How Children Learn According to Science

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How children learn has been a matter of debate for scholars since the early stages of formal education. Thousands of years ago, during Greek Antiquity, educators, philosophers and physicians tried to determine how a child’s mind works and how the learning process occurs. The study of the human mind has evolved during the next centuries, but was mainly done by the clergy and the monks living in reclusive monasteries across Europe, being mainly focused on the religious and aspect.

Although these early studies were confined to select geographical areas and were performed only on certain segments of the society, they did prove comprehensive and laid the foundations for further study. These studies were continued during the Age of Enlightenment, an era that lasted between the 1650s and up to the 1780s and promoted analysis, reason, and cultural superiority as opposed to the traditional, archaic values. During this period, the intellectual elite focused on the study of education, while also supporting the fight against illiteracy, a new credo that gained ground across the Western World. During the next century, government-backed literacy campaigns, which guaranteed easy school access for children, became the norm, and studies on how children learn were performed in multiple centers.

Modern studies on how children learn are mostly based on these initial findings, but there are also controversial methodologies and techniques that bring a fresh outlook on this delicate matter. However, all studies point to certain ideas on which all scientists agree. For instance, there are certain learning patterns that are visible in every classroom, regardless of the children’s age, cultural background or upbringing. Also, scientists agree that children learn in different ways, and there are four main areas of preferred learning styles. Understanding these patterns can help educators create effective learning strategies that will guarantee a better psycho-social adjustment for future adults.

Let’s take a look at the four different types of learning:

1. Visual learning – children who tend to remember faces better, have a good visual imagination, are good readers and love visual arts. They respond to videos, reading, graphics, images, posters and other visual data. These children tend to take copious notes, perform well on writing tasks, have neat and coordinated clothing, benefit tremendously from illustrations, paintings, and other visual representations and are attracted to language rich in pictorial imagery. Visual children, as they are identified by educators and scientists, tend to be more passive, quiet, and enjoy calm surroundings.

2. Auditory learning – children who tend to remember what they have heard. They respond to any audible sound, they recognize voices, enjoy talking (as opposed to writing or drawing) and will often start debates on a variety of subjects. Educators recommend a learning strategy based on lectures, open discussions, questioning, singing, and even more complex techniques, such as rhyming and mnemonics. Auditory learners remember names (but often forget faces), hum or talk to themselves, enjoy listening to others, like to read aloud and may have difficulties when reading maps or graphs.

3. Tactile learning – these children love to learn by touching and feeling with their fingers. They tend to love writing, drawing, sculpting, sewing, doodling and are extremely creative. Educators point out that these children love to build new things or even design new toys and objects, but they also like to illustrate written stories and poems and will find painting, sculpting and sewing particularly relaxing.

4. Kinesthetic learning – the active children, as they are called by some educators, love to experiment through trial and error and will get involved in most physical activities. These children tend to remember what they have done (as opposed to what they have seen or heard) and will have difficulty paying attention to their normal schoolwork. This is why educators recommend a more hands-on educational approach when kinesthetic children are involved, instead of the traditional reading and writing method. Role playing, outdoor activities, and games are good alternatives for these children.

Bridging the Generation Gap: 5 Ways Teachers and Parents Can Encourage and Improve Student Learning

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learningFor parents, there’s nothing better than seeing their kids excel in school. It fills you with pride and accomplishment. For the teachers, too, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the impact of their teaching on their students’ lives and attaching them do well in school.

Therefore, it is imperative for both all parents and teachers to forge a unified front in further improving their wards’ and students’ results in school. Afterall, they are the common factor. With the right motivation, teachers and parents can encourage the kids to enjoy studying, thus improving their capacity for learning. Here are a few ways to do just that:

Make Learning Immersive

Having and sticking to a curriculum is not a bad thing. Yet, it is surprising how many kids fail to put in the required effort to pass and do well. What can be done to get students more interested and invested in school work? One of the most fun ways is to make learning immersive. We are not just talking about questions and answers in class; we are talking about getting them completely involved.

For instance, in teaching them history, you can have each member of the class assume a historical figure’s identity (name, persona, and more) during the classes. This way, the kids are bound to feel more “connected” to the history lessons than if you were to throw facts, names, dates and events at them.

Create an Enabling Environment

An enabling environment is one in which the kids feel free enough to participate without feeling the pressure of “judgment” or punishment. Create an environment where students can study and learn at their own pace. This helps with self-directed learning as many students are bound to use that opportunity to find out even more than the curriculum offers. Reward genuine curiosity and quest for more information and knowledge.

Problem Solving and Practical Logical Reasoning Sessions

Most kids don’t like mathematics. Who can blame them? The good news, however, is that this can be changed with the right approach. Instead of focusing on formulas, abstract concepts, and trivia, students can be encouraged and taught to like the subject by making sure that the teaching sessions are centered around logical reasoning and problem-solving. This ensures more engagement in class, increased participation and more importantly, genuine learning.

Reward Kids who Ask Intelligent Questions

There are usually two groups of kids in class: those kids who are busy scribbling away at their notepads or typing away on their laptops and those who do those things and actively engage their teachers by asking intelligent questions.

Those who ask intelligent questions often do so for the sake of wanting to know more; not just wanting to pass the exams and graduate to the next grade. If you want to encourage more active learning in classes, encourage and reward intelligent questions. It doesn’t have to be anything flamboyant, simply paying more attention to kids who ask these questions in class is bound to get the other kids to engage more too.

Vary the Environment

There’s nothing wrong with being in the classroom. However, every once in a while – at least once a week – move the kids from the classroom to a different environment. This is what field trips and excursions are for. However, you can’t do that all the time. So, to make your teaching sessions more interesting, take the kids outside, to the lab, to the workshop, or anywhere else you believe will help them learn.