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The French Method of Education You Should Bring Into Your Parenting

Some of the world’s greatest education philosophers have remained pretty much unknown and Célestin Freinet, one of France’s greatest education reformers, is no exception. However, several exclusively Freinet schools still exist in France and there are thousands of “Freinet classes” within traditional French classrooms.

The Freinet method emerged in the wake of World War I. Born to peasant farmers in a small French village, the difficult financial situation of Freinet’s parents did not allow him to attend high school. He did, however, get a position as a primary school teacher. He was one of the greatest critics of the French education system and advocated a theoretical, political, and practical approach to education throughout his career.

Many of the Freinet education principles are shared by other great philosophers. Better still, many of these principles relate as much to parents as they do to teachers. In other words, the underlying principles of this education can be easily applied at home. Here are a few tips to help you apply Freinet’s philosophy of education at home.

1 | Each child is special

The Freinet method believes that each child is special and has something to bring to the classroom. This method promotes co-operative learning where kids teach each other (rather than teachers teaching them). Freinet believed that kids who had mastered particular subjects were better able to teach them to other kids.

The Freinet method also believes that no two kids are alike. Freinet classes do not give kids grades. A child either knows something or is in the process of acquiring that knowledge. Kids are also taught to evaluate themselves based on different colors, which represent different levels of learning.

Here are some ways to adopt the Freinet method:

  • Treat your kid as an individual and focus on what he can do rather than on what you think he’s supposed to know how to do.
  • Show your child she’s special. Speak words that build her up. Remember that your words shape how kids view themselves.

2 | Kids aren’t supposed to be passive

Like many other philosophers, Freinet believed that kids “learn through work.” The Freinet method encourages kids to make products or propose services. Kids are encouraged to write about their own personal adventures using their own words, and to note what they experience either within or outside the classroom.

Kids are also given different roles within the classroom (doorman, postman, etc.) to help strengthen the link between school and society. There is also a secretary who writes down the decisions made during the class meetings held once a week. Although the application of the method greatly varies across Freinet classes, teachers who use this method believe that real-life activities are important in the learning process.

Here are some ways to adopt the Freinet method:

  • Freinet is not alone in insisting on the benefits of connecting with nature. Encourage your kids to connect with their surroundings and be more observant of the things around them. When we help kids express themselves in their own way – short writings, drawings, photos, sculptures, collected objects – we help them make use of real-life experiences to learn.
  • Freinet believed that kids whose productions were valued learned more, so hang up your kids’ drawings and put his or her sculptures where everyone can see them.
  • Multiple studies have shown the benefits of giving kids chores. The earlier kids start on chores, the more confident and self-sufficient they become. Giving kids age-appropriate regular chores does a lot for their social, academic, and emotional well-being.

3 | Learning and creativity go hand-in-hand

One of the founding principles of the Freinet method is that kids should undertake research. Kids are expected to carry out “field investigations” in their natural environment and within their local communities. The results of these investigations are then shared with the rest of the class.

The Freinet method believes in letting kids learn through trial and error. It believes that failure is an important part of learning, and that constantly coming to kids’ aid prevents them from learning important lessons.

Here are some ways to adopt the Freinet method:

4 | Kids are the best versions of themselves when they are involved in a democratic environment

Freinet believed that “everyone likes to choose their work even if their choice isn’t beneficial.”

Freinet classes believe in child-centered learning in which every student decides what he or she will work on during a specific period. After discussions with the teacher, kids can then independently work on what Freinet referred to as “centers of interest.” These centers of interest are based on the kids’ own interests.

Here are some ways to adopt the Freinet method:

  • Encouraging your kid to participate in the decision-making process can help foster his independence and improve his problem-solving skills. Involving your kid in decision-making increases the chances that he will respect the decisions made and can also help reduce procrastination.

5 | Open communication channels help kids thrive

Although there are a few basic laws in Freinet classes (for example, violent conduct is prohibited), other class rules are collectively decided upon.

Kids are encouraged to participate in collective decision-making and have a say in sanctions decided by the whole class. Class meetings are held once a week and enable kids to manage conflict and speak about all issues affecting them.

Each Freinet class has a mailbox in which kids can place the issues they would like to be discussed during the meeting. Order is maintained using a “talking stick.” Only the person who has the stick is allowed to speak.

Ways to adopt the Freinet method

Creating open communication channels and a democratic parenting style can help reduce conflict and put an end to power struggles. Remember that negotiation is a powerful tool for resolving family conflict.

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