Sunday, October 17, 2010

expert advice: from Bobbi DePorter, accelerated learning expert

Think your kids need help with their learning skills? Instead of getting frustrated with them, meet Bobbi DePorter. This teen and accelerated learning expert has changed the lives of over five million kids through her SuperCamp and Quantum Learning school programs. Here, she shares her insight with KidandCaboodle moms...

Kidandcaboodle: How did you get started on this career path? What first got you interested in helping students excel?

Bobbi dePorter: "Having the opportunity to study with Dr. Georgi Lozanov from Bulgaria in the late 70s was the learning point in my life. I applied his “accelerated learning” methods to my adult programs and saw a big difference in the students’ ability to learn. Then I saw a need to teach kids how to learn. The assumption is that they go to school and should know how to learn effectively. Yet we found most don’t know how. When we teach kids how to learn, most say: “Why didn’t anyone teach this to me before?” It makes a big difference for them."

K&C: Were you a good student? What challenges did you encounter in your own studies?

BDP: "I was a good student in most of my classes, and some I struggled with and didn’t know why. My Spanish class in particular was very difficult for me. I since learned that I’m highly visual and have very low auditory processing. If I had known that then, I could have used different strategies to learn a language."

K&C: Do you think there’s too much/too little emphasis placed on giving young kids an accelerated education these days? How is this impacting them and their role in society?

BDP: "There is a teaching methodology that is very effective called “accelerated learning” that is the basis for our Quantum Learning methods. It’s about engaging, joyful, meaningful learning that challenges students to do their best. I want to make sure we don’t confuse the term “accelerated.” I believe you’re asking about starting kids at a younger age, passing kids up to the next grade or more challenging classes? I believe that we need to be aware of each child’s abilities and learning styles and keep challenging them just beyond their abilities."

K&C: What are the biggest challenges in education facing teenagers today?

BDP: "Pressures to get top grades, be good at sports, have outside activities and be of service to get into good colleges. It is a lot of pressure and their schedules are packed. It’s at a time when kids are also discovering who they are and trying to fit in."

K&C: Can you briefly explain your 8 Keys of Excellence?

BDP: "The 8 Keys of Excellence are principles to live by. When integrated, the Keys create a positive core that guides our behavior. The Keys are: Integrity, Failure Leads to Success, Speak with Good Purpose, This is it!, Commitment, Ownership, Flexibility and Balance."

K&C: What do you hope teenagers get out of your program?

BDP: "From our SuperCamp, Quantum Learning for Students, and 8 Keys of Excellence programs, students learn effective learning skills such as reading, writing, thinking, speaking, memory and note-taking, and life skills that include good communication and relationship skills."

K&C: What can parents do to help their kids excel academically?

BDP: "Parents can work to have good communication with their child. We say Listen More, Talk Less. Be aware of their child’s personal learning style and have conversation around what works best for them. And create a good, inspiring and creative study area – a place where their child wants to study."

K&C: Can you share a personal success story with one of your students that stands out in your mind?

BDP: "I think of Sara who was already a good student. At SuperCamp she really discovered that she can make her dreams happen. It gave her the confidence to try out for things, to speak up and express herself. She became Miss Teen Georgia, got accepted to Georgetown U and got her dream job at Walt Disney World. She credits all this from the “shift” she discovered at SuperCamp to really believe in herself and be secure in who she is and what she has to offer.

Nick also comes to mind. In high school a counselor told his mother in front of him that he would never make it to college and that he should focus on a vocational track. He attended SuperCamp and applied the learning skills he learned to his schoolwork with good results that built his confidence back up. He recently graduated from a four-year university and is happily employed."

K&C: What are your goals for the future? What upcoming projects will you pursue?

BDP: "SuperCamp continues to grow with new US and international sites. There are now over 56,000 graduates. Our Quantum Learning school programs for administrators, teachers and students are also growing where we now have programs statewide in some states. Over 50,000 teachers have attended Quantum Learning trainings, impacting over five million students. We have recently formed the Excellence Effect movement to take the 8 Keys of Excellence character program to families and schools everywhere at no-charge, with a goal of reaching 50 million kids by 2015."

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