Study Finds Cognitive Training to Still Be Effective 10 Years After Completion

According to a study supported by the National Institute of Health training to improve cognitive abilities in older people lasted in some degree 10 years after the program was completed.

Commit-yourself-to-lifelong-learningThe results were particularly strong in correlation with those who receive training in reasoning and processing speed. The study suggests we should continue to pursue cognitive training as an intervention that might help maintain the mental abilities of older people so they can remain independent and active in their communities. This study proves it´s never too late to improve your cognitive abilities.

Click here to read the entire article about this study http://www.nia.nih.gov/newsroom/2014/01/cognitive-training-shows-staying-power

If you or your child is struggling in these area gives us a call today at (210) 495-2626, or

JOIN US and other parents at our Parent Information Meetings on Tuesday nights at 7:00 pm. This is an opportunity to ask questions and explore possibilities about how to best help your bright but struggling child.

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How Brain Based Learning Can Change Your Child’s Life

A mom recently asked,

“My son is frustrated with math, and our daughter complains that she has to re-read everything to understand it. I’m trying to figure out what they need and where to take them for help.”

The road to academic success is often paved with more than tutoring. For example, extra help on a specific math concept your son has a hard time getting  might be all he needs. However, when tutoring is not enough, maybe the real problem is working memory, focused attention, auditory processing, logic and reasoning or thinking speed. With a ‘brain-based learning’ approach, you can correct these issues and improve your child’s ability to learn math.

An evaluation determines the underlying deficient issue (cognitive, developmental or academic). The brain is trained in one on one sessions. Then, the student is ready to 1) pay attention to the learning experience, 2) keep information and concepts in working memory long enough to retain them in long-term memory, 3) quickly get and process that concept, and 4) apply what was learned to reading, writing, or math. So, brain-based learning is training the brain to develop new and efficient skills.

If you are thinking, I need to re-read that last paragraph to better understand it, does that mean you need tutoring in reading? Maybe not, though that is often the assumption when students say they have to re-read information to understand. If the real issue is memory, then improving memory will help much more than tutoring in reading. If the real issue is attention, then developing her brain’s ability to lock on to the material all the way to the end of the paragraph will be the key. Your daughter may need brain-based learning to BE READY to develop actual reading and comprehension skills.

So, it is vital to use a program designed to address YOUR child’s specific issues.  Discovering your children’s real learning needs and developing weak skills will help them prepare today for success in school, college and career tomorrow.

Email questions or concerns about your child’s learning struggles at info@learningfoundations.us or visit www.learningfoundations.us to learn more about brain-based learning.

Dyscalculia: Dyslexia’s Ugly Twin

Dyscalculia: Dyslexia’s Ugly Twin

“Effective early intervention may help to reduce the later impact on poor numeracy skills, as it does in dyslexia. Although very expensive, it promises to repay 12 to 19 times the investment”    Prof. Brian Butterworth; Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London

  • New research in the May issue of the Journal Science describes Dyscalculia as a condition in which learners struggle with basic arithmetic and understanding the meaning and concepts of numbers.
  • Dyscalculia, like dyslexia is inherited and affects about 5 to 7 percent of the population, and is often present alongside dyslexia or ADHD.  It is common in learners with average to above average intelligence.
  • People with dyscalculia have a very difficult time with the sequence and relative values of numbers, which also affect their ability to understand time and money.
  • Early diagnosis and intervention are extremely important in helping students with dyscalculia to learn Math in ways they understand.  Multisensory arithmetic programs such as Touch Math have shown to significantly strengthen children’s ability to learn addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Although it is socially acceptable to admit having trouble with math, the difficulties that dyscalculics have with arithmetic are far beyond age appropriate levels.  This does NOT mean that they are stupid, or that they have trouble with ALL kinds of math.  In fact, it is quite common for someone with dyscalculia to excel in geometry, upper level physics or statistics.

To learn more about an easy to use program that will help your child memorize Multiplication facts almost instantly, visit Times Tales for a free demo video on this amazing program. 

Watch the Times Tales DVD Video

How to Make Learning Easier – Parents the First Line of Defense Against Learning Disabilities

How to Make Learning Easier – Parents the First Line of Defense Against Learning Disabilities

“Children who learn differently or with difficulty need our help to tap into their full intellectual potential.”

Dr. Stanley Greenspan; Author of “The Learning Tree: Overcoming Learning Disabilities From the Ground Up.”

  • A recent poll by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation shows an alarming lack of knowledge by most parents and educators about learning disabilities and their underlying causes.
  • Learning Difficulties such as attention deficit, hyperactivity and speech problems are usually a symptom of a neurological interference rather than a diagnosis.
  • Neurological interferences lead to auditory processin problems, as well as  problems in reading, writing, math and motor movement.
  • Children with good memories can get by unnoticed in the early grades but usually hit a wall when they reach 4th or 5th grade and are expected to learn more abstract concepts.
  • With the early intervention of parents, and a cooperative effort between teachers and learning specialists, your child will be able to realize his/her full intellectual potential.

 “The solution is to identify the essential sensory or processing skills that need to be strengthened. For example a child may have a very strong visual memory–if you show her a series of cards, she’ll readily remember the picture and words written under them–but she may have poor visual-spacial processing. Some children may have motor problems but be very good with abstract visual problem-solving.”

Tips for Teachers – Brain Based Learning

Beyond the lesson plan: Brain-based learning

By Jennifer R. Lloyd – Express-News

 

Teens in Martin Alvarez’s math class at Edison High School might have been surprised when they were told to ditch their graphing calculators for an outdoor math exercise.

To bring a lesson to life last year, Alvarez instructed students to stand as coordinates on a massive grid and hold hands to form a giant version of the graph.

Alvarez is among the local educators leaving behind some textbook lesson plans. They’re presenting an active learning process using techniques based on cognitive science. Teachers say students who are mentally, emotionally or physically engaged through an experience might understand the underlying concepts more easily.

The push toward what some call brain-based learning popped up in summer workshops, teacher development sessions and administrative directives.

While redesigning a lesson plan may be one approach, another brain-friendly tactic is simple: Keep students from dehydrating. Research has shown that dehydration can impair cognitive performance and affect mood.

However, some best practices for the brain are more difficult to incorporate in a typical school day when much of school culture revolves around accountability ratings.

Creating brainiacs

During the summer, about 200 educators in the Harlandale Independent School District experienced brain-based learning firsthand as they joined in a fast-paced scavenger hunt all while becoming acquainted with neuroscience research and teaching techniques from expert Eric Jensen.

Between activities meant to engage workshop participants, Jensen spoke about using brain-based techniques with students from impoverished backgrounds. Research has shown that socioeconomic status is associated with childhood achievement. He emphasized helping students cope with stress, learn appropriate emotional responses and increase cognitive stimulation.

What these teachers may not have realized was the basis for these strategies stretches back to experiments half a century ago.

Leslie Owen Wilson, professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point School of Education, said brain-based learning can trace its origins to the Split Brain Experiments of the 1960s, in which scientists discovered that the two brain hemispheres had different functions. But, neuroscience research has been slow to diffuse into classroom settings, said Wilson, who is based in Austin and is teaching an online course on the topic this fall.

“Generally, teachers teach the way that they were taught,” said Wilson, who added that an administrator who adopts brain-friendly policies can ease the transition.

For students to retain learning, they must practice, talk about and act upon the information, Wilson said.

“A lot of kids physically have to do something in order to ingrain the learning at a permanent level,” Wilson said. “That takes a great deal of time and teaching artistry and, you know, it’s not on the test.”

Using new techniques

Melva Matkin said that when she became principal of Esparza Accelerated Elementary School in the Northside Independent School District more than 20 years ago, most students were functioning below grade level on standardized tests.

“We knew something had to change,” she said.

Matkin’s formula for creating an “enriched” learning environment included asking teachers to stay current on cognitive research and to use students’ emotional states to optimize learning and behavior management.

For instance, students might hear classical music playing during lunch. Matkin has observed that classical music calms students. The few times someone has slipped the wrong CD into the player, she’s seen the kids get really revved up.

She has also advised teachers to cater to students’ multiple intelligences. This translates to students building a diorama of the Alamo for history class — an activity that would appeal to their spatial intelligence — rather than just reading about the Alamo.

In North East Independent School District, the push toward brain-based learning is coming, in part, from the physical education and health department. There Rachel Naylor, assistant director for physical education, health and athletics, said teachers began incorporating brain breaks into classes last year.

“It could be anything from standing up, stretching, breathing and sitting back down, to going outside for a walk,” Naylor said.

Strategies that work movement into the school day boost blood flow to the brain and can create a domino effect that affects learning, quality of life and, potentially, test scores, Naylor said. A preliminary NEISD analysis from the 2008-09 school year found that obese middle school students had lower passing rates on both the reading and math portions of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills tests than students with a healthy weight.

Overcoming challenges

Rather than lecturing to quiet lackluster learners, teachers may have to adapt to a classroom cacophony — a potential side effect of having engaged students — according to local educators who have made the switch.

But aside from managing energized students, there are other impediments to using brain-based learning techniques.

For instance, educators must first understand the scientific research to translate it into classroom practices, Wilson said.

Another downside is the amount of time it takes to teach using these tactics.

“If I zip through a textbook or indulge in round-robin reading, I can say I covered that material, but I can’t with any certainty say a child learned it,” Wilson said.

Alvarez said he found time management to be an issue when he took students outside to practice graphing, an activity that took twice as long as expected.

“There’s no other way, sometimes, to get through a lesson besides notes and lecture because there are time constraints,” Alvarez said.

Matkin acknowledges that brain-based learning is not a quick fix.

Though the success of these initiatives can be difficult to measure comparatively, Matkin pointed out that Esparza, a school of about 750 students, received an exemplary rating in the 2010 Texas accountability ratings.

Brain-based learning is “a philosophy and approach to education that’s kid-friendly and it’s, frankly, teacher-friendly,” the principal said. “It is not an easy way to teach, but it is a fun way to teach.”