Monday, 31 October 2016

Handwriting Matters!

Click, type, tap, swipe -- Is the speed and efficiency of digital communication an improvement over the more laborious pencil and paper notes, worksheets, letters and reports? More and more research is demonstrating conclusively that, while typing and tapping may be faster, it is shortchanging the learning process at all levels.

Start with children learning their letters.  In a  2012 study led by Karin James, a psychologist at Indiana University, children who had not yet learned to read and write were presented with a

letter or a shape on an index card and asked to reproduce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dotted outline, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a computer.

They were then placed in a brain scanner and shown the image again.

The researchers found when children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex. By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.

Dr. James attributes the differences to the messiness inherent in free-form handwriting:

Not only must we first plan and execute the action in a way that is not required when we have a traceable outline, but we are also likely to produce a result that is highly variable. That variability may itself be a learning tool. “When a kid produces a messy letter,” Dr. James said, “that might help him learn it.”

Our brain must understand that each possible iteration of, say, an “a” is the same, no matter how we see it written. Being able to decipher the messiness of each “a” may be more helpful in establishing that eventual representation than seeing the same result repeatedly. This is one of the first demonstrations of the brain being changed because of that practice,” Dr. James said.
Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write, but how we write.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write, but how we write.

The effect goes well beyond letter recognition. In a study that followed children in grades two through five, Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at the University of Washington, demonstrated that printing, cursive writing, and typing on a keyboard are all associated with distinct and separate brain patterns — and each results in a distinct end product.

When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas.

And  brain imaging in the oldest subjects suggested that the connection between writing and idea generation went even further. When these children were asked to come up with ideas for a composition, the ones with better handwriting exhibited greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory — and increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks.

The benefits of writing by hand extend beyond childhood. For adults, typing may be a fast and efficient alternative to longhand, but that very efficiency may diminish our ability to process new information. Not only do we learn letters better when we commit them to memory through writing, memory and learning ability in general may benefit.

Pinecone Learning and  Pinecone Academy recognize the importance of pencil-to-paper writing in learning. The math, reading and, of course, the writing programs all require students to work problems out on paper, write answers on paper (or in books) and make all written corrections on these papers. The results are overwhelmingly positive. While the students may be learning fast and efficient ways to get things done at school, they are stimulating the learning centers in their brains a little differently at Pinecone!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Tuition - An Investment in Your Child’s Future

The future is going to be one of increased globalization where excelling in a competitive environment is the key to success. As a parent, you desire the best for your child and want them to do well in school. Getting good grades is fine, but is it enough? The problem with the school system is that even in the best schools, a teacher has to cater to the learning needs of a large number of students. That means finding a middle path that is suitable for all the students, including those who are strong in a particular subject and those who are weak. There are two problems here. “an average median path” is not good enough in an increasingly competitive world. And the system does not offer the best learning opportunities to choose who are strong or weak.

Good Is No Longer Good Enough

Students of Asian ethnicities have created a paradigm shift in the education system. Their drive and motivation to excel has propelled them to the top of their classes. This has placed additional pressure on other students who must now compete at another level to get to the front. While healthy competition has a positive impact, often the school system is unable to provide students with the academic support they need. The “middle path” mentioned above does not provide the required degree of challenge to those students who are already ahead of their peers and also cannot give those students who need extra support the focused attention they require to catch up with their peers.

The Role of the Parents

It is an accepted fact that parents have a major role in helping their children learn and succeed in life. The problem is that parents are human and the subjects in which their children need help may be those in which they are not too proficient. Additionally, figures released by the U.S. Bureau of the Census show that two-thirds of the parents of school-aged children have work hours that make them unavailable for after school academic help.This often results in patchy help from the over stressed parents at odd hours and in varying durations, all depending on availability. While this is not the right way to learn, there is little parents can do as the demands on them are usually inflexible.

The Solution

Extra after school specialized learning programs, with the focused and personalized attention they provide, have proven to offer the best solution to this problem. Those who need greater challenges to stimulate their interest are given what they require. Those who need additional learning support are provided with it. Sandra Feldman, President of the American Federation of Teachers wrote that there should be “more learning time for children who need it.” Research shows that students who receive after school specialized learning care:

  • Have improved reading abilities
  • Are eager to develop additional skills
  • Are more engaged in school
  • Show improvement in the quality of homework they submit
  • Are less likely to be placed in special education classes or to be held back
  • Typically have higher aspirations for their futures

Give your child the educational edge to stay ahead. Help lay that foundation to their future success by enrolling them in a reputable After School Learning Academy that offers specialized coaching, where the staff are well trained and have the ability to provide your child with the skills and learning abilities. Remember your investment today will help your child to develop and stay ahead in this competitive world.