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Check Out the Full Podcast Interview Below
Mike: Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of kids in America are still dealing with their education being upended over the last year. And for those who aren't back in the classroom as usual, they may have been in a hybrid part-time classroom setting or in many cases they've just been told to deal with staring at a computer screen at home all day for over a year now. Here’s the thing, kids lose some of what they learn every year under the best of circumstances. So, there's even more of an intense challenge right now. I’m Mike Ferguson, thanks for staying with us on American Viewpoints. Joined now by Rebecca Jackson, she is with Brain Balance and she’s the Vice President of programs and outcomes there. And Rebecca, first of all, talk about that sort of regression if you will. My mom is a retired school teacher, and I remember her talking about this every fall just saying kids just lose some stuff over the summers. Rebecca: They do, and you know adults lose it over the weekend. It's the whole, you don't use it, you will lose it. Memory is such a complicated thing. It's not just one thing. And, so. if we aren't putting things right in front of our faces over and over again, it's so easy to have that information slip away from us. And that's from the best of learners, so if there's already any struggles or challenges with attention and focus or memory, we can see an even greater impact over the summer for those children.
Mike: I have heard, not just my mom, but some other teachers that I know for years say yeah I spend the first two to four weeks of the new school year just going over the stuff they were taught last year to kinda kickstart so we can get into what happens this year. Is that something cultural with us, or is that neurological, or is it a combination? Rebecca: You know, I would say absolutely a combination, some of it is out of routine over the summer. Right, we are out of our structure and that process so some of the introduction to a school year is reintroducing this is time to focus, to buckle down, to get to work. And then there's also that retrieval process with memory. So, if you haven't been accessing that information, if that information hasn’t been stored properly, in long term memory so we can retrieve it when we need it, it makes it a little more difficult. So kids need absolutely that foundation that’s solid before we can continue to build on that foundation the next academic year.
Mike: Rebecca, the consensus around the country seems to be that kids are gonna be back in the classroom as normal come fall, pretty much across the country. How is this compounded, this problem of regression and losing things when we got millions of kids who were basically had their education in complete disarray over the last year. We can talk about who to blame in another conversation, but the fact of the matter is, it's been an absolutely chaotic year plus for a lot of kids. Rebecca: Mike, the reality is it's gonna be compounded from so many different directions. From something as simple as a sensory environment for our kids, our kids have not spent the last year in a classroom with the chaos of hallways, and the lunchroom, and bumping into each other, and in the gymnasium. We've spent the last year locked down at home and so we’re not interacting with as many people, we're not bombarded by the noise and stimulation. So just from that one element alone, there's gonna be a transition back to all day, not just a day or two here and there, but all day everyday being back in that chaotic environment. Back with the expectations of sitting and holding still for an eight hour day. In the home environment when a child gets wiggly or antsy or needs a brain break, we naturally get up and move. I’ll find myself getting up to get a glass of water in the middle of the day, to use the restroom, the big excitement is going to the mailbox. We naturally get up and move when our brain needs to reset and focus, but we don't have the ability to do that on our timeframe in the classroom. So our kids are going to have to go back to that expectation of sitting still and paying attention. Then on top of that, that less oversight that for so many of our kids has happened from learning through a computer rather than that teacher walking around the classroom, doing that subtle tap on the shoulder to re-engage and keep you on track.
Mike: So what are some things that maybe parents or kids, I mean there are probably kids listening to this that are old enough to digest what you're saying, what are some things they maybe should think about doing over summer break to put them in the right mindset to start learning and try to make up for what's lost over the last year. Rebecca: Absolutely, you know there's so many little things, and I think first and foremost is to go into the summer with a plan. It's easy to have great intentions but if you don't have a plan before you know it you look up and its mid-august. So, starting with a to-do list that's small, we don't want it to be intimidating and it doesn’t happen, but touching base with your teacher or looking at the Department of Education website tells you what the curriculum standards are for your state, so you can pinpoint where you and your child are on track or where you have some gaps, and being realistic about implementing that plan of not spending two hours a day over your summer break but where can you sprinkle little bits and pieces of learning throughout your day and doing it in a really intentional way and also making it fun. Summer is a time to let loose, to have fun. So finding an opportunity to make learning and triggering those memory pieces and practicing that curriculum content in a fun way throughout the day.
Mike: We’re visiting with Rebecca Jackson from Brain Balance, we'll get into what you do in just a second. So, there may be a lot of people listening to this saying “yep” I don't think anyone disagrees with the assessment of what's happening. Should there be a booming market for tutors around the country? Rebecca: Great question, and absolutely there's a time and place for tutors if your child has a specific learning gap. If they're really struggling, if you don't have math facts down and you're moving on to algebra that's gonna be tough. But one of the things for me that's a red flag that I see over and over at brain balance. If a child has a gap in more than one curriculum area or you're seeing that challenge year after year that could actually be a red flag that there's something more going on. Learning is such a complex process. You need to pay attention, process the information, have comprehension to understand, and then to be able to turn around and regurgitate it through speech or writing. So if there's a disruption anywhere in that process, it can impact the learning experience and that outcome. So if we're seeing an ongoing need, that can be a red flag to look a little bit more closely at that student's learning process and how their brain is perceiving and processing that information.
Mike: And those are some of things that you all offer, so in the last minute or so that we've got, what is it that Brain Balance brings to the table on this to address these things? Rebecca: Brain Balance is all about understanding brain connectivity. Brain connectivity is what drives our ability to pay attention, focus, regulate emotions, manage impulse control. So Brain Balance is always looking to see, does this child have potential for more, have potential to do better in attention and focus, memory, and all those areas that we just discussed.
Mike: And is that done online or is that done in a different format? How is what you do delivered? Rebecca: We have it done both ways. So you absolutely can come into a center. We have centers all across the country. We also have a Brain Balance from home program that research is showing is just as effective as our on ground program. So you can do all of the exercises and activities live coached with a Brain Balance professional coach all from the comfort of your own home. Mike: Ok, and how do they find out at least to learn more? I'm assuming website and social media? Rebecca: Absolutely, brainbalancecenters.com.
Mike: Oh that's easy enough. Alright, Rebecca Jackson, Brain Balance VP of programs and outcomes. Because I don't know what the next school year is going to look like, but oh my goodness I know it's going to be not just a normal year even if everybody's back in the classrooms. Rebecca: It's coming whether we're ready or not so the more we can do to set our kids up for success the better. Mike: Alright, once again that is, Brain Balance what again? Rebecca: Brainbalance.com. Mike: Easy enough, brainbalance.com.