Sunday, 8 March 2015

Board Exams And The Teenager Brain

Supporting your young teenager during the ‘tussle’ of board exams and cricket world cup fever

By the time the child appears for the 10th or the 12th board the child is now a young adult and literacy is not the goal but complete education. So by this age your youngster would have inculcated certain required life skills like focus, concentration, and ability to stay away from distractions. The human brain goes through two phases of intense development, one stage is the period between birth and 6 years and the next stage is when the thinking brain or the executive brain develops and this is rapid between the age of 11 to 21 and beyond.
The thinking brain is that part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex and it is the only difference between the apes and us! So the thinking brain can perform and should perform executive brain functions, it is called executive because these are functions that youth will require in their career and life. So impulse control, ability to defer gratification, self-regulation all come under this category of executive brain functions. And these will all be tested because the board exams are clashing with the World Cup matches.

So now is the right time to test if your child is ready for executive brain functions and has his/her upbringing and education helped nurture his/her  brain or just their memory! With the cricket fever at its highest pitch will it impact your child’s learning, performance or will you and your child be able to swing this problem like  a googli and strike a six for performance?

·         So the child knows that there will be important matches during a particular exam- prepare ahead- plan ahead, study ahead.
·         The temptation to watch the match will be there- have self control- self-regulation and maybe decide that the child can take 15 breaks of his/her choice.
·         The child has his/her mobile phone, internet and will be tempted to cheat and watch it on that while showing you that he/she is studying well, tell the child ahead of time that this is also the test of his/her ‘smart brain’ – impulse control the ability to defer gratification which means to know that something is available within easy reach but to not take it because you care for your own success.
·         Remember there will be many world cups but this is your only chance to win the board exams. If young children’s executive brains understand this then the motivation to score well in spite of the matches will be an intrinsic goal and not have to be monitored by parents and schools.

So is your child equipped with executive brain functions? Time to examine your youngster’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 lets 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 lets 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

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 behavior and the last is freeze- also called brain fog- wherein everything that the brain knew is suddenly not recognized or remembered. The child just freezes unable to speak, think, understand, or react.
To avoid brain shut down, the amygdala needs to be deactivated during exam days, and this can be done in a variety of ways-
a.     Chamomile tea is good and calming, mothers should drink it! Because a calm mother will automatically calm the child.
b.    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.
c.     Help children do deep breathing, yoga during exam days. Avoid foods with high salt and sugar content.
d.    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. It would be like ‘running out’ your own team player!

If parents want their teenager to become a smart adult then it is time for parents to appeal to the teenage brain and for more such ideas check the work of Elkhonon Goldberg,(wikipedia) on


Ankita Suchak said...

Respected Ma`am,
Thank you very much for sharing such a wonderful article.It is really going to be helpful all the parents as during board exams parents as well as teenagers are disturbed.As a parent even I have passed through this phase with my kids.Ma`am you have wonderfully explained the way how to keep brain active & the RAD learning.

PJK Vadgaon said...

Thank you mam for explaining how to keep brain active and how to avoid brain shut down .

Archana Okhade said...

Thank You so much ma'am for sharing this important information with us , it will really help the parents of teenagers to create a new bonding with their teenager child and instead of nagging and screaming ,stress free environment can be created in the house using RAD learning techniques .
Thank You again .
Archana Okhade (PIE Aundh and Baner)

Viman Nagar Pjk said...

Thank you mam for such a wonderful blog as a mother of 4 year old daughter its a wake up call which help me understand how to brain feed and how brain can be taught to learn using RAD techniques.

Varsha Parab said...

It's a very informative blog for us as parents to understand the brain functions in every aspect of life. RAD techniques very easy to implement.
Thanks a lot for the same.

Varsha Parab said...

It's a very informative blog for us as parents to understand the brain functions in every aspect of life. RAD techniques very easy to implement.
Thanks a lot for the same.

Pjk Baroda said...

Respected Ma'am, On reading this blog the first thing that came to my mind is our tag line - Where learning comes full circle, Podar Jumbo Kids! Truly as you have reached out to help kids, and parents who are handling kids, older than those that we normally handle. Parents who follow your advice will definitely be able to handle the situation perfectly and in fact help their child as well. RAD learning is really RADICAL. Thank you, Ma'am.

PJK,Nigdi said...

Than you ma'am .Thank you for the guidance about The ability to defer gratification.

Abhaya K- PJK Bangalore-1 said...

It a very useful blog for everyone, which explain how we can teach our brain to learn and retain it. The blog also stresses the importance of keeping our mind calm and always positive in order to prevent the brain from shutting down.

Jumbo Kids Akola said...

Ma'am, it is really a wonderful article.It is very helpful to all of us as a teacher and as a parent.Actually this is the time when parents and children get hyper and disturbed due to pressure of exams.But the information shared is going to work as tonic for parents and kids for the preparation of exams.

Bhosari Pjk said...

Thank you ma'am,for sharing this wonderful article.This article is of great help to teachers & all parents.

jayshree shah said...

This article is a wonderful information about brain and its functioning and how to over come the brain antagonistic practices.and how to taught to brain to RAD learning.Thanks for sharing this article.

Jumbo Kids Nanded said...

Thank you for such a wonderful article which will really help parents for creating stress free environment and to be support for child.

pjkparbhani said...

As per my experience, reading helps us to enrich our knowledge and listening helps us to understand other's feelings. Both are a part of learning for a head. Yesterday one of our parent came to school and deeply thanked to respected Swati ma'am and PJK for sharing such a wonderful blog with all. He said, it was really require, as so many parents are not aware how to handle their children at this age group in situations; like exams and cricket world cup fever. Due to fast development in technology parents are became conscious about children's studies at one side and another side they doesn't know how to keep their children away from unwanted things. He said he was seeking guidance on parenting where he started to get at only PODAR JUMBO KIDS in a correct way. He was not able to comment on the blog as he did not join it, so he requested to share his views by commenting on behalf of him. I was impressed by listening his views and was happy to see our parents are ready to face the vast changes between two generations. This blog is not only helpful for teenager's parents but also for all the parents to improve their parenting skill.

nagpur jumbo kid said...

Very informative information parents need to work on it specially its very important for mothers to be composed and calm during exam days even if they are not saying it but anxiety is conveyed through Body language.RAD learning we have learned the new word.
yes sure ! we all can keep in mind

Jumbo Kids, Chakan said...

The information given in the article is definitely going to help us in supporting our children during exam time.RAD learning explained in the article will help all the parents dealing with their children during board exams.

Hema Mittal said...

Thank you so much ma'am for sharing such important information. RAD learning techniques would actually help students to achieve the best by being stress free and concentrating more. Exams would no longer be boring, strenuous and stressful. These techniques will make the students responsible and more organised and also help the parent to provide a stress free environment.

Pjk Bengaluru CBSE said...

The simple tips of the author to the parents to appeal the child's brain to be smarter through RAD learning is a spoonfeed to a parents

Pjk Bengaluru CBSE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pjk Bengaluru CBSE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PJK Vadgaonsheri 2 said...

thank you mam for sharing such a wonderful article this will help to all the parents

Ramola Menezes said...

I Ms. Ramola Menezes would like to thank you maa'm for sharing this informative article. Children go through a lot of stress during exams and it is very important for parents to be more calm because if they get hyper it will affect their children.