Learning by experience

- the wise OFamilyBlog

– the ofamilyblog

I was reading through the ofamilyblog earlier today (this post) and what she said, what I quoted above, screamed out to me.

I think we all realize this, and I even know this about myself and how I learn best, but I need the fresh awareness of wise thoughts like the above. I taught myself how to sew. Not by reading books about it, but by buying a sewing machine and turning on the thing. I taught myself how to knit by grabbing a pair of needles and yarn. I did have to read instructions and (re)watch YouTube videos about casting on, but it was by actually experiencing the act of knitting that helped me really understand how to do it. I’m still currently teaching myself about photography, and although I need to read a lot about the technical aspects, it’s not until I start pressing the shutter button that I’m actually going to really understand photography. And how do any of us learn to cook? Julia Child can walk us through the steps, but the roast won’t cook itself.

The same goes with schooling, and it is not just the life skills that should be learned through experience. There is definitely a place for rote memorization and workbook practice, but (as I keep needing to be reminded) this should be just the beginning of the complete learning experience. Learning about fractions on a math worksheet is the first step. The next, and most important step, is applying the fractions to real life–in the kitchen when doubling a recipe, at the store when figuring out the cost of a sale item, etc. And memorizing the important names and dates of the Jamestown Colony is important, but being able to go to Jamestown (or doing something similar) and seeing, smelling, feeling, experiencing the life of the early colonists and Native Americans will make those facts “stick” as ofamilyblog so wisely put it. The same goes for any of the subjects we teach our children.

Experiential learning helps things become more real for the student, which is so important if we want to instill a love for learning in our kids. I struggle with doing this in my girls’ schooling. I know there are parents out there who are naturals at finding and creating ways to help their children experience learning. I need help remembering, and I need help figuring out, how to incorporate experiencing into our learning schedule. So, thank you ofamilyblog, for giving me a little jolt today. Now, I’m off to Pinterest to collect ideas. . .

We *do* experiential learning sometimes!

We *do* experiential learning sometimes!

And here’s proof that we do learn by experience sometimes in this household! I took the girls to Jamestown the last time we studied about the colonial period, and Reagan got to learn about many aspects of Colonial life. Here she’s learning how to build a fence.
     (NotSoSAHM)

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5 thoughts on “Learning by experience

  1. I am great at planning – but my plans always get hijacked. And I’m learning to be okay with that. At some point during the lesson, Ben will get excited about something – and off we go. Sometimes it’s pertinent, other times, well – he’s excited and building, and he has a brainstorm. I just feel like that’s where we want to be. I’m very rarely the one leading around here. I make sure we have art supplies in bulk, and the rest is him. I don’t know how much of the basics we will learn in the end – but I know he will have pursued his interests thoroughly. I could be way off base here, but I think that’s a good thing.

    Love the honesty in your writing style.

    • Thanks for your input, Liesl. I tend to be a control freak and it’s very hard for me to not take the lead. 🙂 I know there has to be a balance where I guide them to great ways to learn about what they’re interested in. As they get older, towards the high school years, I guess there are certain classes they have to take in order to obtain a high school diploma. We’re not there yet, so I need to let them have a little bit more say in what they want to learn about.

    • And thanks for your great words! Roadschooling — we’re going to be traveling a lot soon, and I’d love to maximize our learning during our adventures. FUN learning, at that! I’m not good at fun learning, so I have my work cut out for me. In my ideal world, my family would be traveling the world…taking pictures and learning about everything on a global scale. 🙂

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