Gail Joan Cohen
THE JOY OF LEARNING
Learning is and should always be a fun process. It is not a medicine that we must swallow in order to “get better”. Solving problems and learning is not the means to an end but actually it is the end. Perhaps if we thought of learning as fun, there would be less pressure on learning and we would more enjoy the process.
There is not necessarily a right or wrong or better way to learn. It all depends on how our brains are wired. Our brains all function differently. When we are stressed it is more difficult to learn. When we speak louder or “yell” at our children it does not make the information more clear or help them to understand better. And yet, I often found myself yelling when I was frustrated and wanted my child to know the lesson. Knowing how children learn and that each child will absorb information differently is very important to understand. There are many studies and books written on different learning styles and you can check out learning styles on the internet or in the library. My purpose here is for us to realize that there are different ways that we do absorb and maintain information and by adjusting and adapting our teaching to our child’s easiest learning pattern we will make learning easier and less frustrating for all. Sometimes using more than one method helps. Following are just some of the ways that we learn.
- Hearing. Some people learn best by hearing a lecture or hearing things said over and over. This is the most common way to teach, but I suspect it is not be the most effective way for most people to learn. I believe that is why people fall asleep at lectures.
- Seeing. This is usually more effective. If you see a baby being born you will probably remember it more than if I tell you about it.
- Doing. If I show you how to do something and let you do it yourself, you will remember how to do it. If you repeat the task over and over the chances of learning are increased with each repeat.
- Doing and teaching. Teaching a child how to do something and then having the child teach another child is often a very effective way of reinforcing the new skill.
- Reading. Some people will learn easily from reading. Others do not learn this way at all.
Usually a combination of different methods works best. And, there are more ways and variables than those that I have mentioned here. My point is that we all learn in different ways. We would not want to give a child a twenty minute lecture if he or she is not absorbing or understanding anything we are saying. It may make the extroverted parent feel better but it can stress out the introverted child. Repeating it over and over usually does not help.
Make life easier for you and your children. Use a few different methods when training and find the one that works the best for each child. It is okay for children to have unique learning styles.
For a given task or skill, many children will learn easily. Many children will not. Perhaps your child (or spouse) cannot learn this particular skill. Determine the reason the child is having difficulty. Is there an easier way for the child to learn? Try another approach. Is it something the child does not have the needed skill level to learn? Most children do not set out to make life stressful. It may be a skill that he cannot learn at this time or may never have the capability to learn. His brain may need to mature. Or, it may take much more patience, time and practice.
Some children have very special gifts. Whenever possible encourage and develop these gifts. Children should appreciate their gifts. If the talent is music, the child may want to take music lessons. If the talent is math, get math puzzles and games to develop math skills. Knowing our talents and developing our gifts helps give us confidence and a way for us to give back to society.
Learning starts when the child is born. It is innate and children learn quickly. Whether or not your young child is at home or preschool, your child will continue to learn. I believe we should encourage young children to think and develop their brains. Play games to challenge their minds. Even two and three year olds can play simple math games, learn colors and their phone number.
Instead of just focusing on demanding that our children behave, learn and achieve, let us think about who we are, who our children are, what we want to achieve and what is the best way to accomplish our goals. Every child does not have to know everything. If you have not yet watched a video called “Animal School”, look it up. Animals are not good at everything. A duck is good at swimming but cannot climb. Should he learn to climb?
Choose what is important to you modified by your child’s skills and learning style. Most importantly always make learning interesting and fun!