Experiential learning. We’ve all heard the term, but not many of us actually know what it is. I do know that I have been leading my child’s learning using it, though it may not have been a prominent part of my vocabulary.
Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing”. Experiential learning is distinct from rote or didactic learning, in which the learner plays a comparatively passive role. It is related to but not synonymous with other forms of active learning such as action learning, adventure learning, free choice learning, cooperative learning, and service learning.
In essence: learning by doing and experiencing.
I had a loooong week. For the first time, I escorted (as in drive the escort vehicle for oversized loads) 5 days of the week, including an overnight trip to Vermont which was anything but relaxing. It was also the first time that I’ve ever been away from Paul for more than 24 hours, and the number of times I have been away from Elizabeth for that long I could count on one hand – and that includes while I was in the hospital when Paul was born. But it all worked out, and the weekend is upon us and I am slowly trying to pull my house back from the brink of disaster, and my emotions back down from being completely stressed out. I’ve written A LOT in the past 2 days!
My awesome childcare provider “did school” with Elizabeth while I was gone. I sent some stuff along to her, but Elizabeth doesn’t want to do what I send, and I know it will take some getting used to in that aspect. But my provider also does fun activities with the kids almost daily, and is very excited about helping me homeschool Elizabeth. I’ve mentioned that it will be a challenge to me to document what Elizabeth does during the day when I’m at work, though I wasn’t really expecting her to do so for me (but hoping, a little bit, I’ll admit), and she did! So – awesome!
A lot of the modifications I had made with the Moving Beyond The Page curriculum were by adding in experiential learning activities, such as going to the humane society when we did a book about cats, and going to the quilt shop when we did the Quilt Story. I myself have an intense need for my learning to relate to real life – if it doesn’t, it’s useless to me – and thus have focused on this in our modifications without giving thought to it, rather that being the natural method for me, though I would credit the idea as coming from the Global Village School curriculum guide too.
Now that I am using the curriculum I wrote up myself, or somewhat using it as I would also say that we are unschooling as well, I jump at any opportunity to make school as real-life as possible, and Elizabeth had an awesome opportunity this week that came up on a whim, but worked out very well.
On Thursday, though we were on our way to dropping both kids off at the sitter’s, Elizabeth asked me who I was driving with that day, as there are multiple different drivers that haul the oversized loads. I told her who, and being a little chicky who doesn’t miss a single beat, she said, “He one time said that he would take Paul with him in the cab, I want to ride in the cab.”
I knew we had two runs to do, and when I have two runs, up until this point, I have always taken the kids to the sitters because I can never know what kind of wait I will have between the deliveries. But Elizabeth is a good rider, so I decided to pursue the idea if the driver was interested, and if not, she could just ride with me, which she agreed to. But the driver was willing to let her ride with him (he’s also my mom and grandmother’s neighbor, a really nice guy, and she regularly goes to his house to play with his daughter while she is visiting my grandmother, so don’t be alarmed that she rode alone with some random man).
I thought it was so cool, really – I’ve never ridden in the cab of a big rig before! It would probably be useful if I did, for job purposes anyway, because the one place I really have trouble with is in visualizing how much space the truck needs to get out into an intersection or so that it doesn’t brush low trees along the road.
But as we drove, I also decided that I would count that as school, it definitely goes along with the experiential learning thing. Both kids are really into trucks and other vehicles, and what is the best way to learn about one – to ride in one! I think it will be something that she remembers for a long time, even though she is only 5 (almost 6). Her life is all ready so much the more richer for learning this way – don’t’ you think?!
Share your thoughts: You know you’ve done some awesome experiential learning activates – share them with myself and my readers!