RAFT Activity Kit: Static Merry-go-Round

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Hands-On Teaching Helps the Learning Challenged Child

My daughter Aruna is all of 3 and half years old and she knows the sheet on our bed is made of millions of threads intricately woven together because she goes around pointing and peering through her huge magnifying glass at everything around her.

Aruna was diagnosed with Autism when she was 18 months. From almost no eye contact, speech or any other kind of non-verbal communication to a child who asks a million questions a day about everything around her and even the space above us... yes she has to know the phases of the moon and constellations too… well, she has come along a good measure!

Her way of learning however, is different. It is a bit repetitive. So if someone introduces a simple question like "what is this?" she takes the baton and goes around exploring and applying the same question to everything. While the curiosity is well taken care of, the challenge for us has been to introduce new questions and give her hand-on tools to discover the answers.

Children who struggle with some physical or learning limitation are the ones who can most benefit from hands-on teaching. The child who has difficulty understanding concepts at a pre-school level has a greater chance of learning the material during a hands-on teaching activity than simply listening to a verbal explanation.

Aruna is learning a lot about different textures and materials by touch and feel. She goes around feeling textures and knocking at different materials and differentiating and classifying the sounds into metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, cotton, synthetic, wood - as many as I can introduce.

Hundreds of studies support the idea that hands-on teaching is key to a well-rounded, rich and successful education. Recent studies like the one done by the respected Rockman Et. Al, confirmed what RAFT has known for years, that children are more engaged, more likely to learn and truly enjoy their hands-on teaching time. The result? Kids achieve more. RAFT has all kinds of hands-on educational activity kits that can really benefit children who need additional help. Kits are affordable because materials are donated and then repurposed into myriad hands-on activities. They’re easy to use and engage students in surprising ways. Most importantly, they give students creative ways to learn and succeed, even if they have struggled in the past.


- Valli Bindana, a RAFT follower

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