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How the brain learns - the adolescent years – Studying for Success


How the brain learns - the adolescent years – Studying for Success

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									                           How the brain learns - the adolescent years – Studying for Success

                                                       More than 1/3 of that living time will be slept away    What can parents do?
                                                       and the rest with family, friends, playing sports and
  What’s this about?                                                                                            1. Offer your assistance during certain
                                                       attending various clubs and associations.
                                                                                                                  hours only, such as between 7pm and
  Welcome to Part 4 of 4 articles that examine
                                                                                                                  8pm. Stick to your guns here. Your offer
  how brains and minds grow during the                                                                            of help lowers anxiety but also places
  adolescent years. Mention study to some                          Key Points                                     responsibility on your child to get
  adolescents and they run for cover! Some                                                                        organised.
  parents spend night after night fighting with           Today’s kids live in a world of rapid                 2. Organise a personal study space for
  their children over study habits and homework.          change. Whereas many of our generation’s                your child that is away from television
  It’s not worth it. Some people even suggest             parents held their jobs for many, many                  and the telephone. Help to keep the
  abandoning all homework because it does not             years, things are vastly different now                  space organised because some kids
  make one iota of difference to kids’ learning.          and the future of work looks increasingly               have poor organisational skills. Take
  In this article, we examine some ways to                uncertain. Some estimates suggest that                  phone messages rather than pass the
                                                                                                                  phone to your child during homework
  support your child’s healthy study habits.              most of the jobs that kids will vie for by
                                                                                                                  time. If your child has a mobile phone,
  Whether the current debate over homework                2020 do not even exist yet. A capacity to
                                                                                                                 'look after it' during study time.
  decides to do it or otherwise, one thing is for         study, to apply the brain to learning, keeps          3. Encourage music at low volume at least
  sure; effective study habits are essential for          open the option of changing career.                     some of the time. Research studies
  learning, and learning is essential for keeping                                                                 suggest that listening to music while
  career options open.                                                                                            studying creates a mild enhancement of
                                                       I have already moved through 4 careers. I began my         blood flow to areas involved in cognition
                                                       working life as an apprentice plasterer, worked in         (Read Jensen, Music with the Brain in
Whoever said, ‘It’s not whether you win or             the family business for eleven years, and then went        Mind). Don’t expect miracles!
lose that counts,’ probably lost.                      to university as a mature-age student. I graduated       4. Provide good quality lighting, especially
Martina Navratilova                                    with a Masters Degree in Mathematics and Science           natural light whenever possible. Avoid
                                                       Education and became a teacher.                            fluorescent lights because research
Why study?                                                                                                        studies suggest they raise cortisol levels
                                                                                                                  (a stress hormone) and may suppress
                                                       From teaching, I moved into lecturing at universities
                                                                                                                  language functions (read Jensen,
Because, like it or not, study avoids the tempting     and now I run my own business again, this time as an
                                                                                                                  Environments for Learning).
shortcuts that lead to disappointment. Success         education consultant. For me, study enabled every        5. Make certain there is plenty of plain,
creates enthusiasm for greater success. Failure        change of career. There is every reason to believe it      good quality water to sip on during long
creates guilt and blame.                               will be the same for my, and your, children.               periods of study. The brain suffers
                                                                                                                  quickly from dehydration and
              Definition                               'If you want to be able to have good memories in           subsequently, under-performs.
                                                       the future, you'd better do something memorable          6. Celebrate successes with your child and
   I define study as the application                   now.' This quote, cited in Fuller (2002) is a great        encourage those elements that need
   of the brain to learning.                                                                                      improvement.
                                                       way to inspire your kids to study. Our futures are
                                                       dependent on what we do in the present.                  7. Record your child’s important television
It’s easier to study something one wants to learn as                                                               programs so that he or she can watch
opposed to something one has to learn. Never-the-                 Here’s How                                       them when homework is finished.
less, healthy concepts about learning and the future                                                            8. Don’t fight over uncompleted work. It’s
                                                                                                                   your child’s responsibility, not yours. The
generate the motivation to satisfy the appetite for       Following are some                                       school will outline consequences. Be
learning. So above all, work on building healthy          tips to create the                                       supportive but not demanding.
concepts about learning. In the absence of healthy        conditions for our kids                               9. Encourage nights off from homework.
concepts, study won’t happen!                             to want to study. I have                                 No child should study every night.
                                                          divided the list into 2
                                                                                                                   Schooling is but one aspect of a total
Between the ages of 5 and 17, most children will          sections; the first section
                                                                                                                   education package.
                                                          is suggestions of things
spend about 13,200 hours at school out of a total
                                                          parents can do.
of 105, 120 hours of living. That’s less than 15%.
                            How the brain learns - the adolescent years – Studying for Success
                                                   22. Play sports, play musical instruments,
          Here’s How                                 and relax with friends and family. School
                                                     is but one aspect of a person’s education.
  Following are some tips                          23. Get adequate sleep (more on this in a      The least
  to create the conditions                           later article). Research suggests that       I need to know
  for our kids to want to                            REM sleep helps eliminate weak
                                                     memories and consolidates other              Adolescents are typically bored with study
  study. This second section
  is suggestions of things                           memory. There are no standards on ‘how       and prefer to spend their time just hanging
  children can do.                                   much’ sleep a person needs.                  out with friends, listening to music, watching
                                                   24. Know your brain’s down time. As a rough    TV or playing computer games. Common
                                                     rule of thumb, write down the time that      adjuncts to these activities include eating
What can kids do?                                    you typically go to sleep, then write down   junk food, getting little physical exercise,
                                                     the time that you typically wake up. Now,
 10. Get up and move around actively about                                                        and at the high end, smoking, drinking and
                                                     calculate the mid point of your sleep, and
     every 20 minutes. This gets lots of richly                                                   doing drugs. Typically, parents don’t want
                                                     then add twelve hours to that time to
    oxygenated blood into the brain making                                                        their kids doing drugs but also don’t want to
                                                     calculate your ‘down time.’ Here is an
    the cognitive functions perform better.                                                       see their kids spend countless hours in mind
                                                     example: If you go to sleep at 10pm and
 11. Eat brain-compatible food, including
                                                     wake up at 7am the midpoint is 2:30am.       numbing study exercises. The difficulty is in
    snacks. Keep away from high fat, high
                                                     Add 12 hours to that time and the ‘down      striking a balance. Offer support, not threats.
     sugar and high salt foods. Better ‘snack’
                                                     time’ is about 2:30pm. Study may be          Leave the consequences of unfinished
    foods include fresh fruits, nuts with
                                                     tough during ‘down time’.                    work to the school but don’t blame the
    seeds and raisins (check allergies first).
                                                   25. Avoid playing too many video games.
 12. Never take alcohol or other ‘downer’                                                         school when your child fails to meet the
                                                     They are almost addictive and consume
    drugs while studying. These substances                                                        requirements to pass onto the next level.
                                                      many hours. There are no standards as to
    affect cognition, sometimes dramatically.                                                     Good study habits support learning.
                                                      how much is ‘too much’ so a
 13. Caffeine, in the form of a cup of tea or
                                                      commonsense approach applies.
    coffee may help concentration. Avoid
                                                   26. Join or create a study club with kids of
    overdoing it or drinking such stimulants
                                                       similar interest.
    close to bed-time.
                                                   27. Keep you brain active. Read lots, play             References
 14. Work in line with the natural learning
                                                     challenging games such as chess, Uno,
    cycle of the brain. Most people learn best
                                                     Pictionary, Scrabble, Cards and the like.
    that which comes first in a learning                                                          (Items marked * are available from Mind Webs).
                                                     If you hold a part-time job, remember
    episode, then that which comes last. The                                                      Log on to
                                                     your study is more important than the few
    ‘tough’ bit is in the middle. When working                                                    or call Cathy Joseph for a catalogue
                                                     dollars you earn today.
    on new or important information, focus at                                                     (08) 8358 6993.
    the beginning of the study session and be
    clear about what has to be learnt.
                                                  Examples of Mind Webs
    Practise for a while then close the                                                           Brain-based Learning, Eric Jensen*.
    session with clear statements, written
    down about what was learnt.                                                                   Music with the Brain in Mind,
 15. Try out strategies that lead to best
                                                                                                  Eric Jensen*.
    retention of information. These include
    developing graphic organisers such as
                                                                                                  Environments for Learning,
    Venn Diagrams, Mind Webs (example
                                                                                                  Eric Jensen*.
    included) Flow Charts, Time-lines, Graphs
    and the like.
 16. Teach someone else what you learnt.                                                          Brainy Parents, Brainy Kids,
   Research studies suggest that up to 90%                                                        John Joseph*.
   of information is retained when taught to
   others (read Jensen, Brain-Based                                                               Raising Real People.
   learning).                                                                                     Andrew Fuller*
                                                  Caring for the brain Mind Web
 17.Create a test for your own learning and
     ask someone to administer it.
 18. Tape record class lessons (with teacher’s
   permission). Listen to the tapes and even
   make some of your own.
 19. Seek feedback from teachers and use
   the feedback to improve grades.
 20. Go for great grades and be proud of your
 21. When what you have to learn is not                                                           Next Issue –
   enjoyable, go for the feeling of fulfillment                                                   Module 5, Part 1:
   (finishing something that was not                                                              Ways of learning and
   enjoyable) and satisfaction (the feeling                                                       Worlds of knowing.
   that comes from achievement).                  Types of memory Mind Web

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