If you are a parent of kids who go to school, you have probably heard many times expressions like “I hate homework”, “I hate school” or “I don’t want to learn”. As easy and fun as learning at school may seem, it can be hard work for many kids.
I believe that learning is harder when you do not understand why you should learn, how you learn and what you gain from learning. Unfortunately, most kids do not know what happens to them in the process of learning, so they only see the pain associated with it, instead of the pleasure.
Here is a simple explanation that children from age 6 will be able to understand. Make sure you explain it to kids every time they express frustration regarding school, learning or homework. Remember, whenever they say “I hate school”, they are really saying “School’s hard for me”.
Our brain has 100 billion cells. Each cell carries a single thought, experience or feeling. This single thing, which the brain registers as an experience, moves in the brain the way electricity flows from the power station to your house.
More than enough brain cells
We do not use all the cells we have in the brain. Some people say we use only a small portion of the brain, others say we use a bit more, but everyone agrees there are plenty of brain cells we do not use. Everything you do in life helps you use more of the cells in your brain. When you play, sleep, eat, laugh, cry or learn, you use more cells in your brain. When things are hard and you are afraid you cannot remember something because your brain is full, do not worry. There is plenty of storage in the brain for lots of new information.
When the same experience happens again and again, we no longer need to learn it – we do it automatically. Take walking, for example. At first, you need to concentrate on sending the right messages from your brain to your legs and back and you still wobble and fall down. But after some practice, you do it automatically – you no longer think about it. It is easy.
The brain is like a machine that needs oil. Learning is that oil. The more you oil your brain, the better it runs. If you want to be smart, you need to make sure your brain works all the time. Every new thing you learn and repeat until it is automatic makes your brain machine faster and smarter.
Old people who want to remember things and keep their brain sharp need to keep learning too.
Any new thing is learning. You can learn to cook a new dish, to read a new book, to solve a puzzle, to learn a language, to play a new game, to watch something new on TV or to try a new computer game. All these will make you use your brain more and become smarter. Remember, it must be something new that is not automatic yet. If you do it automatically, it is good, but it is not making you smarter.
The old primitive brain
At the base of the head there is a part of the brain that is in charge of breathing, body temperature, heart beat and all the functions of the physical body. This part of the brain is supposed to take care of us, so whenever we hear a sudden voice, fall or get scared by something, this brain has an alarm that tells us to run away and protect ourselves.
This brain is a bit primitive and it tells us to run away from things that are not really dangerous for us. It does this by increasing the heart beat and making us sweat. This brain is also in charge of our anger and sadness.
Unfortunately, when this brain takes over, we cannot think properly and cannot learn. If you want to know when your primitive brain is taking over, here are the signs: When you are worried, scared, stressed – you cannot learn. So if you want to learn and be smarter, you need to relax and convince your old brain that everything is OK.
Your emotional and thinking brain
There is a part in the brain in charge of your feelings. It registers every experience as a good feeling or not good feeling. When we are happy, sad, frustrated, excited, enjoying ourselves or having a rotten time, this part is very active.
Unfortunately, when this part of the brain is unhappy, it is very hard for us to learn. When the emotional brain is happy, the thinking brain is active and productive. When the emotional brain is unhappy, the thinking brain is not very effective and it is hard to learn and remember things.
If you want to use your thinking brain more, you have to do more of the things that make you happy. If you need to learn something that is important to you, do it in a way that will make you happy. If you love singing, learn it through a song. If you love jumping, learn it while jumping, If you love colors, learn it through drawing and you cannot think of something you love doing, make a list of something that will make you happy and do happy things before you learn something that is hard for you. Remember, when your are happy, you remember everything.
The left and the right brain
Our brain has two sides, each in charge of different parts of our learning. The left side of the brain deals with facts, figures, words, language, structure, logic, symbols and numbers. The right side of the brain is in charge of intuition, creativity, music and art.
We use both sides of the brain, but tend to use mainly one side. For each person, one is easier to use and the other side is harder and therefore a bit neglected. The brain works better when we use both sides. Therefore, we need to make an effort to use the side that is not easy for us. Of course, with practice, this too will become easier.
If you want your kids to understand the learning process, explain to them how the brain works. It will help with their motivation to learn. As a parent, you can arrange their environment is a way that supports learning according to the principles you have just learned.
If you have any questions, please post them in the comment box below and I will answer them for you.