Category Archives: How children learn

How does work, work, these days?

Increasingly children and those in the world of work have stopped thinking in straight lines

Straight-line thinking is what shop assistants used to use, in the days when we had shop assistants and, come to that, shops.  You could walk into a shop and look around wondering where a particular product was, and the shop assistant would say, “Can I help you?”

I actually tried that yesterday, wanting to buy a rucksack for an 18 mile walk I had signed up to, for reasons that will most certainly not become clear at this point.

But unfortunately, the strategy failed. The three shop assistants inside the very well-known sports store did finally stop talking to each other.  One of them looked at me curiously, evidently bemused that I should be asking a question.  I persisted in my quest, and eventually he said “upstairs” before picking up his mobile phone which had just pinged.

Old-fashioned straight-line thinking would have suggested he might accompany me and help me make the purchase, but no, that is far too passé for the modern world.

And the reason… well, management don’t train staff anymore, because ultimately, they’ll shut the shops and sell everything on-line where straight line thinking is irrelevant – as we can see each time we do a search on Google.  We get answers, certainly, but mostly not to the questions we ask.

So how do people who work in businesses and/or on-line actually think if not in straight lines?  The answer is that they think in the same way lots of contemporary novelists think. In multiple jumps and associations.

To see what I mean I would like, if I may, to direct you to a web page.  When you get there, print the page out (if you don’t you’ll end up standing on your head). 

Of course, children can’t make this leap to a new form of thinking instantly, so you might want to take it step by step by trying this page first of all.

We have produced three books of graphic organisers which start children on the journey towards developing the critical thinking skills needed in today’s contemporary world.

Doing this doesn’t mean that we don’t value logical linear thinking – of course that is still needed.  But in the modern world this alternative approach to problem-solving is becoming dominant, and that is what the “Graphic Organisers Pack” explores through a large series of graphics such as these.

Of course, not every modern organisation uses this non-linear thinking approach – many of them prefer a third option, which generally consists of everyone shouting at each other.  But personally I prefer a quieter life.

You can read more about how we can help children understand the new approach to thinking and planning which many young people, and those who run businesses, are adopting by looking here.

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, How children learn, Key Stage 2, Primary school, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), Teaching Ideas

How did it all start?

Why knowing the origins of human communication helps us find better methods of teaching a foreign language.

There is much debate as to the way in which human language developed as our species evolved.   But many would agree that an early part of the evolution would have been the calling out of warnings of danger.

And it follows from this that the ability to tell stories must have come much later.

However, although as a species we had to wait for the evolution of the ability to invent and tell stories, this ability to tell stories proved to be a major evolutionary step. 

For whereas “Watch out behind you” can save an individual from injury, storytelling can bring a whole group together with a shared understanding.

In short, the few words that constitute a warning helps the individual.  The story preserves the unity of the whole group.

And it is because being part of a group remains so central to our lives that the use of storytelling in learning a foreign language is such a vital tool.   The children who learn French or Spanish with stories as a core part of their learning, can share their new learning and feel part of the group.

This is why our French and Spanish courses for years 3-4 and 5-6 are based around stories.  For just as our ancestors evolved language as a way of telling stories, so the power of the story remains, and enthuses children with the desire to learn a second language.

You can read more about our story based language courses for Spanish and French through the links below…

Learn French with Luc et Sophie 1ère Partie Starter Pack (Years 3–4)

Learn French with Luc et Sophie 2ème Partie Starter Pack (Years 5-6)

Learn Spanish with Luis y Sofía 1a Parte Starter Pack (Years 3–4)

Learn Spanish with Luis y Sofía 2a Parte Starter Pack (Years 5–6)

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, French, How children learn, Key Stage 2, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), Primary school, Spanish, Teaching Ideas

Do you find logic puzzles fun?

Many children and adults are fascinated by the challenge of trying to understand the puzzle writer’s thinking and solving the puzzle in as quick a time as possible. Debbie Leadbetter has taken this one step further and has written a collection of puzzles in French as a fun and engaging way to encourage children to practise reading French. They are designed to consolidate and extend French vocabulary on a variety of topics whilst training the participant’s brain to solve problems.

The puzzles in Les Problèmes Logiques et Latéraux take French cross-curricular! The puzzles are arranged into the main topics that are taught to children aged 11 to 16 to make it easy to find a puzzle which fits a lesson objective. Whether it is finding out which reindeer is pulling which coloured sleigh, which monkey has eaten which fruit, who won the cycle race or completing sudoku games your students will become expert in French problem-solving.

The puzzles have been extensively trialled in the classroom, and we’ve found that they work well when used as starters, in plenaries and as a homework task. Pupils find the puzzles engaging, challenging and most importantly fun, especially when they are set as a class competition.

This book is a not only a useful resource for practitioners of French, but also for cover teachers, because the easy to use answer section gives the teacher immediate access to the answers.

Love puzzles? Love French? This book is also an ideal book of entertainment for puzzle lovers who can read French, whether sat at home, travelling or on holiday. Why not try it this summer on your holidays? To tempt you, a free puzzle from the book can be downloaded by clicking the link below:

Les Problèmes Logiques et Latéraux is published by Brilliant Publications Ltd. To find out more, click this link: Les Problèmes Logiques et Latérau

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Filed under Answers, French, homework, How children learn, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, lesson plans, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), National Curriculum, Questions, Quizzes, Secondary school, Teaching Ideas

We are GIVING AWAY a handy reference booklet for developing writing skills!

…from a dictionary and a map, to a ruler that I snapped! Continue reading

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Filed under Brilliant Publications, English, How children learn, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Primary school, Teaching Ideas

What problems do you want to solve when you grow up?

“Don’t ask children what they want to be when they grow up but what problems they want to solve. This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to be able to do that. ” Jaime Casap, Google Global Education Evangelist

Help children to think outside the box with Will Hussey’s amazing Where Can an Elephant Hide? Challenges to Kick-start Learning in Key Stage 1 and Where Can an Elephant Roost? Chalnnege to Ignite Learning in Key Stage 2.

9780857475329 Where Can an Elephant Hide? Brilliant Publications

Where Can an Elephant Hide? Challenges to Kick-start Learning in Key Stage 1

Where Can an Elephant Roost? Challenges to Ignite Learning at Key Stage 2

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Filed under How children learn, Teaching Ideas

Top 10 tips for teaching bright children

  1. Find out what they know before you teach them. This will prevent reteaching what a pupil already knows.
  2. Remove drill from their lives. Bright pupils learn and retain a concept the first time it is presented to them. Allow them to move on to something else while you consolidate concepts with the rest of the class.
  3. Pace instruction at the rate of the learner. Pupils progress at different rates. Allow them to progress at their own rate.
  4. Use discovery learning techniques. Use Inductive Learning strategies to allow pupils to use thinking skills to reach conclusions.
  5. Allow them to arrive at answers in their own way. Bright pupils enjoy devising their own problem-solving techniques.
  6. Allow pupils to form their own cooperative learning groups. Avoid always making the brightest pupil in the group responsible for the whole group’s learning. Allow them to sometimes choose their own groups and work with other bright, motivated pupils.
  7. Design an individual education plan. This will cater to different learning rates.
  8. Teach them the art of argument. Since bright pupils have a tendency to argue anyway, teach them to understand when it is appropriate to argue and also to understand when it is appropriate to argue and also to understand the reaction of others to their argumentativeness.
  9. Allow pupils to observe. Provide pupils with opportunities to observe and don’t demand immediate answers.
  10. Be flexible in designing programmes. Provide your pupils with a variety of programme alternatives, such as independent study, special classes mentoring and enrichment and extension activities.

9781905780051-thinking-strategies-successful-classroom-ks2-9-11-year-olds - Brilliant Publications

Thinking Strategies for the Successful Classroom, 9-11 Year Olds

9781905780044-thinking-strategies-successful-classroom-ks2-7-9-year-olds - Brilliant Publications

Thinking Strategies for the Successful Classroom, 7-9 Year Olds

9781905780037-thinking-strategies-successful-classroom-ks1-5-7-year-olds - Brilliant Publications

Thinking Strategies for the Successful Classroom, 5-7 Year Olds





These ideas have been taken from Thinking Strategies for the Successful Classroom, published by Brilliant Publications. The series includes activities, teaching notes and photocopiable worksheets on a variety of classroom strategies. The activities included are designed to enrich and extend the thinking strategies of the entire class, with in-built opportunities to challenge the skills of the highest achievers.

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Filed under Gifted and Talented, How children learn, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Primary school

Girls lose faith in their own abilities by age 6

A study carried out in the United States has shown that already by the age of 6 girls lose faith in their own abilities and see themselves as less talented than boys. The study showed that when children believed that hard work was the key to success both girls and boys were successful.

So what can schools do to encourage girls to believe that they will be successful?

One way is through promoting creative thinking. By asking questions where there are no correct answers and any input is valued, girls’ (and all children’s) confidence and self-esteem will increase.

Brilliant Activities to Stimulate Creative Thinking has over 150 entertaining, open-ended challenges providing mental stimulation. The creative, challenging activities develop mental agility, the ability to ‘think outside the box’ and pupils’ higher level thinking skills.

9781783170210-Stimulate Creative Thinking-Brilliant Publications

Stimulate Creative Thinking


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Filed under Gifted and Talented, How children learn, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, PSHE