Experiential learning is learning by experiencing, discovering, creating, exploring, and interacting with the world and people around you. It applies to both adults and children.
Experiential learning is always unstructured, has no rules or time limits, and involves minimal adult supervision. In this kind of learning, children always learn naturally and choose their pace and terms.
There are many ways to go for experiential learning such as outdoor play, imaginative play, creative play, music and dance, art, exploring nature and the environment. The best way for children to learn is through experience. This goes beyond learning facts and figures, but also includes getting hands-on with the materials they are studying at home or school by doing experiments in their own time! Experiences can be as simple as visiting friends’ homes after school every Wednesday. It’s important to provide children with hands-on experience because it shows them that learning doesn’t always come through reading or listening. Having an opportunity for real-world interaction can help increase their understanding of things outside the classroom.
How experiential learning helps children?
Experiential learning helps children think for themselves independently. This way they get a sense of achievement which improves their confidence. As children reach growth and learning milestones, experiential learning deepens the parent-child relationship.
Experiential learning is not a school or classroom activity. It’s something that can be learned at home, during plays, while travelling, or even during the weekend.
Due to a rise in social media and the proliferation of devices, children no longer find experiential learning as important as their parents did back in their days. They spend more time on laptops, computers, tabs, mobiles, or TV which doesn’t offer much in terms of learning.
How to leverage experiential learning?
It’s easy for children to start using experiential learning. The activities need not be difficult. They can be as simple as putting a seed in a pot and watching the plant grow instead of reading in books about how plants grow. Personal experiences are as effective as long as the child is learning through watching or doing something.
There are many other examples that you can follow to let your child learn from experiential learning:
- Find a country or city
Ask your child to find a country or city using an atlas or globe. Ensure the city or the country are not popular ones. Give him time to search for the country or city. They will learn patience.
- Clay modelling
Ask your child to make a clay model of anything. Tell him to be as creative as possible. Don’t give your child any deadline. They will use all the creativity their growing brain can think of. Ask him to make alphabets, numbers, or just about anything from the clay.
- Plant a seed or flower
Buy your child a pot, soil, and some seeds of a plant or flower and plant these. Ask him to watch them grow. This will give him comprehensive knowledge about the growth of a plant.
- Paint a straight line
Take a big piece of coloured cardboard or paper and draw a straight line. Now ask your child to make some random drawings based on the lines. Check for how creative they get.
- Sheet or blanket tents
Ask your child to create tents using a bed sheet or blanket. This game is fun because it requires planning in terms of items required and where to make the tent- in the bedroom, on the bed or somewhere else in the house. Ask your child to source all the items required for making the tent from the home itself.
- Dice games
Dice can be used for a variety of games. Apart from being fun, to roll and play with, they have other benefits like learning math and numbers.
Benefits of experiential learning
- Experiential learning helps children to pursue something of their own
This kind of learning method enables children to do something of their own and in their areas of interest. As they see new problems in real-life situations, they will learn about effective solutions. It also demonstrates the practical uses of math, science, language, and other learning activities.
2. Children learn about failures and how to deal with it
Experiential learning is important for children to learn about failures and how to deal with it. When children set out on the path to learning, they will come across several hindrances due to a lack of experience and knowledge. However, they will learn to overcome those challenges on their own because of which they will feel proud of their achievement.
3. Experiential learning is about collaboration
Experiential learning is not just about gathering knowledge through experience, it’s also about collaboration. Children will study, work, or play with other children and as a result, will collaborate and come up with their strategies to achieve a common goal, rather than follow a fixed formula. This will make them to think more creatively in the future than simply assume that all problems have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ solution or ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach.
4. Helps them express difficulties
We all learn through failures and experiences. Similarly, children learn about failures or achievements through experiential learning. It enables them to express social and emotional difficulties. Experiential learning will teach them to be assertive, and also learn social skills, leadership qualities, and problem-solving skills and techniques— important requirements for real-life situations. You have to remember that learning is not just about academic pursuits but also about life skills.
It is very important to understand and realize that we are moving toward a highly diverse and creative world where communication and creativity matter. If a child is exposed to experiential learning for kids at a very young age, they are sure to learn greater things in life. In today’s world, technical skills and bookish knowledge don’t matter much. What matters is the knowledge that one has gained from experience.