Of course it is important to have a sound grasp of the theory that underlies any profession or industry. But there are some skills that can only be learned through hands on practice. This is an established fact of the education industry. However, there are good arguments for hands on training beyond the fact that some skills can only be learnt this way. It’s important that much of the learning material in any given course should be provided in a way that allows students to get as involved as possible to increase their knowledge and abilities.
Students who practice what they are learning in a hands-on environment are more likely to have a greater retention of the program material. Some studies have suggested that the rate of retention can be up to three and a half times higher for students who get involved physically with the course material than those who sit in a classroom with a lecturer regaling them with an endless stream of facts and figures. This is especially the case when studying in a field that requires the use of materials or software. When dealing with an area of study that works with people, it is absolutely essential.
Students who undertake a part of their course in a practical and hands-on way are a lot more likely to graduate with a better understanding of how the industry works and have a better feel for the processes involved in their chosen career. They will enter the workplace with a much higher level of understanding of what is required of them. There is a mantra within the education industry that relates to these ideas, it goes: I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.
It is in the childcare industry that this hands on approach is not just beneficial but absolutely essential and indeed it is highly unlikely that any course can be of benefit without a strong emphasis on the practical side of training. There is a part of the caregiving industry that quite possibly cannot be taught and that is the natural affinity that some people have with others. It is assumed among many who provide education in care that students do need to have a natural disposition towards caring for others in order to undertake such a career. And while it is probably assumed by most students undertaking a course like this that they may not have had any direct experience with caring for children. So it will be at this hands-on point of the course where the come directly into contact with the very people they will be working with that they find out whether or not this is the job for them. It would be catastrophic if students were able to complete a course in the childcare industry without this practical experience, both for the students themselves and the industry they were going to seek employment in.
Many courses will differ in the exact amount of time they devote to this practical aspect of the course but it could be reasonably assumed that the more time a student has in the practical environment then the better equipped they will be to deal with the work when they find a job. It is usually assumed that at least 120 hours including some period of work experience inside a childcare centre is absolutely necessary for the development of a student.
The importance of having hands-on training really cannot be overstated in the childcare industry. There is so much nuance to human behavior that it would take a lifetime of reading about it to come even close to the amount of knowledge you can learn in even one afternoon spent with a child in your care. It is one of those things that you often hear parents talk about as being one of the biggest surprises about having children. It is the way you learn so much about the child, about yourself and about humanity in general from the subtle obligations and responsibilities that are created and then fulfilled by the simple act of giving care to another person.