Are there things you can do to help your prodigy to become a person who thirsts for knowledge?
Lately I have been reading a book, “Proust and the Squid’ by Maryanne Wolf which addresses this question. I would like to share some information with you.
THOUGHTS FROM THE BOOK – Reading and Learning
“The more children are spoken to, the more they will understand oral language. The more children are read to the more they understand all the language around them, and the more developed their vocabulary becomes.”
“… many efforts to teach a child to read before four or five years of age are biologically precipitate and potentially counterproductive for many children.” The reason for this is the myelin sheath (fatty coating around nerves to help electrical information to flow) in the angular gyrus (that part of the brain related to language, number processing, spatial cognition, memory and attention) is not sufficiently developed until five to seven years of age. It develops in all children at different rates and in girls faster than boys.
Sometimes your five year old is just not ready for school and your young lad may not be ready until seven years of age. By that time they are in year two or three and maybe well behind at school. It is not that they cannot learn, it is just their brain was not ready for them to learn. They can catch up, but by this time they may need some assistance.
…that most learners will forget the last four weeks of learning over the six weeks of Christmas break? Pretty much everything learned in November is lost by the time they go back to school in January/February.
Six weeks is a long break from learning and I doubt young minds require so much recovery time. I come from a sports training background and know that such a break from training for a sports person would be detrimental to their ability to perform. That is why professional sports people do not take a break, they alter how they train. That is also why we run holiday tuition programs for our students; to keep their minds prepared for the next year.
It is not just the Christmas holidays that causes a disruption to learning. There appears to be so many events during the year that prevent our students building up momentum in in their learning progress. We have public holidays (about 12 days per year), school holidays (about 12 weeks per year), student free days (at least one after every school break), athletics sports day, swimming day, excursions to …., school camps (1 or 2 weeks per year), …
So, why do our students attend tuition during the school holidays? Because their parents believe education is the best method to open the doors to opportunity as we move through life.
There are five essential nutrients for effective brain function, and this includes memory. Many teenagers are low in iodine, as can be said about the general population. It is readily found in some seafood but if you do not eat seafood then you must obtain it from another source.
Decades ago the government placed iodine in table salt so that inland populations may have a non-seafood source of the nutrient. If your family eats salt then it may be beneficial to purchase iodised salt. Other nutrients are omega-3 (from oily fish), iron (meat), zinc (almonds) and the B vitamins.
Two herbs gaining respect for their ability to aid memory are Ginkgo biloba and gotu kola. Ginkgo increases blood flow and fluidity to the brain and improved circulation aides brain function.
The quality of food is so important. We do no good for our children when we give into their tantrums for low nutrient junk food. Be parents to your children now and their friends when they grow up.
Now before you go off collecting kindling to burn me for being a witch let’s have a look at how vitamin C can be considered brain food. The highest concentration of vitamin C in the body is found in the adrenal glands because it is required to make cortisol and adrenalin for conditions of stress. But the next highest concentration is found in the brain. Why would the brain require vitamin C? So the body may produce dopamine, serotonin and melatonin. Vitamin C helps to keep your sanity as well as your collagen intake.
Having a properly fuelled student goes a long way to producing good academic results. There are times a student will come to our tuition room tired and unmotivated. They are slow in movement and slow in thought when the previous week they were lively, animated and full of beans. How has such a difference come about in such a short time?
My first question to afternoon students is, “When did you last eat?”, whereas my second question is, “When did you last have a drink of water?” Lack of food (fuel) and lack of hydration are two factors that will bring about that feeling of being tired. Consuming water and a healthy snack before settling down to working the little grey cells will go a long way to helping a student concentrate during study time.
This week we will look at B vitamins and their role.
The chief function of B Vitamins is to act as spark plugs for the body to assist in converting glucose into energy for fuel. They are also vitally important for the functioning of a healthy nervous system and in helping to promote relaxation in stressed individuals. Very few vitamins are found in a packet of potato crisps and a can of coke. A person will literally obtain more miles out of a banana than soft drinks and chips.
The Eyes Have It When 5 + 1 = 5
Some students are behind at school through no fault of their own. They look at the work and do not understand what is going on. They ask themselves “Why am I the only person in this class who doesn’t get this?” Eventually they begin to believe “I must be a real dummy I just don’t understand why I keep getting this wrong!” Their self-confidence disintegrates and at times their behaviour will follow. After all “What is the point of turning up every day if I can’t learn this?”
What is happening with this student? What would happen if you saw the number zero as a one? For one thing sometimes five plus one will equal six and other times it will equal five. When you are in primary school and just learning about numbers and maths things will become confusing almost incomprehensible. You won’t understand why sometimes ten is ten and sometimes it is eleven. Everything will become an exercise in guess work for you. These students will also have trouble seeing decimal points and fractions are just another language when your eyes skip over the line between the numerator and denominator.
That’s just maths. When they read “was” can become “saw” and whole lines are skipped because the eyes didn’t see the line to read it. By the time they are Year 7 their reading comprehension is extremely low and there are gaps in their mathematics understanding because fractions and decimals don’t exist.
Eye Tracking issues occur when the two eyes do not move smoothly and accurately across a line or from word to word. The student will often lose their place while reading, skip lines, misread short words as in “was” and “saw” and cut off the beginnings and endings of words.
Eye tracking issues are usually corrected by visiting a Behavioural Optometrist who tests for the condition and prescribes glasses that are worn until the condition is corrected. Normal optometrists do not usually check or test for this condition so if your student has glasses and their school work has not improved it may be time to visit the specialist.
Kinaesthetic learner, Attention Deficit Disorder or hyperactivity, it doesn’t necessarily help the situation when you have a name for a particular behaviour. In fact some people resign from any responsibility for their actions when they are labelled. The problem is what can be done?
According to Henry Osiecki (B.Sc. Grad. Dip Nutr. & Dietetics) some symptoms of ADHD are similar to those of essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiencies. Behavioural and learning problems, tantrums and sleeping disorders are common to both. Supplementing with omega 3 has been shown to improve learning and concentration behaviour.
Other Nutritional Deficiencies in Learning – if your diet is inadequate then consider a quality multi-vitamin
The functions of the B vitamins in mental alertness and energy are well established.
EFA – Omega 3 & Omega 6
Introducing fish oil into a youngster’s diet may do wonders for concentration.
The functions of zinc and the immune system have been known for over 100 years. Knowledge of its other functions is relatively recent. Low levels of zinc are associated with low alertness, inability to think along abstract lines (learn a language e.g. English), mood and memory problems.
One of the most deficient minerals in the modern western diet. Low brain magnesium gives unrefreshed sleep, causes easy fatigue (important for the Krebs Cycle of energy production), poor concentration and daytime sleepiness.
Of course nothing replaces a good healthy eating habit.