Helping Your Preschooler Do Math: Adapted Brain or Learning Style
Whether it’s because you’ve read my other articles in the Early Childhood Education category or because you’ve researched this topic online, you’re probably wondering how the terms “brain-fit” and “learning styles” fit into your work with your preschooler. Surely the goal of both is to help your child learn , so what’s the difference? Is one better than the other?
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“Learning styles” are the oldest concept and represent the results of several research studies aimed at determining how we learn. You can find a summary of these results in my article “Learning Styles-Should I Have My Child Tested?” (The answer is no). (The answer is NO.) These concepts were essentially assumptions, based on observation of behavior, about how the brain absorbs and stores information. Guesses about how the brain learns.
I recommend that you read this article to familiarize yourself with the terminology, as you are likely to encounter some or all of these concepts as you study early childhood education further.. You may even encounter teachers in your child’s future who still cling to these concepts. Some of these attempts to explain how we learn have more merit than others; there is some truth in each of them, but none provides a complete answer. The concept of learning styles has lost popularity in education. During my research for this article, I was surprised by the number of articles and videos referring to “demystifying” this concept of learning styles.
Having taught in public schools in the 90s, where we were encouraged to test our students’ learning styles, and where students were often placed in classes where their learning style matched that of the teacher, the idea of learning styles being “demystified” initially seemed impossible. However, this change in attitude towards education is the result of new developments in brain scan technology, brain surgery and brain research. We have plenty of research and practical verification of techniques that have been proven effective for learning.
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It is difficult to excel in all the subjects imposed in the middle. These shortcomings can very often lower a general average and cause the student to miss a mention in the baccalaureate. Ugly …
The field of brain-based education and learning is only a few decades old and not free from criticism, but even Harvard University now offers masters and doctoral programs in as part of its MBE (Mind, Brain, and Education) program. The study of brain-based education is about learning what techniques parents and educators should use to best engage the brain in learning.
Now that we know how the brain actually learns, it’s important that you use brain-friendly techniques when working with your preschooler. You don’t need a teacher’s degree to use brain-tuned techniques. I will now summarize here the things you need to consider when working with your child. The brain needs colors, exercise and movement, a variety of activities, novelty, processing time, music, limiting stress, information in small “chunks”, lots of rest, an introduction to the “arts” – dance, theater (directing) and art, frequent revisions, good nutrition, etc.
There are several things you should notice in this list:
These activities actually use all the different concepts of learning styles, which is why you don’t need to give your child a test, and why I haven’t listed them. Using brain-friendly techniques answers what you need to know about learning styles.
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You already use many of these techniques. You are already working for short periods of time, giving time for processing, lots of review, movement, different types of activities, monitoring your child to avoid stress, etc.
However, unless these worksheets are very colorful, offer new and varied activities, are short, are self-checking to avoid training mistakes, and you are ready to monitor every moment of their use, you should avoid using them!