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Learning is not merely about academic pursuits – it’s also about life skills. This is particularly important in early learning as this is when children begin to form learning habits and explore the world around them. This is why experiential education plays a significant role in your child’s early development – it is quite literally learning by doing.

Why is experiential learning important for your preschooler?

Experiential learning brings together observation, creativity and active interactions into early years education. It allows children to see purpose and to enjoy their learning experience. American educational theorist, David Kolb, believes that learning happens through the transformation of experiences. Kolb’s learning cycle consists of four stages:

  • Concrete experience
  • Observation and reflection
  • Forming abstract concepts
  • Testing new situations 

With the right teaching strategies, experiential learning encourages children to be exploratory, expressive and communicative. In one of our previous blog posts, we covered five characteristics to look for in a school that practices experiential education. 

These traits look a little different in a preschool classroom. 

What does experiential learning look like in preschool?

Last year, we wrote about how experiential learning is applied in the classroom. This topic sparked discussions around best practices in experiential learning, specifically what this looks like in early education.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but this study suggests that it has been linked to happiness and personal development. As adults we tend to fall back on what we already know, hence a decrease in curiosity in our later years. Educators, on the other hand, must encourage and feed curiosity in the early years.

Here are four scenarios in preschool where experiential learning is at play.

  1. Subjects combined into one lesson

Hands on art activities such as using dough to create sculptures can cross over into other subjects. For example, the teacher can set a rule to only use geometric shapes that they have learned about in maths to create their masterpiece. This helps children to see how subjects cross over to real life situations and extends their creativity further.

  1. Using all five senses in science

Science is a fascinating subject so why learn it at a desk? Experiential science activities encourage children to explore and make their own discoveries. Setting up a guessing game is a fun and stimulating activity to help children engage all senses. For example, the teacher can place different objects inside a sack. Children are encouraged to use their fingers to feel, ears to listen and nose to smell before guessing what the object is.

  1. Grocery shopping in maths

Setting up a pretend grocery store allows students to participate in weighing, counting and accuracy. The teacher can assign roles to each student and create pretend scenarios. For example, one of the eggs is broken and the customer wants a discount – if you take off $2.50 what will the eggs cost? Activities like this helps children learn maths skills whilst gaining a feel for real life scenarios.

  1. Food and fancy dress

From multicultural appreciation days to school plays and dress-up days, children can learn about different cultures in fun and interactive ways. An example is the teacher allocates different countries to each student and invites them to dress up in traditional apparel and bring along a trademark dish to discuss and share with peers. After all, children love food!

The above scenarious are just a few examples of how experiential learning can be incorporated into preschool learning.

Are you interested in learning more about experiential learning in early education? Download The Scots Journey to get a look at the day-to-day life of Scot’s youngest students.

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