How Do Children Learn?

Children acquire knowledge through immersion.

They learn best by experiencing the world using all of their senses, orienting themselves in space, language, and society, and then by actively reflecting upon those experiences. Yet, such opportunities are increasingly rare in schools today where children spend their time sitting in tables, isolated in their studies. This passive learning environment is rigorously structured to emphasize assessment and grades vs providing opportunities for self-directed learning. Such restrictions ultimately impair your child’s ability to meet certain developmental milestones and negatively impact the experiential learning process.

What if we told you the answer to combating this unhealthy trend for our children is really simple? Just let them play.

Movement and play : the essential ingredients for children to develop their imagination, neuro-muscular abilities, and critical/creative thinking skills.  By giving children opportunities to play games and make art, they learn how to connect abstract concepts to action and to learn through trial and error. Research has shown children who spend time on physical and creative activities have a higher attention span and greater ability to concentrate, resulting into better academic performance. Memory and movement are linked and the role of play has been established not just as a part of learning, but as a foundation for healthy social and emotional function.

Physical activity is only one component of mental health but it is an important one. A study last year showed that prison inmates in Hong Kong get more outdoor exercise time than primary and secondary school students.  While it is impractical to suggest that children do not need any structure, or that academic skills are unimportant, it is also necessary to recognize our children are not receiving an education that aligns with the way they learn best.

How can we change this for our kids and students in Hong Kong? By allowing them to participate in as many play-oriented movements as much as possible. According to Eric Jensen, the author of ‘Teaching with the Brain in Mind’,  many play-oriented movements have the capacity to improve cognition, including the following:

  • Exercise play (aerobics, running, chasing, dance routines).
  • Rough-and-tumble play (soccer, football, wrestling).
  • Solitary play (doing puzzles, object manipulation).
  • Outdoor learning activities (digging, observing insects).
  • Stand and stretch activities (tai chi, Simon Says).
  • Group or team competitive games and activities (relays, cheerleading).
  • Constructive play (building with blocks, model building).
  • Exploratory play (hide and seek, scavenger hunts, make-believe).
  • Functional play (purposeful play, such as practicing a new skill).
  • Group noncompetitive games (earth ball).
  • Individual competitive games (marbles, track and field, hopscotch).
  • Adventure or confidence play (ropes courses, trust walks).
  • Group noncompetitive activities (dance, drama).

Truthfully, the type of activity or play doesn’t matter as much as the environment does. Kids deserve a safe and progressive space where they can freely express themselves, learn new skills, socialize, and form important relationships.  

At Trybe, we engage children in movement with intention. We believe that by increasing a child’s motor skills and athletic ability, we can also increase their confidence, expand their imagination, and give them tools for the agency they crave.  We want our kids to play, move, and most importantly grow.

Two upcoming fun workshops for kids at Trybe!

Our Family Day is on Saturday March 25th! We are providing lots of games and activities for kids to enjoy - try an obstacle course, learn some gymnastic rolls and cartwheels, juggle or balance like a tightrope walker, and enjoy the snacks provided by Quofeteria, our inhouse cafe. Sign up here while tickets last!

On Sunday March 26th, Trybe and HK Walls have partnered to host “Graffitti & Me”, a one-hour workshop to help your child learn about empowerment, creativity, and identity. We start with a series of movement puzzles to help your child become comfortable with hers/his body and a series of creative tasks to get their juices flowing. The session ends with each child playing with their ideas of graffiti and working on their own art piece. Sign up here while tickets last!