How Do Children Learn Best?

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January 07, 2016

One of the things I think about a great deal as an educator, is “how do children learn best?”  

While I think there is no “right” answer to this question,  I see that some children learn intuitively by observing the world around them,  but most children (and adults for that matter)  learn by “doing”. 

The buzz word today is “hands on learning”.  This requires every teacher to set up his/her classroom environment, activities and materials to be an experimentation of sorts, where trial and error is encouraged, not for one time, but over many experiences and with different approaches. The process of mastery comes with many attempts at the same thing, not usually in a singular experience.

As an educator, I have given this much thought in the work we do at our school. All of us, the teachers and myself, pride ourselves on “intentional planning”,  where teachers are taking the time to set up their curriculum to provide rich organic experiences for children to learn through creative, open-ending and engaging activities with multiple purposes in mind. When children feel safe and well cared for they open their hearts and minds to the learning process, take risks, and naturally want to explore.  

Over many years, we have found that the individualized attention our children receive through the  small, consistent class size supports the teacher’s ability to meet each child at their developmental level while encouraging them to move forward and arrive at their level of mastery. 

So is this how children learn best?  Perhaps “best” isn’t the right word, but I  can safely say that I have seen many children move through our school,  learning at their own pace and achieving mastery.  I have to wonder if the “intentional planning” and learning through experimentation is one of the keys. 

What are your thoughts and experiences?


Robin Shapiro, MA is the founder of The LEAP Schools in the Boston Metro area. She has worked on all sides of the education spectrum—as a parent of two boys, a teacher, an administrator, and now as the founder of four growing preschools. From a very early age, Robin knew that education was the pathway to change and growth, and her passion for creating that experience for children and teachers has been a founding principle since 1985 when the LEAP Schools began. “No one is more proud of my directors and teachers than I am; their positive impact on children, parents, and each other is an inspiration for me!”