In this week’s episode of Trending in Education, host Mike Palmer has an enlightening conversation with learning science expert Bror Saxberg. As the founder of Learning Forge, Saxberg knows a tremendous amount about how learning happens in the brain, and he shares his wisdom in this episode by applying that knowledge to parenting.
Resources cited in this episode:
- The Brain Story from the Palix Foundation: https://www.albertafamilywellness.org/what-we-know/the-brain-story/
- Harvard Center for the Developing Brain: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/
- Dick Clark and Bror Saxberg on Motivation: https://riverapublications.com/article/engineering-motivation-using-the-belief-expectancy-control-framework
Right from the start, Bror stresses the importance of “serve and return” interactions with babies and toddlers. By responding to a child’s vocalizations, gestures, and interests with talk, touch, and emotion, parents help build key communication circuitry in their children’s brains. Language exposure in those early years pays dividends down the road.
Saxberg also cautions about the damages of prolonged stress, known to flood young brains with cortisol and inhibit learning. Creating a peaceful, low-stress home environment allows a child’s brain to thrive.
When kids reach school-age, it’s essential to leverage their working memory and long-term memory. Repeated practice of foundational skills like reading, writing and math moves them into long-term memory, freeing up working memory for higher-order thinking.
The teenage years bring another window of opportunity, as adolescent brains are primed for social motivation and abstract thinking. Engaging teens in meaningful dialogue about real-world issues builds critical thinking skills that will serve them for life.
On the topic of motivation, Saxberg outlines four key barriers that parents and teachers should look to address: not seeing value in an activity, feeling incompetent, blaming external factors, and wrestling with difficult emotions. The solutions involve building relevance, confidence, problem-solving skills, and emotional support.
Finally, Saxberg champions open communication between parents and teachers to align approaches for motivation, skill-building, and meeting social-emotional needs. Continuity between home and school learning accelerates student success.
This information just scratches the surface of the practical parenting guidance Saxberg shares. Don’t miss this insightful episode to pick up more techniques for parent-child interactions that optimize learning throughout our lives.