Knowing the science of how the brain works could go a long way in helping students learn and retain information. That’s the theory behind brain-based learning. Just as providing good nutrition and plenty of exercise encourages a healthy body, brain-based learning strategies are intended to build a healthy brain.
What Is Brain-Based Learning?
Brain-based learning is rooted in neuroscience research suggesting that people’s brains grow and develop as they learn. This development, called neuroplasticity, is the ability of the brain to create new neural pathways. Brain-based learning focuses less on ordinary teaching conventions and more on how the brain actually works.
Research continues to emerge on brain-based learning, leading to debates on its effectiveness and whether it can be implemented in all learning environments. But it can be helpful for parents and educators to understand the research and learn some of the strategies involved.
There is evidence that brain-based learning can be effective. A study by University College of London found that London cab drivers’ brains grew while those of bus drivers did not. The growth was attributed to the type of learning each group performed. Cab drivers must learn the complexities of London’s landmarks and streets, which are not set in a grid pattern, usually relying on visualization or mnemonic devices. Bus drivers, on the other hand, learned only their single route.
The study showed that the brain can grow given the right challenges and circumstances. Kids need to be challenged and be reminded that learning is a process. They can expect to make mistakes at first. Teaching them that it’s okay to fail motivates them to continue to learn. Studies like these help advocates of brain-based learning develop strategies for today’s students.
Brain-Based Learning Strategies
Fortunately, there are many simple, fun strategies you can implement into your education time to make the most of your child’s learning.
- Applied learning: When you link learning to an activity, the learning becomes stronger than rote memorization. For example, one homeschool mother recounted that her daughter couldn’t recall the names of pints or quarts until the mother brought home milk in pint and quart containers. The child understood the names better because of the visual and kinesthetic connection.
- Learning how to study: Children need to learn how to learn. You can teach them valuable studying, organizational, prioritizing, and reviewing skills through the following tasks:
- Giving examples of what they’ve learned
- Making predictions
- Solving problems
- Pursuing answers to their own questions
- Physical activity: We learn more when we’re active. Think of ways to involve physical activity with learning through games or exercise. Children will likely remember the information every time they do that activity, even outside of lesson time.
Brain-based learning can be an excellent tool to help kids learn. If you think your child is not being challenged at school or needs to learn outside of traditional classroom techniques, consider online learning. Virtual schools powered by K12 offer an award-winning online curriculum and hands-on materials with instruction from state-certified teachers, all in the safety and comfort of home. And as your child’s Learning Coach, you can be more involved in his or her education. Visit K12.com for more information.