learning

Learning how to learn

kids’n’teens | By shhl publisher | Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Gabriella Horak explains how teaming up with your children can help them to learn and then use their newfound skills.

Recently my seven-year-old daughter told me, “Today we’re having Miss Watt in class. She’s bald, Mummy — she shaved her head so she could be the same as her friend”. 
Miss Watt explained to the children that her friend has cancer and needed medicine that would make her hair fall out. Miss Seven-year-old explained further, “Miss Watt said, ‘you know how if you go into a forest alone that you might be frightened, and then if someone comes with you that you’re not so frightened anymore’? Well, that’s how her friend felt about the medicine and losing her hair, so Miss Watt shaved her hair so her friend wouldn’t be so frightened.” 
Well, of course I was in a puddle of tears. What a lovely way to
describe a difficult but heartwarming show of solidarity. It got me
thinking about solidarity in learning, about the challenges we face in making learning “stick” or implementing the skills we learn in virtual
or physical classrooms.
I work in corporate learning development, and we are always looking for strategies to make learning stick. But now as a parent I am also on the lookout to help my children be motivated and stay motivated to learn.
Delivering content in an interesting way helps, but other strategies work.
You may have thought of some reasons why your children don’t always retain learnt information: 
• your child finds it boring — it could be the delivery or the content
• it’s too hard for their current level
• they’re easily distracted
• they can’t see its relevance
• information overload
• no one is holding them accountable so it doesn’t matter if they do/ don’t put it into practice 
• they don’t know how to apply what they are learning. 
And of course, your child may have a learning difficulty or just a different way of learning.
We often see implementation failure because people are afraid to look silly, sound silly or have a go. Sometimes it is daunting and feels awkward.
Worst of all, the first few times your child tries something new it might fail. But remember F.A.I.L. should mean First Attempt In Learning, so if we support our children to continue to F.A.I.L. they will by default keep learning.
There are many tips for making learning stick, but one that is proven to work is to teach someone else what you have learned.  
As Annie Murphy Paul observes in the Brilliant Report, learning is a two-way street. “Students enlisted to tutor others work harder to understand the material, recall it more accurately and apply it more effectively.”
This is referred to as the Protégé Effect — studies show that students who teach others perform better on tests than children learning for the sake of it.

Solidarity in learning

If you are both learning at the same time it helps to embed the skills. Share your successes and failures, have a laugh about it when it doesn’t go quite right, and acknowledge each other’s trying as well as succeeding.
Fine-tune the skill, and keep going until it’s a habit and it’s not so scary anymore. You can be your child’s accountability buddy, their coach, their student, their Miss Watt. ❐


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> tagged gabriella horak, learning, kids’n’teens

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