Applied learning is based on the concept that hands-on experiences in the real world are more beneficial for young students than simply listening to a lesson inside of a classroom. While a student might be able to derive information from a planned lesson, they might not be able to truly understand the processes, intricacies, and minute details that one can only learn from actually having an experience.
For example, if you play a piece of piano music to a child before they’ve seen or touched a piano, they might be able to appreciate the sound of the music, but they won’t have any idea of how it was created. But then once they can see a piano, feel the keys move up and down, the different notes each key makes, and how the strings inside the piano resonate the sound, only then can they completely understand the music.
Children have many life lessons to learn from an early age. As parents and teachers, it’s our job to give them the right tools to learn the necessary lessons so they can grow up to be assertive and intelligent individuals. This is where applied learning can do the most good because it teaches children to adopt those qualities through trial and error. Even though they might not get something right the first time, they will understand their need to try again to get the job done right.
An egg drop, for example, is part of many curriculums around the country. The object is to drop an egg from an elevated platform and have it land safely without breaking. An applied learning approach would be to explain the exercise to the child and have them come up with their own solution. They might first just drop a regular, unprotected egg and they’ll realize the egg will break. Then, they might wrap the egg in bubble wrap and the egg will probably still break, but they’ll notice the impact wasn’t as harsh.
This hands-on experience is actively teaching the child how to problem solve in new ways. On the other hand, if the teacher had simply put everybody’s egg in a separate box filled with cotton balls, no one would come away with the understanding of why cotton balls worked.
This is one of the greatest benefits of applied learning: fostering creativity. Without being told how to do something step by step, the child must use its own imagination and creativity to come up with the right solution. It might take them longer to get there, but when they do, they’ll understand the problem and the solution through and through.
Furthermore, since the child is given the opportunity to use their imagination and creativity to work through a problem, they won’t feel like they’re learning. It’s just like their set of building blocks at home, of which they have complete control over how they’re put together and how the final product looks. Applied learning will actually feel like, and in some ways is, playtime. And if you tell a child it’s playing while it’s actually learning, there’s no telling how much “playing” they’ll want to do.
Another prime benefit of applied learning is the self-confidence it can give children. Being told how to do something doesn’t always offer maximum value to the child. They were simply told how to put something together or how to work through a math problem, but they didn’t accomplish anything on their own. However, given a problem that’s up to them to solve, like a puzzle, for instance, they will feel like they’ve just made their very own discovery once they arrive at the conclusion. This sense of pride and accomplishment, not to mention the recognition they will get for solving a problem on their own, will all contribute greatly to their development and self-esteem. These important factors of their psyche will help them through their childhood and into their adult lives.
An offshoot of the self-confidence a child will gain from applied learning is a feeling of independence. When problem solving by themselves, children can feel in control. Their decisions are solely theirs; they learn to either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences. This, compared with the supervision of a caring parent or teacher, will allow the child to safely find their own independence, another important factor of their development and continual stability.
Every child learns in a different way and it can be difficult for parents and teachers to cater lessons to every need. However, applied learning eases the stress of teaching every child something different since it puts their education in the child’s own hands. They can problem solve in their own creative ways while deriving the important lessons of making good decisions and retaining the information for future use.
Furthermore, applied learning is a fun, hands-on experience that doesn’t feel so much like learning. It can take the child out of the classroom and into a real world mindset where they can be independent, imaginative, and attentive. Skills that will surely help them succeed in all of their future ventures.