Researchers have been trying to tell us for years that it is possible to perform at top form. Everyone wants to see your student excel to the highest level of achievement in academics, sports and fine arts. However, just putting the best gas and oil in our cars for optimal performance, we also have to be mindful of the maintenance and up keep of our brain.
Sleep Well, Think Well
The brain isn't inactive when sleeping. However, it has to complete a cycle of rest that allows the brain to engage in REM sleep. It is here when the brain is able to begin organizing, purging, making sense of things we put in and MOST of all-helps us "remember" all of that school info. This is where our brains "connect the dots" for us.
Sleep deprivation is prevalent in high school. Many of our students are either participating in sports, the arts or working above and beyond the studies. If they are not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, then they are not giving their brains the opportunity rest, relax and make sense of their worlds.
What does that mean
Consistent sleeping patterns
"Cumulative losses during the week, lead to losses during the weekend"
Feed the Brain!
"You are what you eat". The old saying is true and what we feed our brain determines how well you perform in the classroom. Eating the right foods will increase your oxygen levels and cause a higher level of cognition. If we stock the fridge with antioxidant rich snacks and lunch items, our kids have a better chance at retention and increased memory.
Stressed Brains Don't Learn Like They Should
Its no surprise that stress is not helpful for a young brain. Stress can come from a wide variety of sources and it is even harder to detect when someone is stressed. Researchers have discovered that there are three parts to determining if someone is stressed: a measurable physiological response (outbursts, vocal, can be physical, etc.), desire to avoid the situation, and a loss of control. (John Medina - Brain Rules) Chronic or long term stress is the most harmful for a students brain. The biggest problem students face with stress is the feeling that they have no control and are helpless in the situation. Northglenn High School has an amazing set of counselors and other staff members that students can speak with about their feelings and help relieve some of their stress.
Music Boosts Cognition
Listening to music helps the brain with several intellectual skills. "Music boosts spatiotemporal skills, vocabulary, picking out sounds in a noisy environment, working memory, and sensory-motor skills." (John Medina - Brain Rules) Students are often seen listening to music to help them concentrate and because it is the "cool" thing to do. Music can create emotion and invoke curiosity. Although listening to music is helpful for the brain it is not that simple. Students need formal training in music to really get the full effect of its power to help boost cognition. Many educational and brain researchers agree that Music should be the last program cut from a school. Helping your child with formal music training can be difficult but these resources below can help. Musical education has shown to improve test scores, IQ scores, language development, and even help students become more socially adept to their surroundings.
Exercise Increases Brain Power
As our brains have evolved from our ancestors and we have adapted to more of a sedentary lifestyle our brains still have a need for physical activity. Physical activity gets blood flowing to your brain to help with cognition. Keeping a fitness regimen can help alleviate some of the problems of a sedentary lifestyle but the problem is keeping up with the fitness. Many people often start a fitness program but don't stick with it. Students should be encouraged to take physical education classes, participate in after school sports or even join the weight lifting club.
Brains are Like Snowflakes, Each One is Unique
No two people's brains store information in the same way. Furthermore no two brains learn exactly the same way. Teachers approach education to try and reach as many learning styles as possible. Students need to be aware of how they learn best. Understanding how your brain learns new information is very helpful for academic success. Also we need to know that each persons experience shapes how they learn and how they retain information. Identical twins having the same experiences will have different interpretations of the experiences because everyone's brain is wired differently.