Throughout the UAE, greater MENA region, and across the world, schools remain closed in an attempt to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While most schools and students have shifted to online learning in one form or another, many parents are left wondering how they can keep their children engaged and learning during these unique times.
What is Brain Drain?
There is an old saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Often associated with summer vacation, brain drain is a term commonly used to describe the learning loss that takes place for many students during summer months. In fact, parents, teachers, and researchers have all found that children suffer a setback in their math, science, reading comprehension, and fluency following an extended break from structured learning and scheduled academic work.
As we all shelter in place, parents and caregivers can take advantage of simple tools and strategies to help students avoid brain drain in the weeks ahead.
– When in Doubt, Read
The experience of reading “exercises” many of the areas of the brain. In fact, reading is one of the best ways to keep the mind active and engaged. Whether you’re the reader or the one being read to, reading engages the visual cortex as our eyes track the words and illustrations on the page. When we read, our memory makes connections between what we already understand about the topic of the story and its content. We also integrate new information as we read by expanding our knowledge.
Consider creating a reading list for your child. Whether your child is just starting to develop their reading skills with decoding and phonics, or they are avid readers, be sure to provide opportunities to read out loud and silently. If your child is unable to read, read to them. Encourage them to chart or track their progress throughout their school closure. Depending on their age, you can take this a step further by asking them to write a journal entry or book report about what they are reading.
– Leverage Technology
Thanks to technology, schools are offering both online modules and virtual class lessons via Zoom and Google Hangout. There are also a plethora of online resources and educational applications to support students in meaningful and thoughtful ways. It’s important to monitor what your children are playing everyday to ensure that their educational time is indeed educational.
Aside from their assigned school work, there are plenty of online options to keep their brains active and engaged while they wait for schools to reopen. For example, zoos and museums around the world are offering daily video tours with corresponding lessons, astronauts are reading books to younger children from the International Space Station, and illustrators are providing free tutorials online of their favorite characters. The key is to find the resources that will appeal to your child.
– Take Brain Breaks
While it’s important to leverage the power and reach of innovative technologies while schools are closed, it’s also important to take a tech break every day. In fact, taking even a small break from technology every day allows the brain time to reset and recharge.
In an experiment published by the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, college students were tasked to solve sets of word puzzles. Halfway through the experiment, some participants were allowed to take breaks using their cell phones, some on their computers, and others with no technology at all. Participants who took a break on their cell phone took 19% longer to complete the rest of the word puzzles, and they solved 22% fewer problems than those who took non-tech related breaks.
Be sure to take plenty of brain breaks during the day. Turn off the technology and take advantage of this time to “teach in the moment.” For example, you can teach math by cooking and measuring, or you can create a letter scavenger hunt around the house to help younger children recognize their letters. These breaks from learning with a device, even small breaks, will help the brain to reset and recharge to better tackle the rest of the day.
– The Power of Creative Play
Learning doesn’t have to be boring. It’s important to balance your child’s time between learning and play, intersecting the two activities to stimulate their developing brains. By incorporating stimulating, creative activities or games as part of your child’s daily routine, you are building a foundation for later learning and cognitive development. Learning through play has many benefits, to include:
- Healthy brain development
- Improved intelligence, learning, and memory
- Enhanced creativity and imagination
- Enhanced executive function (to manage time and attention, decide what’s appropriate and not appropriate, and to remember details)
- Improved cognitive development
- And much more
Brain Training During Quarantine
Whether you are struggling with keeping your children engaged during extended school closures or are a professional working remotely from home looking to keep your mind sharp, brain training with the professionals at The Brain Workshop is designed to help. At the Brain Workshop, our customised one-on-one brain training mental exercises are designed to strengthen specific cognitive skills. Stronger cognitive skills translate to real-life improvements in memory, clarity, attention, logic, and processing speed.
During these unprecedented times, we have modified our programs to adhere to current social isolation guidelines allowing you to experience the benefits of brain training from home. Our team is currently offering the following remote brain training services via secure video conferencing apps:
- BrainRx Training
- Rubik’s Cube Classes
- Creative Writing Sessions
- Emotional Intelligence Sessions
Contact a member of our team to schedule your free cognitive assessment.