Hello Colearn Families!
What is experiential learning and why is it essential for kids who are homeschooling?
Experiential learning is an engaged learning process whereby students “learn by doing” and reflecting. By having opportunities to take a concept, and to do "something" with it, children can relate to and retain the learning in a more personalized way. While engaged in experiential learning children "learning through reflection on doing" as opposed to passive learning.
Last year, I had my own “ah-ha” moment around this concept with my seven-year-old son. Almost on daily occurrence I found myself questioning how much information he was retaining during our American History lessons. Whenever I’d ask him to reiterate some of what he learned there wasn’t much he could provide.
In contrast to his history lessons, he would sit in front of his writing journal for hours! His illustrations were very detailed, and they told the story better than his written text. One day when it was time to move to history, he became frustrated with having to close his writing journal. Most days I would have allowed more time to finish but that day we had a tight schedule. Trying to avoid a meltdown, I allowed him to continue in the journal with an agreement that he would be listening to the history lesson.
What happened next changed the “history the Thomson family's homeschooling history!” In the middle of our lesson, he finished his writing illustration and turned the page of his journal and began drawing the Battle of Bunker Hill which I was reading aloud. When the lesson was done, he proudly showed me his illustration and explained how he had drawn the colonial and British troops on each side. He even named many of the commanders and leaders!
As you can imagine, my jaw dropped. I looked at him in amazement and promised myself I would let go of my preconceived ideas of how education should look in our home.
After that day, journaling and coloring carried over to many of our other curriculum subjects. In addition, Legos became part of our learning time too. He and sister would spend hours building battlefields and historical buildings they had learned about that day. Before I knew it, History became our favorite subject!
I shared this experience with a good friend of mine whose years of homeschool experience far outweighs my own. She reminded me that in time each homeschool family finds the right approach that best matches the learning personalities of their children and family. It's okay to change your schedule, routines and even curriculum! In fact, most homeschool families change curriculums after the first year and for some even after the 5th+ year! For us we did that mid-year and moved to a history curriculum that included coloring pages, word searches, craft projects and even music to increase the learning experiences my children had to go alongside with their lesson each day, it was just what we needed!
I now take my own experience to encourage other homeschool families to take time to identify how their child learns best. There are so many great resources out there with books and blogs that can help parents quickly identify their child’s learning style. Once I personally found out more about how my kiddos processed information, it allowed me to more easily build out experiences that encourage them to dive deeper into their learning and it even adjusted how I communicated to them as a parent!
I love that at Colearn Academy we offer resources that can support your home learner by providing quality experiential learning materials like subscription boxes and extracurricular offerings at little or no cost to families! Additionally, our certified staff lead and facilitate live classes clubs like robotics, Minecraft learning, cooking, cartooning and science experiments.…just to name a few. We can even help you find the learning style that best fits your families learning personality. These activities make it easy for children to unlock their interests, talents while connecting with peers who have the same interests. Click here to learn more about what Colearn offers.
More about our featured blog writer: Karen Thompson, is the Director of Engagement at Colearn. She is a mom of two and oversees a homeschool network in her local community. She has 15+ years of experience in education leadership with a degree in Early Childhood Education.