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Learning by Doing

by Lori Sciame | September 17th, 2012 | Elementary

Put yourself in the shoes of an elementary school child who must sit still for the great part of the school day — listening to a teacher lecture on one subject after another — with no hands-on learning.

Thankfully, school districts across the nation have accepted the fact that children this age ooze energy, and that they need to feel connected to what they learn in a more physical way. For the most part, teachers who related the hardships of the American Revolution while sitting behind a desk, reading from a book, are long gone. Children now learn through activities such as role playing.

You can assist your child with learning about his world by promoting hands-on activity at home as well. It may seem strange to view everyday tasks in this manner, but read on to learn more about why you should encourage a child to do menial work.

For example, instead of doing all the cooking because you fear your child will cut himself with a knife, opt instead for teaching him how to clean vegetables, how to measure ingredients, and how to read recipes. As he becomes more adept at those tasks, you can then move on to using a knife correctly. Let your child do these tasks so he can learn to cook healthy meals.

Another example of learning by doing involves the laundry. Just like cooking can teach skills such as cleanliness, math, reading, and safety, doing laundry teaches basic concepts as well. Sorting clothes promotes color recognition. Water temperature choices teach durability of different materials. You get my point. Daily chores enforce concepts from school by allowing doing at home.

I have a relative that does all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other household chores for his children. Not only do they not know how to make simple meals, such as grilled cheese sandwiches, they don’t have a clue how to do laundry. In effect, this caring father, by not allowing his children to learn about these tasks, is not preparing them for life ahead; he’s not reinforcing that learning is part of every day life.

Taking the time with your child to allow them to learn by doing does take patience, but it is well worth the effort. You may have to show your daughter many times how to make her bed, but eventually she will know how to do it, and she will be proud of herself for doing so. And she will have learned about correct sheet sizes and the importance of washing sheets to remove pet dander and dust mites. Even the fact the sheets fade over time will teach her something she didn’t know before — all because you allowed her to learn by doing.

Don’t be afraid to reinforce reading, math, science, and the like at home by allowing your children to participate in household chores. He or she will be excited to see how what is learned at school really does have real life applications. And lots of pent-up energy will be burned in the process!

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