When it comes to adding integrative studies to your child's curriculum it comes with a myriad of benefits for both student and teacher.
Integrative studies with its holistic, child-centered approach to education may seem modern and cutting edge.
Yet, educational theorists have been arguing in favor of integrated learning for over 100 years.
And when you look at the results and benefits, it's no wonder why. Read on for 7 incredible benefits of integrated learning.
1. Allows Students to Make Connections
There is a difference between knowledge and learning. Knowledge can be memorized, recited and regurgitated by students.
Think of memorizing the multiplication tables as an example. A student may be able to tell you that five times five is twenty-five. But, he or she may not understand what that means.
Learning, on the other hand, doesn't take place in a vacuum. Students are able to examine new ideas and compare them to what they already know.
Integrated studies allow students to make connections across all disciplines. Math teachers are fond of saying 'math is everywhere.' Well, with integrated studies, students will experience that truth for themselves.
This method of teaching bridges what is learned in the classroom with their real-life experience. The connections they make to the real world will shape the instruction.
When integrated learning takes place, students can retain their learning and understand concepts more easily which is partly the benefit of reason number 2.
2. More Repetition for Deeper Understanding
Using an integrated curriculum model in the classroom means that your students learn the same material multiple times.
Instead of teaching subjects in isolation, integrated learning does away with restrictions due to class periods and units.
Students may learn about a specific topic through an art project, a story, a science experiment, and a math worksheet. This can take place all in one day or over the course of a week or more!
The point is that the repetition allows the students' brains to soak in the information. Repetition refreshes their memory. Then, they are more likely to transfer their learning to long-term memory better.
One of the key ways to cement learning as long-term memory is repetition. Slowly incorporate new information and repeat it in timed intervals.
Integrated learning systems reduce the number of core principles that go in one year and out the other.
That's because the more often the information is repeated, and the more interesting it becomes. And repetition increases the likelihood that students will preserve the information.
3. Caters to Different Learning Styles
One of the most incredible benefits of integrative studies is that it caters to all the children in the class, regardless of learning style.
Teachers are well aware of how different each learner is. An integrated curriculum has much better odds of reaching more students in a way that works for them.
A creative student may have glossed over during the fractions learning in the morning. But after lunch, it is time for art. And that student will eagerly and happily engage in learning fractions in a medium he or she loves.
Integrated learning systems accommodate all learners in the classroom.
You can imagine the way that an integrated curriculum allows every learner to be an active and engaged participant in learning.
4. Supports the Way the Brain Likes to Learn
Did you know that the human brain has a preference for the way it learns? It's true!
Dr. Eric Jensen has written extensively on brain research and how it applies to educators. His book, Brain-Compatible Learning highlights the way the brain learns best.
Jensen explains that the brain learns best in immersion and multi-path opportunities. The more connections the brain makes, the better the student's ability to make high-level inferences. That's why integrated studies are known as brain-compatible.
The fragmented method of learning that has been prevalent in schools can stunt the joy of learning. This leads us to our next benefit of integrated learning.
5. Promotes Life-long Learning
One of the hallmarks of integrated studies is that it is often student-led. This method is flexible enough to allow students to be in charge of their own learning.
Students can propose hands-on activities to complement a theme. And they are able to take a holistic approach that is best suited to them.
They can then take this love of learning with them into higher education and throughout their entire lives.
6. Increased Student Engagement
Engaged students are happy students. They have less behavioral issues and do better on assessments. There is tons of research to support this.
Educators who have made the switch to integrated studies often claim that engagement is one of the most positive benefits.
When students are stimulated and excited they work beyond the expectations.
7. Better Academic Performance
The integrated curriculum model has proven to result in academic success.
Students who are exposed to integrated studies perform equal to or better than students in discipline-led programs.
When students are engaged, they also have better attendance. And of course, improved attendance impacts their academic performance.
Another benefit of integrated studies is that students improve their ability to think critically. So when faced with an exam question they didn't prepare for, they can use those skills to figure out what to do.
Now that we've covered these 7 key benefits, let's look at what you need for an integrated curriculum.
Characteristics of Integrative Studies
There are various characteristics that are key to having integrated studies.
An integrated curriculum model will include experiences to develop children’s attitudes, skills, and knowledge.
Activities will allow for a range of abilities and levels. Integrated studies must be both teacher-initiated and child-initiated.
There should be both small group, large group and individual components. Critical and creative thinking are paramount. And students should experience learning as a meaningful whole.
Thanks for reading these 7 benefits of integrative studies. We hope you know better understand the value of this method in your school.
Come back again soon for more resources and tips for teachers.