Welcome to The Neuroscience of Earning A’s

Wouldn’t the fourth grade be easier if we could go through it now, as adults? Is it because our knowledge of state capitals is so encyclopedic that we wouldn’t have to crack a book? No. The real change is the development of our brains over time, particularly a system known as the frontal executive network. This part of the brain is responsible for much of what we value in successful students: bringing us the ability to set goals, organize, memorize complex information, and resist distracters.

The central problem this new blog, The Neuroscience of Earning A’s, will address is that we now know this is the last brain region to develop, with a growth spurt in the teenage years, and full maturity around age 21 or 22. Ironically, the system of the brain which allows us to be great at studying isn’t fully on line until college is over! Much of the frustration during homework time for parents stems from this central dilemma. Children forget assignments, don’t prioritize their time, and have trouble resisting distracters during homework. Here is a framework for understanding why this happens with normally developing children.

The good news is that a new generation of brain imaging technologies has changed what we know about how we learn, demonstrating ways in which we can boost the executive function of our children, what to avoid that dampens executive function, and intriguingly, how we as parents can literally “lend children our frontal networks,” using specific techniques to structure homework so that children can learn as effectively as if their frontal networks were more mature.

Over the next several months, I will post entries describing these advances in what we know about how children learn. Here is a fresh guide to helping parents and teachers help children succeed academically, with techniques that make earning As in 4th or 12th grade a lot easier!

The blog is geared to parents and teachers of elementary through high school students who want their children to earn better grades, or who want to make sure their children continue to earn “As” even as academic demands increase in higher grade levels. Parents and teachers of children with executive function disorders- such as attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, autism/ Asperger’s and traumatic brain injury will also find these techniques very helpful in assisting their children to perform better in school.

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