The Importance of Experiential Learning for Children
Experiential learning is the process of learning through observation and direct participation. It is a child-centred approach to education, hence it can be applied at home as a way to teach children when managing household duties or conducting chores and activities.
The main focus in experiential learning is not on text-book teaching but on more exploratory methods like discovery and collaboration with peers.
Playing outdoors, music and dance, imaginative and creative plays, art, exploring nature and environment, etc., are all ways of experiential learning. Although academics are irreplaceable, it is extremely necessary for children to learn through experiences. This, obviously, stretches beyond facts and figures but definitely involves learning academic concepts through experiments at home or at school at their own time. The experiences need not be complex, anything as simple as visiting grandma every Friday after school can do the job. Children learn best by doing, because it allows them to take the things they’ve been reading and translate them into actions. It also gives them a chance to put themselves in new situations and interpret different feelings that aren’t often discussed, such as anger.
Why is experiential learning important for children?
When children learn while experiencing something they can relate to, they are more effective at retaining that information and therefore develop a sounder understanding of it. Since kids on average have shorter attention spans than adults, explaining things in ways that surface their creativity and encourage them to find solutions themselves promotes an independence of mind that improves their confidence as well as helps them to build skills for life-long learning.
When children reach growth and learning milestones, experiential learning is also a great way of deepening the parent-child relationship.
Experiential learning is not restricted to sessions at the school or classroom. In fact, it is usually developed more in informal settings like that of home, playing, travelling, or even during the weekend at a friend’s place.
Due to the rise in social media and the proliferation of devices, kids have a harder time removing themselves from their phones or laptops. This has caused them to spend more time on their devices than playing outside which consequently reduces their exposure to experiential learning. They rarely get to experience new things first-hand and are stuck sitting at home with just TV or PC as a pastime.
What are the benefits of experiential learning?
Even though there are numerous benefits of experiential learning, the following are some comprehensive benefits:
Experiential learning helps children to develop a voice of their own
When given the freedom to explore topics of interest and learn concepts therein, children often find their own passion under such circumstances. The practical uses of maths, sciences, languages and other activities might interest them more than the textbooks and can eventually help them gain added interest in such topics which may be otherwise boring.
Children are introduced to failures and the ways to deal with them
Sometimes children need to fail in order to learn. This might sound a little odd but there is an important reasoning behind this, failure builds experience and makes you more knowledgeable. As a child progresses on his/her journey of learning new skills, he or she will come across many obstacles that he/she has not come across before which will be hard to overcome because of a lack of experience and knowledge. However, by overcoming these challenges children learn valuable lessons that will eventually make them feel proud of their achievements.
Experiential learning nurtures collaborations
Experiential learning is about the exchange of knowledge through direct, hands-on experience rather than simple memorization or observation. If a child spends his time working and studying with other children she or he will realize that most people have different views – which makes them more open to collaborating, making new friends and being creative by offering their own ideas on what solutions could be discovered together, than simply following a formula they were taught in school.
This will help children gain more confidence and think more independently in the future should they encounter problems that could benefit from further brainstorming before ‘racking their brains’ for answers!
At MS Dhoni Global School, we embrace a globally-compatible curriculum that includes facilitating opportunities of experiential learning for our students. We nurture circumstances and monitor them to make sure that students are actively participating in such instances where learning takes place beyond books.