Importance of Hands-On Learning In Early Education
When young children are introduced to school, usually through a pre-k program, it is essential that it is a pleasant experience. This first experience is going to set the tone for the rest of their school years.
It is crucial that these youngest students are allowed to learn in a variety of ways. We should also point out that hands-on learning doesn’t just mean physically holding something. Hands-on learning means that youngsters are not expected to sit in a chair; they are actually actively engaging all 5 of their senses as they explore and learn.
What does this mean for preschoolers?
For the younger learners in preschool, hands-on learning is essential for their learning. This type of education helps them in 2 different and meaningful ways. First, using hands-on learning allows young students to explore and learn new concepts by using different modalities. And second, this type of learning helps their brains to engage and create and expand the neural pathways. These connections that are gained will help the student to grow and learn as they get older continually.
How can hands-on learning be implemented effectively in preschool?
To begin, a preschool classroom should be structured to support hands-on learning. At this age, desks or tables and chairs should not be the focus of the room. The youngest learners should not and can not sit for long periods of time. There should be plenty of manipulatives; think about bins of pipe cleaners, modeling clay, a water table, finger paint, glue, crayons, geoboards, building blocks, etc.
With a fair amount of materials at her disposal, the teacher should then ask the preschoolers what they think. Ask them how they might use these objects. This encourages the preschoolers to think for themselves and outside the box. It is easy and tempting to tell a student what to do with a pipe cleaner, but then the teaching moment is lost.
With today’s curriculum, more and more emphasis is being placed on having a structured preschool classroom. There is a greater push to have preschoolers involved in more formal learning. Not only are the younger learners capable of learning in this type of environment, but it is also unfair to expect them to learn this way.
Don’t miss a vital opportunity
Preschool children learn best when they are allowed to explore and move. Allowing them to explore and learn concepts by using their 5 senses is an age-appropriate method. It gets them actively involved in answering questions such as how, why, and what. Another critical benefit of hands-on learning is that students learn through trial and error. Being allowed to make mistakes and see how to do something differently is an important lesson to learn. This allows the youngest learners to develop their critical thinking skills. A trait that they will need as they progress in their school years.
Final Thoughts Hands-on learning in early education has numerous benefits for younger learners. It allows them the opportunity to explore concepts through the use of different modalities, and it encourages the development of critical thinking. These skills are needed for lifelong learning.