We are all familiar with the feeling of satisfaction that we get after spring cleaning our houses. So how about doing that with our brains? Research on learning has shown that “clearing out the junk” that is filling our brains can help us to be better learners and this is more important for children.
As a parent, one of the hardest things to decide is where to start, especially if you only vaguely know that your child can’t do maths or can’t write good stories in english. There will be some gaps in your child’s learning; they will naturally have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. It is these areas of weakness that can give children the feeling of their brain being “full”, so that they don’t have the mental processing powers to learn more. So what should we do to help our children de-clutter their brains?
1. Ensure that your child gets plenty of sleep.
Children need a full night’s sleep to stay mentally alert throughout the school day. All too often, kids are too wired to sleep – they’ve been consuming E numbers, watching TV, playing video games right up to bedtime. There’s so much excitement in the house, that they want to be part of it. So it’s important to establish a pattern or ritual in the evening that will help them quiet down and go to sleep. Have an established bedtime and stick to it, including during weekends.” I love this infographic showing the importance of a good nights sleep in children.
2. Review your child’s learning.
Testing your child’s learning will help you to identify problem areas and most importantly – where to start. It is better to concentrate on specific topics rather than teach everything with the hope that it will make some difference. If there was a hole in a wall, would you rebuild the whole wall or just patch up the hole? Just patching up the hole saves time, money and energy if done properly, so apply the same principle to your child’s learning.
You can buy books with test papers in them specific to your child’s age or download resources off the internet. Discuss the results with your child so that your child knows exactly what they can and cannot do. Next write out some tragets for your child to aim for. Once you’ve identified weaknesses, focus on those but only covering up to 3 topics at a time. This repetition and re-inforcement will give your child confidence.
3. Break down and classify the information your child needs to learn.
When we de-clutter our houses, we have to break down the task into smaller manageable chunks. Like tackling one room at a time or sorting out the toys first. The same goes for de-cluttering information in children’s brains.
tackle one subject at a time
if the subject is too big, then one topic at a time, for example just “writing” in english or just “arithmetic” in maths.
break down what your child needs to know into either “know really well”, “confused” and “don’t know”.
The topics that fall into the “don’t know” category are the ones that will need the most attention. The aim is to review the list periodically so that topics move from this category into one of the others.
We use this strategy at work and focus on those weaknesses, we fill in those gaps and help the children to build firm foundations for their learning.