Posts Tagged ‘ Hands-on Learning ’

Is Your Child Experiencing Hands-On Learning?

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The school year means that kids – even toddlers – will be taking on academic studies. Your little ones will be working with numbers and letters and thinking and talking. But they should be doing other things too – especially things that involve their hands. 

There are lots of reasons for this:

  • Kids learn by physically exploring their world.
  • They learn by manipulating their world.
  • Fine motor skills provide a direct line of stimulation into their brains that connects with cognitive development.

As kids develop their fine motor skills, they are better situated to direct their attention – meaning their brain resources – to the other tasks at hand. For example, a kid in kindergarten who can easily handle their writing utensil can focus more on what they are producing with their writing instrument because they don’t need to focus on how to hold it.

The reason all this is important – especially at the start of the school year – is that there is a collective message that young kids need to be immersed in “academic” work as early as possible. The problem is that, for them, hands-on activities are the academic work! Drawing, coloring, cutting, pasting, and playing with blocks are all examples of academic activities for toddlers. They promote development, engagement, and cognitive growth.

So make sure you – and your school – are thinking hands-on when you are thinking school work for your little ones.

Kids Making Pictures via Shutterstock.com

 

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Should Kids Learn Cursive?

Monday, August 26th, 2013

There’s a debate going on about cursive. Is it outdated for kids to learn it, since they will be spending most of their time writing using a keyboard? Or is it a skill they should have? 

The answer is somewhere in between. While it’s not essential that kids learn cursive, they do need to learn how to write – using a writing instrument that they hold.

Here’s why.

The act of writing has been shown, time and time again, to help kids learn their letters. There is a clear benefit to actually creating the letters and learning the sounds that go with them that promotes visual recognition. New research on the brain keeps showing how motor areas are not segregated from other areas responsible for “higher-order” cognitive processes – in fact they seem to be tightly intertwined. Fine motor skills provide a key platform for kids to experience “hands-on” learning -it can’t really happen any other way.

Some may still feel that cursive is important. I can go either way on this one. Everyone understands that kids will use keyboards as a writing tool. No argument there. But it’s critical to embrace the idea that kids need to learn to write in order to best learn their letters – and how to use them.

Cursive “Thank you” via Shutterstock.com

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