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Blended Learning – How toddlers can truly learn online

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

An old proverb reads, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, but involve me and I learn.” It is therefore no secret that a combination of theory and practical activities are essential to provide an optimal learning experience. However, with the onset of a global pandemic and multiple online learning platforms, one can’t help but notice that focus has unfortunately drifted away from this holistic and wholesome approach and now leans more towards a theoretical-only learning module.

The classification between practical learning and theoretical learning is far from blurred. Where learning acquired through reading or listening to a class, is categorised as theoretical knowledge, practical knowledge on the other hand, is attained through firsthand experiences and situations.

Teachers have long believed in blending and balancing both. One of the reasons people often call Pre-School a Playschool is because that is what children do there. They play and make intended accidental realisations like “If I don’t support a sphere-shaped block it won’t sit on top of a pyramid’s pointed edge” thus developing a vague sense and intuition of objects, physical properties that they will later learn to reason with and articulate.

Many parents and sadly even some teachers often confuse interactions and the practical approach to learning. Think of it this way, you can surely define water, show a photo of a glass with water to reinforce the lesson, you could even test to see if the child can identify photos of water from photos of juice (this bit right here was an interaction), but without that essential practical sensation, the little one still wouldn’t know wet from dry.

Fred Rogers creator of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, is often quoted, saying, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning.” With exactly this insight in mind, the perfect learn-at-home solution for young ones, is one that uses a blended approach to provide the necessities of both worlds to the child. Perhaps, a DIY learning aid to what’s being taught. Or maybe, a carefully crafted box of goodies to touch, feel and enhance the online learning experience. Something on the lines of, “Oh, you learned a new word on the app today? Here’s a set of flashcards, let’s play!” That’s a holistic learning experience that will last.

Some benefits of such blended programmes are as follows.

More involvement is more fun, and more fun is easier

To children and most adults too, a boring class is difficult and a funny class is easy. When we include practical elements in class the fun is automatically accounted for. By adding something to play with you suddenly add to the ordinary class a sense of touch, smell, and taste too (don’t children just love putting everything in their mouth?).

Learn but not by rote

Learning by rote might be an innate talent for few, but to most, the forced need to learn by heart ruins the learning experience.There are different tactics to remember, and the system commonly used is the “write it down” method. However, during the early years, writing is not an option. An immersive learning activity provides an alternative, ensuring that information is memorable by involving the child.

A Real World Connect

Children are more familiar with their physical surrounding than they are with words. So, linking letters and words (like “S K Y”) to real world objects (the big blue thing above) helps build a more lasting vocabulary. The benefit of building such a positive vocabulary is a strong reader. Why? A solid foundation of simple words like sky are the roots for bigger words like skyscraper.

The benefits of blending the theory with a practical physical component ensures that the child learns to remember and develops a fondness for learning.

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