Whether you are a parent or whether you are a teacher, the opening chapters of this book have got you and your children started on Mind Mapping. You have found that they – your children, or child, have become more creative, now study faster and more effectively, remember better, save time and see the ‘whole picture’. You agree that these reasons are absolutely huge benefits for them – and indirectly, for you.
A Mind Map has accelerated your kids’ learning and has got them to use their whole brain. It has worked in tandem with your brain and your child’s brain by using colour, images, symbols, curved lines, words, space, associations and connections to get their thought processes to flow. Children benefit from this kind of learning as it allows them to practice using their imagination and learn about things that are of interest to them, thus giving them ownership of what they are learning about.
The process of Mind mapping has evoked the best of responses from children and from their parents on account of all this. The children’s responses were literally enacted by them, through their facial expression. Parents commented that even their younger children were talking a great deal more about learning and school work at home.
All children like colourful things and love to draw. Mind Map is a fun activity for young children. And when children like to write Mind Maps, their brains learn to like it as well. The immediate result, as discussed in Chapter 1, is improved memory. The skills required in Mind Mapping can be applied to study and allows studying to be fun, as discussed in Chapter 3.
Now take a look at colour and images, symbols and use of icons, curved lines, and words
and creative space in general, as used on the Mind Map.
How children use image and graphics
You have given your child a topic. We would have to take an example at this point, and a case study. A history lesson to a six year old could have mentioned the Taj Mahal. As mentioned earlier, children love drawing. A child could symbolise the mausoleum by outlining any building shape. Another child who thinks that exact is best, could adapt it to the shape of the Taj Mahal. Yet another innovative six-year-old would save on time by cutting out a picture of the Taj Mahal from a picture book or magazine.
The three children have set the focus of the Mind Map in the centre and in their own, very individual ways. They have made decisions on how to draw or find the necessary picture. The child who cut out the picture used her fine motor skills to wield the scissors, as did the other two who drew and painted while handling a pencil and paint brush. The image of the Taj Mahal formed in the creative right brain hemispheres of all three. Tiny, accurate electrical impulses formed in the grey matter of these right hemispheres and raced through the cell axons to connect with the organizational centres on the same and in the left hemisphere of the children’s brains. Associations were formed between neurons in the children’s brain and nerve centres further down in their body systems. They sent messages to get their fine finger muscles working.
The children would go on to make dozens of images and words separately, and image labels. They would go on to perpetrate the pattern of associations which had begun in their brains.
They have looked up books in the library to be able to see what the emperor and empress who are buried in the Taj Mahal look like. Chances are, that they used cut-outs of their images to be able to portray a better likeness. They associated thoughts such as romance and marriage, death of the empress and loss. They picked up the idea of the greatest mausoleum of all times, of architectural finesse and may have wished to know about more members of the royal family.
The main theme was surrounded by interesting facets of information connected to it. The connections were make on paper with lines leading from the main theme to these pieces of pictorial and worded information. These were attached because the brain works by association, and if the lines are attached, the ideas will internally be similarly “attached.”
None of the children had to deal with a wall of hard, dry facts. They have found and associated what they were looking for. They also want to look for more, in the future. They may want to do a Mughal genealogical chart. It was fun for them and they sought and handled enlivening information. The have only to ‘see’ the little pictures on the Mind Map and the overall picture from their memory to recall the facts connected to the Taj Mahal. They look forward to history revision before a class examination.
The Taj Mahal Mind Map, like all Mind Maps, commenced in the centre because this reflects the many-hooked nature of the brain’s thinking processes, and allows more space and freedom for ideas to develop from the central core. Use of hand drawn or researched images by children fit in with the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Original and borrowed pictures are applied here to boost both memory and creativity.
Illustrator: Portray Taj Mahal Mind Map. Should be hand drawn by child
You and your children know by now that Mind Maps can be drawn free-hand, or they can be made by inputs fed to Mind Map software on children’s computers and they can be printed. The computerized version has the advantage of quickly searching for images, making and printing the diagram. Some of the Mind Mapping software store images in a clip organizer and help users to select an image appropriate for the subject on hand. The disadvantage is that it detracts from children’s creativity. A computer printout is bound to appear too tidy, too organized. It’s size is limited to regular A4 printout paper. Children, on the other hand, have much more freedom through freehand drawings and pasted pictures on a sheet of chart paper.
Another consideration while on the topic of images for Mind Maps, is the overall image or Mind Map design. As with any diagram which investigates a single main topic, older children such as those closer to thirteen years of age, can move on to star and spider diagrams. Younger ones still prefer the freedom of freehand placing, drawing and joining.
Children who are ten years of age and above find that the star format provides methods that help develop their study skills still further. Taking notes, reading, doing homework and even parrot-mugging can be noted along the end points of the star.
On the other hand, if the topic involves investigating attributes associated with a single topic, and they then place the information like the branches of a tree, with associated information at the end points and with more associated knowledge arising from these in-between points, the children can use a spider diagram for their Mind Map. Example: Finding methods that help maturing children’s study skills (like taking notes, reading, memorizing, etc.), and investigating the factors involved in performing each of the methods.
Adding colour-coding and/or pictures to a Mind Map further increases the utility, grouping and readability of the visual display.
How children relate to colour
Educationists encourage children to use colour in their Mind Maps. Children themselves admit to being able to think better in colour. Use of colour rates among the top ten Mind Mapping tips and techniques for anybody.
IllustrationThe Mind Map Gurus point out that in a Mind Map, colour and images are not just decorative. They stimulate the child’s brain as he creates the map. On the other side are the children who are looking at a completed Mind Map, trying to figure it all out. Colour helps them to clarify associated ideas as they see the map and absorb consolidate and retain the information.
One criticism is that new Mind Map users could be intimidated by the colourful Mind Maps they see on the wall in class, in books or online. One Guru commented that a perfectly executed Mind Map may make a first-timer doubt his own ability in creating something as good. For someone like this, it has been explained that Mind Maps, especially among children, tend to grow easily and with least effort. They should not be held up as an achievement in themselves, but as a bridge to learning. Mind Maps don’t need to be works of art.
Scratch maps are those Mind Maps which have been created to do something quickly, or to develop and order ideas. The thought here is that colour can be used to group similar ideas together.
Going back to the star or spider diagrams which serve to organize and manage these ideas, children can think of lettering or an image placed on different bright coloured solid circles at the tips of the star or spider diagrams. Another idea is to support similar ideas by using different shades of the same colour in Mind Map diagrams.
Children have a profound sense of colour. They have an instinct about how colour can be best used to make the Mind Map vivid, memorable and unique to the subject and for you. Left to themselves, the six year olds would begin with coloured chart paper and progress through brightly coloured frames for the central theme. When older children require text or labelling for drawing and with drawings, they would reach for coloured felt pens.
Some tips when writing with coloured pens:
Use upper and lower case lettering, not normal handwriting. The youngest who have just started to write would proceed in the writing they are most familiar with. It does not have to be joined writing.
Write keywords on the branches.
Experiment with Horizontal (landscape) page format.
Larger sheets hold more information.
Colour makes the Mind Map memorable. In the same way that ideas were grouped by colour for star and spider diagrams, free floating ideas can be grouped by circling them in colour. The youngest of children love red. Important points might be marked with red.
Colour absolutely affects our lives and our children’s development. When colour is chosen with a purpose we create a balanced, harmonious environment where children can claim their birthright and reach their full potential.
Colour is the bright site of childhood. Children adore colours and respond to colour. However children’s response differs from adults’ reaction. As you accompany your children in their Mind Map exercises, colour should become your ally. Adults can do this by viewing their use of the language of colour correctly. Children start with a limited palette of the brightest colours from the bottom of the age ladder. They begin with red. Their choices expand and widen as they grow towards adolescence.
Colour is the first characteristic which babies and children distinguish in their environment. We are aware that children perceive only black and white colours (light and darkness). This may be true at birth, but as the months pass, the situation undergoes radical changes. First children start to distinguish red colour. Later they start to perceive other bright colours such as yellow, and progress to the others in the spectrum.
When little children begin to draw and colour, their works are bound to portray bright colours. Toddlers themselves tend to be attracted to brightly coloured toys and motifs. Numerous academic researches show that children’s preferences change with increasing age. Many children under ten when asked, will identify red (or pink) and yellow as their favourite colours. Those above ten say that they start preferring blue. Experts who study child development consider it to be with the process of growing up. They tell us that such changing preferences tie in with changing and improving abilities, with maturity and the perception of different moods.
Educationists have also found that colour preferences are closely connected with the gender. Numerous researches show that most little girls from the age of six onwards prefer pink, lavender or violet. Little boys like black and other dark colours more than girls of their age. Adults accustom little girls and boys to like certain colours. The question here is, are girls’ and boys’ colour choices acquired or natural/innate?
Speaking about emphasizing certain characteristics by means of colours, gender identification is only one example. If you see a child’s chart done up in bright colour, it could advantage the child who has drawn it by being not only meaningful, but memorable as well. As explained, the child’s memory of the colours used may open the door to what the colour enclosed or signified in text. Again, the child is learning by making associations.
Publishers are aware of this fact and have used colour in children’s and teenager’s books to the maximum advantage. You also can use it to teach, motivate and inspire children who draw their inspiration from you.
Colour language and children
First consider how children get acquainted with colours. They learn to distinguish them long before they know their names. Children learn the names of colours at around the age of 2-5. Girls usually identify colours earlier than boys. Of course, all children develop differently, as the process of growing up is connected with the state of nervous system.
Here are typical associations between colours and where a child can find them, in the natural form. It is helpful information as young children progress through their charted Mind Map
Yellow – bananas, lemons, sun
Red – apples, tomatoes
Blue – jeans, sky
Green – peas, grass, leaves
Grey – an elephant
Brown – a bear, tree bark
Research has shown that, for example that if you were to paint an apple blue, show this blue apple to a child and ask him what it is, it takes him or her more time to recognize it. Come to think of it, a child could find a blue apple funny. It testifies to their sense of humour and the ability to laugh at clumsy things and things that are incorrect. If a child uses such symbolism in a Mind Map, he is expressing his sense of humour. He may also be getting some facts to stand out.
Maybe you want to learn and teach a language. Your child is having to learn one.
Some languages such as French and Hindi have more than one gender. There may be two genders-masculine and feminine; or three-masculine, feminine, and neuter. Gender is always crucial and has to be learned along with the vocabulary. The way to do
this is to add a further dimension to your mental image of each word by colouring it according to its gender. You can choose your own colours for masculine, feminine, and neuter (if necessary), but you must stick to using the same ones all the time. As you learn each new word, mentally apply the relevant colour to the image.
You might choose blue for masculine words, red for feminine. Then, if the word “dog” is
masculine, colour it blue; if the word “door” is feminine, colour it red. Let a child do this, and it could bring out the most humorous side, leading to fun and game playing – and memorizing.
Note: not true. Try Hindi words and colour them.
Chapter 5- Fun and games in Mind Mapping
This continues from where Chapter 4 did not leave off because children like to have fun. Everyone who is six or seven or eight years old likes to play. The nine and ten year olds like to play physical and mental games as well as their interests begin to turn towards the world, towards themselves and their cohort group. This broad description is true for all children, within the varieties of their individual personalities, geographical location and material to play with.
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Children in this country fit into childhood along conventional lines, then grow up with greater awareness of the opportunities at their disposal, or the lack of opportunities. It is impressed upon children in India that school work and outdoor activities should be given maximum value. Our children are taught to respect and please their elders. They are given to understand that success in the future is based on this.
There is also currently a move to ease the pressures of serious, academic school curriculum under any of the national boards. The total expected of school children is a great deal. Concerned adults have come to understand that there is more to growing up than serious study and not stepping out of line. They have come to understand that a factor such as childhood fun, has to be maintained for children. Educationists have provided a powerful tool. They have provided a concept such as Mind Maps, which allow the academically driven child to use tools such as fun and games to study. The medium of such study is the Mind Map.
The drive is towards a balance between school related activities for junior and secondary school children. It is also the reason why Mind Mapping is being picked up by parents and teachers for young children, and the reason why children are responding readily to learning through Mind Mapping.
Adults who enable children to Mind Map are aware of the nature of Mind Mapping. Children approach the process as though it is a craft which they can handle and get better at, a kind of hobby. They say that they look forward to Mind Mapping because of the fun element that it embodies. When a child of six starts out with Mind Mapping, he thinks of it as a learning game and possibly another form of child’s play.
Different types of play
Motor play provides critical opportunities for children to develop both individual gross and fine muscle strength and assists coordination of movement and muscle, nerve, and brain functions. Recent research has confirmed the critical link between stimulating activity, logical thought (maturity) and brain development. Young children must have ample opportunities to develop physically. The process takes place through motor play and increases the young child’s confidence towards more physical activity.
A variety of opportunities for children to engage in social play are the best mechanisms for progressing through the different social stages. Children are placed in a group with their peers in the process of attending school. By interacting with others in play settings, children learn social rules such as, give and take, reciprocity, cooperation, and sharing.
Through a range of interactions with children at different social stages, children also learn about their own wants and emotions. The interactions with their peers and older children teach them to apply modelling and to use moral reasoning to develop a mature sense of values. Children need to participate in a variety of social situations so that they can function effectively in the systems of learning and application of that learning.
Constructive play is when children manipulate their environment to create things. It could take place when they play with sand and water, construct simple toys such as dolls and miniature models and draw on the floor and wall with whatever they have at hand. Constructive play allows children to experiment with objects and figure out patterns and combinations that work and don’t work. They make simple conclusions about their play and art, about song and achievement.
Constructive play gives children a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. It gives them the realization that they can make a difference to things around them, their environment. It is child’s play which provides the child with the realization that she can handle and manipulate objects for different purposes. The child with growing confidence translates these conclusions towards manipulating words, ideas and concepts.
Six and seven and eight year olds gain an understanding of mental operations and think logically about concrete events but have difficulty understanding abstract concepts. Abstract concepts are matters which can be explained and talked about, like whether the rules of a game are right or unjust. As their mental operations grow, children close to ten and above begin to think in logical ways, though they may not recognise this fact as well as their parents or teachers. They are reasoning and building on any mental operations from an earlier age.
Children teach themselves abstract symbolism. They can deconstruct from the final product of constructive play. They learn to role play and apply imagined situations. They experiment with language and formulate their own words and expressions. They are exercising their imagination and diverse relationships at home and with friends. In addition, children develop flexible thinking and learn to base information on factors beyond the immediate. Adults may think that particular children are describing the parameters of a different truth. It is just that children are trying their best to stretch the boundaries of their lives and are testing adult-given rules.
Other ideas, concepts, dreams, and histories are all part of fantasy play. In a society driven by technology and the absolute, children have to practice with any and all forms of abstraction – time, place, amount, symbols, words, and ideas. In a way, these are essential for growth for a child’s mind.
Games With Rules
Developmentally, most children progress from an egocentric view of the world to an understanding of the importance of social contracts and rules. Part of this development occurs as they participate in traditional games. In traditional societies, the girls play a different set of games e.g. rhymes set to the swing of the skipping rope. Boys wait to be included in football and any ball game, just like the boys in the more senior classes. The “games with rules” method teaches children a critically important concept – that any business in life has rules (laws).
It becomes apparent that Constructive Play comes to the fore when children Mind Map. Children work with materials of paper and pencil, they accomplish something and feel empowered when they have tackled something like a difficult lesson, completed their homework and done well in an exam thanks to the Mind Map of that topic.
At a secondary level, Social Play was involved if the children undertook the Mind Map as a team. It was fun, and also had Games with Rules. Within the free form of the Mind Map, there were steps to be taken and motor coordination as in Physical Play. The rules of the games have been researched and studied.
A Mind Map is fun for young children to make. As far as they are concerned, it is a better way to learn. It not the type of learning that imposes on their faculties. They can take any fact from their texts or a lesson taught during the week. They can look inside their minds or their texts or books from the library or from what their teacher said. They can put it down colourfully while they connect other interesting facts to the central one. They can have as much fun putting in on paper colourfully and as correctly as they can. A good idea never loses its currency and simple ideas are often the best ones.
As they become accustomed to using Mind Maps and learn in a visual way, they should be encouraged to use them for taking notes in school. The quick shorthand way of recording information carries on being a great, fun way to study. When they get to the stage of doing school tests, they should be shown how to summarize entire chapters of their schoolbooks on a single page Mind Map. Revision can be fun too, as the children grow more sure of what they know and how they will recall facts and events for the test.
Mind mappings can help revision, even if teachers’ course notes are conventional. They
condense material into a concise, memorable format. You have sown the first seeds of structured thinking and have used your kids’ natural associated memory to learn things without the pressure of getting every little bit right, without the option of exerting their own creative play options of ‘what ifâ€¦?’
It really is that simple and your kids will thank you for this gift of learning in the years to come. Once they become addicted to using the computer, you can introduce them to electronic versions of Mind Mapping which can be bought cheaply on the internet and downloaded immediately.
Your children have accumulated data in Mind Map form. They have observed the strands of their accumulated knowledge and made more associations than in the early attempt. The completed Mind Map is a thought-generating tool and the best part of it as far as the children are concerned, was the fun they had and the games-type play they had while they went about it.
Mind Map game boards
The board games promise idea generation, fun and creativity. They sound just like Mind Maps, in fact. The game boards can be used for light-hearted fun and idea generation, both for school work and at home. As with Mind Maps, adults try them out first. The objective is to generate random new ideas in a fun way. Older children work towards team building and solution finding.
Key elements of the game contain spaces where inventive young minds can add words to elements known as ‘thought clouds.’ It includes card paper and labels. Children begin by selecting a theme and adding words to the game board. Here, the random words are selected before the main illustration. This can be placed face down. Then, a dice, coin or disc is thrown on to the Mind Map game board. The place where it lands is the prompt to be followed.
Chances are, that the dice will land on a word. The player can select a theme for words to add or select words, the meaning of which is abstract and can be used to denote a great many different things. Remember the Fantasy Play above? The potential uses are infinite.
The game boards present a fun, imaginative and creative way to utilise the Mind Map format. Fun can also be added to the game board by sharing out or selecting chores.
Children’s and adults alike love to form links between pieces of information, building up a repertoire of associations. When any brain receives new information, it searches in its long-term memory for something the same or similar, so that it can understand what it is. This happens in less than an instant and is not a conscious process. Creating associations is the second stage of Mind Mapping as you will remember. Creating associations is also very helpful in improving memory.
By actively creating a personal link for your brain to hook on to, you give your memory
something to work with, helping it to retrieve it later. Play association games-perhaps your child will carry on with it on bus journeys to school: she will ask her companions given a word (maybe a key word from an interesting language or history lesson) what is the first thing they think of? It leads to peer group learning, but informally, out of the class room. It speeds up the process of making associations, a technique that helps to improve memory.
Memorising facts and figures
Being able to recall facts and figures improves a child’s chances of doing better in exams and also her general knowledge-and is invaluable if she want to enter quizzes or competitions. There is the Association Technique which will be described in much details later. Basically, your child learns to create an image out of each piece of information, then she learns to link them together. For example, if she wants to remember that Pt Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India in 1947, she would create an image for the year and attach it to Pt Jawaharlal Nehru giving his ‘freedom at midnight’ speech. The important thing is to create an image that is memorable for her and therefore will help her to recall the associated information.
Crossword, word and maths games
Children’s brains are always more active than adults. Exercises that keep your memory and brain active can also be undertaken by them. They would require some mental
effort. Crosswords and word games are excellent, because they are pushed to recall words that they might not use regularly. It increases their vocabulary, important in any subject and with any learning method, especially Mind Mapping. Remember the importance of key words in Mind Mapping?
Children would be encouraged to use the newly learnt words more often. That in turn makes them more articulate and confident. Children’s puzzle books such as crossword puzzle books are available in plenty in any book store. For children as young as six, it would also lead to a general love of puzzles and maybe on to participation in general knowledge quizzes. In addition, most of these puzzle books can be coloured by pencil or crayons, thereby increasing their sense of what colour means to them personally.
Play word games with your children. It will help stretch them in a fun way while keeping you on your toes. Practice mental arithmetic when you are stuck in traffic and present the problem with your children. You know the answer when you practiced it in your head.
It train children to do simple arithmetic in their heads from a young age whenever the opportunity arises. You could ask a six year old to add up the cost of the items in your
cart before you get to the checkout. Or you could ask your ten year old to divide a restaurant bill between your friends – or his. The method has an additional benefit of getting him to grasp the value of money. try You can always confirm the results on a calculator and also show him how to do this.
As your mind becomes more efficiently active at simple arithmetic, he will learn to rely on it. It keeps his short term memory agile and he appreciates how simple sums can be used in everyday life. Your child will do his maths Mind Map with small sums in the associated links in very little time.
The Mind Mapping Game
This was taken from a verified and respected blog. The contributor refers to Getting Things Done, a book by David Allen. One of the steps recommended in Getting Things Done is to brainstorm to capture all the elements necessary to complete a project.
The suggested way to do this is via Mind Mapping. The author says that when he first heard about Mind Mapping, it was in senior school and he was a snotty know-it-all who thought that he was above every concept that he did not already know. Which meant that he kind of brushed it off. He claims that now that he is an adult and a bit more mature, he is giving it a try using a piece of software.
He is not just giving it a try. He has discovered that Mind Mapping is a blast. The one random topic he picked is providing a lot of entertainment. More than this, just getting the thoughts out of his head is a rewarding experience, and it is revealing a lot of the steps necessary to complete the project. He definitely recommends giving it a try. He recommends that other adults experiment with Mind Mapping on their next project.
He just wishes that other than finding out about Mind Mapping when he was in senior school and when he did nothing about it, that he had started still earlier. He wishes that someone, anyone of the adults had made him sit down and actually do a Mind Map. He would have got a great many things done, he feels. This is his greatest regret that he has woken up to how to manage his time, improve his memory and creative instincts at his late age. He is having a blast, but he could have done that some twenty years ago with Mind Mapping.