We’re constantly teaching our children new things, aren’t we?
We teach them the alphabet, the correct way to pet the cat, how to drive a car (gulp!), which sports teams to love and hate, how to replace the empty toilet paper roll for once in their frickin’ lives, and countless other bits of information that are vital to their – and your – survival.
And we usually do all these things in a really straightforward way:
- We tell our kids what we want them to know.
- We review the information with them.
- We cross our fingers and hope they’ll remember it when they need it.
Kids usually follow pretty similar steps when learning in the classroom, too. A teacher tells them some new information, they’re expected to study it, and then they’re tested on it.
But is simply studying new information the best way to learn? A recent study suggests not.
Researchers divided students into two groups. Both groups were given the same material to study, but one of the groups was told that they would be studying in preparation for an exam, while the other group was told that they would be studying so that they could teach another student who would be taking the exam.
In actuality, both groups were given the exact same test to take. And guess who did better?
The group that was preparing to teach scored significantly higher on the test than the group that was actually preparing to take the test!
So if you’re looking for an effective way to help your children learn something, try exploiting their natural ability to learn while teaching! You can do it in lots of situations:
- When you’re helping your kid study for a test, ask him to teach you the material instead of just quizzing him.
- If you’re teaching a new skill like potty training, have him practice by teaching his favorite stuffed animal to use the potty.
- When you’re teaching your oldest how to load the dishwasher, tell him to pay extra attention since you’ll need him to help teach his baby sister later.
The more you practice this technique, the more your kids will learn!
(But don’t get too excited – they probably still won’t ever replace the empty toilet paper roll.)