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Don’t waste your time – learn effectively

Don't waste your time - learn effectively
Don't waste your time - learn effectively

Effective learning is one of the useful skills that we use throughout our lives. It is worth knowing the ways that will make learning not only enjoyable, but also effective. What techniques can be useful to us? Don’t waste your time – learn effectively.

We should always start learning with setting a short-term and long-term goal. Understanding why we are learning a thing and when we can benefit from it is an important motivational component. Without it, learning will follow the 3xZ principle – give it up, pass it, forget it. The use of appropriate learning techniques is effective only in conjunction with intrinsic motivation

How to prepare for learning?

Before our child starts learning, it is worth preparing himself and his workplace. What to look for?

  1. Take care of your health and well-being. It is important that your child is well-fed, well-fed and watered. The younger the child, the more important physical activity is for him. Younger students especially need exercise, so before learning, let’s suggest playing outdoors, a short bike trip, etc. Sleep is also an extremely important factor. If our child does not get enough sleep (around 9-10 hours), his productivity will be reduced. We should also make sure that the child does not sit down to lessons immediately after a meal – then learning is difficult, because a large part of the energy in the body is spent on digestion, and not on thinking and remembering.

2.Plan what your child will learn. The younger the child, the more he needs the parent’s help. How to do it?

  • Review notebooks and books for what to learn, what tasks to do, and write them down one by one.
  • Determining the sequence of tasks execution. It is worth remembering that this child is learning, and therefore it is up to him to decide what task he will do at the beginning and at the end. There are some children who like to learn what they can first, which is not difficult for them. Completing these tasks gives them a sense of success and motivates them to continue working. Others prefer to do what is most difficult first, to – as they say – “get it over with”. It is worth checking what type your child belongs to and letting him or her decide.
  1. Prepare the necessary aids for the tasks. Provide a ruler, pencil, crayons, protractor, compass etc. This will reduce the stress of looking for the things you need while learning. This is especially important when we have a child with concentration difficulties – then any unplanned departure from the place of study makes it difficult to return and motivate to work.
  2. Remember about order in the place of study. Removing any distractions such as mascots, phone, magazines, games etc. will help your child focus their attention on completing tasks.
  3. Provide silence in your child’s study room. It is necessary to turn off the computer (unless the child performs a task with its use), TV, telephone (also with vibration). Make sure that younger siblings are not disturbed by, for example, playing loudly. It happens that some children need music to learn. In this case, let’s make sure that it is instrumental music with a quiet, gentle sound.
  4. Organize one study place – it is important that the child learns always in the same place and at about the same time. The brain gets used to this constancy, begins to associate a place with learning, intellectual effort, and after some time the mere fact of being in a given place will activate neurotransmitters that support learning.
  5. Take regular breaks – the brain needs rest. The younger the child, the shorter the focus on the task:
  • Younger children (early childhood education) – 15-30 minutes of work + 5 minutes of break in movement.
  • Older children – up to 60 minutes of study + 10 minutes of break.

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You can also use the 90/10 technique, i.e. 90% of the time the child is devoted to learning and 10% to the break.

Learning methods and techniques

The “Pomodoro” technique:

  • The child chooses a task to be performed.
  • Sets an alarm clock for 25 minutes – this is one Pomodoro.
  • The child works on a task non-stop.
  • After 25 minutes, when the alarm announces the end of work, there is a 5-minute pause.
  • Another Pomodoro, i.e. 25 minutes of work + 5 minutes of break.

Attention! After three Pomodoros (in a row), we take a longer break, preferably 15-30 minutes.

Frequent and deep information processing

In order to remember the content, we have to repeat it regularly. It is not enough to read a topic in a book once – or even several times (shallow processing). Knowledge will stay in the mind for longer if the child devotes more thought to learning (deep processing). How can this be done?

  1. Reading a portion of the textbook with comprehension.
  2. Highlight the most important facts.
  3. Make a visual note in the form of a mind map or linear.
  4. Read a handwritten note.
  5. Use your own words to tell the information from the note.
  6. Proceeding with each fragment of the topic according to point 1-5.

Tell a parent in your own words about what they have learned. We learn the most when we assume the role of a teacher.

How to repeat the previously acquired knowledge at home?

  1. A short summary at the end of the study.
  2. Summary at the end of the day, e.g. before going to bed.
  3. Summary on the next day.

It is worth remembering that learning largely depends on the environment in which the child learns. The atmosphere in the home can inhibit or initiate the learning process. If home learning is well organized, it becomes enjoyable and interesting. This leads to the release of dopamine – a substance in the brain that is a strong motivator.