L – Learning

Day 15

"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow." - Anthony D'Angelo

In order to optimize your learning experience, several things need to come into play. There are the obvious things like adequate rest, good nutrition and sufficient exercise. Expand and enhance academic performance by activating the trio of Test Smarts, Facts Smarts and Stress Smarts.

Test Smarts include strategies required to write tests well - how to prepare, which types of questions to answer first, how much time to allot for each question, as well as following the instructions for that particular test or exam. Many a student has been tripped up doing the entire test when, if they had carefully read the instructions, they only had to answer the odd questions.

Facts Smarts is the knowledge of the subject area and how to work with or manipulate that knowledge.

Stress Smarts is the key that will unlock the door to using Test and Facts Smarts to full advantage.

During times of stress, a different part of the brain is activated; you are being mobilized for flight or fight - a physiological response that dates back to prehistoric times. Rather than focusing on the work at hand, your attention is being diverted to whatever is stressing you. There's a brain drain and it often goes unnoticed.

Stress can appear in many guises - that panicky feeling of having lost your wallet or cell phone, the near-miss while driving, or the less-obvious, but very real accumulation of emotional, mental, physical and social experiences. Peer pressure, family issues, lack of confidence or illness - these can all impact your sense of well-being and create stress. Over time, without techniques and strategies in place, learning can be impacted; the brain and you and your behaviours are rewired. Physiological changes occur, as does cortical inhibition - a state where the brain doesn't work as well as it could.

Symptoms that indicate that the learner would benefit from coaching:

  • Gets upset easily.
  • Experiences frequent bouts of frustration or irritation.
  • Has the ability, but under-performs.
  • Is well-prepared for tests and exams, but does poorly.
  • Succumbs to peer pressure.
  • Hates school, or just doesn't want to go to school.
  • Is quickly bored or overwhelmed.
  • Struggles with ADD/ADHD.
  • Has low self-confidence.

When a student is empowered, they learn to recognize their stress triggers. They develop the confidence and know-how to overcome fears and concerns so that they can get on with learning. Learning becomes a joy and not a source of stress.

As they practice the techniques, they balance the nervous system, which leads to:

  • Improved test/exam results.
  • Innovative problem-solving.
  • Sharper memory.
  • Better decision-making skills.
  • Greater ability to focus.
  • More self-discipline.
  • Better relationships (teachers, family, peers, etc.).

These skills last a lifetime. They are transferable to any situation - school, home, sports and work. Regular practice not only transforms stress, but it also enhances performance.

"That Smarts!" will have a whole new meaning when the student learns how to activate the power of their own personal stress transformer - the heart!

Remember, like all habits, good study habits take time to build. Until the desired behaviour becomes a habit, there may be fits and stops, tears and tantrums. Hold strong and undress your stress as you cultivate a study routine that works for your child. The same applies to you, if you happen to be in school.

"Marianna has taught Adam to calm himself so that he is more centered and focused on completing his homework. With her years of experiences as a teacher, she has the skills, techniques and tricks to nurture Adam's abilities. He has increased confidence in a number of areas, and is now very determined to complete his work." - K. Lecy (Richmond, B.C.)

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