If your child hasn’t asked you this question, “Why do we have to learn this?” he or she may be a cardboard cut-out.
All kidding aside, this is a very common question when students are asked to learn something new. In fact, it’s normal to wonder why you need to learn — especially when something is perceived as difficult or brings about change. Even adults do this.
Imagine that your boss comes to you with a new software installation that requires you to switch to a new set of procedures in order to accomplish your role. It’s tough, isn’t it? Most likely, you aren’t given the “why” of how your supervisor arrived at the new software decision.
But if he had come into your office, sat down, and said, “We’re moving to a new software, and here’s why” before he asked you to learn it, it would be a little easier to swallow the learning curve that’s involved.
The same holds true for our children. So let’s help them work through the skills of reflection. This can not only give them a reason to learn, but it can also help them evaluate how they learn, if they’ve learned, and where they can improve.
Educators in New Zealand created a system of hats to help kids work through the steps of learning. These steps fall into five categories (three for the learning process and two for the reflection process.)
The Learning Process: Ask WHAT, WHY, and HOW
WHAT are you learning?
This is where students learn to answer, “We are learning how to…”
WHY are you learning this?
This is where students need clarity to answer, “We are learning this because…”
HOW are you going to learn this?
This helps students answer, “I can check my steps to see if I have learned this…”
Reflection on Learning: Why Does it Matter?
- Did you know that reflecting on their own learning helps students retain what they have learned?
- Did you know that reflecting on their own learning helps students assimilate new concepts with what they already know?
- Did you know that reflecting on their own learning helps students adapt newly learned concepts to be applied in ways that relate to them?
- Did you know that reflecting on their own learning helps students translate concepts and ideas into actions?
(Effective Pedagogy, NZ Curriculum, p. 34)
Putting It All Together – HOW TO Reflect
Teaching our students to reflect empowers them. It’s simple to help them begin this practice too. Simply by asking two questions, your students can learn how to reflect on what they’re learning in school and in life:
- What did you do well in your learning? (I did well on this because…)
- What do you think you need to work on? (I know I can work on…)
We hope these two simple practices help you guide your child into critical thinking about how he learns best. In fact, helping students learn how they learn is one of the tools we love to equip students with at Learnwell. If you’ve been thinking about a school change, we would love to talk with you to see if our school is a good fit. We offer the Navigator Program for families all over the world, and we offer a local hybrid option for families living in northern Georgia. Why not look into our Frequently Asked Questions to start learning about who we are and what we do?