Early Years Maths, Experiential learning vs Academic learning

In a meeting this week,  I heard a great analogy from an executive teacher “Do you want to snorkel or scuba dive when teaching’.  (Funny enough it also was communicated from my son’s school a few days ago re: curriculum and assessments.)

Meaning do you want students to have an in depth understanding (scuba dive) or know the basics (snorkel). By providing the knowledge academically to the students with more of an in-depth hands on experience which bring us to Experiential learning vs Academic learning or more commonly referred to as knowledge vs experience.

Knowledge vs experiencev1.001A simple way to look at it is, curriculums everywhere will give you the knowledge to count, read, write and foundations of learning if executed correctly by qualified teaching professionals.

However the delivery of the learning is the key. In the diagram it demonstrates the difference between knowledge and experiences provided to  your children when learning. Snorkel vs Scuba Diving.

In a school environment lets look at teaching maths in the early years many individuals have an understanding of numbers 1-10.

Here, Dr. Paul Swan is teaching the knowledge, however creating an experience for the learner to remember visually. Teaching 1-10, video by Dr. Paul Swan makes 10 using a basic 10 tens frame. This will help to develop the children’s thinking for odd, even numbers 1-10, addition and subtraction and many more concepts. Developing the academic knowledge of the students through an experience using maths manipulatives.

When teaching maths it is important to include mathematics manipulatives to complement the knowledge and create an experience so the child/learner is able to recall the calculations, learn the fluency.
Acad vs Exper.001In Academic learning students can memorise, practice, count and recite information. However it is through experiences that they learn to  problem solve, predict, decision make and have an in-depth knowledge of the foundations of mathematics. Academic learning takes place within the experimental learning, as show above it breaks down the silos of learning patterns. By providing students with natural interactions with real things in their environment.

We have looked at ‘Teaching a Child to Love Learning’. This is down to the experience they gain whilst learning knowledge children need. This is the same with life experience as parents we try to give our children as many experiences that we are able to  from riding a bike, playing in the park, freedom of play and many more unstructured activities.


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