Brain Friendly Learning Enviornment
Science has uncovered what your child needs to excel in school. The classroom environment and activity schedule are VERY important!
The brain is an amazing thing! Dr. John Medina, in his book “Brain Rules,” does a wonderful job of outlining the 12 “rules” we know about how the brain works. He notes that “if you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a [traditional] classroom.” http://www.brainrules.net/
At Foundations, we take these rules seriously, and applied them to every element of our school to provide the most brain-friendly learning environment we could practically implement. Here are a few of the Brain Rules, and how we have implemented them in our school environment:
Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
If movement and exercise boost our ability to learn, why do traditional programs ask children to stay still for the majority of their lessons? To remedy this, Foundations allows children to work and learn in a variety of settings that allow physical movement simultaneously. There are no desks in our childcare or elementary/middle school programs–children can work at tables if they want to, but often they choose the couches, floor or outside so they can stretch out and move while they work. We have seen for ourselves how much better the children can focus when they can use their bodies as part of the learning process.
Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
Goodbye dittos! You may see a few worksheets around, but the vast majority of student’s work is done in creative ways. Why? Children don’t pay attention to boring things, and dittos are boring. So, children design many of their own projects, and the teachers work hard to incorporate learning goals into those project. It is a win-win: the children have fun, and their learning goals are met.
Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
In a traditional program, children move from subject to subject throughout the day without repetition of that subject matter within the same day. Many studies show that if you want to remember it, it must be repeated within 90-120 minutes after being introduced. The project work at Foundations provides the perfect setting for repetition of work throughout the day, without being boring. For example, a child has a vocabulary lesson in the morning. They learn the new word “cloud.” Two hours later at outdoor time, the teacher asks the children to take their journals outside and spend part of their outdoor time writing about what they see, using their vocabulary words. Simple strategies like this can be implemented with any subject to reinforce learning throughout the day. This allows us to not give out homework at the end of the day. Their learning has already been reinforced during the day at the most optimal times.
Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
Your brain is built to deal with stress that lasts about 30 seconds. The brain is not designed for long term stress when you feel like you have no control. The saber-toothed tiger ate you or you ran away but it was all over in less than a minute. Stress damages virtually every kind of cognition that exists. It damages memory and executive function. It can hurt motor skills. When you are stressed out over a long period of time it disrupts your immune response. You get sick more often. It disrupts your ability to sleep. You get depressed. The emotional stability of the home is the single greatest predictor of academic success. If you want your kid to get into Harvard, go home and love your spouse. You have one brain. The same brain you have at home is the same brain you have at school. The stress you are experiencing at home will affect your performance at school, and vice versa.
Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
We have all heard that there are different types of learners, and this brain rule supports that. The more senses you involve, the more children retain. For instance, instead of math being visual learning only, the teachers think of ways to incorporate smell, touch, and sound as well (sandpaper letters, scented play dough, etc.).
Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.
Last but not least, children are powerful and natural explorers. Foundations capitalizes on this natural desire to learn by allowing children to voice their interests and use them as topics of study. Harnessing this curiosity for their developmental and academic goals make learning so much easier and more effective.