Hands-On Learning: What Does it Mean and Why is it Important?

Today for our post we thought we would talk about an important aspect of early childhood education (and arguably education throughout your entire life): hands-on learning. Hands-on learning is one of those terms that get thrown around very easily. It is emphasized often, especially in early childhood education and for good reason. But in order to understand why hands-on learning is so important we first need to establish a solid definition of hands-on learning. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “hands-on” as “relating to, being, or providing direct practical experience in the operation or function of something; involving or allowing use of or touching with the hands; characterized by active personal involvement; gained by actually doing something rather than learning about it from books, lectures, etc.” (Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hands-on) Basically, hands-on learning is learning by doing. This definition might sound quite broad in scope, but in this case, that is appropriate. Hands-on learning can happen in a multitude of ways, with many materials, in a variety of spaces, and through various activities. And children are natural hands-on learners! From the day you are born experiences are key to developing understandings of the world around you. Babies don’t learn from worksheets, babies learn by exploring their environment, and so do older children. So do adults in a lot of ways!

So how do we encourage and facilitate hands-on learning for our children? Well this article from community playthings has a couple of suggestions (source at bottom).

  1. Blocks, Blocks, Blocks: building blocks like lego, wooden block sets, and other open-ended building toys are great. They have endless possibilities, they teach children problem-solving skills. The essentially encourage the process of having an idea, planning how to create it, implementing that plan, correcting where necessary, and implementing again. They get children to learn about geometry and physics. And when playing together blocks facilitate development of essential social and collaborative skills.
  2. Garden, Kitchen, Woodshop: get children involved in what feels like the everyday. For you making dinner might feel like a tired old chore, but for them it is an opportunity to use new tools learn about measurements and math, and more! The same can be said of gardening. And don’t be afraid to let your children do things like woodworking and sewing, you may be worried that the tools involved in some of these tasks are dangerous for them but you can always manage the activities so that harm is avoided and they are learning new skills. When taught properly, children can surprise you what they can do!
  3. Art: this is a common category of hands-on learning but a good one! Art is where the creativity is expressed. Create an art space for your child that is always accessible with various art implements. Bring in recycled materials too. Let them create!

Hopefully this article has given you some practical knowledge about hands-on learning and its benefits. For more information visit the source site below!

Source: http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/2017/hands-on-learning