Flash cards are NOT created equal. Where they get a bad rap is when they are used for trying to drill and cram for a test, using stark, boring memorization. The outcome of this sort of study varies wildly from child to child. When I was in school, I was somehow able to “memorize” content this way for tests – but honestly? Usually, the minute my brain spilled its crammed contents out onto the test page, my memory was wiped clean. Or take the times I got to a test thinking I was well prepared, only to glaze over, leaving me staring at a blank test paper.
Some common uses for flashcards include:
Learning new vocabulary words and their meanings
Learning facts for a history test
Learning Biology terms
Learning philosophers and their signature area of belief
Learning prominent English monarchs
Learning the Roman emperors and what they were known for
A commonplace flashcard will have one item on the front and the matching factoid(s) on the reverse side. This is so you can try and recall the factoid first and can flip the card over to see if you got the answer right.
Here is an illustration of a boring flashcard
Here is an illustration of a boring flashcard.This one is about Trajan, a Roman Emperor, and some facts about him. The question becomes, how do I group those particulars around the name Trajan, when I am also learning about Tiberius or Augustus or Caligula, and their cronies? This is the failing of normal flashcards. You still have to somehow relate all the facts together and recall them when needed.
Here is an illustration of a fun flashcard
This card uses the same facts, but since we used images and a body motion (hand on ones heart to signal Trajan’s kindheartedness) it becomes super easy to remember the name and what goes with it. Dacia was a rich country that was found north of the Danube River. On this card, you can plainly see the roads and bridge that Trajan built, the bank holding the funds for the poor, and his prominent heart reminding us of his kind heart. Note that the a’s in Trajan became his eyes while the j became his nose.
If your child is an active learner, engaging his hands in making his own flashcards will do wonders. Anyone can draw stick figures and also little symbols that are visual reminders of the content. A visual learner will remember the image on the card intact as though his brain snapped a picture of the content. Best of all, he will later be able to recall it intact also!
We believe that if a child is attracted to learning, learning will happen! If the task is boring and uninteresting, results will be mixed. So what attracts the brain to learn? Patterns, color, hooks for learning, story, and all those right-brained teaching elements which are so underutilized in traditional classrooms!
In this age of digital everything, children can usually avoid struggling to read an old-timey analog clock. They can see a display such as 9:15 and glibly read the numbers to you. But do they really understand the meaning behind the pair of numbers?
Our educational system takes a linear, analytical approach to teaching children to read. Those children who are linear and analytical do well within that system, as do children who have a good support system at home and at school. But right-brained kids need an approach that honors their brain's wiring and an approach that offers them equity in learning.