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 Far too many students wait until the night before a test to study for it. Similarly, teachers often wait until the day before a test to review.  What a conundrum it is. The other issue is that most of the time enough students score well on the test, the teacher and the student believes that they have learned the material. In reality because most students cram for an exam loses the information that they had for the test.  A few months down the line there is either a mid-term or a final and most of that information has vanished from students’ minds. For more durable learning, the studying has to take place in smaller chunks over time.

Learning is a process, one that most students have a difficulty with. Learning is the process of moving information from textbooks, internet, documents, classrooms etc. to inside our heads and making this information or knowledge our own.  Unfortunately, learning is not so simple. It actually is very complex. We have been taught to memorize information but that doesn't necessarily give us the tools to remember what we memorized. Under the pressure of an exam our brain tends to do a disappearing act. The reason behind this is the brain has its own set of rules by which it learns best.

In a nutshell, once information enters the brain it is directed to one of two areas: The prefrontal cortex, (the thinking brain) this part of the brain reflects on information; or the reactive brain. (this part of the brain reacts to information and can cause you to act impulsively)  If you are sad, anxious, bored, or angry you are using your reactive brain. During this time it is very unlikely that valuable information is being processed into your thinking brain. This is the reason many people do not process the information that they are learning or remember it.  

How can we control the reactive brain? We have to work with breathing techniques to calm the brain to allow the thinking brain to take over.

How can we do this?

  •  You have to keep yourself physically healthy and well rested to develop awareness and control over your emotions.

  •  Practice focusing and observing how you are feeling.  Basically, checking in with your emotions.

  •  If you are feeling good, calm, and happy then enjoy it and consider how this good emotional state affects your thinking.  If you are feeling stressed, sad or angry then think about times you felt similar negative emotions and try to think about what helped you return to a better mood.

  •  As you become aware of your emotions, you build a library that you can refer to to help control your actions with your thinking brain. Start building that library.

  •  In order to learn and retain what you learn you need to start with a thinking brain and a positive attitude. Stress and anxiety inhibits you from learning. This is where breathing helps.

  •  When you are focused and in a positive emotional state, your executive functions can become more successful and retain long-term knowledge.

  •  Feeling good helps you learn. When you feel good your brain releases extra dopamine. Dopamine is one of the brains most important neurotransmitters.

  •  There are certain activities that increase dopamine levels, these are physical activities, laughing, acting kindly and interacting with friends to name a few. Let's try to do some of these activities.

A positive attitude to education and to life in general is one of the most important factors in having academic success.  A positive attitude to learning is not something we are born with but develops over time and needs to be reinforced. It is doable by reviewing and reframing your motivation and not being so critical of who we are as a person. 

Let's start learning! For rates please call 914-582-2558.


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