3 THINGS THAT HELP KIDS TO LEARN
I saw Nathan Wallis speak last week in Blenheim, New Zealand; Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. He is New Zealand's favourite neuroscience educator and is responsible for triggering my passion and interest in brain development.
One of the topics he talked about in Change Your Brain, Change Your Life was ENDORPHINS. This piqued my interest because I include facts and parenting tips about dopamine in My Amazing Brain, as a way for parents to utilise this feel-good chemical.
Endorphins help learning. So threading actions and activities that trigger endorphins into daily life, are key for parents and teachers. If kids aren't getting endorphins then they might not be learning either.
Most people associate endorphins with movement because this chemical is released during exercise as a form of pain-relief. It is well know that kids need movement during the day and that if they sit for long periods of time at school, they switch off to learning. The latest research around endorphins, however, has found that movement is NUMBER 3 on the list titled ‘Things that trigger the most endorphins.’
Number 3? I was surprised. What was Number 1 then?
Number 2 was laughter. I knew this was a big producer of endorphins. My teenage years were JAM PACKED full of endorphins from laughing so much with my friends. Do you remember the days of getting sore cheeks on a regular basis, from laughing hysterically?! ENDORPHIN OVERLOAD!! I did it 2 weeks ago and it was simply amazing but sadly, it happens quite rarely now that my brain has matured!
When Wallis announced Number 1, I was ecstatic. I got that internal HIGH FIVE of a feeling, which I know to be associated with dopamine, because Number 1 is SINGING! This excited me (and gave me a dopamine hit) because I sing everyday… in the car LOUDLY, conversations with close friends and family and I seem to have a weekly anthem that I sing in my head for motivation.
My husband often rolls his eyes and says “My life is a musical” because his two daughters and I will pretty much sing about anything, everyday! So my girls and I live an endorphin-producing life, that is singing.
So as a teacher, how can I use this information to help my students? I teach Year 2 and 3 students (6-8 year olds) and since then, we’ve started EVERY school day with singing for 10-15 minutes while practising the ukulele. It’s early days but the kid seem to love it, they are definitely more smiley, lively and energetic which are all signs of a happy kid.
Knowing that singing creates high amounts of endorphins is simply another brain-based way that I can help my students be their best. Most of all, I hope it helps them to feel happy and safe in our classroom.
My Amazing Brain is an A4 softcover book for kids to draw and write in! It’s designed to connect kids with their adults through Connection, Movement, Nature, Aroma, Music and Creativity
Click here to find out more information about My Amazing Brain or to visit Brain Essentials for resources about brain development, resilience and tools to help your kids be their best.