You will be delighted to hear that improving your cognitive ability has never been simpler! You can carry out some easy, but highly effective, exercises to activate your brain, improve communication between right and left brain hemispheres, as well as increasing oxygenation, electrical activity and blood supply to your brain. Firstly, locate your ‘brain buttons’, the soft tissue just under the collarbone, and massage them deeply with one hand, whilst holding your navel with your other hand. Feeling wiser yet? No? Have I gone completely insane? You may think so, but this is exactly the sort of pseudoscientific claptrap that children across 87 countries have been subjected to in recent years, through the program of Brain Gym.
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My blog next week will discuss this topic, with a more detailed look at recent research on the widely believed myths about the brain.
The impact of poor behaviour in schools can have wide-ranging detrimental affects on learning, wellbeing and social development.
School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS or PBIS), originally created by Horner and Sugai (2006), is a whole-school behaviour intervention program. It has been widely implemented in more than 16,000 schools across the United States, with some studies reporting positive outcomes (Waasdorp et al, 2012; Bradshaw et al, 2010).
I remember discovering the joys of storybooks in the 1970’s, as Grandpa Elf and I would sit in the dappled shade of the trees, reading story after story set in the woodland. For human children, tucked up in their beds, tales of deadly wolves and evil grandmothers may well have had a scary edge, but for a tiny elf, the horrors of Little Red Riding Hood were all the greater, with the forest (and the wolves, no doubt!) looming about us. Since the 1970’s, a wealth of evidence has built up that emphasises the importance of shared reading experiences for children.
My last blog (Boys, don’t cry!) addressed the many challenges that can present themselves to boys during childhood and adolescence, and cause them to veer off the road from healthy development. Girls by no means have it easy! When compared to boys, girls are more likely to present with mental health problems (Merikangas, 2010). Furthermore, although both sexes are susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, the repercussions of forgetting that condom can hold more disastrous consequences for girls, with the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.
During childhood and adolescence, any number of life events can present challenges to children’s wellbeing, threatening their chances to become physically and mentally healthy adults. Boys are more likely than girls to drop out of school, be delinquent and drink alcohol, and they are less likely to go to college than their female counterparts (Bandy, 2012). Many intervention programs have different outcomes for boys and girls, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.
Governments across the world are increasingly realising the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in determining the success of economic futures. Postgraduates of STEM subjects can play an important role in steering the economy in the right direction by driving innovation, undertaking significant research and providing much-needed entrepreneurship.
Teachers who are confident with both subject knowledge and pedagogy can mould positive attitudes towards science early on in Primary (Elementary) school. However, it is well documented, through teacher surveys, that many Primary School teachers lack confidence in their own abilities to teach science effectively (Harlen and Qualter, 2008; Cobern and Loving).
Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder characterised by difficulty with spelling and decoding words. The NHS Choices website explains that people with dyslexia typically have trouble with:
- phonological awareness (the ability to identify the units of sound within words)
- verbal memory (the ability to remember a sequence of verbal information for a short period of time)
- verbal processing speed (the time it takes to process and recognise familiar verbal information, such as letters and digits)
National and international research consistently shows that the most significant factor in raising educational achievement is the employment and retention of good quality teachers.
Teacher recruitment and retention; an historical context
In recent history, the UK Government has introduced many initiatives to tackle the problems of teacher recruitment and retention (Menter, 2002), including bursaries for people undertaking teacher training, nationwide TV advertising campaigns and ‘Golden Hello’ financial deals for those entering subject areas deemed to be in short supply of teachers. The ‘Repayment of Teachers Loans Scheme’ was introduced as a pilot initiative between 2002 and 2004. This was designed to impact teacher retention as well as recruitment by paying off the student loans of teachers remaining in the profession.
Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) cover a range of developmental disorders, including Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Rett’s Syndrome. ASD can involve a variety of symptoms, which fall into 3 main categories:
- Difficulties with social interaction
- Impaired language and communication
- Unusual patterns of behaviour and thought
Social interactions can be extremely difficult for children with ASD, and school can present a major challenge for them. Social skills groups are a frequent intervention in schools for children with ASD. Groups are typically organized on a weekly basis for a period of 12 or more weeks, with each session lasting 60 to 90 minutes. Lessons usually focus on a specific social skill with the following format:
- modeling of the skill,
- role-playing and practise of the skill,
- discussion, and
- individual feedback relating to the skill.