Sunday, 27 October 2013

Studying strategies for kids

Decades of research have identified study techniques that can vastly improve learning, but the most bitter truth is that most teachers don't practice them or only a few parents are aware of them. Fortunately, these strategies aren't complicated and can be easily practiced at home. Students often wait till the last minute, then make up for the lost time in a marathon revising session. This approach is not to be encouraged as it leads to short-term memory . The power of spaced study is to be enforced as the brain can retain many kinds of information longer if there is time to process the learned information between training sessions. Two revising sessions with time between them can result in twice as much learning as a single session of the same total length. One reason as to why this spaced training works out with all ages and ability groups  is that the breakup time allows the brain to consolidate the newly learnt information. The next approach is to expose the kids to elaborative study techniques like short answers and reasoning rather than multiple-choice questions. You can take advantage of this fact by quizzing your child to improve his/her performance at school. A third way to improve the child's learning is mixing up. Children who see ten similar examples in a row learn considerably less than the children who see ten different examples. This strategy can be applied to work across domains like sport, art, science, maths or any other subject. Learning in multiple contexts gives your child's brain a deeper connection to the material.
At first, your child may find these approaches discouraging because they often result in more errors during studying- but with practice they will perform well in their exams with less effort. Sometimes new changes ought to be reinforced!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Exam Scores - an absolute measure for ability?

Exams have a role to play in helping us identify children's strength, but they are just one way of trying to measure ability.That's it. There isn't a single test in this whole world that can absolutely measure the full extent of your child's individual gifts and talents. This is because the point at which the individual skills begin or end cannot be measured. Well, there are of course well-researched tests that are valid and reliable but they are based on statistical averages. However, these cannot change the fact that each child is unique, brilliant and beaming with their own skills. The exams should not aim to find out what your child does or doesn't happen to know. Rather, they should be more geared to make the child use their independent thinking to find solutions to problems for themselves. By all accounts of genius in history, not all have not sailed through the path of academic exams to reach the position where they are now. On the contrary, they identified their own strengths to make it to the top!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Child's natural ability

Any parent who has spent hours trying to sort out their laptop, or struggled all week to stop their digital watch going off every 10 minutes, only to have their 6-year-old fix it for them in under 10 minutes. I think you got exactly what I mean! A child doesn't know that something is highly complex until we tell  them so. If we pre-condition them into thinking their ability, it actually means that we are putting brakes on them even before they get started. Let us consider a scenario wherein children learn to ride a bicycle. Despite the difficulties involved in learning it, lots of children successfully tackle the situation. How? This is because they don't see it as a problem but as an opportunity. They are not worried about the process but their focus is on the goal. No one ever told them to be "super-smart" to do that. When they fall off a couple of times and get hurt, they never link it to a failure instead they succeed after a number of tries. Hence this process of finding solution is a natural ability for both children and even adults!
But if we are using this natural ability, then why is that when children are faced with abstract problems they find it difficult to solve? The solution is that they should always try to find a way into the problem. Unless they train themselves not to let the situation throw them, they may panic at this stage. The problem may look alien to the children, but that does not mean that they lack the skill, knowledge or experience to solve it. The trick is being able to transfer what they already know to the 'strange situation' they are looking at. By training them on few 'tricks of genius' and helping them to master the art of solution-finding, they will be able to unlock and maximize their natural gift whenever they need to!