?

It’s talking about two different ways of seeing learning.  One way is viewed as pouring something into an empty container; the container itself doesn’t matter, and the matter itself being poured has already been decided (by whoever is doing the pouring!)

The other way views the learner more dynamically; something small sparks a flame, and from there the learner is the one creating and maintaining the fire.



Self directed learning is, of course, the second way. It doesn’t rely on ‘a pourer’ to provide ready made facts; it doesn’t discount the uniqueness of learner, or the uniqueness of the outcome, either. All a fire needs is the right environment – the oxygen, the fuel, and off you go!

How do we provide “the oxygen and the fuel” at Kids Build Together?

1. Time

Providing a time when children aren’t being told to something, and are given free reign is important. It’s not scheduled for listening or for following set directions – it’s their time.

2. Space

Giving children a space which is aimed right where they are – equipment their size, table their height – where children and child-like behaviour is expected, not tolerated.

3. Resources

Kids Build Together has a supply of great resources, from books to building blocks, playdough to paint, where children can explore what lights their fires.

4. A supportive, non-judgmental, listening ear.

We don’t like it when kids roll their eyes or shrug at the things important to us – so even if we don’t get why Frozen or Thomas the Tank Engine are important to them, we need to value their interests and pay attention by listening and being present.

We have seen all sorts of interests being played out, from dinosaurs to Pokemon, mermaids to monster trucks. We happily display whatever the child feels is important!


Time for self-directed learning is never wasted – not only are the children enjoying themselves, they’re often building, making, talking, writing, drawing, and most of all thinking. And that’s why play is so valuable.



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