Did you know that Studies show that people remember: 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see? This is because the human brain processes visual cues better rather than the written language.
It would appear therefore, that children will inevitably learn more by being able to physically touch the things they are learning about, and why some children find their minds drift when listening to a teacher explaining something to the class.
I've always felt strongly that muscle memory is way more powerful than something somebody tells me, and when I read about the figures in this study, my belief only strengthened. It makes more sense that a child who has actually visited the Parthenon in Athens, touched it's delicate columns and felt the grit beneath their feet, are more likely to remember facts and important information than a child who reads about it in a book.
There are some things you just can't get away from when it comes to books and being 'told', one of those subjects is math. It's something you really have to be taught. But for a lot of other things, you can easily take a child out of a classroom and have them visit the things they are learning about. We are fortunate that our lives allow us to travel more than most. But you don't necessarily need to make hands on learning expensive. There's no need to visit Pompeii when learning about volcanoes for example, a trip to the National History Museum will suffice. Teaching the children about King Arthur? Visit Glastonbury Tor for free.
The point is to think about what you're teaching and look into places you can go that relates to that topic. Introduce as many visual queues into your learning as possible, perhaps using wall displays, powerpoint presentations, photographs and picture books. Simply telling your child information won't cut it. After all, only 10% of what they hear will they remember. Even with those visual queues that figure only jumps to 20%, but it's still a lot more than simply talking.
You just cannot get away from the fact that 80% of people remember what they see, and we all know that sometimes, just seeing something jogs your memory. If there is a way you can take your children on a trip to see something they are learning about, even a trip on a river boat if learning about rivers, you should do it. They are more likely to remember what they have learned and you will have great fun in the process.
I have lots of blog posts in a series called: Learning by Being There, which pairs certain learning topics with places to visit. Check them out and my educational day trip blog posts too. Happy learning!