Controlling “How” Kids Learn

April 26, 2021

This was brought to my attention by a friend of the page, and very similar to other infographics used in schools around the world.

Let’s break this down, and then let’s provide some alternatives to prove that this infographic is not only unnecessary, it sets unrealistic expectations for many of our kids…kids who want to do well but just can’t “comply” with what the poster says.

1) Your ears are for listening.

Yes. We can agree on this. That’s what they do. However, we must remember that not all children are auditory learners. In fact, if kids are stressed, dysregulated or distracted, their auditory processing isn’t always the best. We need to understand and respect this as we teach. If I'm a stressed, dysregulated or distracted elementary school student, I’m not sure I will look at this sign and say “oh yeah, I forgot!”, find my listening switch, and turn it back on.

2) Your eyes are looking.

Neurotypical adults seem to be obsessed with eye contact. Just because I’m not looking at you DOES NOT mean I’m not listening to you. In fact, if you make me look at you, that could be really distracting and REALLY uncomfortable. Why would you insist that I look at you if it's uncomfortable for me?

3) Your lips are together.

I’m a mouth breather. This is problematic. Also, you want me to have my ears working AND my eyes on you, but now I have to use energy to keep my lips together? Wow. That’s a lot.

Do you mean don’t talk? OH! Why didn’t you say that? There are lots of strategies to help kids only talk when it is there turn. I review several strategies in this Facebook Live event I did recently. Link here:

4) Your legs are crossed.

OK, I’m exhausted now. I’m thinking about and working to keep my lips together, and now you want me to assume a position that has significant postural demands and makes me squirm? I'm not squirming because I’m being bad, but because I genuinely can't maintain this position for an extended period of time. You know what works for me? Changing positions- a lot! Even lying on my belly is helpful! Lying on my belly allows me to stabilize my body, and guess what? If I am lying on my belly facing the teacher, my ears are closer to the teacher, giving me a better shot to listen! Mix it up! Take movement breaks! But crisscross is not a good sitting position, even if you say “applesauce” with it.

5) Your hands are on your lap.

Apparently, the creators of this poster want to audition me for Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. I'm a kid. I was made to move, not sit like a statue. I'm also a fidgeter. Having something to fidget in my hand would actually HELP ME use the other senses you are expecting me to use. Yes, I listen better when I fidget. Are you saying that I can’t keep my hands on the ground? I may NEED TO if you make me sit “crisscross applesauce” for a longtime, because I may lose my balance or get tired.

These expectations are impossible to meet. My clip is definitely being moved to yellow, even though I’m trying my hardest to learn. I just don’t learn the way this poster wants me to!

*Don’t require eye contact. Let it go.

*Engage the kids. Add movement breaks! Add a kinesthetic component!

*Change sitting positions! Play musical chairs to change positions! *When you implement a self-regulation strategy, tell them WHY you're doing it! Being deliberate with your strategies and telling them why is teaching them about their bodies and what they need to do their best learning.

Not all kids learn the same way. Each child in your class could probably have their own poster on how they learn.

The 5 L’s of Learning are Actually the 2 C’s of Learning.:

Control and Compliance.