Imagine that you have never seen a real lemon. You do not know what one is.
If you were to look at a picture of a lemon, what would you learn from that picture? It is yellow, it is round. Even if you cannot talk about its features, you will see them.
Next, you are given a plastic toy lemon. What else will you learn now? You will learn that it has small dimples on the skin, and you will be able to put the size into perspective.
Finally, you are given the real thing. You will learn that you can squeeze the lemon slightly, you can dig your nails in the skin and find white underneath, you can cut it open and discover that the inside has segments, that it is wet, it is sticky and it tastes sour. You can squash the lemon and listen to the sound it makes, and let us not forget the smell!
Learning opportunities are far greater when children have the chance to experience something first hand. Not only does it allow children the opportunity to use all their senses when they are exploring a new object or experience, but it also increases motivation, can improve behaviour as the child is more engaged, helps to develop communication and language skills as experiences give children something to talk about, and consequently, further develops their understanding of the world.
The Foundation Stage has had a real focus this term on providing the children with first-hand experiences that we hope to continue next term and next academic year. As a parent, you can also provide your child with first-hand experiences extending their learning outside of school and supporting them in developing key skills used for the rest of their lives.