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Does music really help you concentrate?

The Guardian – Dean Burnett

“Many people listen to music while they’re carrying out a task, whether they’re studying for an exam, driving a vehicle or even reading a book. Many of these people argue that background music helps them focus. Why, though? When you think about it, that doesn’t make much sense. Why would having two things to concentrate on make you more focused, not less? Some people even go so far as to say that not having music on is more distracting. So what’s going on there? It’s not clear why the brain likes music so much in the first place, although it clearly does. Interestingly, there’s a specific spectrum of musical properties that the brain prefers. Experiments by Maria Witek and colleagues reveal that there needs to be a medium level of syncopation in music to elicit a pleasure response and associated body movement in individuals. What this means in plain English is: music needs to be funky, but not too funky, for people to like it enough to make them want to dance.”(more)

10 ways to help kids fall in love with being outside

The Washington Post – Lauren Knight

“Spring is in full swing: The buds on the trees have opened, birds are chirping, and children are eager to go outside and get muddy. Unless, that is, they are like the fourth-grader author Richard Louv spoke to for his book “Last Child in the Woods.” “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” the child told Louv. According to extensive research Louv and others have conducted since the 1980s, spending time in nature has tremendous benefits, including improved concentration, better motor coordination, improved overall cognitive functioning and a greater ability to engage in creative play. It has also been said to help with the symptoms of mental illness…So how do we get them out there, particularly those who are used to being inside, plugged in or shuffled from one structured, adult-led activity to the next? Here are 10 ways to get children excited about spending more time outside and how to make it fun for everyone.”(more)

Can mindfulness improve pupils’ concentration?

BBC – Katherine Sellgren

“Mindfulness is a psychological technique which is said to help combat stress. But should it be widely introduced in schools? The practice of mindfulness – which draws on Buddhist thinking – has become increasingly popular in recent years…According to the Mindfulness in School Project, which has developed curriculums for use in schools, the technique can aid concentration by helping children direct their attention to the present moment – rather than becoming overwhelmed with worry about what has happened, or might happen…So can mindfulness meditation really help pupils concentrate amid the distractions of 21st Century living? A group of BBC School Reporters from Connaught School for Girls in Leytonstone, east London, decided to investigate for the project’s 10th annual News Day…But while the girls’ survey produced seemingly positive results, the use of mindfulness in schools is not without its critics.”(more)

Artist Leon Ewing thinks kids should use ‘educational’ marijuana to help with creativity AAP

“IT’S probably one of the more potty ideas in recent times – giving schoolkids pot to stimulate their imaginations.But Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art thinks it’s “brave and creative”.Rather than condemning the idea from teaching artist Leon Ewing, MONA creative director Leigh Carmichael defended it saying Tasmania needed to think “big” and be open to “provocative ideas” in a bid to improve Tasmania’s education outcomes.“We don’t necessarily agree with this idea, but we love that it’s brave and creative, and in order for seismic change, we’ll need to think big and be open to provocative ideas,” Mr Carmichael said on Tuesday.”(more)

Blueberries could help your child do better in school

The Telegraph – Saffron Alexander

“Blueberries are known to be rich in antioxidants and full of vitamins, and now new research has found they could help to boost your child’s brainpower, too. Researchers from Reading University found that wild blueberry juice helped to improve memory and concentration in primary school-age children. Professor Claire Williams conducted a series of cognitive tests on 21 boys and girls on three different occasions – after drinking sugary water, after a medium strength blueberry drink, and then again after a high strength blueberry drink…The children got the best results after drinking the high strength drink, which contained the equivalent of a cup and a half of wild blueberries.”(more)

Miles ahead: school that fired starting gun on running revolution

The Guardian – Nicola Slawson

“As soon as the children at one primary school in Stirling hear the words “daily mile”, they down their pencils and head out of the classroom to start running laps around the school field. For three-and-a-half years, all pupils at St Ninians primary have walked or run a mile each day…The daily mile has done so much to improve these children’s fitness, behaviour and concentration in lessons that scores of nursery and primary schools across Britain are following suit and getting pupils to get up from their desks and take 15 minutes to walk or run round the school or local park.”(more)