Each child is unique and therefore they learn differently from each other. I realized this when the next child did not respond favorably to how I had taught the previous child how to read! That was a wake-up moment which I am forever grateful. There are basic techniques to learning; memorizing, practicing, hands on experience, etc. These are tried and true and very useful. However, my experience has been that trying multiple ways of teaching each child is where success lies in finding out the child’s best way to learn.
How to learn – My Basic Approach
When presenting new material, allow some pause for the child to capture what has been said. Read their face and allow them time to ask a question. Answer the question and allow for additional questions. If you don’t have the answer to the question, find it out together. Show them how to find the answer whether it is in the materials or search online. If their face is saying, “I have no idea what you are talking about!” It’s your turn to ask a question. “What did you not understand?” Maybe it is the vocabulary words you are using? They may not know what the words mean. It could be the concept itself that needs to be explained at a lower level. This takes time and energy! But it allows them to be curious and think beyond what is being presented and also how to find the answers to their questions. They will know they have been heard and understood and what they think and what they say matters. Asking questions encourages gaining knowledge because questions come from our own thought process which in turn solidifies what we are learning.
I encourage my children to figure out what style of learning works best for them. To recall information, some have to memorize what they need to remember, some use hands-on activities, and one can just remember everything learned (I wish that were me!). It’s frustrating to you as the teacher and the child to insist on a style that does not work for them.
I especially foster exploration when they are young through outdoor adventures and literature. Family literature reading times are so fruitful for their imagination. Outdoor adventures provide science lessons and discovering the wonders of our Creator. How everything is designed so beautifully in nature gives them sense of purpose and fosters awe and wonder. We use those moments to reflect on the information presented to us and how it affects our senses and well-being. We can also translate those activities in the classroom by questioning the purpose of the information we are learning. How thinking through the information gives us wisdom to apply those concepts in our lives.
It is invaluable to take notice of what each child has a special interest in or where learning a specific topic is easy and enjoyable for them. With this information you can nurture a deeper love for a talent or gift that is unique to the child. Furthering their wisdom on the subject grows their self worth and confidence. Being aware enough to help direct them to a vocation or career that fits with their talents has been a joy for them and myself. We are all not good at everything and we are not meant to be!
Seek the Truth
This is a difficult task at times. Here is where I rely on God. We incorporate our religion into our day through prayer, attending mass, bible reading and catechism. We ask the Holy Spirit for guidance with our everyday lives. In seeking the truth, communication is so important. Things may be said in way that was not intended or that was taken in incorrectly. Since we are all human and have flaws of our own, understanding what was meant to be said and how it was received is key to knowing how to discern the truth. This is what is discussed when we are learning as well. When problematic information is studied, it is key to discern what that information intends to provide. We talk through what it means and is it a truth. We sometimes research conflicting ideas and look at the reasoning of why this information was presented in the way that it was presented. Most of the time we need to look back historically for the answers. We may not always come to full understanding, but we have tried to seek the truth and we have faith that God will enlighten us further as need be.
I pray for you, reader, that your journey be fruitful and joyful. Not all days are terrific, but some days will be forever remembered with joy and thanksgiving. Your effort is valuable and your intention blessed.