Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing”. Experiential learning is distinct from rote or didactic learning, in which the learner plays a comparatively passive role. – Wikipedia
I’m a huge believer in the value of experiential learning because one of the most effective ways to learn is to learn by doing. And when it comes to experiential learning, there are two activities at the top of my bucket list: camping and ski school.
Recently, the boys got to experience Ski School at Falls Creek and here’s why I think Ski School is absolutely one of the most awesome experiences a child can have…
Learning is Experience. Everything else is just information. – Albert Einstein
The Mental Benefits
This is by far the top benefit of taking the kids to Ski School… I can teach my children most things, but the one thing I struggle to teach them is how to stay strong in the face of adversity.
We keep talking about how important it is for children to develop grit, mental toughness, and resilience in order for them to be successful in life. Well, there is only so much we can do before we have to hand the reigns over to our children and let them discover their own inner strength. The only way they can make that discovery is if they get the opportunity to learn first hand. Ski school can provide one of those opportunities. To be clear, I’m not talking about a one-off skiing experience, but repeat exposure. There are no magic bullets in life unless you count time – put in the hours, be dedicated about it, and there will be results.
Like rock climbing, skiing is one of those sports that challenges children on a deeply personal level. During the process of learning how to ski, there is the fear of falling, being out of control, going too fast – things that make them want to lean backwards when what they really need to be doing is pressing forward in their skis. Learning to get a grip on the fear, controlling it, and keeping it contained so they can do what they need to do is such an essential life skill. This will not be an easy lesson for some children, but if we give them enough practice time, they will get better at it, and when they do, they will have a powerful memory of how they struggled, persevered, and triumphed.
The outdoor nature of ski school means it provides ample opportunity for outdoor learning which can be beneficial in so many ways:
- Outdoor learning can have a positive impact on long-term memory – there can be reinforcement between the affective and the cognitive, with each influencing the other to bridge higher order learning.
- There is substantial evidence that outdoor learning has the potential to raise attainment – improved engagement, achievement and motivation to learn.
- Outdoor learning is able to improve the development of responsible citizens – renewed pride in community with greater sense of place, of belonging and responsibility
- Impact positively on children and young people’s interpersonal and social skills – effectiveness, communication skills, group cohesion and teamwork.
Ski school re-connects children with nature which offers these amazing benefits:
- stimulates cognitive development and creativity
- reduces likelihood of developing myopia
- eases depression
- improves outlook
- improves focus
- strengthens immunity
It gives children opportunities to develop physical skills:
- acquisition of new skills and techniques
- develop mobility, balance, fitness, coordination
- understand the effect of altitude on the body
- develop physical strength and stamina
Skiing is a great workout for building the brain:
- Skiing is a sport and we know that any kind of physical activity or sport is good brain development and academic performance.
- Skiing is a proprioceptive activity which translates into working memory gains. Remember that working memory is important for helping children to do well at school and in life.
Ski school offers children a terrific opportunity to develop important life skills:
- team building
The purpose of experiential learning is to give children a rich environment to learn from and Ski School offers exactly that.