Universal learning strategies-at the heart of every successful learning pursuit!
The following strategies to learn will work for you, for every person! No matter what age or what is being learned, a selection of these methods will enhance the learning.
Keep a bottle or a glass of water near you while you work. It’s very important for efficient brain and body functioning. Remember to drink water as well as juice, tea or coffee, if other beverages are included in your breaks.
Breathe and relax
Breathe deeply 3-4 times as you are getting ready to learn. Notice any tension in your body before you begin and release it by breathing and relaxing. Repeat when you stop for breaks. Shrug your shoulders as you engage with your work.
Keep your attention on your learning. Choose the amount of time you believe is reasonable for a full focused attention, say 30-60 minutes. Get ready beforehand – get organized, eliminate distractions, set a timer- then work on your learning for the set amount of time. Take a short break after, then focus again. Repeat until your assignment is complete or you feel like you have accomplished enough until the next time.
Move your body
Stretch or go for a brief walk before you begin. For a short break, get up and move around, do a few exercises like the cross crawl, the lunge or a few gentle neck rolls. After a learning session, engage in some movement-go to the gym, do some yoga, go for a run, dance. Think about your learning as you move.
Motivate and inspire
Identify why you are learning and what you will get out of it. List what that motivates you to accomplish anything in your life. What are your inspirations? Reach for your motivators on purpose to get you started, move past procrastinations and blocks, and meet your learning goals.
Know your strengths
Identify what you are good at already. How can you apply your strengths to the learning at hand? Link up your interests and strengths to the material for increased familiarity and success.
Close your eyes and picture what you want to learn. Use all your senses in your imagining, as well as you can. Visualize accomplishing the steps to the end result. This is a powerful technique when used with a positive attitude.
Figure out what you have to learn, break it up into steps and make a timeline. Estimate the time it will take for each step. Make a list of materials you will need to complete your learning. Set a goal, choose your learning strategies, and plan a reward for yourself when you meet your goal.
Get involved with your learning
Interact with your learning to increase its impact. Learning the alphabet? Create letter puppets. Memorizing capitals of states or provinces? Make flashcards and get out a map on the floor. Learning a language? Create a dialogue and get a friend to say the other part with you.
Jot down key ideas, lists, and thoughts. Use your notebook while you are learning but also at other times during the day to capture ideas as they come up. Notice thoughts that are related to your learning when you are exercising, doing mundane tasks like washing dishes, or before or after you sleep.
Turn your learning into questions. How will you answer those questions? By yourself? From a book? The internet? What other resources can you use to answer your questions? Who is the best person to ask? Ask yourself which specific learning strategies you will use to learn the material.
Define your terms
Define the terms you have to use to understand your material. Use dictionaries, thesauruses, reference books. Ask someone about the terms-sometimes people give effective and memorable descriptions that you will not find in a dictionary.
Brainstorm and create Mind Maps
Write down all your ideas on your learning topic, or a part of it as you begin your learning, or if you get stuck. Don’t edit, accept all ideas. Make a list of them or create a mind map, then make connections, notice categories, add color, symbols, and pictures. Use the brainstorm to organize your learning.
Use a memory technique to help you learn. The most effective way to remember things is to turn them into strong picture images. Then attach each to something familiar, like the rooms in your house or your body parts, or your favorite sports teams.
Accept help. Pursue help. Create a team to accomplish the learning. Choose people who work positively with you or give you support in the background to reach your goals.
Use computers and computer programs like Pages, Word, Excel. Create tables, add photos, insert clip art, use the internet for research, use tablets, explore interactive white boards, enjoy networks.
Evaluate your learning
How well have you learned? How is it useful to you? Answer these questions for yourself as well as participating in the evaluations that may be set up for you, like the test to check your knowledge for a course you are taking, the marks you receive for an assignment you must do. Evaluate yourself and identify how you can use the learning as a part of your life skills.
Give yourself rewards along the way. Set up small rewards for each step you accomplish- a walk with your dog, time with a friend, a sticker chart on your fridge, a hot bath or cup of tea.
If it’s a big project, plan for a larger reward- dinner and a movie, a weekend off, a new book or an addition to a collection.
Acknowledge yourself and anyone who has helped you. Name your success and accept it.
Use effective strategies that become second nature to you as you begin to focus or end your learning session.
Get water, stretch, use a timer, put on some 60 beats a minute music, set a short learning goal for the focus session, review the material before you put your books away, reward yourself when you are done, take a deep breath to start and finish.
Ready to Learn? Let’s Get Busy!
Get Involved!…. Create good habits immediately.
- Choose 3-4 of these learning strategies you know will be effective, or you are willing to try.
- Use them on purpose each time you engage with a learning topic.
- Be consistent with them!
It takes 3 weeks to create a habit. Notice what works!