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The Importance of Hands-On Learning

Updated: Aug 26

Studies have shown that kinesthetic learning is the most successful way of learning with students. Kinesthetic learning is where a student carries out physical activities rather than listening to a lecture. Doing helps them gain a superior understanding of the material.


What is Hands-On Learning?

Hands-on (or kinesthetic) learning is where a student participates or carries out physical activities relating to subject material rather than listening to a lecture. Students learn by doing: engaging with the subject material to solve a problem or create something. Hands-on learning is a participatory form of education. Teachers can implement hands-on learning into classes of nearly any subject. A few examples include:

  • Experimenting as part of science class

  • Reenacting a historical event as part of history class

  • Solving problems as part of math class

  • Writing a poem as part of English class

  • Play strategic games as part of the critical thinking class


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What are the Benefits of Hands-On Learning?

Hands-on learning allows students to learn through experience and lets them immerse themselves in a learning environment. Hands-on learning also allows students to put their newly acquired skills to use.


Students Retain More

Hands-on learning better engages both the left and right sides of the brain. On the left side of the brain, listening and analyzing processes occur. The right side handles visual and spatial processes. By using multiple styles of learning, the brain creates better connections and can store more relevant information.


Brain scans also indicate increased activity in motor-related and sensory parts of the brain when thinking about concepts they learned through hands-on experience.


Improved Attention

During a long lecture, there's nothing a student is paying attention to more than the clock. Hands-on activities get students up and moving. Students’ blood starts pumping, and their mind becomes more alert. Students have to stay attentive to listen to instructions to understand how to overcome a challenge or complete the next step.


Encourages Teamwork and Critical Thinking

Many real-world jobs involve working in groups on projects and finding innovative solutions to problems with critical thinking. During hands-on activities, students work together and foster teamwork skills. Hands-on learning improves their cognitive understanding of the subject material and social skills. Through group activities, students learn how to find solutions diplomatically, delegate, and work as part of a team.


Real Results

At best, the result of traditional classrooms is some thorough notes to be reviewed before the exam. At the end of a hands-on class, they have likely produced something unique. Carpentry students in a career and technical education program create projects out of wood.


Makes Learning Fun

If you asked your child if they would rather sit down and listen to a lecture on the science of hand coordination or learn how to juggle, which do you think they would prefer? Making learning fun increases a love for knowledge, which is an attribute they will appreciate the rest of their lives. Through hands-on learning, students have the opportunity to interact with what they are learning.


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Take Advantage of Hands-On Learning

If you are homeschooling your child or teaching them additional subjects from home, add hands-on activities to your curriculum. They will better retain the material, and their critical thinking skills will improve. If your child is learning at a public or private school, encourage them to share what they are learning through kinesthetic means. For example, sharing something they learned through a presentation, experiment, activity, or vision board.


Hands-on learning is one of the most successful ways students learn and the most successful method of teaching. Maintaining a hands-on learning environment is vital to the virtual classroom. At The Thinking Kid, teachers constantly encourage hands-on learning: facilitating breakout rooms, student presentations, and class discussions.


In what ways are your children using hands-on activities to facilitate a love of learning?


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