Expert’s Corner: Is your child a passive learner?

Active vs. Passive Learning

Version 3

Summer time is a great way to help children’s brains develop in healthy ways. Doing simple activities together as a family sparks valuable learning that all members can benefit from.  Encouraging kids to use their imagination enhances the highest regions of the brain.  As you know, I continuously promote how critical it is for children to have the opportunity to play.  To have the chance to experience open-ended, active, hands-on, child-led, process-oriented, outdoor, messy, sensory, creative, imaginative kind of play. The type of play that enables a child to learn, understand and apply the knowledge. This is what we call Active Learning.

Watch this video as I talk about what Active Learning is vs Passive Learning:

Active Learning is a method that strives to involve children in the learning process.  According to Bonwell and Eison (1991) Active learning engages students in two aspects– doing things and thinking about the things they are doing. Some may call it group work, project method, activity based learning or learning through play but basically all these has the same significant qualities and characteristics of Active Learning. Active learning is the opposite of Passive Learning. Active learning promotes more than just listening but instead encourages children to explore, discuss, collaborate, and connect new learning with one’s own world.

On the other hand, Passive Learning is a method of learning where students receive information from the teacher and internalize it, often through some form of memorization or rote learning with little or no feedback at all. This style of learning is teacher-centered and  contrasts against active learning, which is student-centered wherein students take an active or participatory role in the learning process. It involves the Socratic method where students and instructors engage in cooperative argumentative dialogue.


Passive learners may quietly absorb information and knowledge without typically engaging with the information received or the learning experience. They may not interact with others, share insights, or contribute to a dialogue. Much like exposing our children to gadgets and screen time, the use of educational videos and games is a perfect example of passive learning.

“Tell me – I forget. Show me – I remember. Let me do – I understand.”

Research has long shown that people retain information longer when they have explored it with multiple senses. According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience, people generally remember only 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, 70% of what they say and write and 90% of what they do.  Clearly the more involved a child becomes with the process, the more they learn. There is an old Chinese proverb that says: “Tell me – I forget. Show me – I remember. Let me do – I understand.”

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Crayola Paint Maker

For example: reading a book about animals is great, but visiting a zoo is better. Visiting museums allows children to experience new things with a variety of their senses. Getting down and dirty by experimenting on colors using the Crayola Paint Maker.

3MEL-2940 See & Spell (2)
Melissa & Doug See & Spell

Visiting a garden and painting a lovely picture using Crayola Washable Kids Paint.  Learning sight words through spelling with the help of Melissa and Doug’s See and Spell puzzle. Understanding mathematics and counting skills with the use of The Learning Journey – Magnetic Count and Learn Board. The best gift you can give your child is the gift of first hand experiences. So this summer, let us work together in encouraging our kids to explore, discover, collaborate and create in active play!

#activeplay #learnthroughplay


Got questions for Teacher Raissa about active vs passive learning, child development and milestones? Leave a comment below or send us a message at ogalalaexpert [at]

Teacher Raissa is a teacher by day and Crayola addict 24/7! She absolutely adores children and has been working (and playing!) with them for the last 9 years. She teaches math, is a homeroom adviser to adorable Preschoolers, and believes in learning through play.

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