Whether you are a parent, teacher or school administrator, or you just run a local NGO for vulnerable kids like I do, getting kids to actually learn is at the forefront of your agenda. These tips have worked for us and might just work for you as well.
Make the environment safe and friendly: As an old saying goes, the teacher can make any learning environment heaven or hell. With an adult who is easy going and patient, kids always feel free to learn. The kind of learning that sticks. Studies show that a teacher has the ability to turn any child into a genius. In her book Grit, Angela Duckworth cites many examples of kids who made it. One of them, Cody Coleman who would not have made it except for a great teacher’s mentorship.
Encourage: Nothing sounds better in a child’s ears than “Clap for her”. If encouragement has positive effects even on adults, then what about children? Psychological studies show that encouragement brings out the best in humans. Make phrases like “Great job”, “Well done” a part of your everyday vocabulary and watch the kids soar.
Do not condemn: When children do not perform as expected, do not make derogatory statements. Instead, encourage them to try harder. Expressions like “Nice try my girl” triggers positive emotions while increasing brain performance. You can also use positive expressions like “am sure you can do this” and be consistent. As soon as the child understands that you wish them well, they’d do well even just to impress you.
Make learning fun: In our Accelerated learning safe spaces, the Lifeskills curriculum is mostly delivered through what we refer to as “energizers”. These are mostly songs and dance plays and oh how the kids just love them! And guess what, they always perform wonderfully well in life skills assessments too. Therefore, encourage them to formulate songs from their lesson notes and even act some in their languages. You’ll be surprised at how creative they turn out, and most importantly, they’d remember whatever they learned.
This is my favorite. Incentives reinforce good behavior. In our safe spaces, we get the children to cooperate easily by giving the extra juice or snack to the child who gets the most answers right or shows the most improvement in behavior. This tip especially always yields great results.
There are so many other ways that have worked in making kids learn. Be sure to share what worked for you in the comments section so that we can learn from you.