How do we learn?

When it comes to how we learn, it is very much an individual thing. There will be some common threads which I will explain in a moment. It is key to remember we are all inspired and motivated by different things. We all have an individual starting point and end goal. The road we take to achieve our targets will be an individual route for us all.

Creating multiple memories to assist learning

Each time we do something we create a memory.

If we do the same thing repeatedly, we are making that memory stronger. However, our brain still only has one place to go to in order to find the information that it needs.

Therefore, the more resources and activities we carry out to help us to learn the more memories we are creating, making it easier for our brain to find the information that it needs when required.

Furthermore, the more varied these activities are, the more different parts of brain we will be using.

So, although we may be a visual learner, we will also benefit from been exposed to audio, tactile, and kinaesthetic resources as well. If we consider ourselves to be an audio learner, we will also benefit from tactile, visual and kinaesthetic experiences. And so on.

Regardless of our learning style, if we are relaxed, we will be in a better state of mind to learn.

If we want to support a child with learning, we will need to do it in a way that is effective for them.

Help a child learn

Talk to the child and involve them when considering the best way to teach them and what learning style will best suit their needs. Remember this throughout as it will be one of the biggest benefits you can offer the child.

As already mentioned, research explains that there are four ways in which a person can learn (learning styles).

These are visual, audio, tactile and kinaesthetic experiences. The more we can expose the child to a variety, the easier it will be for them to recall the information at a later date.

Offering visual reminders to help learning:

visual reminder is created when a child creates a memory from something they have seen. They do not need to interact with it on any deeper level. Examples of this could include wall charts. There are numerous other examples of environmental print:

Calendars, catalogues, menus, time-tables for buses and trains, newspapers, TV guides.

Creating audio reminders to help us learn:

An audio reminder is created when a child creates a memory from something they have heard. This can be in the form of been told something or hearing themselves say something. Audio reminders are particularly effective when it is their own voice they are hearing; consequently, getting the child to say the information themselves will be more effective than listening to someone else telling them. If the child is shown the information at the same time as they hear it, they will again build up a greater association with the information.

Tactile memories to help us learn:

A tactile reminder is created when a child creates a memory from something they have felt. This can be created by using such resources as clay, play dough, plastic or pipe cleaners. It can also be created by the child feeling a shape which has been glued onto a piece of paper. Use might use sand, string or sandpaper, etc. An advantage to these is that the child can be involved in creating the letter sounds themselves. Making a letter shape out of pipe cleaners is a simple mess-free activity as they can be easily manipulated into shape.

Creating kinaesthetic memories to help us learn:

A kinaesthetic reminder is created when a child creates a memory from something they interact with. Examples of this include making the letter sounds out of pipe cleaners, clay, play dough etc. Children clearly enjoy these activities, which is important.

If children are enjoying themselves and are in a relaxed state, they are more susceptible to learning. Kinaesthetic memories can also be created through activities such as air writing i.e. – writing the letters in the air on a large scale. This can be done on large sheets of paper or with water and a paintbrush on an outside wall on a nice day. Creating actions associated to each sound is also effective.

Hence the more of these sensory activities you can introduce the child, the more likely they are to make multisensory memories and be able to recall them in the future.

These learning styles also link to learning components; there are four of these:

  • Information Input: the methods and techniques we use to absorb information.
  • Information Output: this refers to the techniques and systems we us to communicate information with others.
  • Memory: Our memory is divided into long term and short-term memories. Our short-term memory is where we store current information that can be easily accessed. Our working memory then subdivides into visual, verbal, and kinaesthetic memories as mentioned above. Those who struggle with short term memory may find memory aids such as word lists of key terms beneficial. The long-term memory is where things which have happened previously are stored and need more thinking about in order to recall.

This long-term memory can also be subdivided into procedural and factual memory. The procedural memory helps us to recall rules and rote tasks so that they can be performed without too much conscious effort. Factual memories can also be subdivided into personal (learned through personal experiences; this is the favoured long term memory style of a dyslexic person. It provides something they can relate to a specific experience and personal experiences which are more concrete.

If you would like access to a variety of math and English resources to help your child learn, why not join us over in the “Clara James Approach”.

It is a membership group for anyone supporting a child who wants to provide a more enjoyable, varied, creative approach to learning.

The ideas are based upon what I have learned over the past 20 years of working in childcare and education. I’ve worked with mainstream children and those who are recognised as having a learning difficulty.

 I have always believed that learning is not just about sitting at a desk doing worksheets, reading textbooks, and making notes. Regardless of our age we need to be in an environment where we feel comfortable. Doing something that inspires us that we want to join in with and that we find enjoyable.

It is also an opportunity to spend quality time as we get to work together. Supporting each other and making progress towards where we want our child to be.

To find out more about the Clara James Approach, CLICK HERE

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