Respond to Learn

Knowledge in itself won’t educate our children; it is as they respond to or interact with knowledge that learning takes place. As our children respond to the learning experiences they are exposed to, be it in the form of a book or real-life, new thoughts connect with previous understandings and in the process true knowledge is built.


Though we like to see models and ideas written in a linear pattern, following a sequence, learning is very rarely like that. Learning is more like a web, with different aspects connecting in unexpected ways. Such is the connection between the Responding and Recording components of our learning model.

When we respond to new information, new experiences, new knowledge we will

  • talk about it
  • ask questions
  • take notes
  • be inspired to make something

These are the exact activities that will take place as our forth step – Recording. The difference being that responding happens initially and recording happens after research and thought.

Talking plays a very large part in the Responding aspect of learning. When we tell someone something it increases our retention up to 80-90%.

We talk a lot in our family, sometimes in formal or arranged situations where I intentionally ask the children to talk to me about what they have heard, seen, or learnt but a lot of our talking is informal, just because we are together and interested in each other we listen as each other talks. After the child finishes talking I may ask them prompting questions. This will vary depending on their development or the purpose of the lesson I want them to grasp. This may well lead to further discussion or Research.

Writing is also an aspect of Responding though I believe this works best for older students, leaving oral response as the best method for younger children. When students can express their thoughts and questions on paper without it being a major exercise for them in thinking how to write, then they are ready to Respond on paper. It is important that they have the freedom to respond quickly and comfortably otherwise the emphasis is on the writing not the absorbing and retelling of new information.

There are times that new knowledge or experiences inspire our children to create something – this is another way of responding. The information that they have just received is “coming out” in another form. This is exactly what we want our children to do – to take in the information, to make connections and to interact with it in some way.

In some situations the learning process may well stop at Reading and Responding. This is quite okay – they have read or been exposed to a new learning situation, they have taken in the new information and made connections and reproduced it, as it where, in the form of a retell, or something written or created. Learning has taken place. But should the topic at hand raise questions in your child you need to take the step further and model the other aspects – Research and possibly Recording. As your children grow older they will need to dig deeper into topics of relevance to them, which is Research and produce some result of their learning; Recording.

As I said previously, we like to see things in sequence, such as reading, responding, researching and recording. It appears to be a formula and we trust success will be in following that formula. Discipling our children does not follow a formula – this learning model gives us Learning Tools and as such we need to decide which tool will best do the job at hand.

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