Category: Parenting

7 Myths About the Brain that Might Surprise You

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  1. MYTH: You’re either left-brained or right-brained.
    This long-standing myth has been debunked. There is no evidence that people preferentially use one side of their brain more.2. MYTH: Cognitive decline is not impacted by choices or circumstances.
    We now understand that there are lots of things you can do that appear to fight cognitive decline: exercise, social interaction, good nutrition, brain stimulation and one-on-one brain training.

    3. MYTH: IQ cannot be changed.
    We now know the brain is “plastic,” that is, capable of changing at any age. And since IQ is simply a measurement of cognitive skills, stronger abilities translate into higher IQ.

    4. MYTH: Brain size determines intelligence.
    On average, the male brain is about 10 percent larger than the female brain, but it has nothing to do with intelligence.

    5. MYTH: Alcohol kills brain cells.
    It’s not that brain cells are being killed off by excessive alcohol consumption, it’s that the dendrites (which help cells communicate) are being damaged.

    6. MYTH: Some people are just destined to be bad at math.
    Struggles with math, called “dyscalculia,” are often caused by weak cognitive skills, which can be trained. Brain training works on the skills needed to learn, process and recall math-related information—such as visual processing, working memory and logic & reasoning.

    7. MYTH: Dyslexia is about reading letters backwards.
    Dyslexia simply means “trouble with words” and even smart kids can be dyslexic. In people with dyslexia, the weakest cognitive skills are often phonemic awareness and auditory processing, although other areas may suffer as well. Personal brain training can target and train these weak skills.

Who’s to Blame for a Bad Report Card?

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Report cards.

Seldom have two words caused such anxiety for both students and parents. For some, poor grades can reflect feelings of inadequacy (as a student or a parent), worries about being held back a grade, or fears of not getting into a good college.

Who’s to blame for learning struggles?

For parents, these feelings can manifest as blame: blaming their child, their child’s teacher, and/or themselves. And while many people assume that less-than-stellar grades are a reflection of poor teaching, lack of intelligence, student laziness, or poor parenting, these assumptions are almost always untrue.

The truth is that bad report cards are not a reflection of IQ. In fact, many struggling learners have higher-than-average IQ scores. IQ assessments measure an average of the combined strength of all our cognitive skills—the underlying tools we need to successfully focus, think, prioritize, plan, understand, visualize, remember, solve problems, and create useful association. These skills include things like attention, visual and auditory processing, memory, logic & reasoning, and processing speed.

It’s very common for a student to have an average or above-average IQ score and a learning problem at the same time. For example, a child who struggles with reading may have a severe deficiency in sound blending and phonemic awareness (two sub skills of auditory processing), and be well above average in other cognitive abilities. When you lump it all together, it’ll look like there’s no problem because the IQ score is average (or even above-average. In fact, that high score is masking what could be a serious problem.

What about genetics?

It’s not surprising that parents who struggled in school themselves often experience anxiety over their children’s report cards. Concerns may stem from parents’ hoping that their children get better grades than they did. Parents may also fear that they’ve somehow genetically passed on their learning struggles to their offspring.

Certainly, genetics can contribute to a small part of learning struggles (like some reading difficulties); but the majority of learning struggles are simply the result of weak cognitive skills. In a way that is good news, since weak cognitive skills can be targeted, trained, and strengthened. They are not “set in stone.”

So how do you strengthen weak cognitive skills?

Cognitive skills training (also known as “personal brain training”) incorporates immediate feedback, intensity and loading, among other features. The most effective brain training starts with a cognitive skills assessment to identify weak skills, then uses customized programs of fun, intense mental exercise to strengthen those weak skills.

Unlike tutoring, which is academics-based, brain training is skills-based. While tutoring can be effective when a student has fallen behind in specific subjects (such as history) due to an illness, injury, or family move, cognitive training targets the underlying skills needed to perform tasks (like reading) that make learning easier in any subject.

If your child is struggling in school, take the first step toward helping your child become a more confident learner by having his or her cognitive skills assessed. Cognitive testing usually takes an about an hour, and can pinpoint the weak skills that are making learning (and life!) harder than it needs to be. Click on the link below to find a LearningRx center near you and speak with someone about scheduling a cognitive assessment.

Pavlov’s Tween: Why Adolescence is the Perfect Time to do Brain Training

New research published in Nature Communications has found that adolescents’ brains react more responsively to receiving rewards. (If you’re curious, the World Health Organization defines adolescence as the period between the ages of 10 and 19.)

Although this strong reward system can lead to risky behavior, it can also be used to make learning easier. It’s something that we at LearningRx have been putting to work in our personal brain training programs for decades. Read more here:

3 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem

February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month

3 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Do you have a son who is so incredibly shy that the first day of school is enough to wreak havoc on his digestive tract? Or a daughter who you worry won’t make friends due to her constant fear of meeting new people? If so, you’re not alone.

While some scientists may argue that shyness is often due to genetic predisposition, many psychologists will point to strong experiential factors. The first may bring up some feelings of empathy; if you were a shy child there’s always the possibility that some of that was passed down. The latter of the two can often be explained by past experiences of rejection or fears of future failure.

But there is good news. For children and teens who suffer from shyness, there are three major steps that parents can take to help:

New Year, New Student!

Start the year off right with improved study habits

Returning to school after the long holiday break can be tough, but now is the time to set routines that will stick for the rest of the school year. If your child is struggling in school, it’s possible that stronger study skills could make a difference in his or hearing learning success. There are ways you can help your child develop more effective study habits.

Encourage your child to put the following suggestions into practice:

Set daily and weekly goals.Help your child developdaily and weekly plans, as well as ways to measure their success. Write these goals down, either on paper or digitally.Here are some examples of questions your child should ask himself on a regular basis:

  • “What do I want to accomplish this week?”
  • “What are my goals for today?”
  • “Did I meet yesterday’s goals?”
  • “What kept me from meeting those goals?”
  • “What can I do differently today to help me better meet my goals?”

Stop multitasking.Is your childstuck at the kitchen table for hours trying to study while checking Facebook,texting friends, or making multiple trips to the kitchen for snacks? If so, your child is training his or her brain to dawdle. Instead, show your child how to teach his or her brain to work hard for set periods of time. One way to do this is to use a timer. Start by having your child turnoff any mobile devices and close distracting browsers. (You might also have your child finish any snacking so he or she can focus fully on studying.) Then set the timer and get started. When that timed session is over, have your child take a break. After the break, set the timer again and dive in. If at first all your child can do is fifteen minutes at a stretch, that’s fine—build up over time. The point is training your child’s brain to study, not dawdle.

Choose a couple of good study habits and practice them for a month. Experts in the formation of new and lasting habits suggest committing to two or three desired changes for a period of a month. Focusing on a few changes over the course of thirty days allows time and practice for that new change to become an integrated part of your routine. In other words, if you want help your child develop better study habits, have him pick two or three habits he wants to develop, and focus on making them an integral part of his study protocol for 30 days.

Take better notes in class.When a child sits down to study and discovers that his or her class notes are incomplete or difficult to follow, that child is simply not going to be able to accomplish what he or she needs to accomplish. Encourage your child to take complete and legible notes in class. You might start by reviewing current class notes and making suggestion on how they could be improved. Some experts say a great study tip is to rewrite class notes at home. Those notes will not only be better organized and easier to follow, the repetition will make remembering the concepts easier.

Train the skills your child’s brain uses to think and learn.Something else you can do as a parent is enroll your child in a cognitive training program. Cognitive skills are the core skills your child’s brain uses to think and learn, and when these skills are strong,learning is easier.

LearningRx is a brain training company with more than 80 centers across the United States. LearningRx uses intense mental exercise done one-on-one with a personal brain trainer to strengthen cognitive skills. These skills include attention, long and short-term memory, auditory processing, visual processing, processing speed, and logic & reasoning.

LearningRx helps children and adults of all ages. To find out if LearningRx brain training can help your child learn faster and easier, contact a LearningRx brain training center near you.