How do we learn?

As parents we need to make learning inspiring

Everything we do in life is stored somewhere in our brain as a memory. Somethings will be of greater significance to us, and our brain will make it easily obtainable, other things will be of less relevance and stored away in our memory bank until we need to recall it.

If we just experience something fleetingly or in a way that isn’t meaningful to us, the brain will do a better job of storing it away in a less obtainable place in our brain. It’s then quite hard then to recall the information when required.

The next factor to consider is that everyone learns differently.

Some people remember things better when they have listened to it; a lecture, radio programme, verbal conversation, others when they have seen it as; a poster, book, television programme, email, text, letter. Others when they have physically participated in it, trying it out and getting actively involved. For most people although they may have one dominant style, a combination of more than one method will be the most helpful.

The more times we do something the more memories we are creating. If we do something in a variety of styles, we will also be creating a variety of memories. Therefore, when we need to recall this information the brain will have more places to draw it from and you are more likely to remember it, hence the importance of learning through more than just one method.

To make learning inspiring for everyone, we need to be willing to adapt.

I also believe that if we are relaxed and enjoying ourselves, we are in a better state of mind to learn.

If we are stressed or concerned, we are less susceptible to taking in new information. This is why I am such a keen advocate of learning through enjoyable means such as a variety of games rather than a reliance of worksheets and traditional rote activities. I feel no shame of reiterating this point throughout the following pages.

I think with learning times tables this is something that many parents of my age group struggle with. We were perhaps taught to learn them by chanting them by rote. This is neither varied (and I would possibly suggest) nor enjoyable. I was told a joke once, though it is on a slightly different subject I think it still applies.

“A teacher asks a child to recite the alphabet. The child enthusiastically hums the tune. The teacher tells him she asked for the alphabet not a tune. He replies that he can’t remember the words to the song…” The alphabet had little or no relevance to him and consequently he struggled to remember the relevant aspect of the task.

Don’t forget it’s up to us (the parent/ educator) to show enthusiasm as well.

Enthusiasm will help make learning more inspiring. 

Each week I send an email out to parents offering techniques on how they can support their children with maths and English. One of the first emails I sent out was this one, but I think it’s one of the most important emails I’ve ever sent:

“It’s been a long day….

At the end of the working day it’s easy to plonk yourself down and relax whilst reminding the kids they have homework to do.

The kids (in their eyes) have had long days to. Up before their body clock would recommend. A day of working at tasks they probably wouldn’t be doing through choice. Then the need to come home and do homework. Again, probably not their activity of choice…

That’s one of the reasons I’m so keen on incorporating games and various other activities into their homework where possible. If the task is an enjoyable one, generally people (children and adults alike) will be more inclined to want to participate.

How much enthusiasm do you put into watching Wimbledon in the summer, or the football, rugby or other event you enjoy? Or how much more enthusiasm do you put in after a couple of glasses of wine…

If you could put an element of this enthusiasm into helping your child with their homework: Play games, but don’t let it be seen as a chore, instigate it, cheer when you win and groan when you lose, demand a rematch. Enthusiasm is infectious and maybe what started out as a laborious task could actually become an enjoyable evening.

Just a thought”

If you are looking for creative ideas to help support your child, we can help. The Clara James Approach is a membership offering a new bundle of resources every month based around a specific area of math or English.

These are some of my favourite activities that we use at Clara James Tutoring.

Creativity also supports:

  • language development,
  • spatial awareness,
  • it allows the child to look at things from a more holistic approach,
  • It’s great for reducing stress and anxiety
  • It’s multi- sensory which allows us to create more memories. This makes the activity easier to remember and recall the information when needed.

If you are interested and want more ideas as to how you can make learning inspiring, pop across to the Clara James Approach and see what you think:

The Clara James Approach

We promise we will always do our best to help

Other blogs you may find helpful:

The Power of Praise

The messy road to learning

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