I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.


This quote is popularly attributed to Confucius, but there is some discussion about whether or not he is the correct source.  Whoever said it, it’s a truth when it comes to learning (and applies as much to adults as children).

It’s evident in schools, where kids learn by doing experiments in science subjects to see how things work for themselves, they draw diagrams and work out solutions in Maths, they write about what they’ve learned in other subjects.

Why do you think children are asked to write essays about various subjects?  It’s so that teachers can see their level of understanding.

  • Telling a child about a painting is not as compelling as taking them to see the painting in a gallery.
  • Explaining how two chemicals react is not the same as actually letting them put the chemicals together and see the explosion or colour change for themselves.
  • Knowing the words in French to order dinner is not the same as actually having a conversation with a French waiter.

What does this mean to your family?

The biggest thing is that showing a child how to tackle a problem or question is not the same as them doing it for themselves.

They’ll remember and understand better if the pen is in their hand and, even if you’re guiding them through the process, they’re actually doing the work themselves.

This can take longer, but it’s worth it as the learning will stick better.

What else can you do to help your children learn concepts?

Consider how you can help your kids understand different concepts.

  • Is there a way to show them how something in science actually works?
  • Could you go on a trip somewhere they could see something in action for themselves, or better still, actually do something and experience the results?

Keep your eyes open for Shakespeare in the Park, special events at Museums and Galleries, factor in a trip to somewhere interesting when on family holidays,

Encourage your children to join science clubs, computer programming groups, drama societies or any other group that can offer them first-hand learning.

It doesn’t have to be boring, we know of a maths teacher who ran an afterschool called ‘How to make a million’ based on a mathematical approach to entrepreneurship.

Once you start looking, you’ll begin to spot opportunities.  Not only are they useful ways to help your child learn, but they can be a lot of fun too.