You have surely heard, or even said, one of the following sentences: “I don't have the brains for it.” “I can't do it.” “I don’t know how to learn.” Pupils use these sentences with great popularity because they use them to defend their failure. However, this is often just an excuse when the fault is rather of the underestimated preparation. But how to do it to make it work? To pass the test with C as the worst grade? And for the preparation to be sufficient? There is no universal advice and procedure, yet in the next few lines, we will introduce you to ways to help pupils and students in their preparation.
Understanding, learning, using …
In the beginning, it is important to identify several important parts of the learning process, which is divided into understanding and learning the topic and its subsequent use.
First, they are the students themselves. Each of them is unique, learns at their own pace, and understands the context differently. So don't be afraid of the first failure.
Secondly, it is about motivation, but make sure to grasp it correctly. If you promise your child a reward in the form of a thing or candies, it will fulfil its purpose, but it is a way better to agree on some experiencing activity. It is best to arouse internal motivation in students, i.e. that they are motivated by the vision of newly acquired knowledge and free time at the end of the learning process.
Thirdly, it’s about small tasks and goals. No one will benefit from being forced to sit at the table for hours and learn. Therefore, you should note that the human brain can fully concentrate for only 20 minutes while repeating or sorting thoughts for another 25.
Fourth, we will mention the ideal time of learning. How long is the ideal learning time? For some, ten minutes, for others, three hours. A student who likes to count and enjoys mathematics may spend the whole afternoon over the textbook and will still want to be a little better. On the other hand, he will close a language textbook after five minutes. It is in this direction that the focus and uniqueness of each student are often most evident.
Fifth, we have a familiar rule: “Tell me, and I'll forget it.” “Show me, and I'll remember it.” “Let me try it, and I'll understand it.” When learning, it is not only important to “parrot” memorized learned facts that our brain quickly forgets. It is really important to be able to explain the phenomenon or problem and use it appropriately.
Learning, learning, learning …
Under the term "learning," everyone imagines something different. For Katy, learning is associated with a school desk and eight hours of writing. For Tim, on the other hand, it means that he will go out and learn something new. It depends on the student's learning experience. We have published a whole mini-series on alternative ways of education, in which you will learn about organizational forms of teaching and much more.
The key to success is to make learning fun for students. If they like to learn new things and look forward to the lesson, you have almost won. Every learning should be engaging and stimulating.
Own individuality …
Now imagine two situations and two students. Susan and Peter. Susan closes herself in her room to study. She takes the notebook in her hand and looks at the lines in front of her without any interest. After a while, an incredibly “long while," about five minutes, she closes the notebook saying she already knows it or that it’s impossible to learn it, and so she’s done with it. Then she reaches for her phone, and you can imagine the rest.
Peter also doesn't like to learn from notebooks and notes that someone has dictated to him. Therefore, he rather takes an atlas or encyclopaedia and looks at the pictures. He tries to understand how the thing works and why. When he has a chance, he goes out and looks around. He always has a specific goal, and direct confrontation with the environment allows him to understand natural processes. When staying outside or reading a book, he barely notices how time flies. Whether it was five minutes or several hours, he only reaches for the phone when he knows he understands the topic.
With these two examples, we have described two types of students. One of them doesn't know how to learn, so she quickly puts the notebook away and with an excuse. The second one doesn’t need any notebook. He likes to find the necessary information himself and educates himself. However, not all students fit this image. There are also those who need practice and simply do not push themselves to do it.
Learn to learn …
It is necessary to help such students, motivate them and show them that it is not such a horror. Teach them to learn. Of course, we have a few tips for you.
- Exact number of exercises. If the student doesn’t want, the time limit won’t help. It’s best to give them a lot of work regardless of time. To give you an idea, we give an example:
- “You will study now for twenty minutes.” – A completely demotivating sentence for a student. He sits down at the table and looks at everything around him, but not at the notebook. And after twenty minutes, he’s done. Not even the sentence: “Go study, I'll come and test you in twenty minutes” won't help much. The result will be exactly the same as in the previous case.
- If you want to outsmart a student and force him or her to really learn the topic, try using a sentence like, “Look at that page, read it, and then tell me what you've read.” Here we really try to stimulate student’s interest and effort to understand.
- “Calculate these three examples, and then we'll go out" is also an appropriate stimulation. You don’t specify how long the student should learn but make it clear that he/she can look forward to something. The student can do the task much faster.
- Regularity is important. Teach the student that if they learn for a while every day, one or two exercises will suffice, the time will fly faster, and the new knowledge will have a more lasting value. And it's always good to have something to look forward to, even if it's a complete trifle. Learning will be better and faster.
- Teach the student to choose the most important text. Textbooks are often oversaturated with text, but students usually need only a part of it. Don't force them to learn all the “sauce” around. Choose only the essentials. Some likes notes and others prefer to write down a shorter coherent text. And if the student does not understand the topic for the first time, try to reach for another source, the Internet or an encyclopaedia. Drawing pictures also helps, even if you can’t draw at all.
- Speak when learning languages. There is nothing worse than when the student does not know and is afraid to “speak”. How to learn languages? It is above all about dialogue. Pupils often understand grammar, they can translate the text into Czech, they can write an essay. But when it comes to speaking, put their thoughts together and translate them into a foreign language, they don’t know what to do and are lost. Talk to them and teach them that making a mistake is a natural thing. Each of us learned to walk. Many times, we fell and sometimes grabbed a subject near us, yet we can walk. It took a lot of attempts. We often “fell on our buttocks," but we managed it. We can also make it to speak foreign languages. And How do you know your child has a talent for languages?
No two subjects are the same
We write all the time about how long and how intensively to learn, or how to make students cooperate. However, we forgot to focus on specific subjects and how to learn them. But it doesn't really matter, because all the subjects are practically the same in this regard.
Now let's imagine a map of Europe, but instead of individual states, let's put specific subjects. Some are neighbours. They are close and therefore belong to the same group. History to geography and biology, English to German, French or Russian, education to education – physical education, art, social science, health education. But where to include Czech with mathematics?
The answer is very simple. Although it does not seem so, these two subjects have more than enough in common. Graphs are discussed in mathematics, sentence analyses in Czech. Word problems can look like a story. Only we have to find the numbers in that story and deal with them correctly. Czech and mathematics are exceptional, and one often struggles with them. Yet mathematics is also a language. Wherever in the world, you say one and one, it will always be two.
And Czech? Let's be glad that we are Czechs. Do you know how difficult it is to teach foreigners Czech? To prepare them for important exams from our language? The task is challenging for both parties, but the effort pays off. If a foreigner can learn Czech, then why wouldn't we learn a foreign language?
Our article contains really basic tips and advice on how to teach children to learn, whether during the holidays or during the school year. Even learning during holidays doesn’t have to be torture. What matters is the time and perseverance you sacrifice. If, even in the case of all your efforts, the desired results are not achieved, consider finding a tutor for the pupil.
School Populo can help you with the selection. The coordinators and tutors do everything to ensure that students leave the lesson with smiles on their faces. School Populo has tutors from every corner of the country to help you, even in a place where we don’t have a branch.
In conclusion, keep in mind that the grades are only a subject of evaluation, the test may not have gone as well as we wanted, and there’s always time for improvements.
“The best way to know we understand is to be able to pass it on – to explain it to someone else. And that's what the whole learning is about.”