School starts next Tuesday, which means your child may feel an abrupt start to the school year.
As excited or unsettled as returning students may feel, they probably won’t escape from the scientific phenomenons linked to academic learning.
Called brain plasticity, the human brain adapts to changing situations throughout the course of life. Children’s brains are especially prone to change because brains are more malleable in the earlier stages of life. This means that your child’s brain will undergo significant physical and chemical changes–once again–starting next Tuesday, thanks to school.
But what exactly happens to the brain during learning? Click on the link below to find out.
Learning a foreign language
Learning a foreign language can create more grey matter in a child’s brain. Grey matter contains nerves that help create responses to chemical stimuli (e.g. learning new material). Studies have shown that the amount of grey matter in the brain may be correlated to a person’s IQ level. This means that foreign language instruction not only develops brain and learning capacity, but it may also raise your child’s IQ.
Writing in cursive
Learning cursive develops the part of the brain involved in sensation, movement, and thinking. Multiple regions are co-activated in the brain when writing in cursive because cursive is physically and cognitively more demanding than print. Because cursive requires a broader store of letter-recognition and motor skills, it especially develops the brain’s capacity to function with optimal efficiency.
If your child’s school does not incorporate handwriting into the curriculum, Zaner-Bloser is a major publishing company with resources to help students learn cursive.
Different preference, different brain
Students have varying interests. Some prefer learning math, others prefer art. Regardless of the interest, your child’s being an expert in one area of the curriculum will cause significant development (i.e. making regions of the brain more complex and adult-like) in specific areas of the brain.
For example, grey matter area is largest in musicians and those learning a musical instrument (as opposed to those who are not learning to play an instrument). Another example is that the posterior region of the hippocampus (responsible for acquiring and using spatial information) may be largest in those better at sports and maneuvering through physical spaces. The implication is that your child doesn’t have to be the best at everything for the brain to become optimally sophisticated–just help them find an interest.
The Multiple Intelligences Theory
Despite how your child learns best and what he or she prefers to be most engaged in, most schools are adapted to fit the different learning styles of students.
The framework, called Multiple Intelligences (Howard Gardner, 1983), recognizes that there are different types of learners and “smarts” in the classroom, especially as children grow older and specific regions of their brains develop more than others. As a result, many schools require that teachers differentiate lessons to tailor to these learning styles (i.e. musical, visual, verbal, mathematical, physical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic). Take initiative and let your child’s teacher know what type of learner your child is at the start of the year–just make sure it’s on paper.