One of the most rewarding aspects of home schooling is the opportunity it offers parents to introduce different learning techniques. One method that brings children the benefits of physical activity while they discover more about the world, is spaced learning - devised by Paul Kelley, a teacher at Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside, England and author of the book Making Minds: What’s Wrong with Education?
Spaced learning enlists the help of neuroscience, alternating learning time with gaps involving physical activity and play. According to Kelly, this method enables students to retain the content of an entire subject’s module in just one hour!
What Does a Typical Spaced Learning Lesson Involve?
A typical one-hour spaced learning session exposes children to three ‘information inputs’. Between each input, children take part in a ‘gap’ comprising fun age appropriate physical activities - everything from volleyball to basketball, or juggling. Sometimes, instead of sport, they might complete a manual activity, such as arts and crafts. Spaced learning should follow a specific structure: during the first input, the teacher presents the information to be learned through a brief Powerpoint presentation. Children then enjoy a 10-minute sporting or game-based gap.
During the second input, children are shown they same presentation as previously, but now, key words are missing and they have to try and fill in the blanks. Then comes a second 10-minute gap. During the third input, children work on an activity based on the information they learned previously. Spaced learning works, says Kelley, because memory pathways need to have a break; otherwise, they get overworked, leading us to forget information.
Trying out Spaced Learning at Home
Spaced learning is still in its initial stages but if you feel like it might add a fun dimension, or if you feel that you would like to test its ability to enhance memory in your child, why not employ it in your next homeschooling session? Remember that you will need to create two Powerpoint presentations, the first with all the information and the second with blanks. For your gap sessions, let your imagination go wild or better yet, let your child pick the activities they wish to take part in. The sportier the activities are, the better, since physical activity brings children so many benefits, including improving their fitness and coordination, helping them battle stress and keeping obesity at bay. Research shows that children who attend conventional schools often fail to learn important skills because of long hours in the classroom, including the skills learned in sport, which is such an important part of health and wellbeing for children and adults alike. Needless to say, the benefits of homeschooling go beyond intellectual properties.
After raising your heart rate in the funnest of ways, work on a project or new digital presentation summarizing the important facts you have learned. A full spaced learning session takes less than an hour a day so you might try to employ this method for a full week,to see if it helps your child successfully remember new information and concepts.
Spaced learning is an ideal activity for children who do not take well to sitting for long hours in a conventional classroom setting. In addition to providing them with variety, it enhances their memory by ensuring that their brain cells are not stimulated by information for too long. As noted by Paul Kelly and his team, “The breakthrough came when (we) began to realise that the important factor was time. The length of stimulation was not vital, but the gap between stimulations was. This insight is the basis of Spaced Learning.”