Renascence School Education News - private school

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Smartphones making children borderline autistic, warns expert

The Telegraph – Javier Espinoza

” Children struggle to read emotions and are less empathetic than a generation ago because they spend too much time using tablets and smartphones, a leading psychiatrist has warned. Iain McGilchrist said children as young as five were less able to read facial expressions because of too much interaction with technology. He added that he had evidence that more pupils were displaying borderline “autistic” behaviour. Dr McGilchrist, a former Oxford literary scholar who retrained in medicine, said he had heard of increasing numbers of teachers who had to explain to their pupils how to make sense of human faces. However, experts have said children’s lack of ability to read emotions may be down to cultural or language barriers and not just technology. Mr McGilchrist said he’d heard from teachers who said they now have to explain to their pupils how to make sense of the human face more than a few years ago. Mr McGilchrist said he has been contacted by teachers of five to seven year olds who have estimated that roughly a third of their pupils find it difficult to keep attention, read faces and show empathy.”(more)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why are teens oblivious to the pile of dirty clothes on the bedroom floor?

The Washington Post – Lyndsey Layton

“Teenagers always have been a mystery, drawing perplexing parental questions: What was he thinking when he drove down a one-way street the wrong way, just for kicks? Why is she oblivious to the heap of clothes piled on the bedroom floor for two weeks? Frances Jensen, a neuroscientist and single mother of two boys, pondered these quandaries and many more, then delved into the emerging science of the adolescent brain. She came out with provocative new insights for parents, educators, public policymakers and teens themselves…New brain science developed during the past dozen years obliterates some long-held assumptions about teenagers…Once thought to be set in childhood, IQ is fluid during the teenage years…“The idea that IQ is malleable suggests that teenage years are extremely important in terms of the right kind of brain stimulation. It’s a time of working on strengths while trying to improve weaknesses. How you treat your brain in the teen years will define your baseline for the rest of your life.” That’s why an enriched environment, engaging afterschool activities and a robust educational setting are key during teen years, she said.”(more)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Getting enough sleep is key to exam success, research says

The Telegraph – Josie Gurney-Read

“A good night’s sleep may not be high on the agenda for students across the country but, according to new research, it could be key to successful learning. Academics from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway University found that learners were able to remember and consolidate material more effectively having slept on the new information. The research also suggested that learning material in stages and getting enough sleep inbetween sessions, meant students were better able to make connections and remember information, putting paid to the belief that ‘cramming’ before an exam is an effective means of revision. It comes as research published by the Sleep Council last month, found that more than half of teenagers confessed to regularly cramming all their revision for an exam into one night. During this study, researchers taught a group of people new words from a fictional language, characterised by a rule relating the new words to one another. They found that, although learners became aware of the rule within the new language shortly after being taught it, they were unable to apply it to new words until after a period of rest.”(more)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

World Language Learning Boosts Student Achievement

Education World – Staff Writer

“A superintendent’s initiative to start a world language program beginning in elementary school has helped students consistently score higher than the district and state test averages. Superintendent Debbi C. Burdick began the world language program in 2008 and integrated learning Spanish and Chinese languages into the elementary school level in her district of Cave Creek USD in Arizona. Years later, students “in the various world language programs have excelled above and beyond district and state averages, pushing the district up in rankings to fifth out of 227 districts in Arizona,” according to an article on DistrictAdministration.com. Burdick says she began brainstorming a world language program in 2006, when the governing board she was working with “wanted every child to have access to learning other languages.” A Spanish immersion program pilot thus began in 2006.”(more)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The gut/brain axis and happier, smarter kids

The Jakarta Post – Niken Prathivi

“While some parents might think that the human digestive system is only involved in absorbing nutrients, proponents of the gut/brain axis say that a healthy gut is important for growing children. The gut/brain axis refers to biochemical signaling between a person’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract and their nervous system. It often involves intestinal microbiota — the microorganisms that live in our bodies, which happen to have an important role in healthy brain function…“A healthy gut delivers a positive signal that influences brain growth, while the brain also sends positive signals that influence microbiota composition in the gut, which has an impact on nutrition absorption,” Ahmad Suryawan, a member of the Happy Tummy Council, said at a recent talk in Jakarta. “This is why we call the gut the ‘second brain’.”…Ahmad said that there is a connection between the microbiota in a child’s gut and the development of behavioral intelligence.”(more)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cursive or Cursor?

Peer Spirit Inc. – Christina Baldwin

“Typing seems to carry the day, but as someone who has been both writing and typing for sixty years, I know they are not the same activity. I know that handwriting and typing stimulate different thought processes…Over the years, discussion between cursive or cursor has been passionately debated in hundreds of my journal and memoir writing seminars: write or type; type or write? Finally, neurologists and psychologists have joined the writers’ debate…“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain. And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier.””(more)

The science of spring: how a change of seasons can boost classroom learning

The Guardian – Judy Willis

“The seasonal change of winter to spring has long been associated with growth and renewal. Research suggests that for many people the extended daylight also boosts mood, wellbeing and energy. One theory is that dopamine – a chemical messenger that promotes pleasure, motivation, confidence and memory – increases with more exposure to sunlight…At this time of year energy levels are boosted; students tend to be more curious as a result…Although students’ sense of wellbeing and moods can respond positively to the spring and summer transition, longer daylight hours may have a negative impact on their study and sleep schedules. Subtle changes in circadian rhythms, such as when transitioning to daylight saving time or returning to school schedules after spring break, can interfere with attention, memory and higher cognitive functions…As the hours of daylight extend into evening, melatonin release can be delayed and result in difficulty falling asleep at the usual time. This influences attention, memory and cognitive functions. With the delay of darkness, students also don’t have the usual cues to guide them to wind down outdoor play, transition to homework, or go to sleep at their regular times. Help students promote their awareness of the potential problems related to increased daylight hours. Guide them to plan after school-hours to avoid homework delay and sleep deprivation.”(more)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Poorer children ‘have smaller brains’, researchers say

BBC – Staff Writer

“Children with richer parents have bigger brains than their poorer counterparts, new research suggests. Differences in regions of the brain that deal with language, reading, decision-making and memory were most marked, the study found. But the scientists from California also found that community help and teaching can remedy the disparities. The team concludes that factors such as better school lunches and motivated teachers can have a significant impact. In what is claimed to be the biggest study of its kind, scientists from the University of Southern California tested 1,099 typically developing people – male and female – aged between three and 20. They measured brain surface area by scans and conducted cognitive tests, and then compared the results with the income levels of the parents.”(more)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

More pupils have mental health issues, say school staff

BBC – Judith Burns

“More than half of 850 staff surveyed by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) agreed more pupils had developed problems. On Monday, the ATL’s annual conference will debate a call for more support for vulnerable pupils in schools. General secretary Dr Mary Bousted blamed “poverty, poor housing, unemployment and financial insecurity”. School staff have had to “plug the gaps in social care as best they can”, said Dr Bousted. Some 861 ATL members responded to the survey earlier this month. ‘Completely overwhelmed’ More than one in six said they believed at least a quarter of students in their school or college were affected by mental health problems. Almost 90% said staff have had to provide more support for these pupils over the past two years, while 43% said they had been finding it harder to access services for pupils with mental illness.”(more)

Twice as many boys start school ‘unable to speak properly’, report finds

The Telegraph – Javier Espinoza

“Boys are twice as likely as girls to start primary school unable to speak properly, a new report says. Speech problems include issues around pronunciation, language and structure of sentences and also the ability to express themselves properly, according an analysis made by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF). Their analysis of 2014 government figures on early years showed some 40,000 girls and 82,000 boys lack personal, social and emotional development by the age of four. The charity expressed concerns about too many boys arriving for their first day of school without a broad range of skills needed to maximise their potential. Carey Oppenheim, EIF’s chief executive, said: “This can have damaging consequences which can last a lifetime. Especially as children with strong social, emotional and communication skills developed in childhood have a better chance of getting a good job and being healthy, than those who are just bright or clever.”(more)