If you are an “active” hands-on father who has often wondered if more structured form of “activities” – called projects can help accelerate their learning you have come to the right place. We tried to analyze the specific groups of children that can benefit most from it and below is what we found.
Project-based learning sounds good in theory, but many people are not sure if it really applies or is beneficial for their children. However, the truth is, project-based learning applies to all ages, from infants to adults. Small children learn by trial and error. From learning to roll over to holding a bottle by themselves, these are things you can’t coach or teach. However, infants instinctively learn how to do these things within months of being born. The instinct to solve a problem and discover for themselves is instinct but is often lost as children grow and spend hours in a classroom. However, this instinct can play a major role in every aspect of life. Being able to discover answers for yourself can help in everyday projects along with a challenging business assignment, college classes, and the list goes on.
Project-based learning can also be especially beneficial for young girls, gifted children, and children with special needs. Let me explain why.
Project-based learning can be especially beneficial for gifted children. Gifted children have the capacity to learn at incredible speed but, just like other children, they have needs and difficulties that they have to overcome. Sadly, because they are gifted, many of these children’s needs are often overlooked or unrecognized. In addition, not acknowledging and taking action to combat these challenges can have potential long-term damage to even the smartest kids’ potential. But what are these difficulties? Self-discipline, confidence and the ability to self-teach.
This may not make sense at first. A gifted child who can ace any test must be disciplined enough to study hard. If you are the smartest one in your classes your confidence is a given. In addition, gifted children are always learning, they can teach themselves anything!
Angela Marzilli, STEM and PBL coordinator in South Portland, Maine stated, “Students who have not been adequately challenged in the past are accustomed to getting the correct answer quickly and knowing immediately that they are correct. Faced with a project that requires extended, higher-level thinking and leads to an ambiguous solution, gifted students often struggle with retaining their self-confidence (how can I still be smart if this is challenging for me?) And may push back on the concept of products that don’t have a defined right or wrong answer.”
So how does Project-based learning help gifted children? When gifted children are told the answers to a test, that they can easily remember and never have to study for, children will never learn how to study. They will never learn how to look for the answers themselves and their confidence is solely based on what they can remember someone else teaching them, not on what they can learn themselves.
Project-based learning allows gifted children to step outside their comfort zone and learn a new way of thinking. Instead of just memorizing answers, gifted children are taught how to use self-discipline to diligently search for the answers themselves. They are taught how to study, how to ask questions and find answers that may be vague and it gives them true confidence in themselves and what they can do, not just what answers on a test they can retain.
Project-based learning can help girls get one-step ahead. Get noticed. Because it teaches them to be seeking new and better answers. Many people will go to work and do exactly what they are told to do. Most people do not know how to notice unasked questions.
Children who, from a young age, are taught to seek out their own questions and answers have the ability to notice problems others might not have seen and then find the answers to those questions. Anyone who has these skills, and utilizes them, will stand out in their careers as hard workers who go beyond.
Project-based learning can also teach girls confidence and to know their worth. In addition, as much as you tell someone, they should be confident; confidence is really something that has to be learned individually. And many girls are confident. They love who they are, they believe in themselves and they are not ashamed to show who they are. Many girls, naturally from a young age, love taking care of others. Little girls like to play with baby dolls, as they grow up many girls start babysitting as a form of income and by the time they reach adulthood, many women want to be a caretaker in some way. Either by having a baby or adopting a pet, women naturally like to take care of others.
But with the desire to care for others often comes a fear of offending or hurting others or worse, doing something that might make others not like them. This isn’t always a bad thing, but in the workforce, it can be something that can hold women back.
A lot of women do not make the same income as their male counterparts. However, oftentimes this has to do with the fact that women are not as assertive when it comes to asking for raises or accepting praise and letting others know what they have accomplished.
Project-based learning teaches girls how to find confidence in their work. Any project that leads to an entrepreneurial opportunity, teaches girls how to make others acknowledge their work and receive the recognition or credit they deserve for it. When girls realize that what they are doing is something praiseworthy and they have the confidence, and the knowledge, to make others realize it too, this can open the door to job opportunities with bigger companies, promotions and higher-paying salaries.
Project-based learning can also give young girls a jumpstart into the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project shows that although women make up for more than half of the US college-educated workforce in the United States, the statistics for women in the science and engineering field is only 28%
STEM subjects are often ones girls are not encouraged to take. But with project-based learning at home, each project can be customized to encourage children, despite gender, to actively participate and learn in any subject, regardless of what those around them might be saying.
Special needs children
Children with ADHD and Autism face many challenges. In addition, the collection of challenges each special needs child may face is as unique as the child who suffers from it. Social exclusion, the inability to keep up academically with peers, and a lack of confidence.
Project-based learning can help with all three of these categories because it can be customized to fit any child’s needs or interests.
There is very little we as parents can do to make sure our kids have friends and are included in activities at school. With Project-based learning, parents have the ability to put together a group of kids who will interact with their child. Giving them a safe environment where they feel comfortable and have friends to interact can go a long way.
Project-based learning also teaches children how to find answers to the questions they do not know. In addition, although special needs children will often have to start with a very simple project and May never fully catch up to their peers in school, Project-based learning teaches the ability to search for answers that may be confusing or unclear. This skill can help special needs children keep up in the classes they are in, as they may not always know the answers or fully understand what is going on.
And last but not least. Project-based learning teaches confidence. When a special needs child who is struggling with school, and may feel like a social outcast, accomplishes a project they can show off and be proud of, their confidence will skyrocket! Giving them more encouragement to learn and grow.
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