Children receive a lot of instruction when it comes to their health: from family members and caregivers, from school, from the government. The information children receive about how to take care of their health is ever-changing and often conflicting.
Children are also curious and inquisitive. They observe examples, take in information from media and advertising, and form their own conclusions.
What if children’s decisions about their health could stem from their own curiosity, instead of information they are given? What if they had the opportunity to ask questions based on their own observations, and use the information they gather to chart their own paths to health?
This process of asking authentic questions and turning answers into relevant practice is the intention of project-based learning.
Sustained Inquiry is one of the seven design elements of PBLWorks’ Gold Standard for PBL. When children are in a state of sustained inquiry, they are constantly asking questions, finding resources, and applying new information. For the questions they ask (and answer) to impact their lives, they need to be authentic: they need to have a real-world context, and they need to have a direct impact on each child’s life.
What impacts a child’s life more than her health?
When children approach the field of health and wellness from a perspective of inquiry, and are guided through it using a project-based learning curriculum, they can be assured that the answers they receive to their questions will apply to their own lives.
These learnings will apply to the lives of their family members, as well, and to members of their communities. And, after a successful PBL experience, children will have learned how to engage with and perhaps begin to solve some of the issues facing the health and wellness of our nation, such as obesity, chronic illness, and many others.
Children might continue reflecting, then ask more challenging questions, such as, “What does healthy actually mean?” And, “How can I keep myself and other children healthy?”
Instead of telling children how to be healthy, we as educators have an opportunity to help children create their own solutions for health. And, by using PBL in our youth programs, we can help children not only define what healthy means to them, but how to adopt a lifestyle of health and wellness and help others adopt one, too.
When children engage their own minds and creativity to discover what healthy means to them, they might change what healthy means to the world.
We at Dignity of Children challenge you to ask the kids in your life, “What can we do differently to make our generation healthier than the previous generation?”
How can you use PBLWorks’ seven essential project-based learning design elements to create an authentic project that matters to children? That creates opportunity for youth voice and choice? That encourages reflection? That results in products children are eager to share with the world, because these products create solutions that can be delivered to other children?
Visit PBLWorks now to join us on our mission to empower children to find solutions to their own health and wellness.
At Dignity of Children, we hold the health and safety of all in the highest regard. With that said, we are now transitioning all of our programming to an online platform while the world navigates through the current COVID-19 pandemic.
While kids are at home, we remind parents that it is important to keep your children stimulated on an emotional, physical and cognitive basis. Over the coming days and weeks, we will be posting mindful activities on our social media pages to help kids continue to learn while also being able to express their feelings. Remember to create a daily routine for your children that will help them remain excited and engaged!
Additionally, we want to encourage educators and afterschool staff members to take advantage of our online programs for professional development. For questions about DOC programming, call us at (646) 639-7711.
Please remember to take care of yourselves, wash your hands, be safe and stay healthy!