Help Families to Learn New Things More Effectively

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I wanted to share an interesting video with you that I was recently introduced to on Sharon Bowman's blog.  I follow Sharon's blog regularly and am always excited to read her updates.  Sharon Bowman is the master at facilitating adult learning using engaging and interactive methods and the author of many wonderful books, including one of her most well-known – "Training from the Back of the Room."  I rely on that book regularly for new ideas on teaching for my childbirth classes, my doula trainings, and my childbirth educator trainings.

This video - "How to Learn Faster" - created by AsapScience provides some background into the research that explains how people learn and how they can improve the speed at which they learn new material.  I watched it first in its entirety (it is very short, just over 4 minutes) and then went back through more intently, while considering the activities that I do in my childbirth classes. What are my key learning objectives?  What am I doing to support these main points being truly absorbed and available to families weeks from now when they need to apply what they learned.  

I quickly thought of how I could change things up, present content differently and include different activities.  Some immediate changes I could make that require no prep at all - breaking the class up with lots of microbreaks for stretching, moving and wiggling.  I already use a fair number of mnemonic devices when I teach: BRAIN (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, Nothing {Not Now}), DEP (Drink, Eat, Pee), TACO (Time, Amount, Color, Odor for membranes releasing), PAIN (Purposeful, Anticipated, Intermittent and Normal for pain in labor) and many more.  I am now developing some more fun ones that help families remember important topics.  In my classes, we sing a few things throughout the class series.  I was glad to see that speaking thing out loud helps people recall it later.  Singing is fun and improves learning!

I encourage people to drink during classes and ask them to bring refillable water bottles to every session.  The video shared that hydrated people have better reaction time!  I also give out lots of little prizes and treats for great answers.  The families seem very motivated by that.  I was glad to learn from the video that this helps too!

I am reworking how I do some other things to build on many of the tips included in the video.  I invite you to watch this video now and share in the comments section what you are already doing or will soon do to help your families to retain the material you are covering in your childbirth classes.

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