A baby hand painting on a white surface.

What is 'Experiential' Learning?

Experiential learning can be defined as kids (and adults!) learning through exploring, experiencing, creating, discovering, relating to and interacting with the world around them.

This form of learning is unstructured, without rules or time limits, and involves little adult guidance. Kids are allowed to learn naturally, on their own terms. Experiential learning can occur via activities such as playing outdoors, imaginative or pretend play, creative expression through art, music and dance, exploration of nature and the child’s surrounding environment.

Experiencing the world independently helps kids think for themselves. By doing so, they gain a sense of achievement and improved confidence that can help deepen the parent-child bond as families share in the pride of reaching important milestones. Experiential learning happens beyond the structure of a classroom curriculum and is available to every child at home, at playtime, on holiday or at weekends.

Today, many kids partake in fewer unstructured experiences than their parents did as children. This is a result of many factors, from advanced technology (toys, TV, video games, internet and social networking) to parental fears over safety, hygiene and a lack of quality play spaces.

If you’d like to learn more about experiential and unstructured learning after reading our studies, Persil recommends the following books to get you started: Sally Jenkinson, The Genius of Play and Richard Louv, The Last Child in the Woods.

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