3 Easy Ways to Help Your Child Learn Anything
1. Retrieve It
Every time your child recalls what she is learning, she thickens the neural pathways to that information in her long term memory. Research shows that recall practice is more powerful than almost any other learning strategy. You can help your child accelerate this process by routinely asking questions about what she is studying.
- What did you study today in math?
- Explain to me how to solve this kind of problem.
- What are the reasons this historical event happened?
- Tell me about the process of photosynthesis again.
Every time your child recalls specific details or re-solves a problem, such is 3×5, that information becomes slightly more fixed in his long term memory. And he becomes just a bit faster at retrieving it.
Once your child can retrieve this information effortlessly, move on to retrieving newer learning.
2. Question It
This is what a healthy brain does: It craves new information because learning fuels cognitive growth. Without effort, your child’s brain calls questions to mind to pique his curiosity and to motivate him to engage in learning. Raising questions. Asking questions. Pondering questions. These are the indicators of a healthy, growing brain.
Your child participates in this process by purposefully raising questions about what she is learning—Don’t require her to immediately find answers. It is merely enough for her to ponder questions about the subjects she is studying.
You can maximize this strategy by asking your child to write his questions from the school day in a special journal. He doesn’t have to write the answers down—just the questions. You don’t want to make this task laborious. It should be fun and rewarding.
At the end of each week, sit down and discuss these questions with her—talk about any answers she may have found or theories she has formulated. Ask what new questions have emerged. The act of raising questions about what she is learning fires active learning—a brain on high alert for answers—a brain primed to make connections to prior learning—a brain attentive to the subjects she is studying.
If your child asks you to answer a question he has—please do! But otherwise, just let the answers present themselves naturally over time.
3. Draw It
Finally, ask your child to use that special journal to draw pictures about what she is learning. We think in pictures. We remember more details about information and events attached to images (not words). As we read text, we convert what we are reading into a movie in our mind—the words themselves do not scroll across the screen—the pictures we associate with them do.
Again, just as with the previous two strategies, we can contribute to these automatic brain activities by intentionally engaging in them—drawing a picture about the word problems from a math lesson or the processes in a science book or the events in your history studies will help him remember more details about those lessons.
Want to know the 20 Power Tools of Learning? Download a free printable here.