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Mind-Mapping Teaching Strategies

Darko Atanasov

Kids’ brains develop the most and the fastest in the first years of their lives. Everything they hear and see engages their brain in different ways. Consequently, it is essential for parents and teachers to actively participate in every action in order to make sure that their brain develops and shapes in the right manner. Development stands for every change children experience during their physical and mental growth. And when it comes to how well their social, emotional, behavioral, thinking and communication abilities are developed and improved, teachers, same as parents, have a great impact.  We are familiar with the fact that children at a young age are getting interested in different shapes, patterns, and colors. Specifically, drawing is the way they start to express themselves during the time they are growing and learning how communication works. Logically, teachers should strive to implement different teaching strategies that could widely help kids in expressing themselves in the classroom. One example of a these teaching strategies is the mind mapping technique.

Teaching Strategies: How Mind Mapping Helps Kids’ Cognitive Development

At a young age, children communicate more with images than words. While for the adults it comes naturally to use words for communication, children tend to express themselves in a more colorful way. Particularly, adults are inclined to use more of the left hemisphere of their brains, which is responsible for controlling the right side of the body and is associated with logical and analytical thinking. Children, on the other hand, tend to use the right hemisphere of their brains, which is responsible for controlling the left side of the body and is associated with artistic and creative thinking.

Mind mapping is a technique which has many advantages for intelligence development. In particular, this is important for children’s development. Mind mapping stimulates using both left and right sides of our brain, as it involves using images and words at the same time. Therefore, mind mapping can be taught to children because it can help them develop and improve their verbal, logical, and visual abilities.

For children who are in the growing and developing stage in which they use the right side of their brain, mind mapping could be the ideal method for stimulating their left side of their brain. In the process of mind mapping, a drawing will come naturally for these children. In addition, since in mind mapping they also use words, they will have the possibility to learn how to connect their drawings with verbal expression.

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Introducing Mind Mapping in the Classroom

It is important not to impose the method of mind mapping to the kids in your classroom. You should be ready for rejection, since sometimes children tend to dislike new things. Kids are different, and depending on their age, character, and interests, they choose their preferred way of expressing themselves.

However, mind mapping is really worth a try. If kids end up loving it, the whole classroom will have the time of their lives. Apart from the intellectual benefits that are offered, it is incredibly fun and entertaining.

However, as a teacher, you should be aware that mind mapping won’t make kids intellectuals, but surely will make them attentive listeners, creative thinkers, and good problem solvers. With the use of words and images, mind mapping encourages the stimulation of kids’ senses and ability to think and solve problems.

Presenting the First Mind Map in the Classroom

The first mind map might be most important when it comes to introducing this creative technique to your classroom. Regardless of the fact that you would be introducing mind mapping in order to develop and sharpen your schooldchildren’s intelligence, firstly and most importantly it should be an entertaining teaching technique. The goal is not to give your pupils a complex and difficult central subject, because it is most likely that they will eventually reject mind mapping. The idea is to encourage them to express themselves with words while using images and symbols.

So how do you choose the subject of the first mind map for the mind mapping newbies? The type of the first map depends on the age of the kids in your classroom. For example, mind mapping can be introduced to children at the age of 6 to 12 and at the age of 12+. However, the types of the maps can vary in structure or in subject.

For children that are 6 to 12 years old, it is necessary to give them a mind map that will include colors, symbols, and pictures. As a start, you can try to create a simple mind map with few connections. The fewer relationships you include in the map the better.

The first tip is to create a mind map as a puzzle for the kids to solve. Choose a familiar subject, i.e. a famous cartoon or fairy tale, with which you will spark interest in them. In the beginning, you will need to make the map colorful and playful – include more images and colors, instead of words and long sentences. You can digitally create the maps with the help of mind-mapping software, and print and share them in the class. When creating the story of the map, don’t forget to include blank spots for which you will later give them prepared images and ask them to make connections. Don’t forget to be actively involve them in the map creation; give your schoolkids directions and clues as a guide through the whole process.

The second idea for a mind map is to leave the kids to draw it by themselves. You can read them a simple fairy tale or a story and ask them to draw a picture of the things you tell. It is important to use words that are easily describable with images, like the sun, clouds, trees, house etc. Try to describe the objects vividly so that kids could use a lot of color in their drawings. Again, guide them through the process of creation of the connections on the map. After the map is finished, you can ask them to narrate the story in front of the class.

The second group of children at the age of 12+ years can enjoy the creation of more complex maps: Not too complex, however. You can compose blank mind maps that will consist only of boxes or circles connected to each other. The idea here is to leave it to each kid to individually think of a central topic from which will branch out subtopics.

In the end, after explaining how mind mapping works you can only give them ideas in order to stimulate their creativity and imagination and leave them to figure out the rest by themselves. Again after the mind maps are completed schedule a presentation day and give them the possibility to present their works.

Darko is technology specialist at iMindQ, a mind mapping software for business and education. He is focused on delivering value to organization through the use of technology, specifically software.

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