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Hands-On Learning

It’s no question that gaining and keeping a child’s attention can be difficult. There are many ways teachers attempt to engage students, however not all students learn the same way or share interests. Fortunately, in classrooms like those influenced by the Montessori method, a hands-on approach is used alongside the curriculum. This allows for a well-rounded and all-inclusive education.

Hands-On Learning

Hands-on learning is the process of relating a lesson to something physical the child can see, feel, or experience. This can include inserting shapes in their respective slots, sorting colored beads, or making objects out of Play-Doh.

The benefits of hands-on learning are numerous, including:

Helping to Build Meaning and Form a Connection with Lessons

Children learn best when connections are made with their brain through their senses, a fact that has heavily influenced Montessori classrooms’ approach to education. This means listening to a lesson only uses hearing, limiting the possible connections with the content. A lack of a real-world connection can make information harder to understand, memorize, and use. However, if they are encouraged to make pig noises or create a Play-Doh pig instead of just repeating the name, they are forming more connections and assigning further meaning to the lesson.

Contributing to Development of Fine Motor Skills

When children use their hands and fingers, they are developing fine motor skills and the ability to perform everyday tasks. This is important because children learn by trying and doing. As they refine these skills, they become more confident in their abilities, leading to them sharing what they know with parents and classmates alike. This reinforces the concepts and leads to well-rounded development for the students, and is one of the primary benefits of hands-on learning.

Encouraging Unconventional Learners

Nothing is more frustrating to children and students alike than feeling left behind in class. This often is due to a lack of variety in the way information is presented, and can likely be explained by a difference in students’ learning styles in a classroom. The 4 primary learning styles are:

Visual – Learn through images and seeing physical representations or relationships.
Auditory – Learn through sound and hearing as well as repeating words or sounds.
Reading & Writing – Learn by reading or writing information down.
Kinesthetic – Learn by being hands-on and by “doing”.

Unfortunately, many classrooms do not address all the learning styles in their classroom, which can make some students feel behind. Montessori classrooms are different though. Their hands-on and collaborative approach helps include all learners so nobody is left behind.

If students are using letter blocks to spell the names of animals, they are relating the names they are hearing (auditory) with the picture of the cow (visual). They are also reading the name (reading & writing) and then spelling it out themselves with blocks (kinesthetic). This is great because children don’t know how they learn best, but they understand the information because all styles are included. This does wonders for confidence, which then inspires them to keep learning.

Hands-on learning is a great way to ensure a child gets the best and most complete education possible. Through stimulating all their senses, children connect with the lessons more easily and understand information better. They also gain confidence and independence as they learn, explore, and do more, traits that are very important to their future both in school and out.

October 23rd, 2017

Posted In: About MKU, About Montessori Education

Tags: ,

Hands-On Learning the Montessori Way

Hands-On Learning the Montessori Way
In a traditional classroom setting, children sit at their desks, listen to the teacher, and receive instructions. Montessori students are encouraged to learn with a much more hands-on approach. Instead of sitting and learning with paper and pencil assignments, children have free reign over a classroom with a variety of educational activities at their disposal. Working with their hands gives children a solid understanding of the learning materials, and information is absorbed more effectively.

Hands-On Learning in the Classroom

Children tend to learn better when they are completing tasks on their own rather than receiving constant instruction. When kids learn using their hands, the lesson is effortlessly committed to memory instead of relying on verbal or written repetition. The Montessori hands-on experience can be applied by using:

  • Sensory materials. Learning materials with a variety of textures and colors help children make a connection between their hands and their brain. For example, letters cut out of sand paper give a physical feeling to learning the alphabet.
  • Moveable activities. Instead of sitting at a desk, children move around the classroom and choose from a variety of activities. They can take their activity to a table, chair, or floor mat to explore their materials.
  • Enticing assignments. Hands-on learning keeps children interested and focused on the lesson at hand. A movable alphabet that they can touch and feel is more entertaining than a simple worksheet. Similarly, learning to count by manipulating rods and beads is more interesting than being told how to count to ten over and over.

Practical Life Skills Through Hands-On Learning

Children learn most from what they see; they learn better by copying the actions of others rather than being told what to do. Your child will learn much more by working alongside an adult than being given instructions from afar. A few ways to apply this concept are:

  • Cleanup time. Children love to do simple chores like sweeping, wiping tables, and cleaning up messes side by side with a parent or teacher. This way, children can use their hands in a productive way, gaining a sense of accomplishment.
  • Snack time. Preparing small snacks or pouring drinks for themselves establishes confidence and encourages independence. Simple tasks like these also promote hand strength and enhance motor skills.

January 30th, 2017

Posted In: Montessori

Tags: ,