Since our first breaths, every individual learns by connecting to the surrounding environment. The term “learning” comes from the Latin “aprendère” which means to take, to grasp with the mind, to take possession of something. It is, therefore, through the activity, action, and experience that we all take possession of what is useful to increase our knowledge.
The term experience, from the Latin “experentia,” which indicates, the knowledge personally gained by observation and the use or practice of a specific sphere of reality. Here it becomes clear the meaning of “Experiential Learning,” learning not based on preconceived concepts and contents from books, but closely related learning through interaction and experimentation of reality. Learning, therefore, connects the heart (emotional development), mind (cognitive development), hand (adequate professional development). Experiencing the facts makes live experiences and feel emotions. We know that when there are emotions, we remember what we learned forever.
“We need to excite for teaching. But many still think that if you have fun, you do not learn”(Montessori)
Highlighting this quote, we want to remind how significant is to stimulate our little ones to go it alone and to create for them an enriched learning environment, through which they can learn knowledge and skills. “Help me to do it alone” was the motto of the famous pedagogue Montessori. An invitation to leave children free to make their own experiences, because if they do understand, they learn.
How to help children to “go it alone”?
Mistakes not to do
One of the most common mistakes we make as adults is to replace kids in doing small things in their place, sometimes because there is no time, and other times because one gets overwhelmed by worry and anxiety to have everything under control. This behavior is wrong because by doing so we do not allow our children to be independent and to be able to practice their problem-solving skills. Also when we substitute them the message we give is: I do it because you are not capable! Therefore kids need to learn to do things, and we can only accompany them.
What are the activities we can do with our children to “help them do it alone”?
There are many activities we can do together with children to stimulate them to do alone. Here are some ideas:
- The Atelier: laboratories of experiences
We can join or organize small Atelier where children can experience their views creatively. In the atelier, they can explore and practice the graphic arts, painting, music, photography, animated narrative, visual and multimedia languages, handling of materials. Many schools and children’s centers organize workshops of this type allowing the stimulation of children’s senses.
- Board Activity: Montessori Board
We can create a board with different activities with which our little ones can play to develop learning skills, craftsmanship, and attention. The board should arouse curiosity and stimulate the children’s creativity and therefore should be rich in things to do in sensory activities, manipulative, problem solving and so on. You can use different materials according to the kids’ age: cloth, cotton, felt, sponge, wool, zippers, buttons, plastic bottles, straws, corrugated cardboard, etc.
- Sandbox: the box of creativity
A sandbox or the case of sand is a wooden box containing sand and natural materials such as berries, leaves, sticks, stones, shells, branches, dried fruit, etc., where children can play and build freely. It is an educational tool that aims to introduce children to the contact with the natural elements stimulating creative learning.
- A trip to know the world
Days spent outdoors with the family can be an inspiring time to share stories and knowledge. The children’s curiosity is exceptional in front of the beauties of nature: trees, flowers, fruits, butterflies, birds, sheep, cows, houses, landscapes. A particular time to be together to play and discover the world.
- Mash&Co: interactive app
Mash&Co is an application for the whole family based on the story of friendship between Mash and Periwinkle who embark together on a journey to solve the sudden drought in the forest. Through the cartoons and interactive mini-games, small explore a magical world addressing important issues such as environmental awareness and sharing experiences. Mash&Co, having no voiceovers, allows children to interact with the stories freely, without coercion, stimulating their problem-solving skills, their creativity, and divergent thinking. Parents, as well as fun and play along with the little ones, can control and monitor their progress through a specific panel.