Tag Archives: learning styles

15Jan/15

Why Should You Understand Learning Differences and Promote Life-Long Learning?

Why promote life long learning

Stop and think for a minute. Where would you be without knowledge? Would you even be able to answer that question if you didn’t have the skill to learn?

So many of us take learning for granted. We don’t stop to think about how we gained that new skill, how we remembered to make breakfast this morning, or how we are able to routinely tie our shoes.

We don’t think about the fact that the learning technique that worked for us might not work for our friends, family, students, or children.

Every learner is an individual and every brain works just a little differently. The pathways and connections we make aren’t always the same.

Think about it this way. how many ways are there to get to the beach? Is there one way that is faster than the others? Sure, the highway is probably the fastest route, but it is very monotonous with little scenery, and you have a higher risk of getting stuck in traffic because of an accident. But, it’s supposed to be FASTER. Therefore, most people pick that option even if it isn’t always right for them.

Another option would be to take a more scenic route. It might take longer, but you would get to see lots of different houses, farmlands, maybe a quaint town or two. You might decide to stop at a local diner or ice-cream shop and take a break from the drive. You also might get stuck behind a tractor going super slow, or bikers out for their morning ride. This way is usually slower, but it has the added benefit of less monotony.

One is a straight shot that is meant to be endured and put behind us, while the other path is more of an experience in it’s own right and provides the chance to actually enjoy the drive. There isn’t a right or wrong answer here. Just like there isn’t a right or wrong answer to learning.

The most important thing to take away from this is that one of these choices is going to work better for you, and for the other people riding with you. One of these choices is going to help you to love the drive more, even if your choice may be harder or take longer

When we first start learning in we are all taught to count our numbers, say our ABCs, and what different colors and shapes are. We learn to speak, how to do basic everyday things like eating, brushing our teeth, taking a bath. These are rote skills and for most of us can be learned in the same pattern as for other people. But even at these early skills their are kids that have brains that don’t recognize patterns, and even brains that have a hard time wrapping around numbers (This latter difficulty can come from a condition called Dyscalculia).

Imagine yourself being plopped down in a country where everything is backwards from how you understand and learned it. Everyone else around you learns things and does things a certain way and you just can’t seem to understand how and why they are doing things a particular way.

That is what it is like for a lot of learners today. We have a school system that teaches kids in a very limited fashion. There are many schools and teachers that do a good job of differentiation (using different ways of teaching to reach more learners). I am in no way discounting the huge efforts taken by all the fantastic teachers out there to reach as many kids as possible, I used to be one. However, routinely there are other things that get in the way. Such as overcrowded classrooms, limited resources, stressful conditions outside of school, and so much more.

It is important as both parents and teachers to find ways to empower yourself, families, friends, and others to learn about the different ways that people learn.

Learning becomes easier if you develop a love for it. It is hard to love something you don’t understand, or that gives you negative reinforcement every time you pursue it.

Understanding how you learn and how others learn is crucial to developing the lifelong ability to learn new things (and remember them). Developing a love of learning hinges on appealing to the ways of learning that click for an individual, in order to enable them to become an independent learner, want to explore new things, and develop the skills for lifelong learning necessary for successful, happy, fulfilled lives.

It is never too late to figure out the details of your learning style or your child’s.

Here at Avery Learning Lab we have developed a Learning Program that is geared towards each individual learner. It involves an assessment of their learning style, strategies for growth, a plan of how to reach their goals, implementation of the plan and strategies with one of our skilled employees, and feedback to help students grow and become independent learners. Contact us if you are interested in more information on this, and share this post with friends or family that you know could benefit from a program like ours.

You can also go HERE for more information on our learning program

Don’t think your child needs the program, but you want to be steered in the right direction for strategies that appeal to their learning style? Try our learning evaluation which includes the learning skills assessment, key strategies, and a take home plan for moving your child forward. This gives you the opportunity to try it with them first, and if you need more help you can always contact us for sessions to address any problems that you encounter. Know someone who would be interested in the learning evaluation? Share this post! We want to make this available to everyone and make sure no one gets left behind.

Spread the importance of understanding learning differences, and promote awareness to help create more successful life-long learning experiences. Do your own research into this and make sure to share anything you find on differences in learning in the comment section!

What ways have you noticed that you learn differently from others? What are some successful things you have tried with your child to help cater to their learning style? I always love to hear ideas, and feedback, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading,

Amanda 🙂

P.S. If you haven’t already, take a moment to sign up for our email list here. I can promise that the emails you get will have meaningful content!

 

 
19Sep/14

Productive Homework and Study Time (Part One)

When I started writing this I had one really long post with at least 20 ideas for more things I wanted to write about. My “editor” who reads everything for me before I post it suggested I split it up (side note: Thank you Matthew!). Obviously this is an important topic to me, and I have a lot to say about each piece, plus all the sub topics that branch off from it. Rather than try to throw it all into one, his suggestion was to put it into a three part series for the main points, then I can share all of the other ideas with you in other posts.

Really I am not the only one that should be thanking him. Kids aren’t the only ones who don’t want to read for a long time, and believe me it would have taken you a bit to finish, the way I had it written at first. That just means that now you have time to really focus on what I am saying, take the time to digest it, then see how it all connects, when you read my next post.

I hope this series really gets you thinking about how our children/students learn, and that you share any ideas that you have in the comments below. This and all of the topics that stem from it are things that we can pool a lot of great ideas into, and really start changing the way our children are learning, studying, and growing! 

Homework…

A heated topic in schools, at home, and a task that is on everyone’s mind whether you are a teacher, student, or parent.

Whether we agree with homework or not, it still exists. This is not to mention the fact that there is a commonly forgotten element of homework…STUDYING!

My purpose in writing this is not to agree or disagree with the merits of homework, but instead to present to you a few facts and provide some insights into ways to positively effect students in their studying environment.

Fact one: Our brains make better, faster connections with practice.

 brain

Our brains are a tricky thing. Long story short, the more often we do something, the stronger the connections in our brain get. At least those that are related to the muscles and pathways needed to complete the task we are practicing. Surprise, the brain is made of muscle! If you want to get better at running what do you do? You run! If you want to get better at painting, what do you do? Paint! So if you want to get better at multiplication, what should you do? Multiply! These are just very basic examples, but this applies to everything we want to learn and everything that becomes habit for us. This is how we learned to brush our teeth, tie our shoes, or do the things required of us at our job.

Now here is the scary part. If we don’t keep practicing these tasks our brain starts to shave or cut the connections that we aren’t using. Meaning the less we do something, the quicker we forget how to do it.

Remember how you used to be able to climb on the monkey bars no problem, or you used to ride your bike all the time? Well I for one can attest to the fact that hopping back on the bike does not instantly bring back the skill I had as a child. I had to ride around in the yard first, on my most recent birthday present, several times before I stopped wobbling. Now granted it had been (gasp) 15 years since I had been on a bike, but my point is that even though the connections could still be made to the previously learned skill, it took practice to build their speed and strength back up. I’m still not where I was 15 years ago, but I can ride up and down my street now 🙂

The same applies to what students need with regards to skills they are learning. Whether it is a previously learned skill (such as adding and subtracting) or a new skill such as solving quadratic equations (which includes adding and subtracting just at a whole other level), students need practice! Not just practice at school, but also at home. Whether this is in the form of homework or studying, it needs to happen to strengthen those connections.

Ways to help:

1.Encourage your student to do their homework by giving rewards, or allowing them to earn privileges for completing schoolwork (and house responsibilities!) For example, their cell phone can be stored in a safe place when they get home from school, then can be earned for the evening once homework is done. You could also allow a friend over for dinner, or make a special dessert as a reward. These don’t have to be expensive rewards, just simple things will work, especially if your child takes some of those privileges for-granted. Earning privileges for doing schoolwork (and house work) is a great place to start with this.

2. Help your student study by calling out vocabulary, definitions, dates and events, or questions from a review sheet. Your participation gives you guys some quality time and it helps them learn the information in an auditory way as well as visually. This can make a huge difference if your child is an auditory learner. Here is a fantastic website with a quiz on learning styles, and other quizzes for students about how to improve their study habits! http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles.shtml

3. Remind your student that it helps if you study in multiple ways. Think about it…if a child is learning to catch a ball, are they going to be thrown to in the exact same way, from the exact same distance, and by the exact same person every time? No! At least not if they want to be any good at catching (or throwing for that matter). I could give a million other examples, but you get the point. So why do so many people (including students themselves) insist that the best way to study is by reading over their notes? Sure occasionally people throw in flashcards or foldables for good measure, and there are a few teachers and parents who get it, and suggest other ways too. Still, one of the biggest concerns the parents of my students and tutoring students have had, is their child’s lack of study skills. We were taught growing up to highlight, reread and rewrite notes, or make flashcards. These are good, but there are so many more ways to study in this day and age!

Examples:

Look up videos about a topic on sites such as teachertube.com, youtube.com (yes it really can be educational!), brainpop.com, or discoveryeducation.com

Search for games on the topic (I have several game sites under my Free Resources tab). You will be amazed at what you can find if you type “games on _______” in google search. In a highly online gaming active world, this is a great source for almost any child!

Create study sets with vocabulary on sites such as quizlet.com or studystack.com (hint: when they do this one of the study options is flashcards, but there are also games, matching, and even quizzes that they can take on what they have entered)

 

Now I know there are parents and teachers who are reading this post and saying “those are good ideas, but I already knew some of that”. YAY! I hope you are still able to get something helpful from this, but I REALLY hope you will share additional ideas on this point in the comments section below. I know I didn’t have time to hit on all the good suggestions of how to practice new and old skills, so that those brain connections get as fast as possible!

Remember there will be two more posts in this series next week (along with many posts to come that were inspired by this one). You can always enter your email to the right, so that you can follow my blog. You can also sign up for the free weekly newsletter, which has links to my blog posts and is full of other links to helpful articles, tips, upcoming events, and more.

Look for the next blog post about limiting distractions at the beginning of the week.

Until then I hope you have a great weekend and have found this information helpful!

Thanks for reading!

Amanda Avery 🙂

Next Post in series: Productive Homework and Studying Time (Part Two)