Family & Pets
4 highly effective tips to help children learn
Fay Karpouzis is a retired health professional and a former researcher in Paediatric ADHD. Most importantly, she is a loving mother of two daughters, one of whom was diagnosed with ADHD 20 years ago. Fay has coupled her personal experiences as a mum, with her clinical and research experience to create a series of evidence-based children’s books, called “But why…?”.
It’s that time of the year again when children have just started school with a year of learning and growing ahead of them. Most parents are busy buying school uniforms, school shoes, books, folders, pencil cases, pencils, glitter pens, highlighters, name tags, lunch boxes, water bottles and the list goes on!
I remember those days… prepping children for the first day of school was important. They needed to fit in, they needed to have what everyone else had. They needed the latest craze in lunch boxes, water bottles, pencil cases, pencils, and so on, and the labels had to be just right! I’m sure most of you can relate to that.
Many parents and grandparents are also aware of preparing their child psychologically. They are busy chatting with their child at bedtime about the importance of being comfortable with who they are, and the importance of treating others the way they would like to be treated, like… being kind, respectful and understanding. These parents are explaining the importance of being polite and inclusive and not excluding anyone and the concept of sharing with everyone.
While all of that is very important, allow me to share with you what else is important…
Having spent over 20 years helping my own daughter with her ADHD and dyslexia, and having spent several years conducting research in the area of Paediatric ADHD and of course, reading a lot of articles written by very dedicated researchers, I have come to the conclusion that there are four pillars that underpin learning:
- EATING well
Over the last 10 to 15 years research has revealed that dietary factors influence mental function. For example, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is good for supporting cognitive processes in humans.
Here is a small list of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are great for your child's brain: fresh ocean caught salmon, tuna and trout, walnuts, flaxseed, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, yoghurt, eggs, Brussels sprouts, kale, mint, parsley, spinach and watercress.
Did you know that one researcher has gone as far as calling exercise “brain food”. Exercise not only improves the body but it also enhances the brain and improves the executive function areas of the brain. These areas are responsible for planning, attention, focus, memory and multi-tasking. Here is a small list of exercise activities that are great for your child's brain: table tennis, yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, swimming, walking, cycling, skipping, hiking and just running around in nature.
Research in the area of relaxation has shown that relaxation techniques are good for both the body and the brain. Relaxation practices help improve mood, concentration and focus, they relieve anxiety, decrease mild depression, fatigue, tension and insomnia. Here is a small list of relaxation techniques that are great for kid’s brains: meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation and Tai Chi. A lot of research into the quality and quantity of sleep and sleep hygiene (i.e. sleep routine) has uncovered the importance of sleep, for both the body and the brain.
Children who are sleep deprived struggle to concentrate at school. Their focus and attention are compromised and as such so is their learning. Researchers have also found that during the sleep cycle the brain consolidates learning. In other words, during sleep, children’s brains are bringing together the teachings of the day.
I’m hoping this information will also help you prepare your grandchild for a lifetime of learning. Just a side note, this healthy advice is great for everyone, young, old, middle-aged and every age in between. So why not be a great role model for your child. Remember... what monkey see, monkey do!
Fay wrote the But why…? book series because she’s passionate about educating both children and their parents, whilst entertaining them. The teddy bear characters from the series encourage your child to develop good eating habits, good exercise and relaxation practices as well as a good bedtime routine. Click here to access your free copy of Fay's first E-book. Click here if you are interested in our one-time special for the series.