Did you know that the brain can be taught to learn?
Parenting expert Swati Popat Vats tells you how you can work in improving your child's memory and retention power during exam time.
It's exam season. Time to examine our children’s ‘brain feed’ to check if it is brain antagonistic or brain relevant. Parents want smart children and teachers want smart learners. Then if the aim is same let's focus on that body organ that can achieve this goal for us- the brain.
All learning and memory is in the correct functioning of the brain. Did you know that the brain can be taught to learn? And did you know that during exam time there are certain practices that can actually destroy the learning and memory capacity of the brain? These are called brain antagonistic practices.
So let's understand how to ‘brain feed’ and how the brain can be taught to learn. It is called RAD learning.
R= Reticular activating system, A= amygdala and D= Dopamine
Reticular activating system simply means stimulus for the eyes, the less stimulus for the eyes the more they will droop, blink, and faze out, unable to concentrate, unable to focus. So, it is important during learning and exam time to use flash cards to revise, these flashcards can have relevant paragraphs, diagrams and acronyms.
As each flash card changes, the retina gets its stimulation and the reticular activating system sends positive stimulus to the brain. These days there are many apps available that also help them do this in a jiffy.
studyBlue is a fantastic app that allows kids to prepare memory cards from their notes to test themselves, it also helps them see 30 of the top cards created by others and helps them compete with peers and check scores. cheggFlashcards, another app also has similar features.
Fight, Flight or Freeze
Amygdala is a small almond-shaped part in our brain. It is on the left and right brain and it is the emotional checkpoint of the brain. All information, stimulus, learning that we receive through any of our senses has to pass through the amygdala. So it is like a security check of our brain.
The minute it perceives any danger, threat or stress then the amygdala shuts the brain down immediately and then the brain triggers the primitive brain that can have only 3 reactions- Fight, Flight or Freeze.
Flight means you want to flee from the situation at any cost, you don’t want to face it. Children will fake illness, cry, and fall sick to avoid exams if stressed out. Fight means resorting to aggression, violence against others or oneself to avoid facing the situation. Taking drugs, cheating, not wanting to appear for exams, running away from home, reaching school late are all signs of fight
Taking drugs, cheating, not wanting to appear for exams, running away from home, reaching school late are all signs of fight behaviour and the last is freeze- also called brain fog- wherein everything that the brain knew is suddenly not recognised or remembered. The child just freezes unable to speak, think, understand, or react.
How to deactivate the brain
To avoid brain shut down, the amygdala needs to be deactivated during exam days, and this can be done in a variety of ways-
- Chamomile tea is good and calming, mothers should drink it! Because a calm mother will automatically calm the child.
- Avoid ‘hyperness’ creating words or facial expressions or tone of voice when referring to study time or exams. The amygdala will catch on and send the brain for a shutdown.
- Help children do deep breathing, yoga during exam days. Avoid foods with high salt and sugar content.
- Take brain breaks during studies. Important that the brain takes a break every hour for at least 15 minutes of maybe TV time, or just simple relaxing.
Dopamine- it is a chemical that the brain thrives on. Most drugs taken by drug addicts have a high content of dopamine. No we are not asking you to give drugs to your child. Dopamine is naturally released in our brains when we are happy and positive.
So if you do what is given above then it does not trigger amygdala but instead triggers dopamine in the brain which will help your child’s brain become alert and focused which means better learning, retention and memory. All leading to exam success.
So RAD learning is the secret ‘brain feed’ for every child during exam time. It does not cost much but its impact is on the emotional and cognitive health of your child.
RAD learning is a brain-compatible practice every family should adopt during exams. After brain antagonistic practices will destroy the very organ that is required during exams. So let's rally together for RAD learning.
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