Active learning means taking advantage of a child's natural desire to explore through touch and sight. All children love to manipulate environments, items, and objects. The love seeing how things work and testing their own hypothesis of how they think things work.
You can support the energetic process of active learning by allowing time and space fo it! Making sure your kids get lots of opportunities to investigate what interests them—doing so allows them to solve problems, understand relationships about the world, and explore new interests.
Children use all their senses to make discoveries during active learning: how heavy, how large, how tiny is it? Does it smell good or bad? What makes that smell? In various environments, how will it sound (being dropped, being hit, being opened, being smashed)? What else sounds like that? How is it different from the other items? Focusing on more than just sight allows them to be more active and make more sense of the world.
Children who engage in active learning have the chance to become better learners. For example, active learning will help them later write better. It takes very refined movement of the hands and fingers to produce the penmanship required for writing. Squeezing clay, picking up puzzle pieces, and lacing threads through beads are ways for young children to practice using hands and fingers. Children without these experiences work harder to learn to write and to become proficient writers.
The next time you want your child to learn about something, provide the materials, space, and time. Then step back and watch. You will be surprised at how much more the child will discover through active involvement!
Erin Rae is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.
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