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My Experience with Experiential Learning

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Posted on July 31, 2018 by By Michael A. Longacre ’19, counseling psychology major.

Courtesy: Dr. Kathy Wu Dr. Kathy Wu's Child Development class visits the library in Doylestown.

For my Child Development class, our final project was to create a children’s storybook to present to children at the library in Doylestown. Throughout this course, we learned the intricacies of a child’s physical, cognitive, and behavioral development from birth to adolescence. 

Personally, as an only child, I have not had much experience with young children. For this reason, the majority of the information in this course was new to me. While the lectures and bookwork proved beneficial, the most useful and memorable component of this course was our final experiential learning project. 

For this project, I chose to create a children’s storybook aimed at raising children’s awareness of healthy eating habits. The book, “Super, Mighty, and Strong,” aimed to encourage children to eat healthy so that they could grow up to be strong. 

While the task of creating such a book might seem elementary to some, to truly cater to young children, extensive knowledge regarding their cognitive development and tendencies is required. Using the information learned in this course I attempted to put myself, a 25-year-old male, into the mind of a young child. Trying to see through the eyes of a child, I wrote a story intended to gain and retain a young child’s attention despite the relatively boring topic. 

 Arriving at the library, I was anxious to see how the children would react to my storybook. After some idle time in the library watching my classmates read their books to various children, I noticed a young boy coming my way. Without any delay, he sat down in front of me, awaiting the story. 

With a few short questions, I gathered his name was Michael and that he was 5 years old. While Michael was shy at first, he soon became comfortable with me. I expressed to him that my name was Michael as well, and we shared a laugh. 

While reading him the storybook, his cognitive abilities amazed me. From time to time he would make comments on the pictures in my book, or the foods I was talking about. For a 5-year-old, the intelligence of his comments and the depth of his vocabulary surprised me. 

Due to his frequent comments, I soon realized that he would likely benefit from a more interactive experience. After that, I continuously asked him thought-provoking questions related to the content on the page I was reading. This method proved to increase Michael’s interest in the activity, as well as the book’s educational content. 

At the end of the book, I believe Michael understood and was truly intrigued by the message I was attempting to convey, that eating healthy will allow you to grow up big, mighty, and strong. 

By observing Michael’s behavior throughout this experience, I gained first-hand knowledge of the cognitive abilities, behavior patterns, and the tendencies of a 5-year-old child. 

This experience highlights the type of opportunities Delaware Valley University provides to its students. This first-hand experience with young children proved to be the perfect addition to the coursework learned throughout the semester. I truly believe that pairing traditional educational methods with experiential learning opportunities provides students with the opportunity to reach their true potential.  

About the Author 
Michael A. Longacre ’19 is a Delaware Valley University counseling psychology major.