As adults, most of us understand how great it feels to learn a new hands-on skill. We take classes in everything from pottery to wine-making because not only is it fun but it also gives us a huge confidence boost to achieve something with our own hands. We have a sense of pride when we are successful at a DIY project and sometimes find ourselves bragging about our newest talent to our friends and family (even if it is something like renovating the bathroom or learning a new way to get stains out of clothes).
If learning a new hands-on skill helps us feel great and gives us a confidence boost, imagine what it can do for our kids?
A Different Style of Learning
For some children, learning hands-on skills may be the perfect complement to traditional school methods. Not only can hands-on skills build a child’s confidence, but they have also been shown to provide a long list of other benefits including an increase in engagement with multiple areas of their brains and an increase in fine motor skills. Not only that, learning hands-on skills leads to an increase in opportunities to learn from real-life experiences which are more easily translated into different areas of life than absorbing information from a book or classroom lecture are.
In an article published by the New School, it is claimed that hands-on learning in a structured setting “encourages students to think outside of the proverbial box, coaxing them to experiment with and explore the problems, tools, and substances they’ll work with regularly in their chosen careers.” and hands-on learning gives students the chance to fix any mistakes and deepen their understanding with the instructor’s help. (You can find the full article here.) In other words, hands-on learning isn’t just learning a particular skill. It is learning the thought processes and dynamic thinking skills that are extremely critical to us to be successful adults. This is a skill that will last a lifetime.
Learning and Self-Confidence
When they have successfully learned new hands-on skills, students may also receive a burst of dopamine, the “happy” hormone that helps people learn new information and increases motivation. When this occurs, they become more confident to try the next skill. This then becomes an ongoing cycle. As students successfully learn more skills, they gain the confidence to try more skills. In a nurturing environment, their creativity is unleashed as they continue to develop new skills, making mistakes, and learning from them along the way.
By learning hands-on skills, they may even feel like they have discovered their secret talent. This could be anything from learning how to draw their favorite cartoon character to creating their own jewelry line.
For instance, imagine a little who loves to design and build things. Her toys live in “houses” that Frank Lloyd Wright would be proud of and every room of her house is full of her creations. Toilet paper rolls become design elements and no cardboard box is safe from being repurposed.
Now, think about what could happen if the little girl got to take a workshop where she not only designed her own buildings but also learned the architectural and engineering techniques to make her creations go from the drawing board to reality. At the end of the workshop, she even got to showcase and demonstrate her work in a specially designed exhibit for campers and parents.
Sure, she may have cut the cardboard incorrectly or not given enough support to the structure which caused it to flatten out like a pancake. She may have even made a big mistake and needed some extra help from her instructor to get things back on the right track. But each time she did that, she would learn a better way to do something and she would be more confident in trying different approaches to a problem.
This same little girl could also meet a lot of other boys and girls like her. Kids with similar interests who she can both teach and learn from. Kids who can inspire her both now and in the future.
The little girl may also have been super nervous about showing her designs to other people but, in the end, she realized that it isn't so scary after all. She may have even learned that, sometimes, we can be our own worst critics. After a successful workshop, the little girl can go back to school knowing that she created something amazing. Everything that she learned through this workshop could be applied to other aspects of life whether it be a challenging math problem or later on, a catastrophe at work.
In a nutshell, learning hands-on skills can help children by encouraging critical thinking and creativity while helping them master the art of confidence.
The Long-Lasting Benefits of Self-Confidence
What is even more important than the short dopamine boost that we get from learning a new hands-on skill is the long-lasting impact that self-confidence can have on life-long learning. Children are able to learn best when they are not afraid of making mistakes and lacking self-confidence is a huge barrier in the learning process.
When children are confident, they are more resilient as they learn how mistakes and failures help us learn and grow. They can also develop coping skills that allow them to adapt if things don’t go as planned. They may also have stronger relationships with family, friends, and peers as they continue to increase their levels of interpersonal interactions with others. When they are no longer worried about people judging them or how they are perceived by others, they may find themselves making new friends outside of their own circle and learning more about the world around them.
All of these combined can help kids develop a stronger sense of self and help them feel more comfortable in their own skin. When children have a strong sense of self, it makes them understand that they have weaknesses but that these weaknesses don’t change their self-worth. They also know what is important to them, and what their values are.
Learning hands-on skills helps us in immeasurable ways and helps improve everything from fine motor skills to confidence. If you would like to learn more about our programs and how they are specially designed to help students learn and grow, please check out our website here.
Join The Handwork Studio for a fun, screen-free summer!
The Handwork Studio, a fun, summer enrichment camp where kids learn by making. Since 2001, we've been the leading educators in teaching kids hands-on skills that you won't find in your school curriculum. Whether your child is interested in building, sewing, coding or design, we provide engaging activities for kids to embrace their imagination and think like innovators. Click below to find a summer camp location near you.