Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cahokia's Kids and our philosophy on learning

If you are a parent of kids who go to school, you have probably heard many times expressions like "I hate homework", "I hate school" or "I don't want to learn". I have several children myself, and believe me, we’ve been through this a thousand times.
As a program coordinator or even a volunteer for an organization, it is easy to fall into the trap of supplying entertainment for kids simply because your educational events don’t go over well; it is probably because those educational events resemble that “school learning” and the “draw is certainly not going to be as great as that of a magician, a haunted house or a pizza party.
Here’s the truth: learning is harder when you do not understand WHY you should learn, how you learn and what you gain from learning. Unfortunately, most kids do not know what happens to them in the process of learning, so they only see the pain associated with it, instead of the pleasure. There is a reason why Chasing4Life programs are not only popular, but SUCCESSFUL, and by that, I mean that children RETAIN what they are taught at these events, and they actually are motivated to become educators themselves.
The brain
Our brain has 100 billion cells. Each cell carries a single thought, experience or feeling. This single thing, which the brain registers as an experience, moves in the brain the way electricity flows from the power station to your house.
We do not use all the cells we have in the brain. Some people say we use only a small portion of the brain, others say we use a bit more, but everyone agrees there are plenty of brain cells we do not use. Everything you do in life helps you use more of the cells in your brain. When you play, sleep, eat, laugh, cry or learn, you use more cells in your brain. The theory then? DO MORE STUFF.
When the same experience happens again and again, we no longer need to learn it - we do it automatically. Take walking, for example. At first, you need to concentrate on sending the right messages from your brain to your legs and back and you still wobble and fall down. But after some practice, you do it automatically - you no longer think about it. It is easy. The system I created years ago when I founded Chasing4Life is the same teaching system I use to this day and it is embedded in the Cahokia’s Kids Programming: repetition. People will ask if their child can attend only those programs in the series that sound interesting to them, but with this system we are using, each program overlaps the next, repeating lessons learned and intertwining them with the next lessons being taught. Each program begins with a review so the repetition is constant throughout the year.
How successful is this? We have children in Junior High School now that can still, to this day, repeat the severe weather facts they learned in First Grade at Chasing4Life programs!
“We need to be smarter”
We have a lot of phrases that the kids learn throughout the programs. One phrase is, “We need to get smarter”. The brain is like a machine that needs oil. Learning is that oil. The more you oil your brain, the better it runs. If you want to be smart, you need to make sure your brain works all the time. Every new thing you learn and repeat until it is automatic makes your brain machine faster and smarter. When you are talking about disaster planning and preparedness, you need to be able to operate like a machine quickly and there is no time to try to re-engage your brain last minute.
If you want to use your thinking brain more, you have to do more of the things that make you happy. If you need to learn something that is important to you, do it in a way that will make you happy. The Chasing4Life programs are fun, they relate to current events, they cause families to interact, and they are FUN. Remember, when you are happy, you remember everything.
So, if you have not done so yet, visit and check out a new and exciting way to learn.