Thursday, September 24, 2009

Watch that Maths!!!

Despite the teachers’ best efforts, some students still leave school without rudimentary numeracy skills. The message I keep hearing from parents is simple: watch the maths, because once your child falls behind on the basics, it’s a difficult journey to catch up again.

So how do you watch the maths?
  • Ask your child whether she likes her maths schoolwork and whether she thinks she’s good at it.
  • Ask your teacher whether your child is performing below, at, or above expectations for her age group.
  • Ask yourself what your child’s Learning Style is and what sort of games you can play with her at home to boost her confidence in her ability to “get” numbers. (Have a look here to find out.)

Depending on her learning preferences, you might:

  • Devise a colourful worksheet for your child to complete on a regular basis.
  • Play a board game that involves numeracy skills.
  • Organise a treasure hunt in the woods or on the beach (the clues are based on maths).
  • Make a flip chute or an electro board together (please contact us for more information on making learning tools).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Boys and girls - the difference in Learning Styles

Michael Gurian, lecturer and family therapist: “A primary area of concern for nearly every teacher is the difference we each intuit in the males and females we teach.” Although the overlap between the genders is enormous, there is no denying that “boys and girls learn differently”.

Forget amateur wisdoms such as "boys are competitive, girls are collaborative". Scientists have recently discovered that differences between girls and boys are more profound.

Research revealed, for example, that boys and girls see differently: male eyes are attracted to movement and to cooler colours (such as blue, black, grey), while female eyes are enticed by textures, details and warmer colours (red, yellow, orange). Learning Styles cater for this difference by assessing the student’s preferences for visual input (see the LSA Pyramid).

Boys and girls also hear differently: girls interpret loud speaking as threatening, while boys see it as confident. Learning Styles distinguish the student’s preferences for auditory input (LSA Pyramid).

The male autonomic nervous system causes boys to be more alert in colder temperatures (Learning Style Element - temperature), as well as when they’re moving (Learning Style Element - mobility). Girls prefer warmer temperatures and they often learn better when seated.

Curiously enough, stress in boys helps them stay focused by directing blood flow into their brains. Girls respond to stress differently, with blood flowing to their digestive system and making them anxious.

Of course, says David Chadwell, South Carolina’s coordinator of single gender education: “These (learning) differences are tendencies, not absolutes”. To check your child’s unique learning preferences, click here.

Leonard Sax, MD, PhD offers the following examples of the gender differences:

· Brain development: In girls, the language areas of the brain develop before the areas used for spatial relations and for geometry.

· Wiring: In teenage girls, emotion is processed in the same area of the brain that processes language. So, it's not too difficult for most teenage girls to talk about their emotions.

· Sense of hearing: The typical teenage girl has a sense of hearing which is significantly better than a teenage boy. That's why daughters so often complain that their fathers are shouting at them. Dad doesn't think he's shouting, but Dad doesn't hear his voice the way his daughter does.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Numeracy and Learning Styles

In the news today: “Only a third of students are numerate going into secondary school, and the process of teaching mathematics needs to be addressed, an Auckland University maths lecturer says.” And the problem is not limited to New Zealand.

So, if the experts say that the process of teaching mathematics needs to be addressed, the most important thing is to begin with teaching according to the students’ Learning Styles.

A Learning Style is the way in which a student understands new facts and memorises them best.

Some students need to visualise what they’re learning. Others require a tactile tool to help them absorb the lesson. Holistic students will benefit from math jokes and anecdotes.

Depending on your students’ learning strengths and needs, here are a few ways to make numeracy fun:

  • Play a board game that requires number skills (“Snakes and Ladders” for counting from 1 to 100, Junior Monopoly for addition and subtraction).
  • Bake a cake, measuring the ingredients and working out the cost of the cake based on the price of the flour, eggs, etc.
  • Make flip-cards for your maths times-tables.
  • Watch “Number Jacks” on TV.

Bear in mind, however, that you have to match the activities to the students’ Learning Styles. Ask yourself:

  • Do your students concentrate better in the morning than in the afternoon?
  • Do they get hyperactive when you switch on bright classroom lights?
  • Will they become more engaged in the lesson if you let them do hands-on activities?
  • Have a look here to find out.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

"Learning Steps to Overcoming Fear" from Jacqueline Wales

Yvonne Walus shares the following "Learning Steps to Overcoming Fear" from Jacqueline Wales, author of The Fearless Factor, at the Creative Learning Center -

“Being Fearless is not the absence of fear, but the choices and decisions we make when fear shows up in our lives.”

Fear is one of the most powerful motivating forces in the human experience. It is the clarion call that signals there is something you need to change in order to live a completely fulfilled life. Honoring this feeling is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

It is also normal. We all have it, and we all have to deal with it.

What is Fear?

The dictionary describes it as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.

Fear is one of the strongest words in the human emotional language. We would rather say we were anxious, worried or nervous than say outright we are afraid. Somehow the word fear connotes weakness or intense vulnerability so we prefer to cloak it in ambiguous language like “I don’t feel like it; it doesn’t work for me; I’m too tired, too busy, or too stressed. Fear leads to anger, inappropriate behavior, offensive language or complete rejection. We find tons of excuses to avoid ‘feeling’ the fear because we all know that fear is alarming, abrasive, unpleasant and painful.

But fear is also imagination based. We predicate our reactions on what happened in the past so it may happen in the future. We forget that in the now is the gift, the present, and we can choose whatever we want from our menu of offerings.

If fear is imagination based, then we can choose our reactions can’t we? We can make choices and decisions that take courage and risk, and although fear will never be absent from your life, you are in control of it. No one else.

So ask yourself:

  • What fears are holding you back? Are these fears real or imagined?
  • What would you have done differently if fear had not gotten in the way?
  • Where in your life do you hide your fear by filling your time with busyness, distractions or pushing the emotion away?
  • Finish the phrase: Because of fear, I abandoned my dreams of becoming…….
  • What would it look like if you could remove fear from your life? What benefits do you think you would gain?

Fear is a choice and learning how to get beyond it is the secret to living your best life now. It is the secret to overcoming any challenge in your life.

(Jacqueline Wales is known the world over as The Black Belt Millionaire. Her unique programs have helped women around the globe develop strong personal success, confident communication and clear visions of their goals. She is the author of five books including The Fearless Factor available at