Kids need Hands-On Learning to Develop and Grow

family working in a gardenHave you ever noticed when a child can help you with something they learn a lot faster?  Well, I have.  I have three wonderful children who all have different personalities and ways of learning.  However, no matter which way they seem to learn best, hands-on learning is a fit for each of them.

father hugging his sonKids can be forgetful at times or sometimes they simply don’t understand.  Whenever I’m explaining something to my kids, a story comes to mind that reminds me to show them and not just tell them.  The story goes like this.  Once there was a father and his son at the airport.  They were waiting by their gate when the small child starting running around the pillar next to the seats.  His father told him to stop running around the corner because it was busy and he didn’t want something to happen when he couldn’t see him, but the child continued.  After several warnings telling the child not to go around the corner, the father became angry and went to discipline his child.  “I told you not to go around the corner.”  With tear-filled eyes, the young boy responded, “Dad?  What’s a corner?”

This story is a good reminder and perfect illustration of why kids need hands-on learning.  Sometimes it’s not enough to tell them something, we need to show them.

When we spend all day with adults at work, we sometimes forget the fact that the only way a child will learn is by teaching them, not talking at them.  From the very beginning, they learn by watching what their parents do.  Watching is one way of learning.  The others are listening, reading and finally hands on.  As I said above, no matter how your child learns, hands-on learning eventually has to happen.

a family cooking. hands on learningNow I’m not an A type personality, but I still don’t want my home to be a disaster.  I like it clean and comfortable.  With hands-on learning, it can get a little messy, which is why a lot of parents avoid having their child help them do things such as cooking, cleaning, painting and so on.  I agree that it’s a lot easier to do a job without little fingers getting in the way, but I also know they will never learn and therefore never leave the house if I don’t teach them;).  After all, that’s what our job is as parents.  We are to teach our child or children how to be independent, intelligent and polite human beings.  This way when they are of age they will know how to live on their own, how to cook, get a job, fix or repair something and have an “I can” attitude because they know what they’re doing.

This all takes place from the time they are born until they leave the house.  What and how you decide to teach your child will impact them for the rest of their lives.  No pressure, just pointing out a simple truth.

It’s going to take effort, a lot of patience, time and hands-on learning to develop this small human being into something great.  You say, “Oh, I don’t have the time.”  Hate to break it to you, but if you decided to have kids then you need to make time.  Give up something else in order to teach them what they need to know.

hands on learningLet them help you cook supper, paint that wall or window, push the vacuum around or work on the truck with you.  Take them when you go outside to change the oil or work in the garden.

Now a word of caution.  Kids are smart and sometimes ask you to show them a task even when you have already shown them several times.  The reason being is they know you will pick half the weeds while giving your hands on learning tutorial.  I know this because I did it when I was a kid and now recognize it when my own children try it.  Don’t get mad, just smile and encourage them to try. I tell them, “See if you can remember.”  You should still watch them for a moment to make sure they do know what to do, but then as they get older you can leave them with a job without having to be present the entire time.  This is a good sign you are graduating to the next level.

When teaching hands-on learning, try to pick some things that are a specialty skill.  Meaning one they don’t necessarily need to know to live, but one that holds their interest.  If they like tractors then let them ride with a farmer, if being an artist interest them then get a paint brush set and help them start, if they want to be the next president then check out an audio and history book from the library, read it to them and perhaps create a white house made out of popsicle sticks for the hands-on and visual.  The point is to Help develop their skills in the interest they have outside of everyday tasks.

boy doing dishesOne thing you can count on is what you put into your child, you will get out.  If I expect great things from my child, then I better be putting great things into my child.  They aren’t to be blamed when they reach 18 and still don’t know how to cook or do their own laundry.  You’re investing in your child’s future when you take time for hands-on learning.

Healthy living is a plethora of things.  Teaching your child is a huge part of that and shouldn’t be put on the back burner.  Kids NEED hands-on learning to develop and grow and it’s our job as parents to muster the patience and time for it.

So with that being said.  Get up, find your little squirt and go create a masterpiece.  Whether in food, art, oil changing or a popsicle stick white house.

🙂 Heather Earles

With School Starting how does one Make Family Time?

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