As the brain acquires new knowledge, the connections between the neurons become stronger, creating a more robust network and allowing the neurons to communicate more quickly. This is learning, and the more we rehearse a skill or piece of information, the quicker we are able to retrieve it and the easier it becomes.
Many children struggle with reading, but there are ways parents can help prevent reading difficulties.
Reading researcher, Dr Jennifer Buckingham estimates that as many as 1 million children in Australia are at risk of reading failure.
We know from scientific research that the ability to read is one of the most complex skills we can learn.
According to reading research organisations in Australia and overseas, including The Centre for Independent Studies in Australia, the National Reading Panel (USA), and the USA National Institute for Literacy, there are some critical skills for learning to read.
Too much sugar, especially from soft drinks, may damage your child’s learning ability and memory.
That’s the finding from a study of the diets of more than 1000 pregnant women and their children. The study included assessments of the children’s cognitive skills at ages 3 and 7.
This research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, suggests there may be learning benefits from reducing the sugar intake of women during pregnancy and limiting sugar consumption by their young children.
Key findings include:
A new Canadian study shows people who read aloud are able to remember more.
This finding has implications both for older people and for students.
According to Medical News Today researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada put 95 people into four groups who:
- Read silently
- Listened to someone else read
- Listened to a recording of themselves reading
- Read out loud in real time.
The people in the group which read out loud had the best recall. Those who read silently remembered the least.
These days, we’ve come to understand that we can train our brains.
Obviously, the physical benefits of exercise have been preached and promoted for years now. Funny thing is, it seems that exercise also helps our brains.
The combination of these two forms of training, mind and body, benefit our brains more than if one or the other is undertaken.
Turns out, physical exercise actually serves to improve memory, says a study conducted by the University of Texas Dallas.
Mimma Mason is the Cogmed Manager for Pearson Australia, and has previously explained working memory on the Learning Capacity podcast.
But she also spends much of her time helping people understand the emerging field of educational neuroscience. Is it another band wagon, or pop science?
We’ve asked this question before, and it seems like the consistent message is that educational neuroscience is now increasingly informing educational practice and research.
So if it’s for real, how do we implement it? And what does this mean for future teacher education and professional development?
Mimma helps us understand what to make of it all in a discussion on the Learning Capacity podcast.
Listen to the podcast episode:
What is working memory and what happens if your working memory is weak?
Mimma Mason, Cogmed Manager for Pearson Australia, explains that students with poor working memory find learning much harder.
Mimma spends much of her time raising awareness of working memory and its relationship to learning. Most of us might easily relate to long term memory, what we did a while back, or short term memory, like what we did yesterday.
But do we give enough time to thinking about working memory? That’s what’s going on when we get exposed to new things, and it’s a critical part of the learning process.
Mimma Mason explained working memory to the Learning Capacity Podcast, and spoke about how we can develop it.
Listen to the podcast episode:
At a recent neuroscience conference in the USA, I heard Dr Martha Burns give a wide-ranging talk summarising the latest neuroscience research about learning and learning disorders. She related the latest research findings to how the Fast ForWord & Reading Assistant programs improve language skills, reading and learning capacity for many children.
Dr Burns is a neuroscientist, author of over 100 journal articles and multiple books, and a leading expert on how children learn. Her talk covered topics including autism, attention & listening skills, working memory, self-regulation & cognitive control, dyslexia, intelligent tutoring systems, the neuroscience of learning, goal setting, and what's next for neuroscience.
"Working memory is vitally important for learning. But it is important to remember that memory and attention aren't subclinical skills, they are actually part of what we call executive function. They are part of what matures as you get older that enables you to be effective and goal oriented. They are the part of what makes a student an effective student, a successful student.", said Dr Martha Burns in a recent presentation.
Dr Martha Burns is a neuroscientist, author of over 100 journal articles and multiple books, and a leading expert on how children learn.
Here is a summary of what she said in her presentation.
Children today are doing much less handwriting than children did 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Before computers became commonplace, handwriting was much more important for everyone. Back then schools put considerable time and attention on making sure students developed their handwriting.
I recall entering cursive handwriting competitions when I was a young child (I went to primary school in the 1950s), and the sense of pride for the kids who were judged the neatest writers.
Now, typing on computers and tablets is replacing the act of writing by hand for many students (and adults).
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