We all want to give our children the best education and opportunities in life. As your tween’s brain develops and matures, approaches to teaching information must adapt. It’s also critical to equip them with soft skills that are beyond the traditional scope of our school systems.
What is a Tween?
A tween is a young person who is at a stage of development that is between childhood and adolescence. Tweens are also referred to as pre-teen or preadolescence. The age range for this group is typically 9-13 years old but can vary based on each person’s physical development and personal maturity. The transition from tween to adolescence is usually defined by the beginning of puberty.
The Life of a Tween
During the tween years, each person faces many challenges and new experiences. From a social aspect, tweens are typically starting to build bonds with their peers and social pressures begin to take form influencing their actions. A child who was once oblivious to the perceptions of others is beginning to become more self-aware. During this stage, parents may notice new behaviors such as talking back, arguing, moodiness, and frustration. The normal methods of discipline may no longer work. Parents need to understand how to recognize what their child is going through and adjust how they engage with their children.
The Tween Brain
It’s critical to understand brain development through this period. The brain itself goes through two major spurts in the development of gray matter. Gray matter is responsible for the processing of information in the brain. The first happens from development in the womb to 18 months old. The second growth period happens in early adolescence.
With these changes in the brain, parents need to understand that tweens will absorb and process information differently from those with fully developed brains. There are three main ways that humans learn – experiences, symbolic learning, and abstract learning.
- Experiences – Tangible activities that humans experience through sight, hearing, touch, and smell.
- Symbolic Learning – Learning through imagery and symbolism allows the brain to draw from information previously experienced.
- Abstract Learning – Learning through thought without prior knowledge or experiences.
A fully developed brain will be able to learn using all three of these methods. Since abstract learning isn’t developed until late adolescence, tweens will be most successful learning through experiences and symbolism. Also, since the brain ignores the vast majority of the information it receives information that is relevant, meaningful, or causes an emotional response will have the highest success of being processed.
Strategies for Teaching Tweens
Because tweens process information differently, the learning process should also be tailored to their needs. Fortunately, some proven methods show strong results in helping tweens absorb, retain, and recall information.
Association – Because tweens can learn through symbolism, drawing connections between the information they are learning and information they already know can increase the chances of being absorbed.
Emotion – Any opportunity to make learning an emotional experience will improve retention. Strategies such as storytelling can be a great way to elicit emotions while conveying information. Keep in mind that this can also have an equally negative effect if the emotions are negative, such as pressuring a shy student to speak in front of the class.
Social Interaction – The human brain has thrived in social environments for thousands of years. Teaching methods that involve role-playing or other social “games” work well for tweens.
Recalling Information – Asking students to clarify information through carefully asked questions can have a lasting impact because it exercises their brains to recall and analyze the information they are being taught. This also gives teachers the feedback they need to understand if the students are absorbing what is being taught.
Early Focus on Tween Education
The tween years are extremely formative. With emotions, hormones, and brain development in constant flux, parents need to make sure that their children are receiving the best opportunities to develop and learn. An earlier focus placed on education will give your child an advantage.
That’s where ClasShare can help. Our unique learning system is geared toward providing your tween with skill-based education that is tailored to their individual needs. In addition to our approach, we focus on skills that are not typically taught in a traditional classroom. The world is rapidly changing and soft skills such as communication, problem solving, leadership, and critical thinking are becoming more critical.