You have been doing everything to help your child study. Study space? Set. Distractions? Eliminated. From waking your child up early in the morning to feeding your child ‘brain foods’ you have tried everything. You can see the effort being put, but with no results.
Does this sound like you? Then you are at the right place!
Your child might need some guidance on learning how to learn. Yes, that’s a real thing! Before you make a study strategy, you need a learning strategy. Knowing how to learn helps consciously focus efforts on learning better.
Here are 5 learning techniques your child can put to use right away!
1. Identify learning style
Before you begin, it is important to know what learning style suits your child best. Learning style is an individual’s natural tendency to retain information. There are 4 types:
• Visual – Patterns, diagrams, color coding, infographics, videos, mind mapping
• Auditory – Speech, music, rhythms, rhymes
• Kinesthetic – Roleplaying, flashcards, dramatization, model building
Once you identify it, put it to use. There is a plethora of resources available to enable studying according to all of these learning styles.
Pro tip: Creating study material suitable to your child’s learning style by involving him/her in the process enables better learning!
2. Associative learning
Something new is learned when it is related to something you already know. Help your child really learn by associating new topics to things he/she already understands.
For example, if your child knows how to add, you could use it to explain multiplication as repetitive adding. Similarly, a pronoun can simply be explained as a substitute in place of a noun your child is familiar with.
Associative learning often relates to concepts that have already made their place in long-term memory. Linking new concepts to known concepts helps grasp, comprehend and retain new information better. Focus on building this chain and strengthening it over the years.
A child’s brain often gets overwhelmed when there is a lot to study. Naturally, the big picture is too much to take.
Remember jigsaw puzzles? Solving one is impossible if you are expected to handle all pieces at once! The picture is completed only by fitting each individual piece in with the other.
Chunking works in a similar manner for a child. The first part is already done for you – by breaking a vast syllabus down into lessons. Further, chunk each lesson down to concepts and help your child learn one by one.
Each concept you cover helps make sense of the one that follows. Finishing each one becomes a small but significant milestone. Thanks to associative learning, concepts fit in, just like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Before you know it, your child would have completed the seemingly vast syllabus. If time permits, revise!
4. Overcome the illusion of competence
Children tend to think they know something when they know the answer. But often, this is a result of retention in short term memory. It is possible that your child may not be able to arrive at the answer after some time because he/she does not know the logical steps to get there.
One way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to actively ensure that your child isn’t answering out of rote memory. Make an effort to provide your child reference to context, meaning and associations to ensure each concept is really learnt.
Cross-check by asking your child to explain things back to you. If he/she is able to explain without parroting things back, be rest assured that this knowledge is acquired for life!
5. Identify focused and diffused modes
You may have noticed – no matter how hard your child tries, at times the mind wanders. It can’t be helped. The biggest mistake most people make then is to force to focus.
Instead, allow your child to take a break. (No, this does not mean gadget time!) Give complete rest. Encourage to stay blank. Allow the child’s mind to contemplate and ponder over whatever was studied. This is when real learning happens.
The Pomodoro Timer defines 5 minutes of break time after every 25 minutes of putting your mind to work. This is essential for rejuvenation to enable better absorption. The time can be adjusted according to what suits your child best.
Now that you are equipped with techniques on how to learn, it is time to prepare a comprehensive study strategy for your child. Being involved in your child’s study process instills confidence in him/her, as well as assures you that your child is indeed learning.