The Power of Laughter in Learning

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a good friend of mine.  Terry Small is “The Brain Guy”—and one of the most engaging speakers on the planet!  He talks about learning and about the brain—how dry is that, right? But I have watched him hold an audience in the palm of his hand for more than two hours, which is nearly impossible. . . How does Terry do it?  He utilizes all that he has learned about the brain in order to communicate effectively to us about OUR brains.

One of the most important “techniques” Terry employs is laughter.  He says and does funny things during his presentations—which instantly engages the brains of everyone in the audience. He not only does it to help them stay tuned in, but he also teaches us to do it with our students when we are wanting them to stay tuned in.  You see, Terry teaches that we are wired to perk up, to listen more attentively, to engage, to remember when laughter is involved.

In fact, this is one of the amazing discoveries that have been made by researchers studying the brain.  Check it out on Terry’s website, in his Brain Bulletin #15. (While you’re there, I’d encourage you to sign up for his monthly Brain Bulletin—free!)

Where else have we heard this idea of the value of laughter making things easier to do, easier to learn?

Well, if you don’t mind me fudging a bit, I’d like to draw from that fount of wisdom, Mary Poppins.  After all, she is the one who taught us, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down—in a most delightful way!”

A spoonful of laughter surely does help the learning go down. . . deep into the brain’s long-term memory storage.

Which leads us to the real source of wisdom.  Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.”

I know you may have thought about this proverb in connection with physical health.  That’s great!  But will you consider this in light of what you have just learned about your brain’s health?


With this in mind, I will write a prescription—a homeschool prescription—for you and your children.

Laugh.  Intentionally find things to tickle the funny bone in your family.

Laugh often. Read about funny animals, read funny jokes, play funny games—include it in your daily schedule.

Laugh gently. Laugh about things that everyone finds funny, rather than jokes told at someone else’s expense.

Laugh humbly. Laugh at your own mistakes, not at the mistakes of others.

Laugh joyfully. Laugh with delight at the humor you find in the universe—like cleaner fish and platypus and river otters.

You know, this was such an important part of our own homeschooling journey that I’ve been talking about it for years.  In fact, when it came time to write the History Revealed curriculum, we made sure that there were many opportunities for laughter and healthy humor!

Remember, stay relational!