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Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

Good teaching is interactive!

Parents always worry about their children’s education. Some start thinking about what school their children should attend even before they are born. Although thinking about school early on is a great idea (we could explore that in another post!), parents sometimes forget that they are their child’s first teacher! That means that good education starts as soon as they are born.

One of the characteristics of a good teacher or good education in the classroom, is that education and good teaching is interactive. What does that mean? Well, variety is the spice of life and every good teacher knows that you have to use a variety of teaching and learning styles that appeal to the different learning strengths of the students. For example, schools are now using Interactive Whiteboards to make learning more interactive. The use of this tool helps the visual, kinesthetic and auditory learners to create memorable lessons that stick in their minds.

But how can parents apply this at home with their children?

When playing with your children or just talking about any topic, you could do some the following:

  • Question them, rather than lecture: When a child wants to know about something, ask them questions that will help them think about possibilities, rather than just give them the answer.
  • Use hands-on experience: Any opportunity that your child can experience and manipulate the learning, will get stuck better in their heads. Crafts, manipulatives, building materials, and science kits, are some examples of hands on experience.
  • Share knowledge and ideas: Brainstorm together. When your child is involve in a problem-solving situation, it helps them to think about and come up with solutions themselves, rather than being told what the solution is. This way they can absorb the lesson much better!

If you still have no clue what I mean, think about the show, Dora the Explorer. In this show, kids interact with the TV. Dora asks a question and she waits for the kids to answer. This is an example of interactive teaching for young children.

Do you have some ideas how you can make teaching more interactive at home? Please share!

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Scaffolding

One of the definitions on the Merriam-Webster dictionary for scaffold is a supporting framework.

Wikipedia defines scaffolding as  a temporary structure used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures.

Based on these definitions, the training wheels on a bicycle, is an example of scaffolding. They are adjustable and temporary and provide the child with the support they need while learning to ride a bike with 2 wheels. Having the training wheels make the complex task of pedaling, balancing and steer (all at the same time), much easier until the child can do it on its own.

Scaffolding can also mean that a large task can be broken down into smaller tasks (to make it easier to accomplish).

In education, scaffolding is an instructional technique where the teacher models the desired learning strategy/task, and then gradually shifts responsibility to the students, whether is by giving more support at the beginning and gradually taking it away (training wheels) or by learning something in smaller steps.

Scaffolding can also be used to help your children develop certain physical, cognitive or linguistic skills.  Imagine your child is playing with a musical toy for the first time. Parents usually show the baby where the buttons are so it can turn on the music. Then, you expect the child to ‘learn’ how to do it on their own. If they can’t do it, you might point to the button, and hopefully the child now learns it. This might have to happen a few times before the child knows what to do. That’s exactly what scaffolding is. The parent gave more ‘help’ at the beginning and gradually moved the responsibility to the child.

Scaffolding gives the child a context, motivation, or foundation to understand the new information. Having success from the beginning makes the child have some interest or curiosity in the task presented. Also, breaking a complex task into easier, more “doable” steps facilitates success.

So next time you see your child attempting to learn something, how are you going to use scaffolding techniques to help them?


Why read to your baby?

Reading to your baby is one of the simplest activities you can do, but it has many benefits. This simple activity can have positive effects in baby’s intellectual and emotional development.

Here are some of those benefits:

  • it helps language development – reading aloud to them helps them learn new words, especially when you point to the picure as you read them. It also helps them learn about communication skills, such as turn-taking, eye contact and listening.
  • it helps baby explore different emotions and the world around them – As you read to them, use different voices and exaggerate different emotions. This will enhance the meaning of the words to baby.
  • it helps you bond with him/her – Reading to infants is one of the best, and cheapest, ways to bond to your little one. 
  • it helps the brain to grow – When you read you stimulate the brain with new words and sounds.
  • it begins education early – Fun times with a book help children learn to listen, build longer and stronger attention spans.
  • it has a calming effect – whether you read your kid’s books, poetry, Shakespeare, or the TV Guide, the sound of a soft, soothing voice reading will often calm an infant who is crying, feeling ill, or having trouble sleeping, helping him or her to relax.

It’s never too early to start reading to your baby! Do you have any stories you’d like to share with us?

Where is it?

If you have young children, they might start playing peek-a-boo soon (or maybe they already love to play it!). But before they enjoy playing this game, they probably cried if you hid a favorite toy (or your lovely face!). Soon after, they will start looking for the desired object. And all this is possible thanks to object permanence.

Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or touched. It is acquired by infants between 8 and 12 month of age.

What happens is that a baby goes through some steps in order to aquire object permanence. First, they look at a toy and if it goes away, they don’t care (out sight, out of mind). Then, they look for a toy when it’s partially hidden. They begin to understand that the object still exists, even if they can’t see it completely. Finally, they look for the toy after it’s been hidden, because they know it exists, it’s just hidden or out of sight! So, if you try to play hide-and-seek and your baby starts crying, then he/she definitely has not acquired object permanence!

 The term, object permanence, was given by child development expert and psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget believed most children reached the object permanence stage when they were about eight or nine months old.

But, why is it important? Imagine you never remember where things were before… you would be forever looking for everything because you’d never remember what you had and where you put it! (hmm so why we still can’t find the keys?).

Here are two videos to show object permanence. The first one shows the out of sight out of mind stage and the second one, shows a baby who has already aquired object permanence.

So, next time your child cries because you left them at daycare or just left the room, be happy, your child has just reached a very important milestone!

What stage is your baby? Out of sight, out of mind? partially hidden, or having fun with hide and seek?

How do kids (and we) learn? Part 1

Have you ever wondered why there are certain subjects you or your children, can do better than others? That’s because we all learn in different ways. Learning styles entails how a person best takes in, understands, and remembers information. In most children, one sense is usually more finely tuned and influential for learning than the others. We receive information in different ways, auditorily, visually or tactile, so if you know which way your child learns better, then you could use that to help them in areas that are difficult for them.

There are 7 learning styles. Today we will learn about 3 styles: Linguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal.

  • Linguistic: This type of learner loves to read, write, and tell stories. They tend to memorize places, dates, names, and trivia very easily. They have a remarkable ability to repeat back everything you have ever told them, word for word. These children learn best by saying, hearing, and seeing words. When they write down a word or a phrase, it is forever locked into their memory. As a parent or teacher we should encourage them to participate in spelling bees and creative writing courses.  

 

  • Interpersonal: These are the “social butterflies”. They adapt easily to any type of social situation, have many friends and are excellent leaders. They are patient, understanding, and very empathetic, which makes them a favorite among their playmates. They generally make good leaders because of their ability to mediate conflict, and are often referred to as the Peacemaker of the family. As a parent or teacher, we should encourage their love of people, and allow them to be with many different types of people. They will likely have a variety of types of friends and it is important to support and accept all of them. This type of learner will do best in a group situation as they compare, share, relate, and interview other people. If no group is available, don’t be surprised to see them create one in their animals or toys!

 

  • Intrapersonal: These strong willed people work best alone. They pursue their one interests and have a deep understanding of themselves. They are independent and original, and they tend to stand out from the crowd without even trying. They are the strong, silent type. They do best in self paced instruction, individualized projects, and working alone. Because these children work best alone, they often need to be encouraged to socialize.

Next week we’ll talk about spatial and logical learning styles.

Do you think you or your child has strengths in either one of these styles?