How to passJust because you have taught something doesn’t mean that it has been learnt by your child or the children in your class. Children’s learning isn’t that simple. There can be huge gaps between the teaching and the learning but there are ways of overcoming this and here are eight ways to help the process become easier.

Just as an experiment, I would like you carry out a short test.  See if you can pass the test.

Write a story about the roller coaster.

I hope that you haven’t started writing a roller coaster story because there are some questions you need to ask beforehand to help you along the way.

Where do I start?

How do I know when I’ve finished?What do I need to do?

Is this about a particular roller coaster?

Who is the audience?

How long should it be?

What are you looking for?

How do I know if I’ve passed the test?

Without this information you would find it extremely hard to carry out the task and pass the test.

Throughout their school life, too many children are expected to read the minds of their teachers and hope they can deliver what is needed.

This isn’t fair.

These are my top eight tips to help you teach and your child to learn more effectively.  They are in no particular order.

1)   It is important that the learning intention (what you want the child to learn) is clear, concise and achievable.
Tell the child what you are going to teach.  Be specific.  Write an interesting story is too broad. 

It could be that you would like your child to use different openers through the story to make it more interesting.
Writing the story isn’t the learning intention, using sentence openers is.  It may be better to use a more focused activity.  Once this skill has been mastered, you should be able to see a variety of sentence starter in other work.

2)   The activities are geared to the learning intention.
As in the example above, if you want the learning to be to use different sentence starters, writing a story is not the best way to learn this.  It would be better to ask for 5 sentences using different sentence starters. Or, using different sentence starters to make these sentences more interesting, e.g. I went to the shops when it was raining – Although it was raining I still went to the shops.

3)   Give children enough time to assimilate the information.  Give children time
It is so much better for them if they can understand a principle by themselves rather than be ‘told’ over and over.  If a child is struggling with a concept it may a case of changing the wording to help understanding, or, to use a different medium for teaching that particular point.

4)   If you are planning to teach a new concept or topic, ask the children what they would like to know/find out.

This helps with ownership of the learning.  This works well with particular topics, for example, Christopher Columbus. Here is a grid I use to help to find a starting point for topics. 

Here is a topic grid I use to help with finding a starting point for topics.

5)   Children should be beginning to understand how to take ownership of their own learning. 

Giving children the opportunity to plan any learning helps immensely with this.  The topic grid works very well for this.

6)   On a need to know basis! Children need the facts.
For learning to be effective, children need to know, what they are learning, the next step to that learning and how to fill the gap between the two. Remind them what they have learnt before and how that helps with the current learning.

7)   Children should be aware of what they need to do to succeed in the task.
If children don’t know what they are learning, how do they know if they have been successful or not?  Tell them what you are looking for in their work.  This isn’t cheating or giving too much away.  It’s helping the children to become successful.How to succeed

8)   They should also have some ideas of what they could do to improve the work they have done.
This is a contentious issue in some classrooms. If the learning intention is to write labels for picture cards and you ask the question,
‘What would make your work better?’
Colouring in, or ‘add glitter’ are not the answers you want to hear!  
What you would like to hear is 
‘add more describing words’
‘check spelling’

I believe in giving children as much information about their learning as they need to know.  This gives them a head start in the process and helps to give the learning some context – which is normally missing in classroom teaching!

Do you have any other tips for helping the learning process for children?  

What do you do that helps children learn?