How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 9)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

The Four Types of Memory

Many divide memory differently, but take a look at Braverman’s memory. From his perspective there are four with each one ruled by one of the four brain chemicals.

  1. Verbal (auditory) memory –
    1. Needed for: decoding sounds, words, sentences, and stories.
    2. The ability to absorb and retain auditory input.
    3. Found in the temporal lobes.
    4. GABA found here.
  2. Visual memory –
    1. The ability to absorb and retain visual input.
    2. Includes – faces, shapes, designs, surroundings, pictures and symbols
    3. Found in the occipital lobes.
  3. Immediate memory –
    1. Short term – only 30 seconds
    2. Visual and verbal
    3. Can’t remember recent, but still can remember remote past.
    4. Found in the parietal lobes.
    5. Ruled by acetylcholine.
  4. Working memory-
    1. Most important form
    2. Ability to absorb, retain and associate with previously learned information.
    3. Generally found high in intuitive and introverted people.

Long Term Memory Correlates with Working Memory

  • Absorbing and retaining information leads to storing long term
  • Working memory also critical for executive function
  • Executive function – central organization function of brain
  • Frontal lobes regulated by dopamine, handle motor control, concentration, problem-solving skills, planning, retention, — functions of working memory.
  • Working memory puts past, present, and future together p. 53-54

Next time we will continue to address Memory, including Vision and Daily Living Activities.

 

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How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 1)

By Maggie Dail, MA, Learning Specialist

 

As a part of my ongoing journey to understand how our brain works and how we learn, I began reading Younger Brain, Sharper Mind by Eric P. Braverman, MD during a quick get-away / Spring Break.

 

In the introduction, Braverman explains the problem behind our “senior moments” – it’s biology.  However, he gives hope that it does not have to be this way. xii – xiv

 

“Neurogenesis is the answer….Neurogenesis teaches us that we can repair, recover or even improve the aging brain.”  xiv – xv

 

“Cognitive energy = voltage (number of neurons) x processing speed (the speed at which they’re fired) xvi

 

  • Part 1 – Explains how the brain works.

 

  • Part 2 – Explains the “6-Step Plan”

 

  • Part 3 – “Your Brain, Your Body”

 

In addition to his own research, Braverman uses extensive other sources listed in the References section at the end.

 

  • (Part 1: A Balanced Brain —Chapter 1 – Brain Basics)

 

“The brain is the most remarkable organ in the body: It not only controls how you think, feel and perceive, it manages all aspects of your health.

 

Some say that the brain is like a supercomputer, but I imagine it more like the circuit box in your home.” p. 3

 

To further use the circuit box analogy:

 

Voltage – measures brain power and output

 

Speed – determines the speed of the processing

 

Balance – “The Balanced brain creates and receives electricity in a smooth rhythmic flow.” p. 4

 

Synchrony – “The brain’s electricity moves as waves.” (beta – 12-16 cycles – active; alpha – 8-12 cycles – creative; theta – 4-8 – drowsy; delta – 1-4 cycles – sleep) p. 5

 

“True synchrony occurs when all four brain waves are coordinated throughout the day and night. When these brain waves get out of sync at night, you will not experience restful sleep; during the day you’ll find that your mind is wandering and your concentration is affected.” p. 5

 

Certainly many of us of all ages experience times when our mind wanders and we lack concentration.  I look forward to continuing to read what Braverman has to say. Join me in this journey.

 

Recordkeeping for Washington State Homeschoolers

 

 

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By Maggie Dail, M.A.

I have often asked graduates of Able to Teach, a state-approved parent-qualifying course for those wanting to teach their own children in Washington, “Based on your understanding of the homeschool law, what records do you plan on keeping?”

Generally, I get parts or all of the following:

1. Copy of Declaration of Intent

2. Copy of the Able to Teach certificate

3. Planner / portfolio that reflect the time spent on the 11 subjects (K-8) or graduation requirements (9-12).

4. Annual Assessments

Since the only document that the law requires you to submit is the Declaration of Intent one might ask, “Why keep records at all?” Here are my answers:

1. First, and most importantly for yourself:

a. To help you plan and assess how you are doing.

b. To help you on one of those “bad days”- when you or someone else is “beating you up”- (you know the kind that every parent has whether you are homeschooling or not).

2. Second, it is always better to have records if any one of the following occasions mentioned below occurs. Do not let this scare you, because if you are ready you will have the records to show the appropriate authorities (not just anyone who comes to your door). http://www.hslda.org

a. CPS – Even if a well-meaning neighbor makes a call with erroneous information, CPS is required to investigate. If you have records it will more than likely be a brief investigation.

b. Custody battles – Sadly, in my experience, this is the most frequent request for records.

c. Homeschool child is in trouble with the law.

3. Transferring to a school. It is always the receiving school that decides the requirements for enrollment.

a. Elementary /Middle School – usually children are placed according to age, but they may want records.

b. High School – Credits and graduation requirements now matter. (State Approved Private Extension programs like Academy Northwest, which is also accredited, help with transcripts, diplomas and so much more.)

c. College Entrance – varies with college – survey your desired colleges as soon as possible. Again, http://www.academynorthwest.net will help.

I also encourage parents to consider having a conversation with their children about their “grade level and school.” While Washington State’s truancy laws (Becca Laws) do not target homeschoolers, occasionally they might be mistaken as truants. Older children may be out of their home during school hours if they are part of homeschool activities or even work. More than likely any one questioning them will be satisfied with “I homeschool” at the least or “here is a copy of my declaration of intent” at the most.

Parents may want to talk with their children to be sure they understand that homeschooling is legal and a good choice for their family. Also, if the child is working at a different grade level for different subjects they may not know their grade. For the most part it doesn’t really matter, but if someone asks a child, “Where do you go to school?” or “What grade are you in?” they will be more confident if they know how to answer.

There is no one right way to keep records! You can keep what is most helpful to you and that reflects that you follow the homeschool law. Happy Homeschooling!

Maggie Dail has taught for over 40 years and worked with homeschoolers full time since 1994. She has been teaching Family Academy’s Able to Teach, parent qualifying class since 2003. http://www.familyacademy.org

Unlocking Math: Choosing Elementary Math Curriculum

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            Many homeschooling families use annual assessments to guide you in choosing curriculum for the next year. As you begin your search for a math curriculum that works for your elementary aged child, you need to remember that there are three areas of math to cover: facts, computation and concepts. If math has already become a struggle for your child, then you will especially want to break math down into these three areas. Spread math over the course of the day with short sessions covering these areas in separate sessions.

1. Math Facts – Math facts are primarily a function of auditory memory so be sure you present this new information to your child auditorily as well visually. Whether you have a full math curriculum or find materials that cover the different parts, you must include this in your child’s day.

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math FactsRapid Recall System

 

 

2. Math Computation – At a different time of the day work on computation skills. Computation is primarily a function of visual memory so I recommend 75% visual instruction. That is you do three problems for your child as he watches. You say only a few words to identify steps as you go along. Then your child does the fourth one. Repeat for the duration of the session of say, 10 minutes. You start with simple addition and work up to long division, fractions etc. If the child doesn’t remember a math fact, tell them so that the process of computation is learned without interruption. You work on the math facts during a separate time. You can get the computation problems from any math book, but if you just want to pay for the computation problems, get a book that has only those problems in it.

My Best Recommenation for Learning Math Computation: Straight Forward Math and Keys to Fractions (Decimals, Percents, Measurement)

3. 3. Math Concepts – The first two items are the nuts and bolts of math. Concepts are how the basics are applied to real life. If you want a regular curriculum, look into Math U See, Singapore Math and Right Start Mathematics. They cover the whole spectrum of math in a fresh way, but it makes it harder to separate out the three parts and concentrate on one at a time. There are a host of math games available that apply these math concepts in an interesting way. You can spend big bucks. Perhaps a better way is a book of games that you can play as a family. My best recommendation is actually a series of books, but the original is the best overall for K-8 math games. Family Math arranges the games in sections according to the different math concepts. Each game has an objective, instructions and sometimes a page that serves as a game board. You may need to add some household items for game pieces. Each game is labeled for one or more of the three age groups within K-8.

 

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math Concepts: Family Math

https://www.amazon.com/Family-Math-Equals-Jean-Stenmark/dp/0912511060

Bonus Recommendation for Mental Math / Auditory Skills: The Verbal Math Lesson Level 1 and 2 for early learners or those who struggle. http://www.mathlesson.com/

For some learners, Life of Fred provides math instruction in a story format.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Fred-Elementary-Complete-Book/dp/3384111117

Since math skills build on each other, home educators find it helpful to use a “Scope and Sequence” for navigating through math. Downloadable lists of skills can be found on the Internet. By including math facts, computation and concepts you can prepare your children for Algebra, Geometry and beyond.

Unlocking Learning and Reading – Webinar

Free-E-Book with purchase of an Unlocking Learning Potential Service.

Free shipping and discounted price on final print copies of
Rounding the Bases – Chris Learns to Read!

Other discounts offered in Webinar: Unlocking Learning and Reading

Learn how you can help your loved one unlock learning and reading!

https://www.dropbox.com/home/2017-03-23%2018.03.30%20unlocking%20learning%20and%20reading%20437647717?preview=zoom_0.mp4 

Feel free to share with others.

Brain - SciLearn

 

Webinar: Overcoming Learning Challenges – Live- May 18 at 6:00 pm MT

Rounding Cover (496x640)

Free E-Book with purchase of an Unlocking Learning Potential Service.

Free shipping and discounted price on final print copies of
Rounding the Bases – Chris Learns to Read!

Other discounts offered in Webinar: Overcoming Learning Challenges

Learn how you can help your loved one overcome learning challenges!

Join us for this live webinar:  Thursday, May 18 at 6:00 pm Mountain Time

We will be on at 5:30 and begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Feel free to invite others.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/180817637

Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +16465588656,180817637# or +14086380968,180817637#

Or Telephone:
Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 180 817 637
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=UN7xqYWmwy4hxOIxVRgf_76cwbJxYYKv

  Check out Maggie’s E-Books

Personal Reflection 2017 – 16 -Another Graduation – Achievements Recognized

During Academy Northwest graduations, graduates give speeches and perform musically. This year, one of our students played the harp. Overall, ANW graduates do well academically and go on to college having earned scholarships. In our learning center we offered a customized program depending on the needs of the students. Many have gone on to earn undergraduate and some graduate degrees.  Some go into to trade school or join the work force.  Education is not one size fits all. We enjoy hearing the Grad bios as they stand on the top, center step learning about the graduates from other learning centers. Hearing of their hopes and dreams encourages to keep working with these students. I love to to see their families grow on Facebook even though we live far from most of them.

Personal Reflections 2017 – 2 How does time fly so quickly?

During my last year at Heritage Christian School, I began my first year with Academy Northwest / Family Academy.  Master Enterprises Learning Center met in the evening, Tuesday evenings, if I remember correctly. I believe I also met with a couple of the students individually in their homes. You can see from the pictures that we enjoyed activities like a puppet show and trips to Point Defiance Zoo and Snake Lake Nature Center in Tacoma. Of course, these first students from the 1994-1995 school year are all adults by now. Unless I see them on Facebook, I still think of them as upper elementary through high school age. How does time fly so quickly?  Psalm 31 reminds us that our times are in God’s hands and we can safely trust him. Whether our way is rough or smooth – most of us have times of both – He protects and leads us.  While reading the context is best, you can see the particular verses in bold.

Follow this blog for the rest of the story…..

Psalm 31 – NKJV

In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.
Bow down Your ear to me,
Deliver me speedily;
Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defense to save me.

For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.
Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

I have hated those who regard useless idols;
But I trust in the Lord.
I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,
For You have considered my trouble;
You have known my soul in adversities,
And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a wide place.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
10 For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
11 I am a reproach among all my enemies,
But especially among my neighbors,
And am repulsive to my acquaintances;
Those who see me outside flee from me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel together against me,
They scheme to take away my life.

1But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.
16 Make Your face shine upon Your servant;
Save me for Your mercies’ sake.
17 Do not let me be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon You;
Let the wicked be ashamed;
Let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let the lying lips be put to silence,
Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

19 Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
20 You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence
From the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion
From the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the Lord,
For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
22 For I said in my haste,
“I am cut off from before Your eyes”;
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried out to You.

23 Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!
For the Lord preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
24 Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.

 

Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina

Brain Rule # 7b – Sleep Well, Think Well

Dr. John Medina continues his thoughts on Sleep in the remainder of this chapter. See Brain Rules 7a for the previous part of the chapter..

Sadly, Medina cannot answer this question definitively; How much sleep do we need? There are so many variables including: age, gender, pregnancy, puberty, etc. He proposes that a better question would be: How much sleep don’t we need? Or, at what point would the amount of sleep we get disrupt what we do during our waking hours? P. 158-169

Perhaps we should follow the example of our former president, LBJ, who apparently locked his door, changed into his pajamas during the day to take a 30 minute nap. Or maybe we should have a “siesta” during our work day as other cultures practice? Some researchers found that a 26 or 30 minute nap could increase productivity during the day and another study found that a 45 minutes nap would have the same benefit. P. 158-160

Some studies verify that Sleep Loss = Brain Drain. In one study a successful female student getting under seven hours of sleep during the week and only 40 minutes more on the weekend scored lower than standardized tests. In another study soldiers responsible for complex equipment lost 30 percent proficiency after just one lost night of sleep. After two nights of lost sleep, the lose of performance stretched to 60 percent. In yet other studies considerable loss of function was documented after less than six hours of sleep each night for five days study participants suffered loss of cognitive abilities equal to a continual 48 hour sleep deprivation. P. 162-165

Given that the USA loses $100 billion each year in productivity due to sleep deprivations,  Dr. John Medina makes the following recommendations:

  1. Match chronotypes  – since there are measurement tools to determine this, schedules can be determined by what type the individual is.
  2. Promote naps – provide time and place for naps in the work or school day.
  3. Try Sleeping on it –don’t make decisions or do important work without proper sleep. P. 165-

167

 

Dr. John Medina summarizes Brain Rule 7 – Sleep Well, Think Well

  • “The brain is in a constant state of tension between cells and chemicals that try to put you to sleep and cells and chemicals that try to keep you awake.
  • The neurons of your brain show vigorous rhythmical activity when you’re asleep –– perhaps replaying what you learned that day.

Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantative skills, logical reasoning, and even

Highlights of Webinar by Dr. Martha Burns” Neurobiology of Autism (Sponsored by Scientific Learning)

 

Dr. Burns covered recent research on the brains of individuals with autism. While she discussed some complicated genetic factors one thing that researchers have observed is that the brain of individuals with autism have a unique development of long trace fibers. This white matter runs along divisions of the different lobes and actually intersects with many areas of the brain.

Burns reported that research supports the following contributing factors to autism: age of parents, environmental chemicals and other neurotoxins, immune factors. What surprised me was her denial that any research connected vaccinations as a contributing factor.

Mind Institute is developing a test that will identify antibodies that exist in some, but not all individuals on the autism spectrum. Others are working on a scan of the eye that can identify those who are at risk in the early months of life. Early identification and intervention produce hope for families.

Researchers also recognized value in specific therapies’ as well as computer software (such as Fast ForWord).While computer software provides a valuable contribution other areas of intervention must include: perceptual and sensory.

More and more new research leads to a greater understanding of the underlying causes of autism spectrum disorders. Not only does it explain why new technologies work, it also explains why interventions used as early as the 1930s by founders of the neurodevelopmental approach work. All of this leads to more effective interventions and hope for families.