You’d be surprised to hear that the learning of facts is not how education works. Rather, the composition of learning is the training of one’s mind to think, but to think about how their mind works. Never a truer word has been spoken by none other than one of the most influential physicists, Albert Einstein. Einstein believed in the principle of differentiated learning and is most famously quoted for drawing an analogy between judging a fish to climb a tree and expecting others to learn the same way. What this simply means is that all our brains are wired differently. When learning something new, some of us are more inclined to draw diagrams than copy content verbatim. Others are more inclined to craft catchy chants to recall information than colour code their study notes prior to an exam. Studies over the years have found a potential 30 learning types all of which can be categorised into three main classes: visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. The point is, everyone learns differently and using our intuition to determine how we learn best, makes a world of difference. For Year 6 student Tyge Maloney, identifying his learning languages allowed him to soar from C’s to A’s in English in only five weeks! For years, Tyge sat on constant C grades in English and it wasn’t until he started tutoring with Academic Personal Trainer Rimaz Ibrahim Toto did the puzzle pieces start to fall in place. Rimaz recalls that from the outset, Tyge was such a happy and vibrant student with an eagerness to learn. His main struggles were his lack of correct grammar and punctuation skills. As an integral part of succeeding in English, Rimaz set out to address these weaknesses first. “The strategies that I used to address Tyge’s struggles and problems were centred around teaching him the basics from the beginning and allowing him to choose how he wanted to study.” Rimaz observed that Tyge appeared to be a primarily kinaesthetic learner and thus, the most productive way of teaching was to incorporate movement and physical activity into sessions. One of the ways in which this was achieved, was creating games designed to involve movement. To teach Tyge the punctuation points, Rimaz printed off pictures of each punctuation mark as well as a list of words. Tyge’s task was to unscramble the words to form a coherent sentence which was correctly punctuated! With each question successfully answered, Rimaz would present a more complex challenge. This wasn’t the only method that Rimaz stuck to and as she continued to work with Tyge, she realised that Tyge also responded well to activities that required a strong visual element. The fact that Tyge appeared to be both a visual and kinaesthetic learner is not uncommon. Certain brains don’t function effectively in isolation and they instead require stimulation of more than one learning language. A teacher explaining a concept using a whiteboard is not simply targeting visual processing. It also requires us to listen to what the teacher is saying when explaining the diagram that she’s drawn to make the most of the visual in front of us. Thus, Rimaz incorporated a visual component into the one-hour weekly tutoring sessions and used online educational platforms such as IXL as her aid. The pinnacle point of Tyge’s transformation occurred almost immediately and Rimaz pinpoints this down to the fact that he developed a mindset where he became confident in his ability to complete assigned work. “Tyge flourished and became more confident in every aspect of his life. He developed a positive and ‘can do’ attitude that benefitted him in many ways,” recalls Rimaz. When it came time for the pair to start work on Tyge’s first assessment piece since starting tutoring, a persuasive speech, techniques targeted towards kinaesthetic and visual learners were what really caused Tyge to transform into an ‘A’ standard student. To teach speech techniques, Rimaz presented the structure in a visual format and had Tyge practice his speech using appropriate eye contact, gestures and tone. Throughout the entire process, Tyge’s mother Joanne Maloney, had nothing but praise for Rimaz and her techniques. “Rimaz is a wonderful listener, thoroughly organised, firm but fair. She makes learning fun which makes Tyge learn so much more!” Tyge’s achievements didn’t simple stop after his ‘A’ in English! Just a few weeks later, Tyge received an ‘A’ on his Japanese test followed by being named as the recipient of the Principal’s Award for excellence based on his grades from his Semester 1 report. When reflecting on her work with Tyge, Rimaz was full of admiration for the eleven year old. “Tyge has honestly changed my life, he has allowed me to appreciate my love for helping people. He has helped me to grow and understand that wanting to help someone doesn’t have to involve a significant change but can be as simple as helping someone be more confident. Type has allowed me to grow as an individual and become a more compassionate person and for that I will always remain grateful.” Tyge’s Mum couldn’t be prouder of her son, his achievements and the leaps and bounds he’s made and only wished that she’d started tutoring 12 months ago. “As a parent, I’m happy because Tyge is happy and we haven’t had that feeling for a long time.” Now that Tyge’s English marks are up, Rimaz is redirecting their focus in sessions towards enhancing his maths skills. Using the same successful strategies that she used to improve Tyge’s English skills, Rimaz is once again incorporating activities which require movement into sessions. So far, this has included having Tyge write his timetables on a whiteboard and in different colours. Seeing how quickly Rimaz helped transform Tyge’s English marks, we have no doubt that Tyge will be a little mathematician in no time!
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