Welcome to the February 2015 edition of The Learning Brain.

We are back to school again! February is a busy month for parents, students and teachers. I hope you are settling into the school routine without too much trouble.

If you are a parent wondering how to make your children’s school lunch enticing, you might like to read Rosie Spicer’s book The Perfect Lunchbox, featured in The Book of the Month. Also in this month’s newsletter is some new research about why talking to your children is so important, a “dyslexia dictionary” and a great spelling app.

Best wishes to everyone for a successful year of learning in 2015.

Kind regards,

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PS: Dr Michael Merzenich, renowned neuroscientist and one of the Fast ForWord founding scientists is speaking in Auckland this week – see What’s On.

Latest Research

Mother Baby

Talk to Your Children
Build Their Language and Learning Capacity

Most parents instinctively know that talking to their babies and young children helps them develop their language. The more words young children hear, the greater is their command of language, including vocabulary.

Studies have shown that children with low language skills in kindergarten can fall as much as 5 years behind their classmates in reading by the time they are in high school. This leads to difficulties keeping up in school and can create lifelong problems.

Read why it is so important to talk to your children.

Dyslexic DictionaryWhat’s New?

Dictionary to Help Dyslexic Children

Father and son, Neville and Daryl Brown from the Maple Hayes Dyslexia school in the United Kingdom, are designing an alternative version of the dictionary to help make the English language more accessible to those with dyslexia.

Their dictionary will be organised by common word components, or ‘morphemes’. For example, in their dictionary the words signature, resign, and assignation will all be listed together because they share the morpheme ‘sign’. They say their new method is helpful because it ‘bypasses the requirement to learn words by sounding them out’ in favour of recognising the root parts of the words. The Browns hope to complete the dictionary by the end of 2015. Read more.

Working Memory

Tips to Improving Working Memory

Do your children forget to bring their homework home from school? Do they have to reread a paragraph to remember information at the start of it? Or do you forget what the other person is saying when you’re in a conversation? We use our working memory every day and it is an essential skill for us all. Take a look at these easy tips for boosting working memory.

Schoolgirl writing a number on a blackboard-1.jpegFree Download

New Improved Maths Skills Booster

Thanks for all the feedback about the free maths download in the December newsletter. We are pleased that so many of you have found it useful. Your suggestions are in this new download. We hope you find the latest version helpful.

Download the Maths Skills Booster here.

“My 9 year-old daughter Chloe has been using your Maths Skills Booster for a month. She started out very slow at it and didn’t have time to write all the answers. But now she is becoming quite speedy! She knows all her tables and is down to 5.5 minutes. This seems to have had far reaching benefits… and not only in maths. Chloe never seemed to like to do things quickly – especially getting ready in the morning! But now she is doing lots of things faster. She even says she ‘feels faster’. She understands ‘fast’ now. Yippee!”  
Chloe’s mum, Carolyn, Melbourne.

Book of the Month

Perfect Lunchbox

The Perfect Lunchbox: What to Pack in Your Child’s School Lunchbox for Optimal Growth and Nutrition

It’s that time again, school’s back and the lunchboxes once again require your attention. If you are struggling to think of good nutritious items to put in your children’s lunchboxes take a look at Rosie Spicer’s The Perfect Lunchbox. It contains lots of information and recipes to ensure your children are eating well at school.

SpellApp of the Month

Spell Pop

With Spell Pop students practice spelling words by popping bubbles You can make personalised spelling lists or use the one provided. You can record words so that the student sees the word, spells the word and hears the word. Find out more. Find out more.

What’s On?

Dr Michael Merzenich

Dr Michael Merzenich at Neuroplasticity Symposium in Auckland

Dr Michael Merzenich, a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research and one of the founding neuroscientists of the Fast ForWord program, will speak at New Zealand’s first Neuroplasticity Symposium in Auckland on February 4.

Professor Merzenich’s visit to New Zealand includes a public lecture at the University of Auckland’s Grafton campus on Tuesday 3 February (from 5.30pm to 7pm), titled “Brain Plasticity based therapeutics”. Read more.

NovemberBack to School for 2015 – Four Tips for Teachers

Education consultant, Alan November, has four tips for teachers to consider at the start of the new school year:

  • Power Researching
  • Meaningful Contributions
  • Discovering your Student’s Passions
  • Building a Learning Ecology.

Read more.

Questions and Answers

Do you have questions about your child or students? Email us

Question: What is the difference between hearing and auditory processing?

Answer: Hearing refers to the ear’s ability to detect sound over a range of frequencies. Hearing acuity is measured by an audiologist and determines the softest sound that can be heard across the range of frequencies that can be detected by the human ear – 200 to 8,000 Hertz.

If you have an auditory processing disorder (APD), there is a problem with what your brain does with what it hears. Common symptoms of an APD include difficulty hearing with background noise, difficulty discriminating between similar sounds (may confuse the words pet and bet or crumpet and trumpet), difficulty detecting where a sound is coming from or difficulty detecting rhythm and stress in spoken language. APDs are diagnosed by audiologists and speech pathologists.