Just the other day, my 4-year-old got the bicycle for his birthday. He liked his present so much that he immediately tried to figure out how it works. We went outside, and in the first few moments, I noticed he was rather puzzled by the handles. With every minute passing, my 4-year-old was getting more and more nervous, while I wasn’t sure why he didn’t hop on the bike and tried riding it. After a while, he turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, “This bike is broken. There are no buttons!”
And suddenly I realised that to him the only reasonable way to ride a bike is with the push of a button, with him sitting still on it.
Generation Alpha was introduced to touchscreens at the same time as pacifiers, learning from a very young age the wonders of instant gratification. Therefore it is not surprising that the attention span of these digital natives is very short. Take a task as simple as a puzzle, when they face the first obstacle, just a few of them will decide not to give up.
The audiovisual entertainment on their screens incites instant gratification, making tech devices the modern version of “forbidden candy”.
Does Generation Alpha demand a revolutionary and unique approach to learning?
What we sometimes fail to understand, and as parents, educators or spectators are quick to judge, is that when they click a button or are ‘glued to a screen’, they are learning the alphabet, numbers, and new words in Japanese. While learning, Alphas are most likely using applications which are designed to be stimulus-driven, with exciting audiovisual rewards for completing tasks. This is so-called “I did it!” response, which triggers the reward pathway in the brain.
When it comes to acquiring new knowledge, each individual receives, processes and stores information differently. In general, there are seven types of learning styles for engaging learners: visual, solitary, verbal, kinesthetic, logical and auditory style.
Taking into consideration the digital era Gen Alpha kids are growing up in, and their predominant characteristics, such as quick to learn and eager to develop skills, it is obvious that the new teaching method tailored for them should be a mix of visual, solitary and auditory style.
Audio and visual tools created for personal usage
With access to tech devices, they have access to the information they need to solve almost every problem. If they want to learn how to ride a bike or seek an answer to anything perplexing, they’ll turn to YouTube, Google or other appropriate platforms. With answers readily available, it is almost impossible to expect them to use books as their primary source of learning material. Should the adults wish for Gen Alpha kids to stay a little longer and complete an educational task without sensory stimuli, they better find the way to achieve the same satisfactory learning process the app would do, or kids’ attention will plummet immediately.
In order to attract their short attention and engage them in the learning process, we should try to use audio and visual tools which are created for personal usage. Why? Because this generation will live in an ever-changing and increasingly complex world. Therefore, it’s important that these kids are prepared to have knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make informative decisions.
How to adapt the learning method to fulfil your kid’s learning needs
Considering the characteristics of Generation Alpha and the world they live in, it is to no surprise that we have to meet them half-way. Here are some tips on how to improve their learning abilities.
If you can’t beat them, join them.
These kids are born with the devices in their hands. They have learned how to use iPads and smartphones before they could read. Therefore, include digital technologies in the learning process so they can stay motivated. Those devices are tools in the learning process and we should consider them the learning props, just as the pencil and paper once were.
Let the children play.
In order to boost their creativity and imagination, children should spend most of their time playing. Play is a primary way to learn and understand the world around us. While playing, children can discover their preferences and abilities. It is vital they spend time playing outside their homes and in nature. This will represent the basis for cognitive ability in addition to creative development.
Benefits of STEM education.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Its importance lies in the fact that it covers every part of our lives. In order to motivate Gen Alphas to learn something new, it has to be related to the real world and it must be fun. Simple science experiments are a fun way to introduce children to basic scientific concepts. They will learn how to apply their knowledge to solve problems that occur in their lives, like making a perfect bubble bath or figuring out how to build a LEGO dinosaur. STEM education is crucial because it develops curiosity. And curiosity approaches encourage our kids to think outside the box and collaborate on working towards a solution.
The importance of soft skills. Being exposed to touchscreens in early life has some serious implication on Generation Alpha. Having been exposed to less human contact then previous generations had, is one of the reasons why they have delays in speech and social development. One of the most important thresholds of this generation will be learning soft skills. In order to move forward and develop successfully, this generation will need to learn how to communicate, manage impulsivities and solve a problem in a group.
This is why it is very important to send kids off to preschool as early as possible, to take them to the playground, sign up for sports activities etc. If the child is lonely it may have trouble interacting with the world. Being surrounded by their peers and relatives is good for your kid because they will learn how to develop a range of interpersonal skills which will become the basis of their personality.
One Last Thing Before You Go
Generation Alpha will increasingly need to seek a high degree of equilibrium between their offline and online worlds. They will grow up in a world where nothing is permanent – environment, skills required for the jobs they wish to apply. Everything will change at an extremely fast pace, which will prompt them to learn to adapt quickly. That is why understanding the environment in which Alphas are growing up, and adapting the learning methods to fulfil their personal learning needs will set them up for success at acquiring new knowledge and skills, alongside the ability to solve problems by thinking outside the box.
This article is part of our series on Generation Alpha
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