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The InfoGraphic above is a high-level overview of teaching the learning process, followed by it's application. Here is a short breakdown of each step:
- Ingredients - teach them the base level things needed to understand the final picture. If it's drawing, make sure they know what a pencil is, how to hold it, how hard to press, what to write on, etc. These are each different lessons that are essential. I can't stress enough how important this step is. If your child doesn't have all the right ingredients - they won't make the same tool you're expecting to give them. Look for base-level things that you would consider 'obvious' - they might just be the missing ingredient. Think: the difference between a carrot cake with eggs and one without.
- New Tool - once the child understands the ingredients of the tool, the child can begin to use it as a whole. He now has a new tool to express himself in whatever way he wishes.
- How & When to Use It - this is when you show him the 'proper way' (and certainly not the ONLY way) to use the tool. Where to consider it, when to use it, how it applies some times and not others. Let him experience situations where it is a poor tool as well as the perfect tool.
- New Tool in the Toolbox - after enough practice and experimentation, he now has a new tool in his toolbox. All of those ingredients and how to put them together gets turned into a skill that can be used elsewhere. He only knows those few limitations you showed him - the rest will be gained through trial & error. Let him.
He wouldn't eat his vegetables one day and after trying to explain how healthy they were, I decided upon a new tactic. I mentioned that his plate was like a dinner puzzle. His meat was one piece, his sauce another, his drink another, and the vegetables another. I then asked him if he didn't eat his vegetables, would he have a complete puzzle or have all of the pieces? "No," he says. So I told him it takes every piece to complete the dinner puzzle. He gave the visible "ah-ha" look with a pleasant "ohhhhhh" and proceeded to eat his veggies.
- Challenge Presented - this is where the child is presented with a situation where he has a bunch of choices. Which tool do I use in this instance? - he asks. This will most often happen as he goes through the day. However, I highly recommend setting up situations where you can guide the choices and learning process.
- Understanding - this is the big 'ah-ha' moment. Where Step 4 in the LEARNING process gained the tool, it was really 'real-world' worthy at the time. Now he has used the tool in his natural environment and really 'gets it.' At a minimum, this is reinforcement. At max, this is life-changing.
- Praise the process - not the end results. You may have noticed that his VTech toys don't scold him for getting the wrong answer. You may have also noticed he likes to keep playing with those toys. This is in addition to some recent research that has shown praising only the end results leads to difficulties later. For instance, teens who have no real self-motivation and lower their standards to receive the same level of "end result praise."
- If You're not Excited - Don't Expect Them to be. Kids are smart. You may not believe it - but they're on to you. You can say "I want to take you outside" in so many ways and mean so many things. Try it. Go to the mirror and say that phrase in a sweet, high-pitched, lovey voice. Crouch down a little, open your hands wide, palms up, and tilt your head to the side a little. How do you feel? Now try it again in a low, rough, and stern voice. Stand up tall and big, point your finger, puff out your chest, and furrow your eye-brows. Any different? Kids are hip to body-language and tone of voice. If you're not "in the mood" - they know it. Best to try again later or work on yourself.
- Be as Helpful as When they Were Helpless. You were so patient, understanding, and loving when you child didn't understand what you were talking about during infancy. Do you kid a favor and show the same level of loving understanding when they get older. Expect and work for more, of course, but patience, love, and support are needed now more than ever.
- Confirm Frustrations - Don't Push. Try Later. There is absolutely no point in continuing on if you child has lost it, is on a rampage, is hungry, tired, upset, cranky, groggy, etc, etc. If you push them around when they are down, they will respond (consciously or unconsciously) in a way that makes it harder for themselves to learn in the future. It is best to try again when conditions are more favorable.