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By Jean Warren

We often hear the phrase "Learning by Doing". What does this mean? Some parents and teachers seem to think this means children spending hours "doing" worksheets.

"Learning by Doing" or "Active Learning" means engaging all of our senses and attention into discovering something new. When children listen to teachers lecturing or when they watch TV, we call this "passive learning".

Research has long shown that people retain information longer when they have explored it with multiple senses. There is an old Chinese proverb that says: "Tell me - I forget. Show me - I remember. Let me do - I understand."

Parents today are faced with many new challenges. One important one, is trying to help their children balance the use of passive pursuits such as; TV viewing and computer usage, with active pursuits such as; sports, crafts, dramatics and everyday explorations.

Reading a book about a farm is great, but visiting one is better. Visiting hands-on museums allows children to experience new things with a variety of their senses. The best gift you can give your child is the gift of first hand experiences. Let them help you cook occasionally, plant some seeds, wash a window, build a birdhouse, send a letter, etc.

Even the good intended story time can often turn into a passive activity for your child. Keep your child alert while reading to him by asking him often what he thinks will happen next. Encourage your child to dramatize the stories you read and make up his own versions of the story.

It is a wonderful new world we live in but preschool children still need active stimulation to grow their brains so their brains will be ready to comprehend complex thought processes needed to read and do math when they enter the first grade.