When you were in the early elementary grades, it was probably the norm for an entire school to only have a handful of computers, centralized in a lab and used only sparingly. Today’s kids have grown up in a technology-rich environment. By the time they reach elementary school, sitting at a desk copying figures from a chalkboard is not playing into their strengths as students. Passive learning definitely still has its place, as kids need to memorize facts and figures just as ever before. But more and more schools have turned to interactive learning to inspire students and keep the teacher-student relationship vital.
What is it?
Interactive learning is a more hands-on, real-world process of relaying information in classrooms. Passive learning relies on listening to teachers lecture or rote memorization of information, figures, or equations. But with interactive learning, students are invited to participate in the conversation, through technology (online reading and math programs, for instance) or through role-playing group exercises in class.
How does it help?
In addition to engaging students who are raised in a hyper-stimulated environment, interactive learning sharpens critical thinking skills, which are fundamental to the development of analytic reasoning. A child who can explore an open-ended question with imagination and logic is learning how to make decisions, as opposed to just regurgitating memorized information. Also, interactive learning teaches children how to collaborate and work successfully in groups, an indispensible skill as workplaces become more team-based in structure.
How can I continue interactive learning at home?
Talk, talk, talk to your child. Ask open-ended questions about the day at school to get a conversation going. The old “How was your day at school?” standby will most often get a noncommittal “fine” in response. Instead, try some of these specific, but still conversation-starting, questions to continue learning at home. You can also explore online learning games and activities with your child that can serve as extensions to what they are learning in their classrooms.