A few days ago I wrote about the power of chocolate; how chocolate had motivated my girls to get ready for school on time. Since then we have come up with a much better way to encourage our children to get ready for school.
As lots of you know, I have a daughter with special needs and one of the things that makes life difficult for her is that she can’t remember instructions. If we send her upstairs to get her shoes on she has often forgotten what she was going to do by the time she gets there. Her poor short-term memory makes life very frustrating for all of us.
The top of the chart has her name and also a picture of her. There are 4 tasks listed, including a picture with each one and when she has completed a task she slides the blue square across to reveal a tick to show she has done it and moves on to the next one.
Every morning since we set this up, she has got up and checked her visual timetable and worked through the tasks getting herself ready. Every morning we have been early for school.
How do we communicate with people? Some of us process things very quickly and we think that if we ask people to do several things using just words and they always understand us. The reality is that when we bombard some people with words, they can’t cope or take it in and so it looks like they have failed when they don’t do everything they have been asked.
A few years ago it dawned on me that helping people to learn is more important than trying to teach them. Those two things may seem the same, but they can actually be quite different.
In church life we tend to talk about teaching people. Most of this is done through sermons and this usually happens where someone stands up and talks at people using just words. Over the years I have talked and commiserated with lots of church leaders who feel that their congregations don’t seem to be able to apply their sermons.
In church life we rarely talk about whether people are learning or not. My daughter wouldn’t cope in many churches because she can’t process verbal information well enough. In fact anyone who finds it easier to learn visually or in a hands on way is going to find many church services difficult. Perhaps it is time for us church leaders to stop and think about how we are helping people to learn. If people aren’t taking in and learning what we are trying to teach them then they are going to find it impossible to apply it.
If you want to think through how we can help people to learn in church in a variety ways then visit the learning styles and church page.
We also need to stop and to think about how we communicate with the people around us each day such as our family, friends, work colleagues etc. Do we expect them to only communicate according to our preferences?
Good and effective communication is a powerful thing. We all have the potential to use that power, so let’s get to it.