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Benefits of Sequential Learning

boy learning

I was driving to the store and my son piped up with his all-too-familiar phrase, “Mom, did you know that…”

This kid is constantly teaching me things I don’t know.

This is the same son that hid under the table when he started kindergarten. He couldn’t sit still for one second. He struggled with reading and spelling was difficult for him. As I continued to teach him, we roleplayed, made up games, put together puzzles, and incorporated manufactured games such as UNO and Monopoly to solidify concepts he was learning. Somewhere during our learning process, my son became ever more fascinated with learning about the world around him. Now, he is constantly reading, watching documentaries, playing games, and challenging me to research the internet for some new animal or historic event. He enjoys Snap Circuits, and we can’t seem to pass up any STEM kit in the store, especially the robotics building kits. The bottom line is that my son can’t seem to absorb enough information. How do I keep up?

boy creating robotics

Does learning seem to come easy for your child? Do you feel pressured to “keep up” with his knowledge absorption? Have you wondered if you should skip a level in your child’s education? Let's talk about your options as we consider the benefits of sequential learning.

Knowledge is of great value, but one needs to understand how to find it, how to interpret it, and how to put it to good use.

To do this, one needs curiosity, innovation, imagination, values, and the ability to think through possibilities and outcomes. An individual must be able to understand the information and apply it to everyday situations. Most importantly, he needs to pray and study God's word regularly to keep his education in perspective. Rather than self-serving goals, he should aspire to use his gained wisdom and skills to serve others and glorify God.

"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." (1 Corinthians 2:12-13, NIV)

Why should we learn sequentially?

Consider what it takes for a surgeon to be prepared to perform his first surgery. One cannot become a surgeon overnight. Depending on his specialty, a surgeon must invest up to eighteen years of education after high school. This generally includes four years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school leading to a Doctor of Medicine Degree (M.D.), and three to eight years of surgical residency at a hospital (some of these years may include fellowship training in a subspecialty). Each year builds upon a foundation of knowledge and understanding. He cannot skip a step in his learning or deem himself “skilled” because he showed capability on his first attempt. As he practices his skills, he will not only become better at wielding the tools and knowledge necessary to complete the task but also put his critical thinking skills to the test as he works through new scenarios and outcomes. A surgeon must practice his skills again and again.

Much like a high school graduate is not yet prepared to become a surgeon, a child is not prepared to sit at a computer and write a hundred-page novel. If that child aspires to become an author, he will need to build up his knowledge year after year to gain the skills necessary to be able to write with clarity. First, a child must learn his letters and sounds. Then he must develop phonics skills. Years of work will help him increase his vocabulary, sharpen spelling skills, and develop handwriting and notetaking skills. He must be able to identify various elements of a sentence. Then he will study sentence structure and paragraph formation. He will practice in-depth research. He will learn how to use a dictionary and thesaurus. And when he writes, he will need to organize all of his thoughts and information on paper. An author will invest many years of knowledge building, practice, and evaluation before he accomplishes a professionally written novel. Skipping a step or not understanding an element required to write can lead to frustration, causing him to lose his desire to persevere.

Preparing your child with sequential knowledge and taking the steps necessary to sharpen skills will prove beneficial throughout his years leading up to high school graduation and beyond.

It is not advisable to skip a whole grade level without working through each sequential stage of understanding the concept. After all, would you construct a snow man from the top down?

What should you do if your child is a quick learner?

If your child is a quick learner, match his pace by accelerating through the easy-to-comprehend concepts, taking care not to skip any sequential steps. By ensuring that your child understands each concept and is able to apply his knowledge in a tangible way, you will establish a strong foundation your child can build upon as concepts become ever-more complex.

If your child is gifted in learning, you are blessed to be able to broaden and deepen his level of understanding and application of each concept by giving him opportunities to apply and further develop the skills and concepts learned. Interlace his years of study with hands-on practice and experiences to solidify his understanding, develop deeper skills, and sharpen his critical thinking ability.

-Yvonne Strachan

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