🧠The brain of a middle schooler 👨‍🏫

Research has shown that as we learn our brains continually change. From toddlerhood to early childhood, all of life’s natural learning experiences are acting to refine the function and structure of circuits in the brain that are central to react in an environment. When children experience anything new, they need to adapt these circuits of their brains in new and profound ways as they learn how to translate letters into words, words into ideas, and numbers into mathematical concepts.

Discoveries were made through brain-imaging at the National Institute of Mental Health which shows an additional stage in brain development during the adolescent years, ending in a fully mature brain by the age of 25. This last stage of development occurs within the prefrontal cortex (the “thinking” brain). This means that the adolescents in our classrooms may not have the brain maturity we assume they do, leaving them less likely to stay organized or show responsibility in planning, prioritizing, and evaluating the consequences of their actions.

There are several ways teachers can maximize the potential of the adolescent brain. One way is to understand that the kid cannot retain more than five to seven bits of information at one time. If we give them too much information at once, they will become disinterested because their brains simply are not able to comprehend and absorb the information presented.

In an age and world where kids are being bombarded by information, educators can present it in smaller, structured amount in an engaging manner to keep lessons interesting and teach to the short-term memory. Using teaching techniques for brain development to promote critical thinking , decision making , problem solving skills can induce growth in an adolescent child’s brain.

Peers play a very important role in development and self esteem of a child. As they say you are what your company is. Peer-to-peer learning has proven to be the most effective method of knowledge transfer. It is very important important for students to have positive, meaningful interactions with peers through peer teaching, collaboration, and group work.
To more about how peer to peer learning helps induce learning — check out the following blog —

During the pre teens children start becoming more self aware and dwell into thinking more about mindsets for functioning. Introducing mindsets, strategies, and critical thinking skills help students move beyond concrete learning to more abstract and are better able to form own opinions and challenge others. They enter a phase of metacognition — according a research article, study found out that “students who do not learn how to manage themselves (through metacognition) experience more setbacks, become discouraged and disengaged from learning, and tend to have lower academic performance.

Indulging in activities where kids can learn via real life situations and experiences has also been proven to hone skills. Bookish knowledge deprives a kid of what is really out there. Simulations provide with more realistic experiences while preparing one for what the consequences of an action can be in real life situations.

Brain development studies have shown that post the first five years of brain development , the growth during the middle school period for a child is a period of rapid development. For most tweens and young teens, these are the years when transition from childhood to adulthood begins, new peer and social influences come into play, and new emotions are felt in more powerful and personal ways.

This time is often misunderstood and underestimated as a critical opportunity to instill strong values, build resiliency, and develop character. It is in middle school where the foundation of a young person’s ability to overcome adversity must be cemented and strengthened. These are the critical years when effective prevention must begin.

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