Tips for Teaching Pupils to Learn how to Learn

Teaching pupils how to learn is extremely important to their academic success. It isn’t enough to have students memorize a bunch of facts and figures in order to pass standardized tests and matriculate. The ability to learn is an important life skill that can serve them through a variety of situations in and out of the classroom and well beyond their school years.

The key in teaching pupils how to learn is in getting them to think for themselves. Too often students merely repeat what they have been told without questioning why something is so.  These pupils are unable to define words they use daily, or even explain the most basic of concepts. Given an open-book test with fill in the blank questions phrased exactly as the information appears in their textbook, the majority of them will be unable to perform.

Having the ability to learn information for themselves provides pupils with an opportunity to “go beyond the book” or required reading (as they are often encouraged to do), and explore a subject further for themselves.  Learning becomes an adventure, and with any luck, develops into a passion.

The best way to teach pupils how to learn is to engage them in a mix of long and short-term activities, projects, and experiences that allow them to have practical opportunities for hands-on problem solving and discovery.  Having the chance to see for themselves why something is the way it is will ignite their curiosity, raise their awareness, and allow them to explain the subject to others, which increases their self-esteem and desire to learn more.

Lesson plans that follow a show and tell approach, that can provide students with tangible examples they can see and touch for themselves will provide students with a better understanding of subject matter and encourage them to want to learn and explore further.

Some specific classroom activities that encourage pupils to learn are treasure hunting with a map, cooperative exercises that rely on memory and/or problem solving such as building things, and art projects that are applicable to math, (i.e. art from fractions).

Playing games in the classroom is another way to teach pupils how to learn. When learning is disguised as play, children are engaged and don’t even realize they are learning. Charades and Boggle are two games that are great for the classroom. They encourage critcal thinking and help students learn concepts, as well as expand their vocabularies.

Teaching pupils how to learn is fairly simple. Usually it just comes down to showing them that they can and using subjects and activities they enjoy to inspire them to do so.