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Little Justice Leaders Blog

How Do I Learn?

by Dr. Kripa Sundar

Somehow summer has gone by and kids are due back at school. As a learning scientist who is also a parent, I’ve often had tug-of-thought wars. I see both sides and sway based on whichever role is more prominent at that moment. Once, I published a book called How do I learn? for little ones and their caregivers bringing both the learning scientist and parent capacities into one. In this post, I try that once again with perhaps a tad more parent than learning scientist. 

As parents we have a lot on our plates with the never-ending, jack-in-the-box pandemic. Between health concerns, social-emotional health worries, and racial justice advocacy, we also need to pay attention to the slower rate of learning and lower learning performance over the past year. In full disclosure, here is where I stand: With my kids being as young as they are (7 and 3) I am going to continue focusing on quality learning over quantity – in my capacity as a parent. In this post I share with you three strategies I use with my kids, informed by research in learning. 

Research-Informed Learning Strategies

  1. Get ready to learn. Our kids are able to pay attention and learn when they are calm, mindful, and believe they can. Learning is facilitated when our kid is alert yet calm: like the focus a superhero has before their big jump. These competencies take time to build; It helps when they see us, their model, calm and mindful. We can practice focusing inwards and paying attention, with them. Also, be cautious of passing on stereotypes or beliefs like “I’m bad at math” or “coding isn’t for girls”. What they hear and see can influence what they think
  2. Learn in rich ways. There is no evidence to support the idea that engaging in our preferred style (visual, auditorial, sensory, or kinesthetic) leads to improved learning. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that the more effort we put into learning, including using more than one “style”, we learn better and perform. Sounds pretty straightforward right? Yep, yet so easy to slip into “I am a visual learner, I can’t learn from text”. Bubble burst – what we really mean by using that excuse is we don’t want to/ are unable to put in the effort necessary to learn in that medium. Unfortunately, with no effort, learning is impossible.
  3. Review, repeat, and learn. Learning doesn’t stop with just getting information into our heads. It continues when we make mistakes and review them to strategize how we can do better. We want to think about our learning – what worked? What didn’t? Why? Learning continues when we go back and repeat the same learning activity but applying what we found out in our review.

In my book, How do I learn? I share these ideas in ways that kids as young as 4 years old can understand, and I expand on the science behind it for parents. Plus, I have activities and conversation starters for parents to talk about learning with their kids. They have their whole lives to learn the fascinating things the world can offer, so let’s instill healthy learning habits in them.

Because learning isn’t just one thing, it’s everything.

Links for the post

YouTube read aloud with Unicorn: Read Aloud with Dr. Kripa Sundar – How do I learn?

YouTube read aloud for parents (short): Read Aloud (Grown-up version)

Posters: https://www.redbubble.com/people/LearnIncognito/shop?asc=u

Book link: amzn.to/3bFHoj7

Website: www.kripasundar.com

*For bulk orders, please contact Dr. Kripa Sundar