16
Mar

Love Your Brain!

With 4 school aged children in both primary and high school, I am very passionate about how to support children’s brains in learning. hence I have developed a program called ‘Love Your Brain’.

Our brains are just like any other muscle in our body, it needs to be exercised and looked after to function at its optimum level.

What can I do to help support my children’s brain in learning???

  • Water and lots of it! Check out my previous blog on the importance of water.
  • Make sure they are eating food high in protein (at every meal), check out my previous blog here on protein.
  • Encourage them to do brain exercises, check out my previous blog on some simple brain exercises.
  • Allow for relaxation time, time for the brain to unwind and relax. I love talking my kids through a gentle meditation before they go off to sleep.
  • Ensure they are getting enough sleep. Sleep is when the brain repairs itself, develops and allows it to relax a be ready for another day at school.
  • Have fun with my kids. As much as learning and discipline is important it is just as important that our brains have fun, to allow for our feel good endorphins to be released within our bodies.
  • Keep out additives, colourings, flavourings and preservatives from their diets. These are artificial products and can cause the brain to go either hyper, confused or anxious.
  • Lots of love and guidance. Some of the basic needs of our children are to feel safe and loved, if they do not feel this then their brains will not function as calmly and effectively as possible.

It does seem like a lot of things to do for our children’s brain, yet it really is not and I am sure you are already doing a few of these points.

It is about seeing your child’s brain as a focus and nurturing it through these different points.

Based on these points I will be running a webinar called ‘Love Your Brain’. It is a 1 hour webinar containing lots of information about how you can help improve the function of your child’s brain. These webinars are very informative and a must for all parents and teachers. To register for this ‘must see’ webinar please click here.

Until my next blog, enjoy your children and don’t forget to Love their Brains!

Signature -Debbie

 

18
Sep

Improve The Function Of Your Brain

Brain exercises are an important way to maintain and improve brain function. Brain Gym are physical exercises that stimulate different areas of the brain and help the brain to be function calmly. When the brain is calm it is much more effective in its ability to do things with ease.

 

Brain exercises are really effective with children and their learning. They are also equally effective in adults and in maintaining their brain health and brain activity. If we do not use our brains then we will lose its ability to do things. Our brain are amazing as they can be changed and taught how to do things. It just takes practice and repetition.

 

Here are the main 4 brain exercises for you to practice on a daily basis:

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Water – water is vital for brain function. When we become dehydrated (even just a little) our thinking becomes foggy and tired.

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Brain Button – This is a stimulation point for the brain. It is great for eye tracking, processing of sensory information, enhanced energy level, hand-eye co-ordination.

Simply rub on the sternum (as shown in picture), then hold your opposite hand still on your belly button. Rub for 30 seconds and then swap your hands over to repeat using the opposite hands.

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Crosscrawling – Improves the communication between the left and right side of the brain (logic and gestalt areas). It is great for whole body co-ordination and increased learning capabilities.

This is a marching on the spot brain exercise. Using the opposite arm and leg to cross over the midline of the body to touch one another (elbow to knee). Continue marching for 1-2 minutes.

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Hook-ups – Are a relaxing and energizing exercise. They are great for emotional calm and self-esteem. Especially good for improving attentiveness as it encourages the brain to be calm and focused.

This brain exercise is broken down in 2 parts. The first part is cross your hand and feet over (as shown in diagram) and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Hold this position for 30-40 seconds (remembering to breathe). The second part is to place your feet flat on the floor with your finger tips touching and your tongue on the bottom of your mouth (as shown in diagram). Hold this position for 30-40 seconds (remembering to breathe).

Give them a try on yourself and your children. These are best done in the morning each day before work or school begins. They are a great way to wake up the brain!

This is an excerpt from my “Ignite Your Possibilities” eCourse, Self-Care Made Easy section. For more information, click here.

Until my next blog, enjoy your children.

Signature -Debbie

19
Jul

Primitive Reflexes

Recently I had a very interesting 2 days attending the “Drawing the Withdrawn” course. It was about integrating primitive reflexes in children. Primitive reflexes are the survival instincts and unconscious movements that a child is born with, like the startle reflex, sucking reflex or bonding reflex (just to name a few).

Reflexes are jerky and uncontrolled movements that are made from the brain stem. They are the automatic movements that a baby makes on sensory stimulation, like skin contact. A baby will develop these in utero and are needed once the baby is born to allow for a smooth transition into the world. As a baby develops these reflexes are then integrated into controlled and conscious movements, which access more mature parts of brain.

It is very important for a baby to go through the developmental process of integrating these reflexes into smooth and controlled movements. If a reflex is not integrated then it can lead to physical and emotional stress. These primitive reflexes can also redevelop in our lives after a stressful period – as we resort to the unconscious safe mode.  Have you ever found yourself after a stressful period resorting to your fight or flight mode – without thought?

In relation to learning if these primitive reflexes are still present in a child, then they will not be able to embrace learning as their brain is still in the primitive and unconscious movement stage. When our brain develops out of these reflexes, it stimulates higher parts of the brain, therefore allowing for learning to occur easier.

This also affects a child’s self-confidence level as if the child does not feel safe and secure within themselves then they lack the ability to feel comfortable in a new situation or new learning.

All in all it is very important that we aware of these reflexes in ourselves and our children, especially as our children are developing and growing. As until a baby feels safe and secure in the world, they will hold onto these unconscious movements, as it represent safety for them.

Until my next blog, enjoy your children.

Debbie

xo

29
May

Brain Exercises

In previous blogs I have talked about “whole brain learning” and how important it is for the left and right side of the brain to be involved in any type of learning. Today I want to talk about how I have been putting “whole brain learning” into action in my daughter’s prep classroom and how you can put it into action for your children in your own household.

I recently had an opportunity to do brain exercises in my daughter’s prep classroom each morning. I found this to be very interesting. Interesting because of the way the 24 children all responded differently to the brain exercises. Some children found the exercises very difficult and others found them very easy! Each week I created a new set of brain exercises for the children to do to music, that way the children had 5 days straight to get used to the new exercise and each day they got better at them.

One of the exercises I used was one that requires the children to cross their midline (imagine a line that runs down the centre of your body from following the line of your nose). The children had perfected the standard exercise of this one quite quickly so I decided to mix it up a bit and add in another version of this exercise. The new exercise required the children to cross their midline behind their bodies, so they were kicking their legs out behind them and touching each foot with their opposite hand. Wow what a challenge this proved to be with the children. I was surprised that the children found this difficult when they found the first exercise quite easy. 

I also found interesting that the children really benefited from a calming and centering exercise, which I would put at the end of a set of exercises each day. On one particular Monday morning the children were scattered during pray time with the teacher needing to ask the children to settle down a few times. After we completed the brain exercises, including the calming and centering exercise the whole classroom seemed to quieten down. This reiterated to me how important it is for children to learn in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, which will enable children to learn more effectively and easily.

This all just adds to the notion and importance of getting a child’s brain ready for learning. Now what can you do for your children at home to help with their learning? It can be done with simple brain exercises (as I have explained in my “Whole Brain Learning” blog), drinking water, diet / nutrition and your child’s emotional state. So even if it is by just encouraging your child to drink more water or eat extra protein then we can all make a start in helping our children to become more effective learners. 

Until my next blog, enjoy your children.

Debbie

xo

8
May

Whole brain learning

In my previous two blogs I have given you a brief overview of the left and right hemispheres of our brain. Now in this blog, I want to discuss with you the importance of Whole Brain learning (left and right hemisphere together).

In the past it was thought that the left brain was only used for logic and reason and the right brain was only used for imagination and sensory experiences, but today with all the recent research that is been done on the brain it has now been proved that the left hemisphere and right hemisphere do not work independently they actually work together in each and every activity we do daily. For example a young baby who is using their senses to feel a new object, their right hemisphere is stimulated with the sensory information but their left hemisphere is also stimulated as it will code this new information as a blueprint for future use – for example that Teddy Bear is soft and safe, it is okay to touch it next time.

Most people tend to have a dominant side of their brain, and they will tend to process information using their dominant side. This doesn’t mean that individuals only use half their brain, it just reflects a balance in the right and left hemisphere when processing information and performing activities. Learning and thinking are enhanced when both sides of the brain are used in a balanced manner. For full integrated and balanced learning to occur we need our left and right hemisphere to work in conjunction with one another.

From just this information, i am sure you can understand how important it is for both the right side and left side of our brain to be working in conjunction with one another. In my kinesiology practice I have found that one of the major issues in children’s learning and emotional well being is that the left side and right side of their brain do not actually work together. This makes it hard for children to be creative in their thinking rather than just been focused on a past event or it allows them to put reason into an emotional issue. This will also make learning more stressful as it will take up more energy to observe and remember the information.

At home you can do simple brain exercises for your children by encouraging them to cross over their midline (centre of their bodies drawing a line from their nose down) and using the left side and right side of their body at the same time. So basically you are touching the left hand to the right knee and the right hand to the left knee, almost like you are marching on the spot. This will encourage your child’s left and right side brain to work together at the same time. Some children will find this quite difficult, persist with it as with more practice your child has they will find it easier and easier. A good tip I use with some children who are struggling with this is to put a yellow sticker on their left hand and right knee and a red sticker on their right hand and left knee – then ask your child to match up the sticker colours as they march.

I am in the process of uploading a utube video on this simple brain exercise, to help you to do it at home with your children (a visual explanation for all you Right Brain Dominant people).

Until my next blog, enjoy your children.

Debbie

xo

6
May

Brain The Right Hemisphere

Today’s blog is the second in a series of three Brain Blogs. The first blog gave you a brief overview of the left hemisphere, this blog will give you a brief overview of the right hemisphere and the next blog will talk about how important it is for the left and right hemisphere to work together in our children’s learning and our lives.

Brain The Right Hemisphere

The right side of our Brain is responsible for things like imagination, visual, emotions, creativity, rhythm, subconscious thoughts, music, art and for present thoughts.

The right side of the brain loves to daydream, see things or issues as a bigger / whole picture and create new ideas. It also plays a major role in gathering information for new ideas and thoughts which are then stored in our memories, for future reference. It is all about the now and present moment.

In our children’s classroom a child who is right hemisphere dominant has a great imagination, will be able to see a possibility and will require a more visual explanation of a topic. They are good at subjects where their creativity can be explored like art, music and storytelling.

We use the right hemisphere to explore what is going on around us. We are able to see the bigger picture in what we are learning rather than just focusing on the small details. It is in the right brain that we are able to take risks in what we are learning, as it does not rely on past experiences to determine our present thought, which can therefore limit our risk taking by going with what is safe and known to work in the past.

Are you right hemisphere dominant? Do you prefer to be given information in a more visual display as opposed to figures and facts? Are you able to see what is going on around you in the present, rather than relying on past experiences to determine how you feel right now? Are you good at reading maps and knowing where you are in relation on the map? If the answer is yes to these questions, then you are most likely right hemisphere dominant.

Our brains are powerful and complex. Now stayed tuned for my next blog, which is probably the most important in this series of blogs as it explains how important “whole brain” learning is for our children in today’s constantly changing world.

Until next blog, enjoy your children.

Debbie

xo

1
May

Brain, The Left Hemisphere

Our brains are the most powerful and complex organism in the world. The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left and right hemisphere. These two hemispheres are connected via the Corpus Callosum – which consists of approx 200-250 million nerve fibres that connect the two hemispheres.

Over the next 3 blogs I want to give you a brief overview of your Brain. Starting today I will give you some basic background information on the left hemisphere or left brain.

The left side of our brain is responsible for things like logic, reason, auditory information, speech, numbers, time orientated, conscious thoughts and past or future thoughts.

The left side of the brain loves lists, sequences and order. It also plays a major role in the analysis of information.

In our children’s classroom a student who is left hemisphere dominant can be good at planning, listening to directions and following directions. They can be good in subjects which require reason, logic and order like maths, reading and spelling.

We use the left hemisphere of the brain to rely on things that are going on around us, as it will analyse what is going on by referring to past events and feelings in order to determine our present thought or action. It is in the left hemisphere that any new experience or information can be stored for future reference.

So are you left-hemisphere dominant? Do you prefer information to be given to you in order or in a sequence, like a list or graph. Or think about when you are under stress do you usually think about and discuss the issue before you take an action…… If the answer is yes to these questions, then you are most likely left-hemisphere dominant as before you can take an action or deal with a current situation your brain needs to access stored information from past experiences.

Our brain really is amazing, now stay tuned for my next blog on the right hemisphere. Once you have the background information on both hemispheres I will then blog about how important it is in our children’s learning to use the left and right hemisphere together for full integrated learning to occur!

Until next blog, enjoy your children.

Debbie
xo

23
Apr

Learning Do you get it or not

Today I want to give you an introduction to children’s learning and an overview of what can affect a child’s learning. As a mother of 4 school aged children this is a subject that I am very passionate about and deal with on a daily basis, from homework to teachers to classmates and everything else in between!

Learning do you get it or not

There are many things in a child’s life that can affect their learning, here are a few areas that need be looked at when looking at a child’s learning:

Brain Integration
Hydration (please read my previous blog on ‘Water is an Essential Part of our Life’)
Diet / Nutrition (please read my previous blog on ‘Learning about Protein’)
Emotional state
Life stressors

I will be going into detail over the up and coming blogs about these issues, today I just wanted to give you an introduction to learning.

As adults I am sure that there have been times in your lives when your learning has been easy and it has made sense and you get it! I am also very sure that there have been times in your life when your learning has been hard and nothing made sense and nothing was sinking in! Take a moment to think about each of those times and when you got it and when nothing made sense. I know when I feel that I am not getting it, I feel overwhelmed, hopeless, embarrassed and I just want to give up because I am not smart enough. The times in my life when I have caught on, I feel successful, secure in my knowledge and confident in myself and what I know. Our children do and will have the same experiences in their learning.

At those times in your life when you felt that you got it, did you feel a centred and peaceful state within? I know I did. This can be achieved with our children by incorporating body movements and visual experiences into their learning. By doing this our children are actually able to feel, visualise and imagine what they are learning and therefore it is centred into both their left brain (logic and detail) and right brain (visual and bigger picture). Once this occurs then the child is able to feel that their learning is coming naturally and flows easily. So next time you are with your children and helping them with their learning, encourage them to actually feel, visualise and imagine what they are learning to help anchor it.

It is my hope that my children and other children feel that ‘Got It’ state throughout all their learning, which will bring about a joy and confidence in learning.

Until my next blog, enjoy your children.

Debbie
xo

3
Apr

Learning about Protein

Protein is an essential part of our bodies as it is the basic building block in our bodies. It builds, maintains, repairs and replaces the tissues in your body. Our brains, muscles, organs and immune system are all made up of mostly protein.

Sources of protein include:

Learning about Protein
  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Cereal and cereal-based products
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Beans and lentils
  • Soy products
  • Grains.

I have found in my kinesiology practice that a lot of children and even adults require more protein in their daily diet. When I completed my research project on ‘Can Kinesiology Enhance Children’s Learning’ I found that the majority of children I tested required extra protein in their diets particularly for their brain development and learning.

Please note that when eating protein it is important to not combine more than one protein with each meal, because this can be very taxing on the digestive tract. Protein will also keep you fuller for longer which makes it a great snack for children in their play lunches and lunches whilst they are at school and engaged in learning (as ideally you want their brain to be fuelled adequately for learning to take place!).

As a rule of thumb, I like to include protein in each meal for myself and my children. For breakfast my children will have an egg based meal, porridge or a yoghurt, to wake up their brains and be ready to learn. For play lunches I will give them a chickpea dip (see beetroot or hummus dip in recipe section of my webpage) with either carrots, celery or cucumber sticks or even fruit and yoghurt. For lunches I will give them a type of meat, tuna or cheese with salad. A great snack for my kids when they come home from school are some nuts with fruit or banana bread (see also recipe in recipe section).

Next time you make your kids something to eat, remember the importance of protein and include it in their meal.

Until the next blog, enjoy your children.

Debbie

xo

13
Mar

Water is an essential part of our life

Today I want to talk to you about how important water is for us and our children. Our bodies are made up of 55 – 75% water and because our bodies do not store water we must have fresh supplies of water everyday. Water is an essential part of our bodies functioning, specifically in the health and function of every cell.

I have mentioned in earlier blogs that I completed a research project as a part of my studies on ‘Can Kinesiology Enhance Children’s Learning’. I found that not only in my research project but also in my everyday life that water plays a huge role in learning. This is supported by many scientific researches that when our brain is hydrated properly it will focus better, think faster and remember clearer; all with a greater level of clarity and creativity. Who would not want all of these things all the time, especially for our children who are learning at great speeds in a classroom environment.

I believe that there are huge demands on our children these days, from reading, to homework to sporting activities to music activities and the list goes on and on. If we are able to help our children to focus, think and remember better just by increasing their water intake and by replacing soft drinks or juices with water then it is a very simple step that we can start right now with very little effort.

A great tip that I use everyday at home with my children is that before they start their homework, do their readers or practice their music, I ask them to have a glass of water to ensure that their brain is ready to be used! I also use it when one (or all 4) of my children are having a melt down – it is a great way to calm them and also distract them from the moment of stress! It is so simple that you can try it today at home with your children. Don’t forget to send through your comments about how your children respond to increased water or tips on how you encourage your children to drink more water.

Until the next blog, enjoy your children.

Debbie
xo

Beyond the School Yard

Meditation Made Easy!
Bring Calm & Focus to Your Life