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5 Things to Know About the Brainy Benefits of Experiential Learning

The camps and programs at The Handwork Studio are a workout for the brain, not just your hands!

children holding a sewing project

For the last 21 years, The Handwork Studio has been well-versed in the benefits of experiential learning. With over 28 programs grounded in experiential learning, from Woodworking to Set Design, Baking, and Robotics, there is a path and opportunity for every child to learn by making. 

What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning is an approach to education that was first discussed by prominent 20th-century scholars and was formally developed by David A. Kolb in the 1970’s. In its simplest form, experiential learning is learning by doing. The learner embarks on a journey of action and interaction that leads them to a place of higher knowledge. At the end of the experience-based process, the student not only possesses a new skill and knowledge, but they have become a better learner, as well.

For those less familiar with the benefits of hands-on learning, here are 5 scientifically-backed reasons why neurologically, experiential learning can be an incredible educational experience that is fun and will leave a lasting positive impact on your child.

1. The brain on making social connections.

The act of handwork invites connection. When children work together on a handwork project, we see collaboration with friends, focus, smiles, and laughter. On the inside, something even more profound happens. The brain receives one of its most basic needs: connection! As social creatures, humans don’t just benefit from meeting up with friends or family because they enjoy the interactions. The brain actually performs at higher levels of cognition when connected with others. Connection also develops empathy. The type of connection forged by handwork leads to organic social situations. Social pressure subsides by sharing a singular purpose, allowing even shy campers to partake. Children can speak when they feel compelled or work quietly. Each child finds their comfort level, and their brain reaps the benefits. 

At The Handwork Studio, the Design & Build program, Imagine Quest, is built on creating connections with peers. Campers work together to solve magical missions, to building fantastical environments! Through hands-on learning in this creative and collaborative environment, campers will make lifelong friends and leave feeling engaged and fulfilled.

boys completing a handwork craft with nails and hammer

2. The brain on perseverance and problem-solving.

At the Handwork Studio, children have the autonomy to explore their capabilities. When given the space to use trial and error to solve handwork problems independently, children practice patience and develop perseverance. Wow! To see this type of behavior in children as young as five is impressive in and of itself.

Inside the brain, more than just delayed gratification takes place. Neurons record the pathways that lead to an error and remove them. As this happens repeatedly, the brain becomes more precise and quickly identifies successful methods. If it seems like campers have become better problem solvers after a week of Handwork camp, it’s because they have!

A great way to develop problem-solving skills without even realizing it is through The Handwork Studio’s Superheroes vs. Villains camp. In this program, campers create 3D worlds for their favorite superheroes. Rooted in creativity, children conceptualize and design an ideal world and then evaluate which techniques best help them achieve it.  

3. The brain in the flow.

Mindfulness is one of the most significant benefits of handwork. It is known that busy hands lead to a focused, calm child. But just how significant is this? Mindfulness is one of the most vital tools in reducing stress. Stress harms overall health, but does it impact the brain? The answer is a resounding YES. Increased stress hurts memory, damages brain cells, and even shrinks the brain. What is most astounding to learn is that stress affects the actual structure of a developing brain, and the brain retains that structure for life! Too much stress at a young age creates a brain vulnerable to mental illness, whereas low-stress levels help form a resilient brain. The difference in structure has to do with the white and gray matter of the brain, which for those more neuro-curious, here is where you can read more on the subject!

The Fashion & Machine Sewing program at The Handwork Studio allows campers to develop physical skills like sewing while engaging the part of the brain responsible for mindfulness. By being required to focus solely on one physical task, the mind copies the body and becomes quiet, thinking only of the sewing. It gets into a state of flow and they won’t even realize that hours have passed and will be amazed at what they have accomplished!

child and parent working on a sewing project

4. The brain on intergenerational bonding.

When two people, separated by generations, bond, something very special happens. Your child experiences the benefits of connection, while the elder’s brain flourishes. Seniors who regularly engage with youth experience higher overall brain function and lower instances of dementia. While The Handwork Studio doesn’t quite offer summer camp for seniors (yet), campers can bring the benefits home to them!

Theatrical Costume Design, while exciting and modern in appeal, promotes intergenerational bonding. In this program, children master the skill of machine sewing. The skill easily transfers from costumes to everyday clothing and accessories, allowing campers to join grandma in this traditional pastime.  

5. The brain on confidence.

One of the ways that Experiential Learning inspires confidence is through completion. When children begin a project at The Handwork Studio, they finish it. Completing a task is about so much more than the physical product; it is about starting something and seeing it through to completion which creates a deep feeling of accomplishment. When a person feels confident, the centers in the brain that are responsible for positive emotions and motivation are activated. Quite simply, when someone feels confident, they feel good, and those feelings are rooted in a clinically happier brain!

While all Handwork Studio programs lead to overall higher confidence in the campers, a great example of this is in The Handwork Studio’s Robotics program, Animal Adventures. In that program, children learn and use robotics to help save animal species. The course teaches them to have patience and trust that their skills and actions can positively impact the world around them.  

This is your brain on Handwork

As it turns out, when children engage in experiential learning, especially handwork, they not only gain skills that last a lifetime, they gain the neurological benefits of a healthy, happy, confident brain that will last a lifetime!  

Discover hands-on skills in 2022 with their summer camp programs!

The Handwork Studio is a fun, summer enrichment camp where kids learn by making. Since 2001, they’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, they provide engaging activities for kids to embrace their imagination and think like innovators. Click below to find a summer camp location near you.

Click Here to Find Your Summer Camp Location. 

The Handwork Studio, a fun, summer enrichment camp where kids learn by making. Since 2001, they've been the leading educators in teaching kids hands-on skills that you won't find in the school curriculums anymore. Whether your child is interested in building, sewing, coding or design, they provide engaging activities for kids to embrace their imagination and think like innovators. 📍PA, DC, VA, MD Learn more at thehandworkstudio.com.