Parents - Boost Your Child's Brain Power at Home
I was delighted that NEW IDEA featured an article I wrote for parents about how to enhance their children's thinking and learning in the 11 October issue 2021.
To purcahse my book ;Edu-Chameleon - Leverage 7 Dynamic Learning Zones to Enhance Young Children's Concept-Based Understanding, visit my website https://www.kriegler-education.com. For more articles follow me on https://authory.com/kriegler-education
Here is the full article.
Six Ways to Magically Boost Brain Power and Vitalise Home Learning
Two years ago, no-one could have predicted we would be in the grips of a pandemic nor that daily routines would be totally upended. Not only are you one of millions of parents working from home, but you have the added responsibility of your children’s home-schooling. Armed without an education degree, you are now your kid’s teacher! You might or might not be good at trigonometry, but here are six achievable strategies to ensure your family gets the best out of remote learning.
Composed of 80% water, the brain needs hydration to function! Sugary drinks and salty snacks induce brain fog, impair memory and lower concentration. Float raspberries or sliced strawberries in the tumbler. The fruits subtly flavour and flush toxins. Besides, who wouldn’t eat the berries!
Colourful foods add zing to vitamin rich intake. Sliced fruit wins over whole fruit. A face on a plate with blueberry eyes, tomato nose, carrot hair, walnut ears and a mouth of sliced red pepper will quickly disappear. So will tiny bowls of raw nuts, sultanas, sliced banana and squares of anchovy toast. When you make the family spag bog, disguise the kale, spinach and broccoli in rich tomato sauce! I won’t tell.
Mind over matter
Covid has been hard on everyone, but if you don’t put on a brave face, neither will your dependents! Mindset matters. If you say, ‘This is beyond me!’, it will be! Our brains are rather fickle and believe what we tell them! If you say ‘We’ve got this’, you’ll all be winners. Rather than focusing on difficulty, focus on motivation. What can you put in place so learning and homework tasks get done? Ticking things off on a list is enormously satisfying. Work with your children and print lists with tick boxes. Then enjoy guilt-free rewards like TV programs, video games, cards, board games, cycling or fun in the local park. The aerobic exercise is part of your secret plan! Perhaps if everyone does their duty, you could have ice-cream or pizza night?
Managing the environment
Organised space and personal work zones are motivating. Help children embellish tins with bright paper for their writing utensils. A decorated carton, set on its side, makes a great bookcase and keeps things neat. Individualised space imprints identity, promotes competence and induces calm.
Time management is key. Program things at the same time each day to engrain habits. Schedule regular breaks. It is proven that working in shorter blocks, perhaps forty minutes at a time with mini breaks is more productive than working for long stretches.
Focus is necessary for learning. No attention - no outcome. Attention is an acquired skill and it’s worth monitoring how your children approach tasks. Do they jump in before understanding the question? Do they distinguish what is relevant and irrelevant? Can they plan and sequence the steps correctly? These skills are seldom explicitly taught at school, so you have an ideal opportunity to influence good problem-solving. Ensure they concentrate on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking doesn’t work, (yes, it is proven!) so don’t have a TV, music or other interference in the background.
Using more senses engages more areas of the brain and enhances learning. Walking in the garden as they read sends more blood to their brains. As kids learn, encourage them to create mnemonics. When they have five things to remember, teach them to choose a key word from each and make a sentence. This works better than acronyms with first letters, because words are better cues. The sentence holds the information together and each word acts as a hook to retrieve the parts. This helps them to recall all the relevant information when required. Representing ideas with colourful pictures and diagrams also facilitates memory.
Ensure they practice. Repeating tasks bulks up neurons. Myelin, a white fatty substance, is laid down on the long part (axon) of the neuron which speeds up and improves learning networks. Practice grows the brain! Once the children know their work well, you can interleave the questions from different areas. If the children know their times tables well, skip around and do the twelve with the eight. If they have mastered their arithmetic, interleave multiplication with the other operations. Each time you offer a different type of task, their brain reboots. This is wonderful practice for when they hit the desk during tests and exams! Finally regular review of work makes it more sustainable. Before they start each day’s task, briefly revise what happened the day before.
Variety and challenge
After establishing good habits and routines, shake it up occasionally with variety and challenge! Prepare ahead but announce what seems a spur of the moment decision to do everything in the park, or under the bed with a torch, or with a picnic under the big tree in the garden. Challenges always motivate. Can they read more chapters than they did last week? Can they embark on their homework as a mission following a trail of clues with a reward at the end? Hopefully, a reward so worthwhile that next time you declare ‘Mission Arithmetic’, they jump to attention!
These are hard times. Many families are in dire straits. But the more we sustain our kids’ learning, bolster their moods and keep them hydrated, well-fed, well-read and well-rested, the better we all will be!
Good luck with your own challenge: ‘Mission Parenthood’!
Lili-Ann Kriegler (B. A Hons, H. Dip. Ed, M.Ed.) is an education consultant and author of ‘Edu-Chameleon’. Lili-Ann’s primary specialisations are in early childhood education (birth-9 years), leadership and optimising human thinking and cognition. Her current part-time role is as an education consultant at Independent Schools Victoria and she runs her own consultancy, Kriegler-Education. Find out more at https://kriegler-education.com