Playtimes April 2014 - page 83

ow well do we know our
children? We know what
their favourite foods and
colours and activities are.
We know what makes them happy and
what makes them difficult to be around
at times. We can see when they are
experiencing a growth spurt, and it is
with a thrill and with pride that we see
them exhibiting a newfound maturity.
We know what makes them tick. But
do we know how their brain functions?
Neuroscience is not rocket science.
Not any more. The hard science of
cognitive brain function has trickled
down to the social sciences and
the liberal arts, and is now firmly
integrated in the fields of education,
psychology and even the arts. For
parents, this means that a new way
of understanding our children has
been opened up to us, allowing
us to improve the way we do our
jobs – enhancing our professional
development, so to speak. Moreover,
the application of this knowledge can
have a deep impact on all aspects of
our children’s learning, as well as on
their student careers. Better awareness
and understanding of our children’s
cognitive brain function can even
benefit our relationships with one
One tutor’s tale
Trudy (not her real name) was asked to
tutor a child who was a very capable
student, but who seemed, mainly, to
have difficulty spelling. She could
read texts remarkably quickly, and
if there was an unfamiliar word
she would often substitute a word
that very neatly fitted the context,
and in the environment of a “whole
language learning classroom” the
girl progressed. She was popular
with her peers, a good listener and
a good speaker, involved in student
government, and a good athlete, but
was near the bottom of the class in
terms of spelling. Over time, this
one apparent deficiency was causing
increasing unhappiness at school, and
it was affecting the girl’s self-esteem.
After a while, and often finding herself
wondering why the girl could not spell
words that had been covered earlier,
sometimes taught just minutes before,
Trudy felt compelled to suggest to the
parents they have their daughter’s
cognitive brain function professionally
After reviewing the results of the
battery of tests, things started to make
sense to Trudy. The tests revealed an
array of information about how the
young girl’s brain functioned – how she
received information and consolidated
it, how she learned. Two pieces of
information were especially striking:
in terms of “processing speed”, the
student ranked in the 95th percentile,
meaning her brain was more efficient
in processing information than most of
her peers. However, the girl’s short-
term memory function ranked at a
Discover the secrets of your child’s
brain, suggests
Karmel Schreyer
April 2014
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