Why Do You Want To Learn?

Here are some of the all time most-used excuses…

“I’ll never use that.”

“How will this ever help me?”

“I don’t care about this!”

“Math is boring.”

And of course, the eternal…  “Nope, no homework tonight!”

The origin of these excuses and all the others like them is found in wanting to learn about a specific topic.  If learning is perceived as a chore, it becomes more difficult.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  Every student is not going to be fascinated with Algebra.  So we do things that help them along such as providing structure, a time and place for homework, the proper guidance and support, etc.

But there are things you can do as a parent to make learning more interesting and to make your child want to learn.  Here are a few ideas:

Sports – over Thanksgiving I overheard a 7 year old boy talk to his father while watching the Redskins football game.  They talked about Robert Griffin III and his running yardage and about whether or not to kick an extra point or “go for it.” This is a great opportunity to work on math – by making it fun!  How many different ways could the losing team come back to win?  If the Quarterback runs 4 plays at 5 yards, 10 yards, 12 yards and 18 yards, what is his running average?  The possibilities are endless, but by turning something the child likes into a learning activity, it will help boost understanding academic concepts.

Go see it – here in the Washington area we have a wonderful collection of museums and historic places to visit.  Those in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties no longer have to drive into DC to visit the Air and Space museum with the new facility right near Dulles Airport.  Sulley Plantation is a wonderful place to visit to learn about nineteenth-century living.  Mt. Vernon is right around the corner.  The Manassas Battlefield Park is a great place to explore nature and learn Civil War history.  The point is that when a subject becomes tangible and interactive, your child will be more receptive to learning.

Set the example – If you have ever wondered why your child behaves a certain way or likes certain things, just look in a mirror!  Our children do what we do.  Pick up a book and read it!  Set an example by being curious about things that interest you.  It will rub off and you’ll help your child develop their intellectual curiosity too.

Look for ways to help your child want to learn.  If he or she becomes interested in a topic, the good grades typically follow.

Can Eating Candy Make You Stupid?

It just might, according to a UCLA study. Last night kids all over the country went out trick-or-treating and brought home piles of candy. Besides the obvious health issues with eating large quantities of candy like obesity and diabetes, all that sugar may have an impact on your child’s ability to think, something your child’s math tutor or school teachers won’t appreciate!

We’ve all seen it before. Go to a birthday party and the kids get cake, ice cream, and sugary sodas. Chaos ensues. The sugar seems to amp up the activities to a fever pitch.

Of course, the party itself may play a role in the excitement. Being around friends, playing games and the special occasion come together to increase excitement. The sugar is just icing on the cake, pardon the pun.

But now, researchers have found some important linkage between diet and the ability to think. Not only does a high fructose diet impair the ability to remember things and act quickly, but the reverse is also true. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids tend to counteract the effect.

The research was done by training rats in a maze. The rats that were fed a high fructose diet had a much more difficult time navigating the maze, than the rats that were fed the high omega-3 fatty acid diet. The details are interesting and a good read.

The study found that: “The second group of rats navigated the maze much faster than the rats that did not receive omega-3 fatty acids,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. “The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier.”

Yet another reason to make sure your child eats a healthy diet, full of omega-3 fatty acids.

Maybe fish as “brain food” wasn’t just an old wives tale after all.