“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.
Not everyone learns the same way, and that creates problems in classrooms and at home.
As a generalisation, there are three types of learners: auditory, kinaesthetic, and visual. These are the main channels of learning. It’s a generalisation because, a person is more likely to be a combination of two (or more) rather than simply one, as in being purely an auditory learner. How do you identify a kinaesthetic learner?
Kinaesthetic learners just want to touch and feel everything. As adults, their mates give them plenty of personal space because they just want to playfully thump them all the time. Their house is a mess because they just want to collect and pull everything apart, just to see how it works. Putting it together again may be another matter. Does this sound like someone you married?
It is easy to identify an adult kinaesthetic learner, but how do you identify it in your child?
Well for starters, their teacher will be strongly suggesting you attend Parent Teacher Nights, so they can discuss how disruptive this young pupil is in the classroom. They fidget, leave their seat to touch things, move things and find it difficult to sit and learn. They may not even be aware of their movements as they are easily distracted by the movement of others and want to investigate.
This student needs a hands-on approach to learning so sitting in class and listening, reading from a book, or even taking notes from the whiteboard is not the best way for them to learn.
They will respond better when learning is through participation, such as in chemistry experiments, or building a model. These students do well in sports, drama and live for school lunch breaks. By the age of seven, they have been categorised as being an under-achiever, or worse still, hyperactive. But fear not.
Being a kinaesthetic learner is not a problem, as approximately fifteen percent of the population are kinaesthetic learners. The problem is our education system is geared towards auditory and visual learners, and kinaesthetic learners are the speed bump in our systems road to education. What can you do?
For starters, accept them for who they are, healthy active children. Give them down time after an active session and reward them for the tasks they perform. These guys may be reward driven. Kinaesthetic learners do best with images so paint them a picture of what you want from them and give them regular breaks while studying.
Your student is likely to become an actor, dancer, physiotherapist, massage therapist, surgeon, mechanic, carpenter, P.E. teacher, athlete, farmer, etc.
The point is, be patient, give them space and let them grow.
By Peter Kenyon: XtraMile Tuition Strategies Tutor
“A man who limits his interest limits his life.” – Vincent Price
We all want our children to do well in school and in life, but how do you ignite that spark that fuels a need for knowledge. How does your child develop an interest in the world around them?
For starters, let’s look at your environment. After all, we shouldn’t put the responsibility for learning and growth upon the school system alone. Children’s exposure to teachers and schools is small compared to their exposure to parents and home life. So, let’s take stock of the most influential environment upon your child’s growth – you and your home.
Talk with your child, not at your child
Talking with your child encourages conversation and participation while talking at your child is more about giving instruction: “Don’t do that”, “Sit and be quiet”, “Go outside and play”. Which type of parent are you? Is most of your communication one directional, or do you urge a more open form of communication? Do you talk with your child about the things you are interested in, such as books, movies, and gardening?
Talk with your child about your interests
Your growth and learning don’t stop when you become an adult. Your child is likely to become the adult you are because you are the major role model in their life. Your continued growth doesn’t have to be purely academic. Your interests, hobbies and activities continue to develop you as a person. As an adult, have you continued to grow, or do you come home at night and sit in front of the computer surfing YouTube or watching television?
Involve your child with books
Look around your house and count the books on your bookcase. What? You don’t have a bookcase. Reading is still the best source of gaining knowledge. It is a sad fact that today many households don’t have a library. Their interests and knowledge are not on display. I enjoy visiting people and scanning the titles on their shelves as it immediately lets me see the interests of the people who live there and gives a basis for conversation. Many people will have a display case for their sports trophies and I consider bookcases as display cases for your knowledge. Now, before you go thinking I am some sort of nerd, as well has having several hundred books, our household also has a movie library with several hundred movies. Display your interests and talk about your interests.
Do things and show your child how you do things
Involve your child in your interests, within reason. If your hobby is your garden, then have them help with the weeding. If you love live theatre, then take them to some live shows to expose them to the experience. Just keep the experience relative to their developmental level. Let your children see you reading at night instead of squatting in front of the television. Being entertained by books offers a different intellectual experience to being entertained by X-Box. If you are an X-Box kind of dad, you may just have to try a little harder. Try playing board games that offer challenges and choices while playing to help with the thinking process. Become involved with your children in thinking games and not just reaction games.
Become your child’s best teacher
From the day they are born your number one priority is to protect then and to prepare them. The adult they become is the result of your influence as much as that of the school system they fall into. Sometimes being a good parent requires learning new skills, but that is alright as learning new skills is part of life’s processes. No-one is born knowing how to parent. We learn some of it from our parents through their role modelling and we learn some from interacting with people as we grow up. Though, having said that nothing will prepare you for being a parent, you just learn as you go along. But you do have to learn.
Don’t overload your child
You don’t have to expose your child to everything at one time. There is no need to fill every waking moment with experiences and knowledge. You should allow down time, so they may process what has been experienced, what has been learnt and to rest and recover. Being a child takes a lot of energy and there is a need to re-charge their batteries from time to time. Build quiet times into their day when it is alright to sit and do nothing. Remember, a tired child will struggle at school.
Be positive about their school experience
“It’s alright mate, you have to go and there is nothing we can do about it.” doesn’t send a positive message about going to school. The school years are such a wonderful time of our lives and must be reinforced as such. Don’t bring the woes of being an adult, or the problems you are experiencing upon your child’s fun years. You can use their experience to bring some release from the pressures of your life. Encourage them to become involved with school activities and then be supportive and join in with them at these events. One of my most vivid memories is when my father and his friends turned out to watch me at my school rugby league game. I played many games but that one I remember. Don’t underestimate the importance of being part of their school experience.
“We will all be role models in our children’s lives. We don’t have that choice. The choice we do have is whether we are a positive role model or a negative role model. That is our choice.” – Peter Kenyon
A decreased ability to concentrate, confused thoughts, motivation low, increased irritability, grumbling, quarrelsome, overly sensitive to criticism, anxious or depressed. This may sound like a typical teenager but they are also warnings a coach watches for in athletes.
Good coaches recognise the signs of over-training and adjust their athletes’ schedule so the next phase of over-training, which is burn-out, doesn’t occur. A great coach will not let these signs develop because they know how to pace the training sessions without over-stressing the athlete.
What has fitness training to do with students? Burn-out may occur in any person in any profession at any age. Many parents don’t realise how much pressure they place on their children when they load up their awake time with sports training and competition outside of school hours. Some students are playing two sports a season. Some parents don’t realise they may be setting their child up for burn-out later that school year because they haven’t planned enough recovery time for their student.
If you are a parent who encourages outside sports for their children, then you should consider these three things:
Training and playing sport are tiring, very tiring.
A tired student will find it difficult to concentrate in class.
In today’s world, a person has a much better chance of achieving a high income with good grades than becoming a highly paid athlete.
An over-committed student who finds it difficult to concentrate in class will eventually fall behind on their grades. They may require the help of a coach, an academic coach.
When athletic students attend tuition sessions, we ask parents to consider dropping one activity before introducing a program of tuition. There is no sense in adding to an already over-loaded timetable. Nothing will be achieved. The tuition, depending upon the grade the student is in, will probably take one full year to bring them aligned with the class. That is only one season of any one sport, so they will not miss much when dropping one activity to replace it with tuition.
As an academic coach (with a long background in fitness training) I watch for signs of over-training in our students and act on it. Sometimes, that action will be to remove tuition from the student’s timetable if nothing else is removed. We do this for the well-being of the student.
You don’t have to be a sporting student to fall behind. At times, a high achieving student places themselves under unnecessary pressure because they have not learnt to budget time or to study correctly. A student like this will benefit from some one-on-one guidance so they may learn from an expert how to research and produce assignments, or how to prepare for secondary school exams.
So, as the school year progresses, watch for signs that indicate your student may not be keeping up and is silently crying for help.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller
How important is it to be a reader in this world of instant information?
Does sitting with your child and playing computer games produce the same outcome as sitting with them and reading a book?
Does it matter that you have never sat with your child and read to them before they have attended school?
More research is coming forward to indicate it does matter that a child is not read to or encouraged to pick up a book, even to scribble in.
Sitting with book in hand and child on lap allows them to see symbols, words and images. Moving your finger, leading their eyes along symbols of words and from words to images, allows little ones to make connections, at their own pace, with these symbols, words and images. Their vocabulary grows.
They may not yet be attending kindergarten or pre-school, but you are already preparing their mind for life-long learning. You have been helping their brain develop neuropathways that will assist with learning when they attend pre-school and beyond. Now, not every child will be ready to make these connections, just as not every child is ready to attend school at the tender age of five. These things happen when the child is ready, and you can’t rush it.
Spending this quality time with your toddler is crucial to early childhood development.
Andre Biemiller, a Canadian psychologist, studied the consequences of lower vocabulary levels in young children. The results of his studies indicated that children entering kindergarten in the bottom 25% of vocabulary generally remained behind the other children. By year six they were approximately three years behind their peers in vocabulary, reading and comprehension.
But what of teenagers? Is this a time for them to stop reading and focus on computer coding and superhero movies? Jonathon Douglas, of the National Literacy Trust (U.K.) doesn’t think so in his 2013 article “The Importance of Instilling a Need to Read”
“Teens who choose to pick up a book for pleasure are more likely to succeed in life.”
His article intimates that reading for pleasure reveals a predisposition for life-long learning which he suggests explains increased social mobility. If life-long reading is one indicator for success, then how may you encourage your moody teenage, or pre-teen, to put down the games console in exchange for the printed word?
We are unlikely to read material that doesn’t interest us, so to encourage a reading for pleasure environment in your household you should supply reading material (graphic novels, magazines, fiction and non-fiction novels) that will be of interest to your teenager. Hopefully, the school library will also have a supply of reading material that falls outside the curriculum.
What about reading on the internet? Research has shown that we adopt different styles of reading for different formats. Internet reading tends to lead to short concentration skimming rather than long-term absorption.
Over the past few decades, authors have been producing extraordinary books written with the adolescent in mind. These books deal with issues teenagers may be exposed to or experiencing in their life and allows them to deal with them from the safety of the book.
This is not to say teenagers should not be exposed to the classics of Dickens and the like, but there are books more relevant to them and their time. The classics may come later in life with the pleasure of reading.
Exploring the world through books, gathering information and understanding develops a solid core of knowledge upon which to build ethics, morality and character that becomes the young adult.
People, being social animals, need to mix with others and children are no different. So, what is going on when a child who was excited about attending school is suddenly resisting?
At the start of the school year there are mixed emotions from the new students. Most of the time going to school for the first time will be met with excitement generated from buying books, a school bag, trying on uniforms and covering schoolbooks.
The first day or three will be an absolute dream, unless it is your first child going off to school and the tears come from you. There will come a time when the novelty wears off and your eager young prodigy will dig their heels in explaining they have finished with school.
Sometimes explaining that this is their lot for the next twelve plus years (an explanation better than that I hope) will have them merrily kitting up for the next day, however at times there may be a deeper problem.
School refusal is an emotional problem experienced by some parents with their children. Some signs of school refusal are when your child:
Throws tantrums about going to school
Hides when it is time to leave for school
Begs or pleads not to be taken to school
Complains about being ill when it is time to leave for school
There are other indicators for school refusal you may read about on the Raising Children website. Addressing the cause is the key to handling the problem. There are many causes, but tuition may help when the cause is school refusal because of academic problems.
It is sad to think a Year One student is experiencing academic problems, but it does occur with no fault of any person. A new school student may be having difficulties because:
The assumed knowledge of Year One (e.g. spatial skills, order and counting, grouping, singing the alphabet) has not been learned in Prep.
The student is not quite ready to learn. Sometimes students struggle with learning something they see others around them learn easily. They become frustrated to tears, at which point we praise them for giving it a go. One day their eyes light up as they have answered a question correctly, but more importantly they understood the question they answered. Their brain is now ready to learn, and they take off catching the class (with the help of tuition) and at times moving to the head of the class with their results. Every child is ready to learn at a different time, so you never give up on them. Sometimes they are seven years of age before they are ready academically for school. This is a problem when school commences at five years of age.
The student has a learning disability and this may be something as simple to correct as a tracking issue.
Sometimes you may need the assistance of your G.P. or a child psychologist to help overcome your student’s school anxiety or low academic results. Never give up on them and consider an after-school tuition program to help subdue their anxieties and achieve academically.
Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to fit in what needs to be done, and there seems to be not enough weeks in the year for the school curriculum.
There are forty academic weeks to the Australian school year. This is little enough time to squeeze in the content of the curriculum. The problem is the school year is not exactly forty weeks.
There are several public holidays to be removed, and then there are “student free” days also to be taken out. If we remove the school camp that all students seem to be attending these days, sick days and time spent out of school for one reason or another (sports, museums, etc.) then we have a shortened academic year.
This all puts our teachers and students under pressure as a larger amount of acquired knowledge is squeezed into a reduced amount of attendance time.
“A” initially stood for Academic Year but now I think it should stand for “Attendance”.
So, how do you make a better student? Don’t add to the problem by reducing your student’s school attendance by removing them from school for a week-long holiday because it is more convenient.
“What then of children who come from homes where no-one hears Mother Goose, where no-one is encouraged to read signs, write scribbly letters, or play with books of any kind? What happens to them as they enter kindergarten has serious consequences for the rest of their lives – for them and for all of us.”
Though they may not be able to read by the age of five (and we should have no expectation of this) there is no reason for not sitting a child on your lap and reading to them. Let them see the words and the pictures as you read them. They may, or may not, develop at their own pace as they link the symbols of the word with the symbol of the picture. Just remember, if they don’t, they just may not yet be ready so let them be children.
Spending this quality time with your toddler is crucial to early childhood development. Andre Biemiller, a Canadian psychologist, studied the consequences of lower vocabulary levels in young children. The results of his studies indicated that children entering kindergarten in the bottom 25% of vocabulary generally remained behind the other children. By year six they were approximately three years behind their peers in vocabulary, reading and comprehension.
How to build a better student? Read to them. It’s a good start.
In his book “How Language Works” David Crystal discusses the possible effect computer-mediated communication (CMC) has had on both spoken and written language. CMC is the written communication that takes place on the internet, emails, forums etc. David Crystal infers that CMC is not like written or spoken language.
An elementary social grace we learn at an early age is that of turn-taking when we hold a conversation and “Turn-taking is so fundamental to conversation that most people are not conscious of its significance as a means of enabling interactions to be successful.”
When we ask a question and expect an answer; or expect a complaint to be followed by an excuse or apology; even when we acknowledge the receipt of information with a “thank you” we are turn-taking. This social formality allows people to take turns when they talk and not compete to talk at once.
On the internet turn-taking is dictated by the software rather than the people involved in the conversation. It is your turn after you push the “send” button and when it is received by the other party, which could be days if they are infrequent with checking their email.
Similarly, CMC is not like traditional writing because it can lack the permanency and traditional structure. Because there is so much perceived pressure to communicate some people are happy to send their messages with typographical errors, misspellings, erratic capitalisation and lack of punctuation. It would appear the care taken to revise their writing is of little or no importance to most authors of communication.
Written language has always had problems of interpretation when compared to face-to-face conversation but no amounts of “????”; “!!!!”; or smiley emoticon on emails or Facebook will replace the quizzical look or a raised eyebrow as immediate feedback to a statement.