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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 5 - September/October 2013

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Lessons from the "Tortoise and the Hare"

By Alan Stevens

When it comes to exam time, many students are like the hare, leaving study to the last minute and rushing for the finish line. Others are like the tortoise, who work away steadily throughout the year.

Knowing your child's preferred style can go a long way to helping them achieve more and to enjoy their school life.

The tortoise works steadily towards an end and is more focussed on the process than on the final outcome. Students who fit this learning style are referred to as Sequential Thinkers.

Sequential Thinkers process new ideas and information through a rational, logical step by step approach. Because they prefer to think slowly by connecting each new point to the previous points to build an understanding, they are often mistaken to be slow learners.

Teachers and parents should encourage these children to ask questions at different stages of the learning process to ensure they understand what's been taught. By the time exams arrive, they know their subject matter and have the confidence to move forward.

It is best to remember that under pressure, the minds of tortoises can go blank regardless of how well they know the subject matter. The degree of stress depends on their natural level of confidence.

On the other end, the hare orientated students focus more on the outcome and less on the process of learning. These students are objective thinkers; they are quick thinkers, who put off study until the last minute.

They often panic when they don't leave themselves enough time before commencing study and it is with this group that confidence levels play a major role.

If they have a high level of confidence they may assume they know the subject, which may or may not be true. They need to be reminded to study and research more systematically.

Parents and teachers would be advised to question these students on the subject matter in advance to make them aware about how much or how little they actually know.

Students who have a high level of self confidence assume they need less study time and often go into the exam insufficiently prepared, while those who have less confidence are more likely to be far more nervous and prepared when the exams come around.

Personal tolerance levels also have an impact on a students' ability to study. Some students require a quiet environment so they can concentrate while others find it difficult to work and study in the quiet.

Each of these traits can be read in the child's facial features, which are a history of how they prefer to think and behave.

These can also be recognised by careful observation of the child's playing habits and interaction with other children.

Variables that affect individual study are:

  • Thinking styles
  • Confidence level
  • Tolerance to interruptions

Follow these tips and the journey to the finish line for both the Hare and the Tortoise will be far more enjoyable.

About Alan Stevens

Alan Stevens, the Face Profiler, is a coach and trainer in the Art of Reading People, based in Newcastle NSW. He has developed Social Emotional Learning programs for school teachers and corporations including programs to recognise what other people are not telling you, what they are concealing, and how they are likely to behave in any situation. His programs are delivered locally in schools and to businesses locally and internationally through the internet. He was described by the Newcastle Herald as "The Mentalist meets Dr Phil meets Dr Cal Lightman from Lie To Me", and his passion is to share these skills throughout the community. To find out how other people see you and how to recognise what makes other people tick, contact Alan now.

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