Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brain-Based Learning: Guideline Three

Cherish your own emotions and never undervalue them. 
-Robert Henri

The third guideline concerning brain based learning is: emotions affect all aspects of learning, retention, and recall.

Who can forget first heartbreak, or fight with a best friend? What about your marriage proposal, or walk down the aisle? (I just had my wedding anniversary, can you tell?) I remember car wrecks, the day my children were born, and they day I moved into my house. All of these memories have incredibly strong emotions tied to them, good and bad. I remember them so clearly.

I can also remember vividly reading The Great Gatsby, loving every bit of it, and crying when the title character died. Why do I remember it so well? I was angry at times, cried at other times, and laughed during most of the reading. I remember it because I have emotions tied to it. Some of those emotions were already on my personal surface, and the story just intensified them.

You get the point.

Understanding this guideline, we can help our children learn better if we tie information in with an emotion. That is why teachers have students journal - so they can connect what they study to their lives and make it personal.

It is also probably why I disliked math class so much. Math to me meant that I would be in trouble later, and my parents would frown at how slow I was learning the material.

This brain based learning guideline needn't be negative though. We only need to be aware that it can be, and then avoid that. Think about our children and what they hold emotions to: pets, parents, friends, toys, books, cartoon characters, their house. Connect the emotions your child feels with those positive concepts to their learning.

This message is so simple and powerful, it needs little explanation or example from me. Parents do this already. Have you ever said to your child, "this is like... remember when you..."? You were connecting new material to an emotion.

I guarantee you have done this with your child. In what way? When did you use emotion to help with learning, retention, and recall?