What’s So Great About Hands on Learning?

handsonlearningLet me ask you a question. How did you learn to ride a bicycle?  Was it from reading a manual or maybe from watching a video?  No, it was from getting on the bike, having mommy or daddy hold on and run with you as you learned to balance, right? Then you mastered the skill through practice and repetition. This is an everyday example of hands on learning.

Hands on learning is another way of saying active learning or learning through doing. When people hear hands on learning, they think about preschool or physical learning, like the example above. The truth is that hands on learning is what each of us does everyday when we apply knowledge and acquire skills. It is how we learn to type, by typing. It is how we learned to drive, by driving. It is how we learn to read, by reading. It is the old adage that practice makes perfect. We can only practice by doing. There are people who will argue that you can learn everything you need to know by practicing on the job, right? On the job training, that is hands on learning.

The hands on approach is one of the most successful classroom techniques as well. Think about it. We all have a variety of learning modalities- visual, auditory, kinesthetic- but we ALL learn best from doing rather than just seeing or listening.

In science children conduct experiments by gathering data, by measuring, weighing,hands on learning2 exploring and observing as scientists. They can then chart the information gathered and make conclusions. This is an illustration of hands on learning.

In language arts, students need opportunities to write every day. Perhaps by developing plot lines and characters, working on grammar and sentence structure within their writing, even applying spelling skills and handwriting. This is what helps create competent and talented writers. Children should also have a designated time to read picture books or chapter books daily. Perhaps the students could choose the books they read too, thereby increasing their enjoyment of what they are reading. Allowing children to read what interests them is the fastest way to inspire children to want to read while developing their reading skills and abilities in the process.

In math, students can apply concepts to real world problems, play games to re-enforce skills and help one another. These strategies enable children to truly absorb what they are learning, apply that knowledge and own it. After all, learning is about accumulating knowledge and being able to apply it appropriately, incorporating higher order thinking when necessary. We want children to retain information as they grow so they have the ability to use that knowledge in all their subject areas.

Think about it. Everything you do well, you do because you have practiced at it. So at Willow, students practice writing, reading, art, science, drama, art, music, PE games every day, because as we all know, practice makes perfect.

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