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Brain Integration in Learning

By Esther Andrews

When studying about brain development and ways to teach children, the tendency is to try to understand the topic by dissecting it and studying the parts. That is the reason we talk about right/left brain hemispheres, visual or auditory memory, learning styles. And all these are very important, they help us understand how the brain works, how it grows, how children learn.

However, we can use this knowledge for a very practical thing: helping our children with their school work, teaching them any material we want them to learn.

This method will help the child learn, and it will help us turn the learning experience into a fun experience, and who would argue with me that this isn't important? What I am talking about is using all faculties when you are teaching your child. Whatever the age of the child, you can turn it into a lot of fun. Use music, have the child sing the material to a tune he likes. Use visuals - video, graphics, pictures. Use manipulative aids and visual aids (especially good for Math).

Are you teaching your child the alphabet? Bake cookies in the shape of the letters. Use the cookies to put together words. Sing the alphabet song. Make up songs of your own. Encourage your child to make up songs. March to the beat of the music. March in a shape of the letters. Make big flash cards of the letters. Hang them up.

If your child is older, and is learning a lesson in history - find a movie or a video about the historic event. Maybe you can find a video or movie about the geographical location of the historic event. Does your child have to memorize text from a book? Read it with him. Read it to him. Record onto a recording device and let him listen while you are driving. Sing it. Let your child sing it. Make up stories about it. Imagine scenes from the event. Try to engage all your child's senses when learning the material. Ask open questions. Let your child imagine what he would do if he was part of it. How would he feel?

Is your child learning math? You can use balls or cubes to demonstrate the concepts. They are so valuable for arithmetic, demonstrating the metric system, for fractions. In the same manner, you can use cookies in the shape of cubes or other shapes, to demonstrate the same concepts. Make the cookies very fragrant, to involve all the senses: taste, smell and visual.

Schools rely heavily on the visual learning modality. Students nowadays read the material, they are asked to draw pictures, write answers to questions. There is sometimes a discussion in class or a lecture, which involves the auditory faculty, but most of the work is based on visual activities. If you give your child the opportunity to move around while studying, walk to the beat of a tune, paint, listen, and involve all the senses, you are giving your child the chance to study in different styles.

If you do all that - do you think your child will ever be able to forget the material? In doing all that, you help your child learn. However, you are also achieving another goal - developing all your child's learning styles and faculties. If your child is visual, you are helping to develop his auditory memory. If he is kinesthetic, you are helping to develop his visual discrimination! You are helping your child become a rounder, more balanced learner and develop his weaker faculties.

Another advantage is brain integration, something we neglect when we try to develop the brain hemispheres or the learning styles separately.

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Imagine how successful your child can be with a brilliant mind, lightning-fast learning skills, an accurate, lasting memory, creativity and problem solving skills of a genius. And please feel free to e-mail me with your comments, feedback and success stories!
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