Back to the Rule Book
Is the summer really over? We’ve certainly had enough sunshine to stock up our Vitamin D levels which should set us up for the cooler months ahead. A new school year is a great time to set goals for ourselves and our families; whether it’s trying to stay calm for the school run, relaxed at mealtimes or positive during homework. Let’s revisit some strategies that we looked at this time last year, to help make learning easier for your children and keep you focussed at work, easing the pressures of daily life.
On the move
Movement is essential for learning. As a baby we master the ability to move before any other skill and once we’ve cracked those big steps, it’s all about developing the fine motor skills. Young children are fascinated by picking up small things with a pincer movement and I remember a walk to the shops taking some time when my son was around three years old, as he would keep stopping to pick up a tiny pebble using just his thumb and his finger. This is all part of the integrating process in learning and developing through movement.
Focus the mind
Remember The Cross Crawl? This is an incredibly effective exercise used in Educational Kinesiology that can be practiced at home to help fire up the brain and get it working on all cylinders. In a standing position touch the right hand to the left knee and then the left hand to the right knee. As you rotate each hand swing it back as if you are walking on the spot ensuring you have good movement in the shoulders. Do this slowly for about a minute. As you cross your arms to alternate knees the activity of conscious walking on the spot helps stimulate both hemispheres of the brain. If you have primary school children, try to integrate this exercise into your daily routine for the next three weeks and you’ll see an improvement in their handwriting and reading. Make it fun and do it with them! If you’re having a brain block at work give it a go and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it clears your mind enabling you to refocus.
The most important meal of the day
Those good eating habits may have drifted over the holiday, but during term time a nutritious breakfast is essential in setting your family up for a productive day ahead. Starting the day with sugary foods will only result in a sudden crash a few hours later. We all know that shaky, irritated and tired feeling that comes soon after a high intake of sugar, which isn’t going to help your children mid-morning when they are trying to concentrate. Try making them a smoothie with natural yoghurt, fruit and something green; you can even prepare this the night before to save time. Eggs are also a great way to start the day; follow the same routine yourself and you will be amazed at your increased productivity at work.
Water, water and more water
It’s simple; drinking plenty of water will help with learning. Hydration increases concentration, energy levels and gives you that extra bit of vitality!
Try a digital detox day
Electronic devices such as smartphones and iPads are becoming increasingly part of childhood, but research shows that these should be used with caution; overuse can lead to learning or behavioural problems and lack of social interaction. If your child has their own electronic device, can they focus on a conversation without looking at it for 30 minutes? Many of us are guilty of it ourselves. Try a ‘digital detox’ day at the weekend and enjoy some family time together without the use of screens.
Kath’s tips for focussing the mind
- Try the cross crawl with your children before school every day for three weeks. It’s also very effective whilst they are learning spellings or times tables. Give it a go yourself when you are struggling to focus at work.
- Another great exercise to practice during learning is to throw a ball to each other whilst reciting times tables or spellings, it’ll certainly liven things up! Throwing a ball will also work wonders on older children to get their brain active and ready to think of new ideas.
- Taking a walk is very effective in helping older children to refocus or to clear your head during the working day.
- Avoid sugary cereals at breakfast. Make smoothies for you and your children with yoghurt, fruit and a leafy green vegetable; add some nuts or avocado as a great source of protein. An egg is also a great way to start the day.
- Drink plenty of water to feed the brain. If your child comes home from school exhausted give them a class of water to recharge. Keep a bottle on your desk during the day.
- Try a digital detox day, or put the smartphones away at the table so that you can enjoy family mealtimes together.