If you want to ensure effective learning, both currently and for the future, it’s important that your learning foundation is solid before adding the ‘roof’ to your learning house.
This is why it is critical to have the 5 best ways to build a strong foundation for learning in place.
Laying the foundation includes assessing your current learning strategies and removing any roadblocks to your success.
One of the biggest gaps, prevalent in the school system and homeschool learning, is that the learning foundation is not the first priority.
Kids are asked to learn after only a cursory distance eyesight test (which has nothing to do with reading at near point) and maybe a very simple hearing exam.
If they do not succeed, or get poor grades, it is the student who is often blamed for being lazy or not motivated enough.
Even more distressing, is that students who do not succeed quickly can often be labeled as learning disabled or having ADHD.
This leads to major self-esteem issues and possible behavioral outbursts that do not serve any child well.
However, ensuring that the 5 best ways to build a strong foundation for learning are strongly in place would go a long way in helping students prepare for learning success.
That’s where we come in:
5 Best Ways to Build a Strong Foundation for Learning
1. Make Sure You Have Excellent Visual Skills
Good visual skills make it easier to get better grades. Great visual skills speed up the process.
Visual skills include acuity, tracking, focusing, eye teaming, visual motor integration, eye-hand coordination, peripheral vision, convergence, divergence, and more.
The visual skills I am referring to include your eyesight close up and far away, as well as your perceptual skills, which include how you interpret what you see.
Unfortunately, near point and perceptual skills are rarely tested in school. When these skills are not tested, many students often struggle or even fail in school without knowing why.
Poor visual skills can wreak havoc with academic success and cause serious self-esteem issues too.
For example, students with undetected visual skills problems get tired when they read, lose their place, hate reading altogether, have poor comprehension, a “bad” memory, don’t do well in sports, and often believe they are not as smart as other students.
They can appear to have ADHD, learning disabilities, get placed in special education, or be counted in with students who don’t read at grade level.
Thus, it’s easy to understand why visual skills’ diagnosis and ultimate remediation of any problems found are so critical to student success.
Suffice to say, visual skills impact everything you do both inside the classroom and out.
Therefore, it is essential to have strong visual skills (most of which are learned) as well as to discover whether undetected visual skill problems are causing academic struggles.
To begin, you can take the free Eye-Q Reading Inventory™ at the bottom of page, and it will tell you precisely how YOU see the printed page as well as how to get further testing from a behavioral or developmental optometrist.
In addition, there are two more chapters in the book, Instant Learning for Amazing Grades, that more fully discuss vision, visual skills, and their impact on learning.
Dr. Kristy Remick (page 145) writes about why 20/20 eyesight is not good enough for school success.
The Optometric Education Program Foundation (page 35) also includes a visual screening tool which every parent, teacher, and upper grade student will find indispensable when determining whether the visual skills needed for successful learning are present and more.
2. Find Out How You Learn Best. What is Your Preferred Learning Style?
Students learn in different ways, and this is known as their personal learning style.
Some students prefer to look at and read new material (visual learners), some find it easier to listen (auditory learners), and some like to interact with, touch or move around when learning (kinesthetic or tactile learners).
When you know how you learn best, you can take certain steps to adjust the material you need to learn to your preferred learning style.
If you are an auditory learner, for example, listening to the mp3 chapters in this book may help you master the material more quickly.
IMPORTANT: School, with all its written tests, caters to highly visual learners.
These students excel at test-taking because they turn what they read and hear into pictures in their mind, then recall those images faster during a test. Brain research supports this rapid image recall.
Knowing that visual learners have an advantage in school, you can get the same advantage by adding some visual learning strategies to your preferred learning style.
When you read, stop every little while and make images of what you just read.
Add color and motion. Then, during your tests, look up, see the images, and turn those images back into words.
To find out how you prefer to learn best, take the Learning Styles Quiz at HowToLearn.com.
There is an app that lets you email the results to your teacher and friends or place your results on social media sites to compare how you learn best with your friends, and then talk about what that means in school or even in relationships.
(Yes, learning styles affect relationships too).
3. Verify That Your Listening and Speaking Skills Are Excellent
Hearing involves what is known as receptive language (your ability to hear clearly and understand what you hear) and expressive language (your ability to produce language and communicate your message).
For example, have you ever been on the phone talking, and someone else in the room tries to speak to you at the same time?
How does this affect your concentration and conversation?
There are technical names that relate to receptive and expressive language skills you need for good grades, but my goal here is not to be a sesquipedalian.
Part of those skills include things like auditory figure-ground issues, which means that you may miss a portion of what you hear because you can’t separate one person’s voice from the rest of the background noise in the classroom.
The bottom line is that listening and speaking significantly affect your learning abilities and grades, just as reading does.
If you feel that you’re struggling at all when you’re trying to listen, speak or learn, then I recommend you go to an audiologist as well as a speech and language pathologist to have hearing, perception, receptive, and expressive language tested.
Make sure your foundation in this area is really solid. If you find it is not, take steps to make accommodations for it.
4. Accommodate Learning Differences
Amazing Grades contains a listing of special learning differences, such as ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Asperger’s, ODD, and others that could affect some people’s ability to learn.
Be sure you know that none of these differences has anything to do with your innate intelligence or ability to succeed in school and life.
You will simply want to ensure that you are aware of the accommodations you are entitled to if you have learning differences so that you receive the same education everyone else does.
5. Be Brain and Body Smart
Folks, eventually, your eating habits will catch up with you.
It may not seem like it today, but if you really want to enhance your ability to get better grades, know that the food you put into your mouth affects both your brain and your body.
Eat a bunch of fast food, and you put stress on all your organs, including your brain. Use common sense when eating.
If you skip breakfast, your blood sugar plummets from hours of no nourishment, and then you can’t concentrate as well.
The answers to better food choices are part of building a good foundation for learning, and they are all listed in this book.
One of our recommendations is to eat foods that are organic and as pure as possible to nourish a great brain and body!
Once you’ve mastered these 5 tips, you will be able to build a strong foundation for learning, to help you learn effectively and efficiently throughout your lifetime.
Now that I’ve told you how to set a strong foundation for learning, I’d like to hear back from you!
Which tips did you find helpful? Which made the biggest difference to you? Let me know!
Pat Wyman is the CEO of HowtoLearn.com and an internationally noted brain coach known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert. She has helped over half a million people in schools and corporations such as Microsoft, Intel and Google improve their lives with her learning strategies, learning styles inventory and courses, such as Total Recall Learning™.
Her superpower is helping people learn, read and remember everything faster. Pat is the best-selling author of more than 15 books and is also a university instructor, mom and golden retriever lover!
[ Updated – October 2, 2020 ]