Read any highly respected education-related blog and you’re likely to find sections on how to make learning more enjoyable – both as a parent teaching your child about the world and a teacher with a room full of children with different interests and abilities. But what’s not discussed much is the science behind appealing to a child’s imagination at the same time as teaching somewhat complex theories. Turns out, there are a huge number of benefits to combining fun and learning – certainly something as a parent I’m keen to understand.
It can prepare them for life
The main reason behind teaching subjects based on real life events/interests is that it can be hard to marry theory and practice together, especially in young minds. Teaching a child who is interested in football about velocity, angles and force is not only easier to convey when you bring it to them with the example of a penalty taker (how hard does he need to kick the ball, what angle does she need to make to get the ball in the top corner? etc.), you’re also firing synapses in the child’s brain that allows that child to then realise that there are mathematical and scientific facets to many other real world situations. In the Power of Why, by Amanda Lang, she explores the relationship between curiosity and success – not only in education, but in life, illustrating how curiosity can lead to innovation, via the ability to solve problems based on a thorough understanding of the subject – something we should certainly want to pass onto our children.
Good at school doesn’t mean good at life
Even if your child is doing well at school, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they have the relevant skillset to achieve good things once school is finished. Academic education is important but teaching children by rote things that they can’t relate to any part of their life after the institutionalised nature of the school system is tantamount to setting them up for failure. Retention of facts and figures for examinations is something drilled into many students as vital, and in many cases it doesn’t last long after the examination is over for the student to forget those facts. Relate the theory around subject matter relevant to the student, however, and you’ll find retention rates can soar. According to Scientific Learning, dopamine, the hormone released when a student is engaged and enjoying a lesson can act as a ‘save button’ for the brain, helping store information better.
For many parents, the school system has evolved significantly since they were in education, and for some, new methods of teaching may be at odds to what they were taught at school. However, as long as your child is enjoying their education and is engaged in their lessons, you’re more than likely going to find their learning journey a little less bumpy than it is if everything they learn in the classroom is from a book.