Brain based learning school of teaching takes a less typical approach to instructing children. It encourages teachers and parents to use several different methods that are considered most effective for a child’s level instead of following a single approach. Through variety and different opportunities, this type of learning maximizes what a child gets out of a lesson, class, or experience.
This approach is based on a number of different studies and theories by researchers that state the human mind is always looking for meaning and seeking connections. Learning engages entire physiology, involves conscious and unconscious process as well as attention and perception. Skills and facts are best remembered when it is embedded in spatial memory.
Finding the best environment for lessons is one of the biggest concerns of brain based learning. The environment must be conducive to learning without being distracting.
Challenges stimulate a child’s mind alertness to learn. A child needs to feel unthreatening to remove a child’s fear of failure. These are important factors to children’s interest in learning.
Teachers and parents are encouraged to find a way to challenge children without turning them away from what they are learning. This requires positive motivations and praise to help keep kids from getting too frustrated and quitting. They have to feel that they can complete the challenge if they keep trying.
Having objectives and goals can really help a child see the progress made in comprehending different areas.
For example as in a video game, setting up an “obstacle” course for understanding concepts and applying them gives students a sense of accomplishment without being threatening.
I always challenge my daughter on her ability to solve math problem. It involves monitoring her progress on each level before setting a goal to proceed to the next. There is no stress to push her to learn. She is highly motivated because she views the difficulty in solving math problem as a challenge instead of a threat. Of course, my praises to her plays an important positive reinforcement.
Providing an environment that removes a child's fear of failure is important but sadly this is not widely adopted in the school system in most Asia countries where I stay. The highly stressful examination system where the best academic students are identified and glorified had turn off many children the interest in learning.
Schools tend to mark children with tests. Children may find it intimidating (as not all students test well). When parents are involved and spend time assisting children through the areas that are more difficult for them, those students can gain confidence in the subject to keep tests from being so intimidating and disappointing.
Brain based learning also advocates creating an environment where students immersed fully in the learning experience. It must provide the learners a complex and interactive experience. One good example is learning a language.
Studies have repeatedly proven that the younger a person is when given lessons, the easier it is to learn a second or third language. It stimulates several areas of the brain and teaches children multiple ways to look at an object or idea.
We are an Asian family. English is our main spoken language at home. We have made a conscious decision to send our children to a Chinese elementary school where Mandarin is the main spoken and written language. It was a struggle for my kids to pick up Mandarin in the beginning. They managed to learn the language well based on daily interactive experiences with friends and teachers in school.
My kids also take up Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) in school as a subject. Grandparents are encouraged to speak Hokkien dialect with them at home. They are multi-lingual.
To maximize learning, it is important to give a child opportunity to continually and actively process information, internalizes, consolidate and relate it. They need to make meaning through experience learning. Field trips, kids’ activities, educational games and real-life projects are some of the teaching strategies that enhance brain based learning.
From color coding buildings, to designing a bridge that can withstand the weight of a book, it gives kids a real hands-on approach to applying what they have learned. Having them work in teams creates a sense of teamwork and teaches them how to work together, instead of alone, to accomplish a goal. Creating a light-hearted competition can challenge them to really apply what they have learned.
Coding is a slightly different type of building, but can give children a good look at what is going on behind the games and searches they take for granted. Short programming projects will give them a sense of accomplishment because they have something they can play when they are done, as well as acting like another language.
This is a great way to really make a lesson clear. Parks, forests, and the ocean are great places to go for numerous lessons, particularly science. Teaching children many of the basics about nature and the environment will give them the basic knowledge to see what they do affects the world around them.
Outdoor activities for kids make great learning lesson too.
Turning everyday chores and routines into challenges and activities are great learning experiences. It also establishes positive behaviors.
For example, helping put away the dishes teaches young children about sorting and categorization. Folding laundry can be made into an interesting game to see how something bulky can be reshaped to fit into a tighter area, or clothes can be folded into shapes that the child can then use to create larger shapes (like a clothes-based game of Tangram).
Some of the more traditional activities such as puzzles, mazes, and simple crosswords help to stimulate children’s brain development. They still work well for teaching today.
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