Enhancing experiential and social learning…

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Amishi Parasrampuria
Founder,Upcycler’s Lab

It is said that when it comes to children, only 10% is formal learning. Another 20% is social learning and a whopping 70% is experiential learning! This means almost 90% of what the child learns is from informal environments, outside the classroom or once the textbook closes. Here, let’s see how we can enhance experiential and social learning in classrooms.


The formal learning only helps us with the facts and theories on which we can base our understanding of things. It is not much different in adults honestly. While children learn most through hands on play, adults learn best through experiences that they have and by actually doing an activity rather than hearing or reading about it. Social learning also attributes to more than double of formal learning. This means that being the social animals that we are, children learn better in team environments than by themselves.

Since most skills needed to succeed are developed by age 5 and most behaviour is formed by age 9, experiential and social learning are particularly important in early education. This is exactly why the Finnish education system is repeatedly ranked number one globally. Early education in the Finnish school system includes a LOT of play based learning with both structured and free play included in the daily schedule. Till the age of 7, students in Finland do not even begin to read and write, unlike most of their peers worldwide who begin at age 4-5! However, by age 11, Finnish children catch up with their peers and as they progress through school, often excel where other students struggle. There is definitely a thing or two we can learn from this system, considering early education impacts the adults of tomorrow so deeply, the same adults who will become productive members of society.

Below are five tools that can be implemented in the classroom to enhance experiential and social learning:

Play Based Learning:

As with the Finnish school system, teaching concepts through play helps retain them for longer and makes the learning process more effective. We too incorporate these principles into our workshops and products at Upcycler’s Lab where we teach sustainability through play. For example, our workshop on water conservation includes an exciting game of emptying water from a container in small teams within a certain time. The running around and having fun with water excites the children but through this, we also teach them a valuable lesson on how when not conserved, water may not last for the generations to come and this is a race against time.

Similarly, gamifying lessons can make the teacher’s job more fun and help students fully understand concepts and implement them in daily life. This is a really important tool in the educator’s toolkit.

Repetition:

When you do a job repeatedly, day after day, year after year, you become really good at it. This is exactly why we respect those who have more experience than us. For children too, this applies. Making children repeat games, songs, stories and activities, commits it to their memories and helps them understand it better. Turning boring and mundane lessons into fun poems or stories can really help make the class more effective. I mean think about it, you remember the rhyme ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ from over 20 years ago but often you don’t remember the news article you read yesterday! Keeping this in mind, we teach many of our concepts through board games that we develop so that children can keep playing them over and over again to completely understand the concept. Our board game, Garbage Grab allows children as young as 5 to develop cognitive, analytical skills and motor skills along with teaching them the concept of waste segregation.

Collaboration:

We often see that working in teams for projects is extremely fun and the best ideas come out of these experiences. Human beings are known to be social animals and working together is not only fun for children, it also helps develop extremely crucial social skills. Learning to work together to solve common problems at a young age can dramatically impact the adults that these children turn into. One thing we incorporate in our programs is to create small teams for each game that is played and give each team a time limit. Children are motivated to work together towards a common goal because of the short amount of time available to complete the task.

Sharing experiences:

Just as adults benefit from peer mentors, friends and family, children too benefit from sharing their experiences. Sharing experiences not only helps their communication skills, it also help them gain confidence and develop soft skills such as empathy. It also allows them to learn from the experiences of others and inculcate these learnings into their own life. Our sessions begin with understanding the starting point of what the child understands about the concept. This allows us to be better educators by creating a customized experience for that group of children and it also allows the child to communicate his/her experiences confidently, drawing from his/her own experience.

Challenges:

Keeping children engaged through small, fun challenges help them develop problem solving and analytical skills. When they do complete the challenges, it gives them a sense of accomplishment which in turn improves their confidence and self-esteem. When they work on challenges in teams, it further improves their social skills. This can be an exciting tool that teachers can incorporate into the classroom as a fun, non-formal way of teaching concepts. School programs should often end with a challenge for the week, these small challenges allow for the learning to continue at home and for children to transfer the learning into a practical, real life environment.

At Upcycler’s Lab we make sustainability based learning tools for children ages 5+. Our vision is to change mindset and behaviour around the environment so that we can create better consumers for tomorrow. Our work is mainly based around UN Sustainability Development Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production.

We incorporate all the tools for experiential and social learning mentioned above in our products and programs. Our games range from simple topics such as waste segregation to more complex ones like how to create the perfect planet.

To know more, get in touch on info@upcyclerslab.com


With over 3 years of experience in sustainability, Amishi Parasrampuria, Founder, Upcycler’s Leb, started this venture with a vision to change mindset and behaviour around the environment and impact consumption patterns in the adults of tomorrow.Amishi is a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, has been an UnLtd India Fellow, a Cherie Blair Foundation mentee and her work has been featured by over 30 media publications.