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Accelerated Learning for Years 5 and 6 (9 and 10 year olds)

I have spent the last couple of years teaching literally thousands of teenagers how to learn through the use of strategies such as Mind Mapping and mnemonics and a greater understanding of the brain. The programme has been phenomenally successful (see here) and as a result we were approached by the Education Action Zone in Greenwich, London to see if we would pilot a programme for years 5 and 6 (9 and 10 year olds in their last years at primary school).

Of course, being a results-outcome orientated, "can do"sort of organisation, we (Positively MAD - Making a Difference to the next generation) said that we would. Initially I was quite excited by the prospect but as the date for the event drew nearer and nearer I became more and more concerned about what we had to do. Our task was to take 100-200 pupils for 3 hours and give them a learning experience based on the work we were doing with much older pupils. As it was a pilot we were to try this out with 3 groups of pupils over 2 days.

My concerns were based on my lack of experience with that age group. All of my work with teenagers comes from the work I have been doing with adults. All I did with them was make the approach (but not the content) more palatable for that age group by introducing a degree of entertainment and comedy. My fears for teaching 9 and 10 year olds were that my lack of understanding of child psychology would mean that either I would not give them something of value or much worse, I could perhaps do some harm by confusing the little people. My knowledge has come from my own experiences gained as I struggled with learning and discovered better ways of doing it rather than from a thesis drawn up as a result of years of research and study. I was also concerned that my successes with a teenage audience would not be duplicated with the younger age group.

So you can see I had begun to create a bit of a mental monster about doing this pilot. Fortunately, I have very persuasive colleagues and they were able to keep me on track. So once I had convinced myself I could do it (although there were still a few doubts in the back of my mind) I set about designing the programme. Given that I had no experience of teaching that age group, I visited a school in the area that would be attending one of the pilots to get a feel of the classroom environment and to talk to teachers who work at that level.

It was a very interesting experience for me. I was very surprised at the sophisticated level of knowledge and content that was being taught. I saw information being absorbed and learned by 9 year olds that I can't recall covering until I was 12. I also got chance to talk to some of the pupils about learning and memory and was again surprised at the level of sophistication of their understanding. This wasn't because I had some previously strongly-held belief about that age group. It was because it has been some time since I was that age, and as I have no children myself and very limited access to kids of that age (I need more nephews, nieces and Godchildren!) I just had no frame of reference.

After chatting to the teachers and pupils and doing a bit of research I came up with a programme that I thought would be more than enough (one of my fears whenever I perform is to run out of material so I always add more than I think I will need). My plan was to take the pupils through the following information:

  • A 10 item shopping list
  • The principles of how to make things more memorable
  • The 9 planets of our Solar System
  • The 15 countries of the European Union
  • An example Mind Map that contained over 30 pieces of information
  • How to count to 10 in Japanese
  • The 6 wives of Henry VIII
  • The 4 Stages of the Water Cycle.

  • In total 90 facts and I had 3 hours to do that in (well about 2 hours 20 minutes if you take out the breaks). In addition I had lined up some Brain Gym® exercises to raise energy levels and stimulate the pupils during the day. I thought that I had plenty of material to keep the youngsters busy.

    On the day we got off to a wonderful start and I quickly realised what a joy it was to perform for this age group. I have never had a more enthusiastic bunch so willing to participate and enjoy something new. With the teenage audiences I have to break down many barriers before I can communicate with them but with 9 and 10 year olds, they were up for it right from the start. Every time I asked for a volunteer they would put their hands up before they even knew what they were required to do. With teenagers it is generally a combination of bribery, guilt and "I need someone or we don't take a break" strategies that are needed and even then the reluctance is so very obvious.

    I realised with this young audience that I had completely underestimated how quickly they would pick up the material I had put together and half way through I was starting to run out of material. Fortunately I had Brain Gym® to fall back on and used that fill in some of the gaps (I write about Brain Gym® in April's article).

    At the end of the session I created a quiz to see just what had been learned and the enthusiasm and excitement was tremendous. At every stage the whole audience participated and then one or two volunteers would come out and recall one set of facts. I was amazed that the youngsters took it all in their stride and to them it seemed to be a natural way to learn - why would anyone do it any other way? The look on one or two of the teachers' faces was a real picture when the whole audience learned the 15 countries of the European Union in alphabetical order in under 5 minutes and could recite it forwards or backwards.

    It was a wonderful experience for us all who were involved in that day. I wish we could have bottled up the joy and excitement we experienced from the audience that day because it was intoxicating. Oh well, I suppose it means that we will have to go and do it again, and again, and again…………………

    To ask about any aspect of Accelerated Learning, you can contact Michael Tipper direct via the link at the top of this page.

    WELCOME PAGE The Accelerated Learning pages at Project HappyChild were written (free) by Michael Tipper,
    Silver Medallist in the World Memory Championships.


    The main index to Michael Tipper's pages on Accelerated Learning is at
    located in
    Area 3 at Project HappyChild - linking children all across the world

    guestbook appeals fundraising Directory USA counties schools latest news events sponsors

    your support is always welcomed for the Children's Charities in the Project HappyChild Directory - just click here for details of 80+ organizations

    NEWSLETTERS - this website has been on line since 1998 - there have been a lot of Newsletters! The archive is here and the very last Newsletter is here.

    your support is always welcomed for the Children's Charities in the Project HappyChild Directory - just click here for details of more than 80 organizations
    Your support is always welcomed for the Children's Charities in the Project HappyChild Directory - just click here for details of 80+ organizations.

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