By Vivian Owens
Let us take comfort in realizing that learning at its best occurs in circular motion. This means that tiny incremental doses of concepts picked up in Phase 1 of learning 2nd Grade Math or High School Algebra will repeat itself in Phase 2. The same holds true for all levels of math—3rd Grade Math, Algebra, Geometry, and beyond. Other subjects also possess circular motion. However simple or elemental an idea or concept is, it is the building block for all higher concepts of the same field. Eventually, we return to refer to that simplest notion. One idea steadily builds upon another. Nothing is ever lost once it is gained.
The idea of circular motion contends that a nugget of a concept follows a path, picking up or adding to and enlarging the same basic concept as time and more learning occur. The key is to aid this circular motion.
For ourselves as caretakers of our children’s education, we aid circular motion learning by answering the following question: How do we sustain learning given a homeschooling requirement?
First, we acknowledge that our schools have done an excellent job in meeting the challenges of out-of-classroom learning. We owe a debt of thanks to our teachers, school administrators, and all who support the infrastructures they need to reach childrenduring this pandemic crisis.
Next, we consider ways to sustain learning at ground level; and we do the following:
Follow all the plans laid out by the teacher and school.
Encourage practice, practice, and more practice. To win games, LeBron James or Stephen Curry would not think of playing an NBA game by foregoing practice. Similarly, learners cannot forego practice in any subject.
Introduce one new concept. This can be problem solving, memory challenging, or following directions in a step-by-step adventure. Puzzles fall into this category, as do games like chess.
Create situations for which the learner must adapt and therefore use a combination of skills that he has previously mastered.
Use “Show-me” skills. Ask your child to show you how to perform a specific math problem as dictated from one of the teacher-provided lessons. Other examples of “Show Me” might include asking the 3year-old to 7 year-old children to “Show me how to do jumping jacks.” Or, “Show me how to roll dough into a round ball.”
For the 6th grader to 9th grader, you might ask, “Show me the likeness or similarities between any two countries of your choosing.”
To sustain learning and to keep circular motion learning in full swing, we keep in mind that our children are in a constant state of change as they move toward higher academic maturation.
Academic maturation requires the presence of a foundation, which covers all areas of learning in language, math, social studies, and science. We do all that we can to assist the process laid out by teachers and schools, but we also consider our obligations as caretakers of our children’s overall learning environment. Knowing that learning occurs in circular motion will give us direction as we pursue passage through home learning goals.
For all those who were home schooling before COVID-19, you will note the circular nature of learning in the same way as parents new to home-learning situations. For all, I wish you the best.
By Vivian Owens
At what age do children begin the process of understanding how to use inference? Of course, that is debatable. Some parents would tell you how their two-year-old decided he liked mashed sweet potato because it looked very much like mashed butternut squash, a vegetable he loves. The child inferred that all mashed yellow vegetables tasted good. Along a similar vein, fourteen-year-old Karen refused to take a class in videography, because her prior attempts to use her grandfather’s camera failed. Karen inferred that the two activities required the same skill set; thus, she inferred that if she couldn’t do one, she could not do the other.
“To infer” simply means that you will arrive at a conclusion based upon a set of facts or evidence without your having read or having heard an explicit statement. Inference is deductive reasoning gathered from information that you obtained in a number of ways.
In school, children are tested at every grade level. In everyday life, children face numerous situations on a daily basis which require them to make inferences.
Following are a couple of simple tricks to aid you as you teach inference skills to your child of any age level.
INFERENCE TRICK #1
Look for contextual clues. Whether on a test or reading for pleasure, scan text for words or associated descriptions that tell you something about the situation. Regardless of age, inferential reasoning develops through simple means more often than through complex means.
**Both the two-year-old and the fourteen-year-old used Trick #1.
Predict a probable event based on known information. If something is true all the time, it will probably be true for a subset of that specific time.
For example, consider the case of Chrissy and Billy.
Chrissy and Billy wanted to figure out the patterns of lunch meals for their kindergarten class. Their father had asked them to determine whether School served salad for lunch on the first Wednesday of every month. Chrissy and Billy knew that School served salad every day; therefore, they reasoned that since Wednesday is a day of the week, salad would be served on the first Wednesday of every month.
Teaching young children how to predict probable events is a skill or mindset that can take place regularly, as with family social patterns, pet habits, bus schedules, or grocery store sales. The good news is that this ability to infer rolls over into geometry problem solving, when children are older.
Inference Tricks 1 and 2 can be used and taught to children of any age. You are the parent, and you are the primary caretaker of your child’s learning development. All of the fairy tales that you read to the baby, toddler, and elementary school-aged child help to teach inference. All of the games and puzzles available to children carry the potential to develop inference skills. The ability to infer will lay in the foundation for math and science, as well as other disciplines.
Do consider simple tricks to teach inference.
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