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close this bookHow Children Learn (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 32 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe International Academy of Education
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. Active involvement
View the document2. Social participation
View the document3. Meaningful activities
View the document4. Relating new information to prior knowledge
View the document5. Being strategic
View the document6. Engaging in self-regulation and being reflective
View the document7. Restructuring prior knowledge
View the document8. Aiming towards understanding rather than memorization
View the document9. Helping students learn to transfer
View the document10. Taking time to practice
View the document11. Developmental and individual differences
View the document12. Creating motivated learners
View the documentReferences and further reading
View the documentThe International Bureau of Education - IBE

11. Developmental and individual differences

Children learn best when their individual differences are taken into consideration.

Research findings

Research shows that there are major developmental differences in learning. As children develop, they form new ways of representing the world and they also change the processes and strategies they use to manipulate these representations. In addition, there are important individual differences in learning. Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner has argued that there are many dimensions of human intelligence other than the logical and linguistic skills that are usually valued in most school environments. Some children are gifted in music, others have exceptional spatial skills (required, for example, by architects and artists), or bodily/kinaesthetic abilities (required by athletes), or abilities to relate to other people, etc. Schools must create the best environment for the development of children taking into consideration such individual differences.

In the classroom

The following are recommendations for creating the best environment for the development of children, while recognizing their individual differences:

· Learn how to assess children's knowledge, strategies and modes of learning adequately.

· Introduce children to a wide range of materials, activities and learning tasks that include language, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, art, music, movement, social understanding, etc.

· Identify students' areas of strength, paying particular attention to the interest, persistence and confidence they demonstrate in different kinds of activities.

· Support students' areas of strength and utilize these areas to improve overall academic performance.

· Guide and challenge students' thinking and learning.

· Ask children thought-provoking questions and give them problems to solve. Urge children to test hypotheses in a variety of ways.

· Create connections to the real world by introducing problems and materials drawn from everyday situations.

· Show children how they can use their unique profiles of intelligence to solve real-world problems.

· Create circumstances for students to interact with people in the community, and particularly with adults who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the kinds of things that are of interest to the students.

References: Case, 1978; Chen et al., 1998; Gardner, 1991; Gardner, 1993.