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Train Your Brain Day

This day each year gives us an incredible opportunity. October 13th is Train Your Brain Day. However, every day is full of choices to be made, whether big or small. Those tiny routine actions made such as opening your eyes upon waking up in the morning to life changing decisions like getting married or running for President all start with functions of your brain. You couldn’t do anything without the use of it. And with its power, you can do anything.

This Day’s History

This day was created to draw attention to the fact that your brain is powerful tool, one that has earth-changing potential. It was also established to motivate us to use that tool for the world’s benefit.

With your brain you can not only invent new ideas and innovations, solve world problems, and design some of the most amazing structures on the planet but you can also change the way you feel, the way you think, and the way you live your everyday life.

We also have an opportunity whether we realize it or not to train our brains continuously. We tell it how to react to certain situations, how to read feelings in ourselves and others, and we even tell it what it has the power to do, sometimes putting it in a box.

This day is made for realizing that there is no box too large for the mind. Its potential and capabilities are endless, you alone limit those. You, with your brain, have to power to feel certain ways, think in certain mindsets, and react to others and the world around you. How you do that is completely up to you. It’s a simple choice you can make. If you want to have the best day or life possible, you alone can choose to make decisions and react positively.

How it is Celebrated

Train Your Brain Day is celebrated by making choices to better yourself and your future. That could mean doing some cognitive exercises like crosswords, math problems, or puzzles of various kinds. It could be teaching yourself something new such a new language or enrolling in an art class. Or it could be as unpretentious as waking up with the mindset of succeeding and choosing to not get upset if things don’t go as planned or how you had hoped.

Train your brain to be a positive and empowering tool. Every moment offers you the opportunity to make a positive reaction or a negative one. Let’s choose to make the world better by training our brains to be the best they can be both in simple everyday actions and those earth-moving ones that defy all odds.

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Christopher Columbus

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” The catchy start to famous poem/song taught to many over the years serves as a reminder of just how renown this holiday is. Columbus Day remembers the day that Christopher Columbus, a famous Italian explorer, arrived in the Americas. This was recorded as being on October 12, 1492. However, the day is celebrated on the second Monday in October of every year.

Columbus Day History

Historically, Christopher Columbus is most portrayed as the first European to arrive in and discover the Americas. However, this is a controversial point for many people. Part of this is due to the fact that evidence suggests that Vikings were actually the first Europeans to explore and try to settle the land. Moreover, there is proof that indigenous peoples had lived there for thousands of years prior to that. This makes it unlikely that Columbus “discovered” the Americas, especially since he is only known to have traveled to a few islands of the Caribbean, never making it to the mainland.

Furthermore, the arrival of Columbus and his countrymen led to the demise of a great many native peoples. This may have been a result of sickness brought with the Europeans as well as direct action taken. Whatever the case, much of the history and culture of these peoples were lost. For this reason, many current day celebrations are held to honor those lost and those that still live on from those indigenous tribes. They seek to bring awareness to the issues that these people struggle with today as well as their history and cultural richness.

How Its Celebrated

This year Columbus Day will be celebrated, for the most part, on October 8th. In some states and local governments, it a public holiday in which most businesses and schools are closed. However, some areas treat it as a normal business day.

Americans do not all celebrate the day in the same way. For some it is a momentous affair, celebrating the day of their country’s discovery. Some towns and cities hold annual festivals, special church services, parades and large events. The Italian-American community, in particular, is known for such celebrations. Large cities such as New York City and San Francisco typically participate in such fan-fare as well.

In Hawaii, the day is known as Discoverer’s Day, however, it is not celebrated as state holiday. Many other states have begun to celebrate is as Native American’s Day or Indigenous People’s Day instead. This is due to the controversial nature of the holiday. In Latin America and some Latino communities, the day is referred to as the DÃa de la Raza or Day of the Race. Yet still others have re-named it or do not celebrate it at all for the same controversial reasons.

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Clock image

There has been a recent shift seen in the starting times for many schools throughout the U.S. hundreds of schools have chosen to begin the school day much later than they previously had. Instead of starting the day at 7:30 or 8am, these schools are beginning classes closer to 9am. And the results are astounding.

Health Affects

It is a proven fact that children need more sleep than most adults. A healthy sleep schedule is important to the health and success of any child. Yet, most schedules do not allow for this. The recent changes to the school day allow for children to get participate in a sleep cycle that is healthier for them. This leads to better overall health such as a reduction in weight gain, diabetes, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, behavior problems, and mood swings just to name a few.

Safety Affects

These later start times allow for many students to travel to school in the light of day, whereas before they were getting up and walking or driving to school when it was still dark out without much adult supervision. This also means that students are not getting out of school as early, which decreases the amount of time they are left unsupervised or in the care of daycare or latchkey facilities until an adult gets off work. Starting school later has led a decreased number of adolescent students who get into trouble because they are not properly supervised or are still tired from their early morning.

Academic Affects

Studies have shown that students who don’t get enough sleep cannot do their best at school. It impairs memory, learning, and attention as well as their overall health and well-being. Schools that have chosen to start later are seeing a massive improvement in their students’ academics. This is shown not only in their overall grades but they are less moody, more alert, and much less likely to get into trouble and/or fall asleep in class.

Less Achievement Gaps

Those students that come from disadvantaged families may have even harder time with early mornings. If a parent has a fixed work schedule and/or no transportation, students who are tired and get up late may have no choice but to show up late to school or not be able to get there at all. Reoccurring tardiness, absences, and truancy lead to higher dropout rates in schools. As a result, the achievement gap becomes even larger and the cycle is bound to continue. With later school start times, these students are able to make it to class at the right time everyday with very little problems. Their scores improve and studies find that they are more likely to move on to successful careers as adults.

Could a later start to the school day be beneficial for you and your children? What about the area or school district as whole? Talk to other parents in your area. Maybe something can be done to help your students to succeed even more.

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International Teacher’s Day

The goal of this day is to create a time and place where teachers worldwide are celebrated for their achievements and teacher respect is encouraged by society as a whole. At the same time, as a society that encourages education and the qualification of its teachers, we need to be aware of and draw attention to those issues that distract from getting students the education they have the right to and need.

This Day’s History

International Teacher’s Day was established in 1994 to be held on October 5th annually. This day commemorates the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.

This is meant to take notice of and address a variety of issues and situations that teachers deal with around the world. It strives to give guidance to teachers and teacher organizations on such issues as recruitment, education personnel policies, initial training, continuing education of teachers, their working conditions, and their employment.

How It is Celebrated

Each year UNESCO and Education International or EI partners with private organizations such as media companies to celebrate this day. Each year has a different theme, designed to bring awareness to the role that teachers play in society and student development.

This year’s theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.” It is meant to bring awareness to and remind us that only through trained and qualified teachers can the right to education be realized. It also serves to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was established in 1948.

Schools and students around the globe seek to celebrate this day in multiple ways, from classroom parties to town festivals. However, some places hold these festivities on different days. India, for example, has been celebrating teachers and their roles on September 5th every year. There are more than 100 countries that are known to revel in the positive outcomes of International Teachers’ Day.

As parents we have a responsibility to teach our youngsters about the importance of education and the teachers that fulfill that role. Teaching our kids to respect teachers and all that they do on a daily basis is essential for a great student/teacher and parent/teacher relationship, even when the subject is less than your child’s favorite.

It doesn’t have to be a grand celebration. Even doing something simple like any of the following is great way to show you care.

  • Get them a card or make them one,
  • Have your student write a positive and encouraging handwritten note,
  • Get them a small gift,
  • Paint or draw them a picture, or
  • Make them their favorite cookies or snack

Make sure not to let this year pass by without your teacher or child’s teacher being appreciated. You will be glad you did.

For more ideas and tips for educational success visit our blog.

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Girl Playing

Playtime, it’s always been a must for young children. It provides them with time to burn off some of that pent-up energy and to just be kids. But did you know that play and recess are essential to how your child learns and develops?

Attention

Studies show that recess and playtime can enhance a child’s attention span and allow them focus better later. The key is to have an unstructured break. Recess is a good example of this. It provides a time where children are free to play without adult direction or rules. For this reason, PE class is not a substitute for recess, as it is adult structured. Studies have found that a recess of 10-30 minutes allows kids to pay more attention in the classroom. However, going much longer than this tends to have the opposite effect.

Language

Pretend play is one the most crucial elements of play. It has proved to have drastic effects on a child’s ability to learn and what they learn. Language is just one of those areas that pretend play assists. A recent study shows that children who do really well at pretend play and participate in it often have better overall language skills, both in the words they understand, as well as the words they speak.

Math

Play helps to create stronger and long-lasting math skills. Blocks, in particular, seem to have a special effect in this area. Scientists studied a group of preschool children and followed their math skills through high school. Those children that played with blocks often in their early childhood did exceptionally well in math and took more math classes, including honor’s courses, as high school students.

Problem Solving

There are two types of problems: convergent and divergent. Convergent problems have only one solution or answer, while divergent ones allow for several correct solutions. For example, a puzzle has only one correct solution and is convergent. Playdough, on the other hand, has several outcomes and is divergent. Experimental studies have shown that children who are given and play more with divergent materials have better problem-solving skills. They are able to see many solutions to one problem and are often more creative and are able to think outside the box.

Self-Regulation and Reasoning

The ability to pretend play has also been given great importance when it comes to counterfactual reasoning and the ability to self-regulate their emotions, impulses, and attention. Counterfactual reasoning allows us to think about the “what-if” circumstances. Pretend play uses the same skill set.

It has been reported that children who frequently pretend play are better able to keep themselves in check. It is thought this because when children pretend play, there is certain amount of agreement that must be present in all children involved. This “set of rules” and the practice of conforming to it over time enables children to learn to have better self-control.

Playtime and playful academic learning are essential for children of any age. And it just might be something that makes all the difference for them later in life.

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VR Headgear

The classroom is a space that is constantly adapting and making changes to educate children to take part in the world around them. Technology plays a huge part in this as new inventions and innovations for old classics constantly change the world we know. Here are some of the newest and most popular technology additions to classrooms seen around the world.

SMART Boards

These are computer-connected white boards that use a projector and special pen sensors or markers. When these pens and markers are used to write on the boards, computer programs such AutoCAD and/or PowerPoint can remember what it is written and record it for future use. This enables teachers to save lesson plans and notes as they go so students can re-watch or have access to it later, even at home.

VR Headgear

This newer technology has not found itself as widely used but is catching on quickly. By experimenting with virtual or augmented realities students can enter three-dimensional spaces. Using Google Glass or Cardboard in combination with free apps and a smartphone, students can visit the plains of Africa, watch the surf roll in on the beaches of Normandy, or experience current events first hand.

Cloud Computing

Not all tech is hardware, for instance cloud computing is trend just taking off but one that could seriously benefit schools and students alike. This tool lets students and teachers send and share data among themselves. If a student has missed a day of class, they can simply download assignments and lessons. Then when they are finished with those assignments they can upload them for review and grading. Many compatible software tools also use analytics and metrics to measure school progress for each student, allowing grades and proficiency in a certain area to easily be obtained.

Chromebooks

In recent years, these have become one of the most popular classroom tools. They are relatively low in cost, have many different hardware options, and employ simple web-based operating systems. This makes it easy for students to use on a daily basis for many education related activities. Teachers are also able to control what types of activities can be used and pre-programmed with educational apps. These devices have become increasingly popular in areas where students may have limited access to similar items or Internet at home.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

This technology provides online learning from some of the top universities for free. MOOCs allow students to take classes at a college level who were previously unable to. It also provides teachers with an unrivaled amount of free resources to both better their education and gain access to teaching tools. This type of technology even enables classrooms that are located hundreds of miles apart to connect with each other for educational activities, teaching diversity and cultural awareness.

With technology and innovations on the rise, and with no sign of slowing down, you should expect to see the use of some, if not all, of these newer tools in your students’ educational programs. These inventions can make learning more fun and interactive, as well as offer an endless amount of resources for teachers. For more ways to stay up to date with classroom practices and new technology click here.

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A Boy with Book

Reading doesn’t just take place in a library, a bookstore, or at bedtime. To help your child read better and more comfortably, follow some of these early learner reading tips.

Mapping A Trip

Reading is a critical part of learning, not just when it comes to books but also to other activities. An exciting way teach this is to map out a common trip your family makes, like to the grocery store or church. Get out a local map and show your child the way to these areas. Have them write out the directions. Then on your next trip there, have your child read these out loud to you as go along.

Pictures Galore

While on your next vacation or outing, take some action-packed pictures. Once you are home, have your child create a photo album or collage with captions and speech or thought bubbles for each photo. While this will build memories and a fun family activity, it will also help your child practice their reading and writing skills.

Greeting Cards

There are quality reading opportunities everywhere. For example, the next time you need to pick out a card for someone (birthday, get-well, or otherwise), have your child pick out and read several of them. Then decide which one sends the best message you are going for.

Find What Is Just Right

When choosing books for your young reader, it is crucial to find ones that fit into their reading level. A good rule of thumb is to have your child read the front, back and first page of the book. If they have difficulty pronouncing or understanding five or more words, the book might be too hard for them at this point. Helping your reader to choose a book that is just right for them will help them feel successful in their reading endeavors.

Building Vocabulary

One the biggest tools to helping your child to read well and love to do it is to build their vocabulary up. This can easily be done by labeling everything in your home. Get some paper, drawing utensils, and tape and create labels for furniture pieces, toiletries, and knick-knacks. Reading these labels often and learning to sound out these items will help your child to amass a larger and more extensive word bank. If your family is bilingual, label items in both languages.

Encourage Appreciation

As your child reads more and more, they will start to appreciate some authors and illustrators more than others, becoming a fan of their work. Help your reader develop and write a letter to her favorite author. You will be surprised by how many authors will write a letter back to your child in joyous response.

By trying out a few of these easy and fun reading tips at home and on the go, you will teach your child that reading can be exciting and used anywhere you go. You can also try out some of our fun and kid friendly activities. Besides, you might just find some new family favorite traditions along the way.

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5 Easy Sack Lunches Kids Love

We know packing lunches for your kids every day can be a hassle at times. The struggle to find something healthy for them and also something they enjoy eating is real. And once you find something that fits both categories you run with it, sending it day after day until your child gets tired of it. We know, we have been there. So, for all you parents who have run into this issue before, here are few quick, easy, and healthy ideas to try out.

Deconstructed Sandwiches

These are super simple and fun for the child as well. Let them choose their favorite crackers, meat, and cheese. Make them up ahead of time, like the night before or simple send a few of each with them to make at lunch. Don’t forget to send a veggie or fruit as well. Grapes, carrots, celery, or apple slices are always good choices.

Dips

Some of the best healthy foods are made for dipping. Instead of sending a sandwich every day, change it up by sending items they can dip. The following are bound to be crowd pleasers:

  • Carrots and celery sticks pair well with a light ranch.
  • Try your child’s favorite fruits with some plain or fruit yogurt. Bananas, peaches, apples, and even grapes are good ones for this.
  • Baked chicken nibblers served with honey mustard or barbeque are quick and easy for a hot lunch.
  • Baked tortilla or pita chips are a fan favorite. Send them with a cup of tomato salsa, guacamole, or hummus.

Layered sandwiches

Make the sandwich a little more fun by layering it. Instead of just cutting it in half, stack them on top of one another. Kids will get a kick out of its height are more likely to think of it as a challenge. You can also make each layer a little different. Use different meats, cheeses, veggies, and condiments on each layer adding to the fun. Then skewer it with a toothpick or two and add a fruit, veggie, or pretzels.

Pizza wraps

Just about every kid loves pizza but eating them all the time is not very healthy. Pizza wraps changes this a bit. By combining tortilla shells or pita bread with mozzarella cheese, some pepperoni, and little marinara sauce, a child can eat their favorite go to meal more often without carbs and grease that is usually associated with this meal. Make it even more original by choosing a different kind of pizza.

Roll ups

These, like the deconstructed sandwiches, are fun for kids to do themselves. With their favorite cheese, meat, and veggies you can make their most enjoyed sandwiches a little more fun. You can choose to roll up in any order they want with or without certain items. Add a soft tortilla shell or pita bread for a little less mess or go without. The choices are endless.

With a few of these fun lunch ideas incorporated into your week, your child will soon be enjoying meals that are not only healthier for them then the all too common peanut butter and jelly sandwich but that they also enjoy. Find your favorites and make them your own.

For more ways to help your child succeed check out how we at Best Brains can help.

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Relationship Between Screen Time And ADHD

Growing research concludes that too much screen time can be directly related to poor memory performance and linguistic delays in children. Children two and under are constantly learning how to communicate by watching and mimicking facial expressions, body movement, and tone of voice of the those around them.

However, if they are in front of a screen more often than not, these skills are not learned the same way. Research shows that learning these things from people on a screen like a tv or tablet does not have the effect and is not as impactful.

These delays in both memory and language skills are even more affected by the development of learning disabilities like ADHD. Studies show that ADHD and increased screen time are linked directly. As screen time increases, as child’s ability to pay attention decreases. It is theorized that children who get a lot of screen time get used to the fast paced visual and auditory simulation that video games and TV provides.

As A Result…

Everything found in the real-world becomes rather boring to them. This is one of the classic trademarks of ADHD. That is not to say that these children can’t pay attention at all. However, the kind of attention needed to sit in front of screen for hours on end is not the same that is needed for a classroom setting. The latter kind of attention decreases as a child gets more and more screen time.

This leads to a lack of interest in their education and failing grades. It also continues to affect their language and memory development. These children begin to have problems relating and interacting with their peers. They have difficulty reading other’s reactions, recognizing emotions, and even expressing their own emotions.

This creates a difficult social situation for them and often leads to rejection among their peers. As a result, they become even more withdrawn and seek the comfort of even more screen time, as they feel that is the only thing they are good at. These symptoms become even more pronounced if the child actually has ADHD.

How To Counteract These Effects

This is why it is so important to maintain a healthy relationship with screen time in your children’s daily life, whether they have ADHD or not. Researchers agree that children, especially those with ADHD, should not have a TV in their bedroom. Elementary children should not be involved with more than 45 minutes to one hour of screen time a day. Older children should not have more than two hours of screen time a day.

When they are engaged with a screen, monitor their activity, making sure that it is appropriate. Also, try to make it more interactive as their age allows by being available to discuss certain aspects of the content.

Experts also say that shortly after this monitored screen time your child should engage in physical activities. This helps to counteract the idleness of their body and get them engaged in the world around them. Activities that are the most beneficial are those that combine visual and balance systems. For more tips and ideas to encourage education click here.

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