Concept-based learning - Useful Techniques to Boost Learning in Children
By Andrew Loh
Learning though concepts is an elaborate process because it tries to
change the way children think, process, and organize available
information. Several useful techniques help children master concept
based learning. Here are some of them:
Using concepts as tools:
Concepts are very powerful because they provide an excellent and
productive way of organizing learning experience. Children are known
bloom in their early age with their thousands of ideas, concepts and
expressions. However, they do not know how to organize and index them
for maximum learning experience. William James, a noted authority on
cognitive learning, termed this as “blooming but buzzing with plenty of
confusions.” Children are just like their parents because they think
just like adults although it occurs in a rudimentary way. Concept
acquisition starts crystallizing when children reach their third year
and it goes on enhancing until they become adult.
However, concepts are not merely tools of indexing information. They also become
an important functional elements for streamlining a diverse range of
cognitive tasks including object identification in the real world,
creating useful meaning from useless ones, learning to deduce meaning
and making inferences, and thinking in a critical manner. All these in
combination will make children smarter and intelligent.
Induction is a process of learning in what manner concepts would extend
and categorize inferences about the unknown. Children are known to
possess basic knowledge and skill of using different categories to
extend available knowledge beyond what is obvious or known to them. In
other words, they are more likely to expand on what is already known to
them. This stage is quite important as they should know how to
categorize available information and extend it beyond to add other
Let us assume that children are told a new fact such as a particular butterfly
has colored pigments inside their body and in wings. Now, children are more likely to
conclude that all butterflies in the world have colored pigments inside
their body and in wings. Children are capable enough to form an opinion
on such similar facts and make a generalization out of it. In another
example, let your children see a cactus plant bearing red flower, two
Hibiscus plants bearing red and white colors respectively. Now, when you
ask children to categorize and identify them and they may definitely get
confused while answering. In fact, what they see are three different
plants bearing three differently colored flowers. Some children who can
absorb primary concepts may say that they can see three different
flowers and nothing else.
Two Hibiscus flowers usually look
similar and they are the members of the same family while cactus belongs
to a different category. Outward appearances of two hibiscus flowers are
similar while that of cactus looks entirely different. If you explain
your children about these basic concepts and they would start extending
their reasoning and thinking to understand basic concepts of learning.
Similarly, it is easy to extend the appearance of each flower and try to
infer that two flowers belong to one family while the other belongs to
Children always use concepts
although the ability to use it at an early age is rudimentary.
Children can extend their thinking to understand concepts related to
Children should know how to name different
elements of a concept. With proper training, they can easily learn
concept based lessons.
In another exemplar, children also possess
a significant ability to use different strategies to understand
concepts. This can be fine tuned by parents by asking probing and open
ended questions. Here are some simple examples:
Show them different sets of pictures and ask them different open ended questions
Can you see this picture?
Could you find another one that is similar to the one that you just saw now?
Show me some similarities.
Are there any other similar looking pictures in the entire set?
Why some pictures are different?
Show them different words and ask the following questions:
Can you see the word “pen?”
If you see it, could you pick up the picture that
says it is a pen?
Could you pick up different pictures that say pen?
Now, do they look similar?
If pen is used to write words, what are the other words
that could be considered as writing tools?
These could be repeated with any different types of
concepts. The main goals are to make your children understand them by
relating to previous experience and extend it to other types. Learning
concepts is relative and by understanding concepts, children will start
thinking at a conceptual level. Concepts are easy to learn by connecting
different dots by asking questions and replying with suitable answers.
It also involves giving justification and indexing ideas. With all these
approaches curiosity level for learning gets a boost eventually leading
to wholesome learning.
Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential
By Peg Dawson, EdD and Richard Guare, PhD
The latest research in child development shows that many kids who have the brain and heart to succeed lack
or lag behind in crucial “executive skills”--the fundamental habits of mind required for getting
organized, staying focused, and controlling impulses and emotions. Learn easy-to-follow steps to identify your
child's strengths and weaknesses, use activities and techniques proven to boost specific skills, and
problem-solve daily routines.
There's nothing more frustrating than watching your bright, talented son or daughter struggle with
everyday tasks like finishing homework, putting away toys, or following instructions at school. Your “smart
but scattered” child might also have trouble coping with disappointment or managing anger. Drs. Peg Dawson
and Richard Guare have great news: there's a lot you can do to help.