Use These Brain Hacks for a Head Start This School Season
School is just around the corner.
Unfortunately, school frequently poses a stressful situation for many students and their parents, family, and friends.
Struggling with homework or exams is completely normal. And yes, it can raise tension in your family unit.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way!
Knowing how to study and prep for school can help alleviate these issues. Further, it can have many stress management benefits. It tackles the problem before it becomes a problem.
Plus, learning is supposed to be fun - at least, that’s what we’re told.
As the retail stores roll out their back to school sections, you still have time. You can even get a head start this school season with some useful brain hacks.
So without further adieu, here are some tips to help kickstart this school season, plus a few ideas to help in the midst of the chaos of it all.
You may be thinking to yourself, “okay, why is exercise first on the list?” If there is a miracle cure or pill for life, exercise is it.
Exercise reduces stress levels and increases oxygen to your brain. This means your cognitive functioning and abilities are at their best.
Plus, endorphins come into play yet again. Exercise causes the body to release these mood boosters, reducing tension in your family clan and decreasing stress levels.
Try out a bike trip with friends or family. Scout out a route on Google Maps. Maybe find a place to have a healthy picnic lunch. Spend the morning biking to the perfect spot and the afternoon biking back.
2. Start Early
If you know what to expect for the grade you (or your kids) are going into, prepare for it. Set one night aside per week for a trivia/study night with family or friends. Make it fun with prizes and get everyone wanting to participate.
For example, if you know that your child will need to know their multiplication tables, start teaching them and quizzing them on these family nights. Remember to make it a positive experience.
3. Create Visual Study Aids
We all learn differently. And unfortunately, the school system often fails to take note of this.
If you or your kids are having trouble remembering things just by reading, try to find a more visual way to display it. Create diagrams with or for your kids, make fun flash cards, or try acronyms.
There are other ways to learn and prompt your memory. Don’t let the school system limit you.
4. Read Out Loud
If you are in a library, don’t do this. It would probably be best to do this at home, such as at the kitchen table or in the bedroom.
Explain concepts out loud. Studies have proven that you remember things more easily when you read them out loud. It’s called the ‘production effect.’ You hear it and say it at the same time, which has the biggest impact on your memory.
So, have the student become the teacher. Explaining it and teaching it to someone else will vastly improve study efforts.
5. Practice Breathing Techniques
Breathing techniques have many stress management benefits. When we are stressed, our concentration levels tank. We can’t focus. We can’t remember what we just read.
Try instilling these positive relaxation techniques into your life. When you or someone else is stressing out, pause for a moment, close your eyes, and take a big breath in. Exhale and drop your shoulders down, releasing the tension.
Another technique to gain back control involves inhaling for a count of 4, then exhaling for a count of 4. Do this for a few minutes before an exam or before a major study session.
Or try it out as a family. You could even make it a rule. If 2 family members butt heads, take a break and take a breath. Our emotions can carry us away and sometimes, they really don’t help anyone or anything.
6. Avoid Trying to Learn Everything All at Once
Do you or your child often leave studying till the night before?
Don’t encourage this. It could actually be hindering your learning abilities.
Many short study sessions help us to remember better. Interestingly, the hippocampus encodes our memories better when there are brief sessions of study followed by a 1-hour break. These small and repetitive sessions activate more synapses, meaning your brain is fully engaged.
Cramming everything into one long session doesn’t work. Prepare and do a series of smaller study sessions. It helps the brain remember better come test time.
7. Switch Up Your Study Space
When the brain is forced to recall the same info in different places, it deems it worthwhile to remember. Thus, you are able to recall these facts or thoughts later when asked.
Instead of always sitting at the kitchen table, switch it up. Complete homework or study in the living room or at the library. The brain loves creating new associations and it improves memory retention.
This concept goes hand-in-hand with the idea that you are able to remember something in the same or similar environment in which you learned it. Work on activating your brain and your knowledge at any time, in any place.
8. Test Yourself Before the Test
You can’t exactly know what questions will be on your exams. However, you can create your own exams, which will help you practice and prepare for the real thing.
Re-reading info only goes so far. Quizzing yourself is where the magic happens. In various studies, testing oneself has had a major positive effect. The memory is forced to recall, as opposed to repeating again and again what is on the page in front of you.
You can find a ton of free practice quizzes on the internet, or ask your teacher or friends for resources. Then, set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour and get to work. Don’t cheat! Emulating the test environment as best you can will also decrease your chances of getting stressed during the real exam.
Use the brain hacks listed above to get through the long, frustrating school season. Remember to get a proper night’s sleep, especially before a big test. Sleep is huge when it comes to memory - the brain processes what it learned here.
Always stay positive. School and school-related stress can become frustrating for you and your kids. Come at learning from different angles. Your children learn from your lead - Try to make it fun and less of a chore. A positive association with school early on is important for future learning.
Now, tackle that back-to-school season! Avoid the chaos and headaches that come with it. Instead, help yourself, your family, and your friends learn and grow in the best way you know how.