Teaching the Young…Children are Active

May 25th, 2018 | Category: Columns, Teaching Young Children
By Michele Gnan

A recent study has found that children have higher energy levels than trained endurance athletes (Birat, 2018). Therefore, to respond to these energy levels, their learning must be active. Learning must involve touching, talking, smelling, predicting, investigating, thinking, and comparing, to mention only a few. Project-based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach that provides for this active learning.

PBL enables students to master academic skills and content knowledge while developing the tools of activity necessary for future success. During the school day children are engaged in projects that are meaningful and relevant to their lives and future. Projects develop from children simply asking questions. Children are provided with rich learning environments that encourage the asking of thoughtful, important questions—the why. Research and investigation to find answers to these questions allow children to think critically and learn deeply. Learning is guided by the child’s or children’s inquiry, reflection, and collaboration.

Under guidance from adults and peers, students explore, discuss, design, share, and reflect on their discoveries. Project-based learning is integrated within the academic content and standards in the areas of math, science, language, art, and music. Through the collaborative research process with others, strong social, emotional, and spiritual skills are developed and refined. Working together to find answers not only intrinsically motivates children but also empowers children through the learning process.

Project-based learning is active and exciting. Where there is excitement there is rarely silence. Children and even adults who are actively engaged in meaningful projects are usually not aware of the sounds or noises that surround them. Their intense interest in what they are doing diminishes the sounds in the background. This is why as teachers, parents, or observers come into a somewhat noisy classroom during times of active PBL learning, adults should be encouraged to join in and not just watch from the side. The noise will fade into the background as the focus grows and an answer just might be found to a question

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Chinese Proverb. LEJ


Birat, A., Bourdier, P., Piponnier, E., Blazevich, A. J., Maciejewski, H., Duche, P., & Ratel, S. (2018). Metabolic and fatigue profiles are comparable between prepubertal children and well-trained adult endurance athletes. Frontiers in Physiology, 9, 387.