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Not sure if this is the right place but I'm currently 9 years old and have recently become obsessed with learning. When I get home from school all I do is try to learn everything I can and at school i am pretty much ahead so I just do my own thing. The principal told my mom I should skip a couple grades but she said no for my social development which is super annoying.

Anyway.. my question is how do I structure my thinking and schedule to learn as much as possible? I mean REALLY learn though not just know or remember.

Also, i've found that whenever I figure something out it feels really good. Like, there was this power series problem in this analysis book I got and I was having trouble, but later I was playing COD and the question popped into my head and then all the shapes came together and I realized the answer and I felt this electrical like pulse feeling like tingling going down my spine and everything felt warm and electric and amazing and then I couldn't stop doing pseries for hours and couldn't sleep. I feel like I'm going to explode sometimes, I want to learn EVERYTHING. I draw and play piano and love programming and am obsessed with Mathematics and there's not enough time and I never want to go to sleep?

Another question: How can I increase the feeling I get when I solve a problem? Also, how can I sleep? I can't stop thinking :( I know sleep is important...I also asked this on Yahoo but it's super important so I decided to ask here as well. Please advise!

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Edited to change "principle" to "principal". – Jeanne Boyarsky Jan 10 '14 at 15:08
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Take a look at the suggestions about falling asleep after intense study. I think that's the problem you are having - turning your brain off to sleep. Personally, I just say that I will lie in bed for an hour with my eyes closed.

I don't think your goal should be to learn as much as possible. I think your goal should be to learn something deeply. It's impossible to learn everything so having a narrower focus lets you feel some mastery. Then after a while, do a deep dive into something else.

As far as the learning, ask your mom if you can take an online class. Coursera offers many good free ones on a variety of topics. This will let you do more challenging work than your (3rd grade?) class is doing.

Also, don't forget to have fun. It is important to develop socially and physically too.

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Thanks for the suggestion! Do you think though it is possible to learn something in one area that adds to another? Maybe studying math could lead to an improvement in music or programming? How can I choose areas that compliment each other? So then going deep into maths might take you deeper into music? Also, Coursera looks really cool! 4th! Learning is super fun and I like being with friends but it seems hard to do both :/ – Isaacb Jan 10 '14 at 15:24
I dont think this is the best of advice to give a 9 year old. The aim at this point should be to explore rather than to gain mastery. Mastery implies a very very specific domain which would simply constrain what could otherwise be a far more diverse learning experience. There really is no jumping from one area to another when attempting to really master even something simple. – AsheeshR Jan 10 '14 at 16:45
@Isaacb yes - things related to each other. You'll fine it naturally that skills transfer and you see connections. Being with friends and learning aren't mutually exclusive. Invite your friends to a museum or to build a robot or something you enjoy. – Jeanne Boyarsky Jan 10 '14 at 20:01
@AsheeshR A 9year old goes to school. That's plenty diverse. I don't mean "master" on a college level for what it is worth. And I did suggest doing deep dives into different things; just in sequence. Kids do learn that way. For example, they being really excited about legos and that's all you hear about for a couple weeks. Then a specific video game. Then a robot kit. Etc. – Jeanne Boyarsky Jan 10 '14 at 20:03
@Isaacb No. I didn't mean it that way. I meant do some minimal amount of each thing but spend a lot of time one one thing. If you don't practice music at all for a month, you'll forget it. Kind of like how you don't stop brushing your teeth when you get busy. Think of it as if you have X hours to do the "bits of everything" (which includes friends) and Y hours to "learn other stuff." I'm suggesting focusing the "learn other stuff" time so it isn't overwhelming at all there is out there. And ask your parents for advice :). – Jeanne Boyarsky Jan 11 '14 at 1:33

Important thing is to realize that you won't be able to learn everything. Not even most of the things you're interested in. Yea, it can be a bit demotivating and sad, but that's how the world is. It's vast.

The thing is, it's not likely you will be able to decide what to do in your life right now. There's so many things to explore and experience before you can decide that. Best advice is to just.. explore. Read a lot of books. Not just math (though it's useful), but biographies and other non-fiction as well.

For fiction, I think you might want to read HPMOR. Mainly, it's really fun, but it's sprinkled here and there with important ideas you might find useful. And, you never know where they might lead you.

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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality right? Link was messed -_- – Isaacb Jan 10 '14 at 23:35
Ah, sorry for that. Edited, but I see you've helped yourself :) – Dwelle Jan 11 '14 at 10:08

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