Some students are behind at school through no fault of their own.
They look at the work and don’t understand what is going on. They ask themselves “Why am I the only person in this class who doesn’t get this?” Eventually they begin to believe “I must be a real dummy I just don’t understand why I keep getting this wrong!” Their self-confidence disintegrates and at times their behaviour will follow. After all, “What is the point of turning up every day if I can’t learn this?”
What is happening with this student?
What would happen if you saw the number zero as a one? For one thing sometimes five plus one will equal six and other times it will equal five. When you are in primary school and just learning about numbers and maths, things will become almost incomprehensible. You won’t understand why sometimes ten is ten and sometimes it’s eleven. Everything will become an exercise in guess work for you. These students will also have trouble seeing decimal points, and fractions are just another language when your eyes skip over the line between the numerator and denominator.
That’s just maths. When they read, “was” can become “saw” and whole lines are skipped because the eyes didn’t see the line to read it. By the time they are Year 7 their reading comprehension is extremely low and there are gaps in their mathematics understanding because fractions and decimals don’t exist.
The problem is with their eye tracking.
Eye Tracking issues occur when the two eyes don’t move smoothly and accurately across a line or from word to word. The student will often lose their place while reading, skip lines, misread short words as in “was” and “saw” and cut off the beginnings and endings of words.
Eye tracking issues are usually corrected by visiting a Behavioural Optometrist who tests for the condition and prescribes glasses that are worn until the condition is corrected. Normal optometrists don’t usually check or test for this condition, so if your student has glasses and their schoolwork has not improved it may be time to visit the specialist.
“I just don’t get this!” is a cry for help from a student of any age. Here is the first thing about the learning process – if you don’t get it you won’t remember it and you won’t learn it. A student must understand a concept, in their own words, to be able to learn it.
So, the first step to learning something effectively is to understand it and if you don’t understand it then ask your teacher or instructor to explain it another way. You will not be the only person not understanding and it is your teacher’s job to see that you do understand.
Once you think you understand it then write it out in your own words, this will help to put it into short term memory. This is where most students stop and then wonder why they can’t remember material. Short term is good for a few minutes, hours or days, after that it is gone. You must take the next step to move it into long term memory.
Recitation (saying something repeatedly) has been proved to be the most effective way of placing information into long term memory. And by long term I am talking about a lifetime. Reading something quietly repeatedly to yourself or writing it down several times is not as effective as reading the material, in your own words, repeatedly ALOUD.
‘Sounds good to me’; ‘It’s starting to ring a bell.’
These are a couple of the phrases used by roughly twenty percent of the population that help to identify them as auditory learners.
Of course, your little one may not be using such readily identifiable markers, but you may still be able to see qualities that help to give you an insight as to the type of learners they may be.
An auditory learner enjoys movies and music and probably notices the sound effects in movies more than other people. They will readily put up their hands for discussion, happily participate in discussion groups and be involved in discussions without a group as they use self-talk. These students are not afraid to speak in class and may be accused of speaking in class as they process the information through self-talk.
They will perform their worst at reading passages and writing answers relating to those passages in a timed test but excel in responding to what they have heard and in oral exams.
The auditory learner learns best when reading aloud, receiving verbal instruction, repeating facts with eyes closed and memorising steps and procedures by repeating them. Older auditory learners need some external sounds (T.V. or music) while they are reading their notes or processing their homework. Writing their notes and recording them to listen to later is their best way of obtaining and retaining information.
Remember, looking out of the window while the teacher is talking does not necessarily mean they are not completely aware of what is being said. Auditory learners do not require a visual context in order to learn.