Imagine what would happen if teachers would “teach” less, letting students learn one thing at a time, slowly, deliberately, and completely. There would be time and space between learning experiences. Children’s brains are able to learn and understand things better as their cognitive or thinking abilities develop, regardless of ability.
This was proven effective by father and son researchers, Gentile and Gentile (2008), who discovered this is how video games teach players to play the game. Why aren’t teachers doing this in school instead of still expecting students to learn by rote memory?
Only children with very good memories are able to succeed when we measure intelligence this way, which leaves out children with special needs. What if they were measured by their ability to perform a task (e.g., add or subtract objects or numbers and show how they got the answer)?
Things like the multiplication tables that need to be memorized are easier to remember when children learn them as songs or games. However, the best way for children to learn any concept is to understand it. For example, if a young child asks you why a ball bounces, try this: get two balloons and help the child blow them up, let the child bounce them; then stick a pin in one of the balloons and let the child bounce the balloons again.
Ask the child questions about what happened to the balloon that you stuck with the pin and why. Let the child figure it out – don’t tell him or her – that the air came out of the hole made with the pin. The child may not figure out right away that the air inside the balloon gives it buoyancy, but if this experiment is repeated with other elements (putting water in balloons, for example), the child will develop understanding and learn the concept.
Later, once the child understands how air lifts objects into the air or makes them buoyant, use a ball to demonstrate how gravity pulls the ball back down. This can be done with a variety of ball of different sizes and thickness in the covering. Children can chart or graph which balls bounce higher while asking questions like, “Why does the beach ball bounce higher?” “How high do you think the golf ball will bounce?”
This is just one example of how experiential learning fosters understanding of complex concepts, even in small children and children with special needs. Use the internet as a source of activities that can be done in a classroom or at home to assist children’s learning based on their interests and the activities they seem to enjoy and in which they are most often engaged.