New to Accelerated Learning

'If your teacher uses Accelerated Learning you learn to use your brain. You learn by seeing, hearing and doing. I like the doing bits best, because I'm a doing person. I like body maths and role-play in science. It makes things sink into my brain much quicker than just listening to the teacher.'

Arvind, aged 10

Over a number of years, a wide range of research about the brain and learning has been combined with various successful teaching approaches and methodologies to create what is now known as accelerated learning. Accelerated learning is a model that provides the optimum environment for learning for each individual. Children are presented with opportunities to experiment and discover through a range of different experiences that encourage a variety of learning styles. Many educators now prefer the term 'brain-based learning' to 'accelerated learning' because it lacks the implication that learning is a race to the finish. However, the principles remain the same, whichever term you choose to use.

It is hard to think of any way of learning that is not brain-based! The problem is that there are so many books, newspaper articles, and websites about the brain and learning that it can be difficult for a teacher in the classroom to know how to put the theory into practice. The ALPS Approach describes current research about the brain and learning into the context of the real classroom and real children.

Below are the basic principles that are described in The ALPS Approach. These principles serve as a foundation for brain-based learning:

  • Create the right environment for learning.
  • Take care of the physical needs that affect the learner.
  • Build and support self-esteem in the learner so that he or she wants to learn.
  • Set clear and ambitious targets.
  • Plan lessons effectively.
  • Use and teach mind mapping techniques.
  • Use VAKplus to present lessons in visual, auditory and kinaesthetic ways.
  • Develop the New 3Rs; Resourcefulness, Resilience and Responsibility.
  • Be aware of the different forms of intelligence as you plan for learning.
  • Use music, rhythm and rhyme to enrich and consolidate learning.
  • Teach relaxation techniques and use music to enhance well-being and learning.
  • Teach children to be metacognitive - to understand how they learn.
  • Plan for regular brain breaks.
  • Get children moving.

The ALPS Approach was the first book that really unpicked the theory of brain-based learning for use with elementary aged children. The Thinking Child does the same for educators and parents of younger children. The techniques described in both books pull together the research and translate it into practical advice, drawing from a wide variety of methodologies that contribute to the accelerated learning model. Tying the theory to good practice with real-life examples means that the model can be adapted for every kind of setting.

It seems that every week there is a fresh article in the papers that highlights the challenges that face educators and parents in raising children to be enthusiastic learners. The modern culture is one of constant pressure and testing, cutting back on play, giving too much homework, disconnecting from nature, and over-scheduling young children. Thankfully, these are all issues that can be addressed, at least in part, by applying brain-based learning principles. If children are engaged in learning in a meaningful way, and if educators are employing brain-based methods that take into account the development of the whole child, then we can offer at least a partial antidote to some of these worrying pressures that society is placing on our children.

Further reading on the brain and learning:

Jensen, Eric, Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching, Corwin Press, 2008

Eliot, Lise, Ph.D., What's going on in there? How the brain and mind develop in the first five years of life, Bantam Books, 2000

Smith, Alistair, The Brain's Behind It - New knowledge about the brain and learning, Network Educational Press Ltd., 2002

Campbell, Don, The Mozart Effect for Children - Awakening Your Child's Mind, Health, and Creativity with Music, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc, 2000

Rose, Colin. and Nicholl, Malcolm J., Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century New York: Delacorte Press, 1997

Claxton, Guy, Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind - How intelligence increases when you think less, HarperPerennial, 2000

Goleman, Daniel, Emotional Intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 1995

Gardner, Howard, Intelligence Reframed - Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century, Basic Books, 1999

Further reading about how current social trends affect children, and what we can do about it:

Dweck, Carol S., Ph.D., Mindset - The New Psychology of Success, Random House, 2006

Levine, Madeline, Ph.D., The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids, Harper Perennial, 2008

Levine, Madeline, Ph.D., Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success, HarperCollins, New York, 2012

Palmer, Sue, Toxic Childhood - How the Modern World is Damaging our Children and What We Can Do About It, Orion Books Ltd, 2007

Elkind, David, Ph.D., The Hurried Child - Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon, Perseus Publishing, 2001

Kohn, Alfie, Punished by Rewards - the trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, As, praise and other bribes, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1993

Kohn, Alfie, Unconditional Parenting - Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason, Atria Books, 2005

Lindstrom, Martin, Brand child - Remarkable insights into the minds of today's global kids and their relationships with brands, Kogan Page Limited, 2003

Louv, Richard, Last Child in the Woods - Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006

Paul, Pamela, Parenting Inc. - How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers - and What it Means for Our Children, Times Books, 2008