Posts Tagged ‘Brain Power’

Raising a Reader in a Few Simple Steps

Monday, March 20th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

courtesy of pixabay

A child who can READ can LEARN! The process of learning to read is just as important as reading. Learning letter sounds, breaking down words, and later comprehending the meaning of sentences and passages are all key to cognitive development. Not being able to reach one of these milestones is often a signal to parents of a learning difficulty.

To help the process, parents can encourage a love of reading right from birth! Check out this acronym from

Look for new books and authors that your child may enjoy.
Organize an area dedicated to reading and writing tools.
Visit the library for story time and book recommendations.
Encourage your child to talk about what he’s read.

Talk to your child, and sprinkle interesting words into your conversation.
Offer a variety of books to read.

Read with your child every day.
Expand your home library to include magazines and nonfiction.
Ask questions if you’re concerned about your child’s development.
Decide to raise a reader!

The more you expose a child early in development to books and reading, the more likely that child will want to read. Another benefit of early exposure to reading is the fact that you can address reading issues sooner rather than later. Experts agree, difficulties in reading have a cognitive basis. The earlier the intervention, the more likely the child will be able to overcome learning challenges, and be able to achieve academic success.

A child who has dyslexia, ADHD, Language Processing, visual processing, or even who experienced an external challenge earlier on in life such as extreme poverty or health issues may find the process of learning to read difficult. Brainjogging can help! Whether the issue is a cognitive delay or a lack of exposure, the result is a brain missing the necessary connections to learn. Brainjogging’s patented exercises help to strengthen the pathways in the brain responsible for reading and comprehension.

Call Camp Academia at 706-884-4492 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about the Brainjogging method.

How does screen-time affect behavior?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani
child with a tablet

courtesy of pixabay

What would you say if I told you that 15.5% of elementary students, grades 1-5 have been diagnosed with ADHD?  Recent data from the National Health Center showed that as of 2015, 10.2% of children ages 5-15 were diagnosed with ADHD.  From 1980 to 2007, the diagnosis of ADHD in the pediatric population increased by 800 percent!  These dramatic increases indicate that the cause may not just be genetic.  Experts are looking to environmental factors to explain the sharp rise in ADHD among children.  According to Victoria Dunckley, M.D., the answer could be in the palm of your hand.

As reported by Victoria Dunckley, MD, integrative child psychiatrist and author of the book, Reset Your Child’s Brain, technology is having a negative impact on our children’s brain health and development.  Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS), is the result of over exposure to screens in the forms of video game systems, tablets, and smart phones.  Electronics can overstimulate and deregulate a child’s nervous system.  The added overstimulation and stress cause children to have issues with mood, focus, sleep, and behavior. (Dunckley)

How does Electronic Screen Syndrome affect children?

Constantly interacting with the artificial stimuli that screens supply, shifts the nervous system into a stressed mode.  Our brains and bodies are meant to handle some stress, but repeated stress can overwhelm our body’s ability to adapt.  Usually, high stress levels normalize when followed by an appropriate discharge of energy (think fight or flight).  However, screen time is generally paired with a lot of sitting. Where does the energy go?  According to Dunckley, it gets released in the form of a tantrum or other inappropriate behavior.  Dunckley further points out that if we were to look inside a brain engaged in screen-time, we would see that brain getting too much activity in some areas, such as reward pathways, and not enough in other areas such as the regions associated with empathy.  This leads to fragmented brain development, making it less flexible and resilient. (Dunckley)  One of the strongest impact of screens on the brain is with regards to sleep.  The unnatural, bright light from a smart phone or tablet slows the production of the sleep signal, melatonin.  Lack of melatonin desynchronizes the body clock resulting in poor sleep and disrupted hormone cycles.  In fact, weight gain and high blood pressure related to screen-time could be a result of constantly high stress hormones, as well as being overly sedentary. (Dunckley)

What behaviors are associated with ESS?

  • Irritability
  • Oppositional-defiant behaviors
  • Social immaturity
  • Poor eye contact
  • Insomnia
  • Learning difficulties
  • Poor memory
  • Lack of focus
  • Tantrums
  • Disorganized behaviors

Children with underlying issues such as ADHD and Autism will display more severe versions of the symptoms.   Often these children are more likely to be drawn to screens.  Parents can mistake the kids’ “quiet” behavior while playing on a tablet as improvement.  Try taking the screen away, and you soon realize that the screen was only masking the issues! (Dunckley)

Parents worry that their child  will be the only one without a tablet, or that he won’t make friends, or learn the latest technology.  That is not the case.  For young children the importance of being screen free is to allow their brains to naturally develop strong neuronal connections.  The brain’s most rapid growth is during the first few years of life.  Assaulting those brains with digital media is preventing them from reaching their true potential academically and socially.  Children benefit so much more from human interaction and outdoor play.  Let our children’s brains grow and develop so that they can withstand the effects of the latest technology.

What can parents do to help their children?

  1. Dunckley suggests an electronic fast, 3-4 weeks of strict removal of all electronic media.  Doing so, will help reset your child’s brain, allowing you to focus on what is really going on with your child, without having to deal with the added behavior issues.
  2. Encourage your child to engage in other activities.  Have a family game night.  Help your child find a sports team or club to join.
  3. Brainjogging twice a day can help children get their brains back in sync.  The exercises in Brainjogging target the areas of the brain controlling focus, attention, memory, and processing.  Brainjogging’s simple design and quick exercises make it highly effective for all children.

While most parents start their children on Brainjogging for academic reasons, the first change they notice, is in their child’s behavior.  A child who is out of sync, will have trouble regulating his emotions and behavior.  A child who has made the important connections in the brain is in sync will be more flexible, more resilient, and will demonstrate improved behavior and focus!


Homework Help for Kids with Learning Disabilities

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

A child with a learning difficulty can struggle with homework after a long day of school.  This can be frustrating for both children and parents.   To help your child – and you – avoid the headaches of getting through homework, it is best to create a plan that keeps them focused, and takes away the stress of homework.

Be Consistent

Provide your child with a set time and place to do homework.  This creates a sense of control and predictability for children and for parents as well.    While every family has their own preferences and afternoon schedules, you might consider giving your child enough time for a quick snack and then have him sit down to do his homework before he gets distracted with other activities.  This method avoids all the excuses and complaints that happen later in the day as children get tired.  You and your child will also have more free time without the added stress of unfinished assignments.  Also, be sure that your child’s designated homework area has all needed supplies (sharpened-pencils, paper, calculator, water bottle, etc.) to avoid excuses for interrupting homework.

Approach the Most Difficult Assignments First

Children with learning disabilities tend to have short attention spans, particularly when it comes to challenging assignments. Have your child begin their most difficult assignments first since they will have more energy and focus to complete the task at hand.  This will also encourage them to complete their other assignments, and to not avoid future work in that difficult subject.

Plan Shifts

If you see that your child is losing focus on one particular assignment, allow them to shift over to another and then come back to the original assignment. You can also set a timer every 15 to 20 minutes so that your child can look forward to breaks to recollect their thoughts. Be sure to time breaks as well.  A long break can make completing homework even harder!!

Create a Homework Checklist

Checklists are a great way to keep your child organized and to help him remember each assignment.  They can also be a great motivator as your child checks off each completed assignment.  A child’s teacher should also be involved in the checklist and can help to let parents know what tasks are required each day.  Some parents find a weekly email to the teacher helpful in knowing what is expected of the class each week.

Reward Hard Work

Set weekly homework goals that can easily be measure with a chart or other method.  Having a simple reward system is a great external motivator and can be anything from being able to choose a weekend activity to even an ice cream cone!  Avoid, extravagant rewards.  Sometimes scheduling special “mommy-time” can be the best prize ever!

Be Encouraging

Parents feel obligated to correct every mistake on their child’s homework.  Consider this approach:  Have your child complete an assignment.  Look it over.  Praise what she did correct.  And THEN, point out areas that she might have to redo. Or, offer to explain concepts that your child obviously did not understand.  Praising before criticizing will make your child more willing to work towards the right answers.

Get Help from Brainjogging

Doing Brainjogging before starting homework can cut homework time in half.  Many parents have seen that when students do Brainjogging, and then begin their assignments, they have greater focus and are able to complete their work more efficiently.  In addition, adding vocabulary and key concepts to word lists in the Brainjogging program helps students remember and process new information quicker.  The goal is to work SMARTER not HARDER!

Kids who learn music, read better!

Monday, January 16th, 2017 by Karishma Bakshani

Do your still children still have music class in school? If not, you might think about finding a good piano or violin teacher. Studies show that music instruction appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skills.

According to initial results of a five-year study by USC neuroscientists, music instruction speeds up auditory pathway development in the brain and increases its efficiency.  In other words, the neuronal path from the ear to the brain gets stronger.  This process helps accelerate the development of language and reading, two key components to academic success!

So, how can we introduce our kids to music?

1.  Start young!

Sing nursery rhymes and make instruments out of items around the house to make music time a fun time!

2.  Join a Mommy and me music group.

Isn’t everything more fun with friend?  Joining a toddler group will help your baby learn social skills along with an appreciation of music.  It doesn’t hurt that you might make a friend a long the way!

3.  Support music in the schools.

Many school budgets do not support the arts.  Having musical instruction in school is not only great for cognitive development, but also for improving team work, critical thinking, and imagination.  Music class also provides an stress-busting environment for older children who might have a schedule full of tough classes the rest of the day.

4.  If you play an instrument, don’t stop!

If you hear stories about famous singers and musicians, many give acknowledge the fact that their parents played an instrument, or that their dad always had jazz in the background.  It may not always seem like it, but children do model their parents’ behavior.  If we play an instrument or sing around the house, our kids are more likely to do the same!

5.  Find a good music teacher.

When your child is old enough, try sending her to an age appropriate music camp, or sign up for piano (or any instrument) lessons.  We can’t force our children to like an instrument, but we can expose them to different forms of music in different environments.  The possibilities are endless!


Five reasons why we need to curb screen time…

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by admin

If someone approached you to enroll your child in a social experiment, would you agree?  Probably not.  But that is exactly what we have done for the past decade since the introduction of smart phones and tablets.  With only a handful of studies on the effects of screens, many of us allow our children so much more hours of screen time than is recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics.   We aren’t even sure of the long term effects of daily tablet and smart phone use, and yet statistics show that many of the apps downloaded and 50% of the Netflix accounts are geared towards children.  What’s the big deal you might ask.  Here we go…

1.  Excessive screen time is detrimental to overall health.

Children and adults who spend too much time in front of any type of screen often exercise less.  Even if they are not overeating, lack of exercise can lead to obesity.  In fact, too much exposure to screens, especially at night, can lead to sleep problems that can lead to obesity, attention, and cognitive issues.  Two hours before bedtime, all screens (TV, phones, tablets) need to be turned off and a bedtime routine needs to be established to ensure a good night’s sleep!  Children who get a good night’s sleep are more alert, have better processing, and are less likely to gain excessive weight.

2.  Giving young children screens can lead to behavior issues.

Have you ever gone to the supermarket with your child, and to prevent a meltdown, given her your smartphone?  We all have!  But we all know that rewarding bad behavior with a screen is not going to solve anything.  In fact, you are more likely to have meltdowns from your children if they think you will give them a tablet or phone each time.  What about when you take your child for their annual shots?  Some parents like to distract or comfort children with an app or a video on their phone.  Although the child might stop crying, think about what they missed.  What the child really needed was a warm hug, not an app!

3.  Too much screen time can lead to attention issues.

Did you know that ADHD is ten times more prevalent than it was 20 years ago?  A study from Iowa State University showed that kids ages 6-12 who spent more than 2 hours in front of a screen were more likely to have attention issues in school.  In fact, Demetri Christakis, an expert on children and media consumption, feels the speed and flash of modern video games and TV is a big concern.

“I think that the concern is that the pacing of the program, whether its video games or TV is over stimulating and contributes to attention problems,” Christakis says.
4.  Apps and video games provide TOO MUCH stimulation to developing minds.
 It seems so much easier to put on a story-time app for your toddler than to actually tell her a story.  The child, however, misses out on so much when we do that.  When a mother tells her child a story, the child listens to her mother’s voice, She has to listen for changes in intonation as well as try to read the expression on the faces of the characters in the book.  If her mother is a story-time pro, she might ask the child about the characters’ feelings, or what might happen next!  All these points might seem simple, but they are training the child’s brain to read social cues, to think critically, and to be imaginative.  When a child watches a story on a tablet, the characters move as the story is told.  There is often background music and sound effects.  Also, the child can often touch part of the story to make characters and other parts of the screen move.  All this while the bright light of the tablet is inches from her face!  In this scenario, the child has no chance to use her own imagination.  If she wants to move a long with the story she simply has to push an arrow.  She doesn’t even have to wait for the app’s narrator to finish the sentence.  So many important social skills are missing, when we depend on a tablet to entertain our kids.
5.  Therapies and treatments cannot overcome the effects of video games.
After 30 years of helping children overcome learning difficulties, Shirley Pennebaker has observed the following:  Lack of sleep and over exposure to video games are detrimental to learning!  While Brainjogging can definitely help a child affected by screens and video games, the child must STOP playing video games first.  The next step would be to call Camp Academia and get the child on Brainjogging.


Do Brain Games work?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 by admin

Over the past couple years, people have been turning to apps such as Luminosity in the hopes of improving memory and reversing the effects of aging on the brain. Unfortunately, none of the studies done on these games show any strong evidence or measured real-world outcomes. In fact, in October 2014 a group of more than 70 scientists published an open letter objecting to the marketing claims made by brain training companies. Soon after, another group of scientists published a letter saying there was a scientific basis!  Confusing, right!?

Not really.  Daniel Simons, a professor at the University of Illinois, reviewed over 130 studies with six other scientists to understand the discrepancies.  What they concluded was the following:

1.  Some brain games only work in making you better at that specific game.  The skills learned aren’t transferable to real-life situations.

2.  In many of the studies, the placebo effect wasn’t accounted for.  In other words, many people improved simply because they were trying harder or were more confident.

3.  Most of these brain games do not work the brain hard enough or over a long enough period of time.

BUT WAIT!  What about BrainJogging!?  Brainjogging can counter all three of the points mentioned above!

1.  Information entered into the Brainjogging program is customized to person.  Individuals who do the cognitive exercises are using information they need in school and in their everyday lives!

2.  Brainjogging has helped individuals improve processing, memory, and attention for the past 35 years!  Studies have been done in the University of Tennessee, The Boys and Girls Club, and other locations.  This doesn’t include the hundreds of students who have come to Camp Academia to have Brainjogging sessions.   Children have come with dyslexia, ADHD, processing issues and autism.  All of these individuals have been able to overcome cognitive deficits and lead productive lives. What better study could there be?

3.  As for the last point, Brainjogging works specific areas of the brain.  By targeting the areas of the brain needed for language, processing, and reading, Brainjogging is more effective than a brain video game that simply has the individual striving to get a higher score.   When done twice a day, Brainjogging helps individuals process information faster and retain the information as well!

So to answer the question:  Do brain games work?  No!  But BrainJogging does!  Brainjogging is not a “game”.  It is a cognitive therapy that helps strengthen weak neuronal connections by doing exercises created to target specific areas in the brain.


Brain Game Claims Fail a Big Scientific Test, Jon Hamilton, NPR, Oct. 3, 2016


Follow the Leader!

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 by admin

Learning to follow directions is an important part of the learning process. For children with learning disabilities this can be even more difficult especially if they have processing or focus issues. Teachers often use direct instruction in which the teacher models what is being taught and then the students copy and practice what was modeled to learn the new information.

But what if we reversed the process and had the students model and the teacher follow? Would these students be able to explain and model the concepts?

When students are only taught through direct instruction, they are missing out on a stage of learning that requires critical thinking and application of knowledge. For special educators, the goal should be to have the children be able to learn and think on their own.

For students who have shown the ability to easily learn what their teacher has modeled, the next step would be to have the student model the lesson back to the teacher, or even better, he could teach another student!

This method of teaching gives the student a chance to use social skills, critical thinking, and of course working memory! More than just memorizing different lessons in school, we want our kids to be able to apply what they learned towards achieving goals!

For students who are not at the point where they are able to explain important concepts learned in school, Brainjogging is the answer.  Doing Brainjogging twice a day helps strengthen cognitive weaknesses that make processing new information and applying key concept difficult for some students.

Resources:  “Follow the leader: Letting students take ownership”, Pamela Hill,  December 5, 2016

Sleep deprivation affects children differently than adults

Thursday, December 1st, 2016 by admin

If you have kids, then you know the horror of a sleep-deprived child!  We also know that we as adults need a good nights sleep to be our most productive.  However, a new study shows that sleep-deprivation affects children differently than adults.


“The process of sleep may be involved in brain “wiring” in childhood and thus affect brain maturation,” said Salome Kurth, Ph.D., first author of the study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.   A lot of important neural connections are made when children sleep.   According to his recent study,  when adults are sleep-deprived, damage is seen in the frontal regions of the brain.  However, when children do not get needed sleep, damage occurs in the parieto-occipital (language, math, spacial relationships, vision) region, in the back of the brain.  This correlates with the fact, that in childhood, sleep is needed for development of the posterior regions of the brain.

After staying up too late, both children and adults need a period of deep sleep to recover.  This recovery phase is characterized by an increase in an electrical pattern called slow-wave activity, which can be measured with a non-invasive technique called an electroencephalogram. With a large number of electrode channels distributed across the scalp, this method also detects which brain regions show more slow-wave activity than others.

Kurth and his colleagues at the University of Zurich, measured the deep sleep patterns of two groups of children.  One group had a  normal night’s sleep.  The other had been kept up past their bedtimes by reading and playing games with them.   After only getting half of a night’s worth of sleep, the children showed more slow-wave activity towards the back regions of the brain, the parieto-occipital areas. This suggests that the brain circuitry in these regions may be particularly susceptible to a lack of sleep.

In addition, the study also showed a correlation between deep sleep activity and myelin content in the brain.  Myelin is a fatty microstructure of the brain’s white matter that allows electrical information between brain cells to travel faster. It can be measured with a specific magnetic resonance imaging technique.  The higher the content of myelin in a region of the brain, the more the sleep loss effect is similar to adults.  Regions of the brain that are undergoing development, will be more affected by sleep deprivation.


How can we be sure that our child is getting enough sleep?

Creating the right bed time routine for your child can be tricky.  But if you make it simple and clear, it can be done!

  • Set up a routine from start to finish and be consistent in following each step.
  • Have your child start his bedtime routine at the same time each day.
  • If your child responds to visual cues, a chart might help!
  • Avoid video games.
  • Some children have food sensitivities that can irritate their digestive system and prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep.  Stop all snacks and meals 2 hours before bedtime if you think that might be the case.
  • Keep a journal to see what worked and what didn’t.

Children love predictability!  A bedtime routine often leads to better behavior because our kids will get needed sleep as well as know what to expect each day.






Is Screen Time Worth the “Quiet time”?

Friday, October 21st, 2016 by admin

Screens are everywhere! Even as we enter a bookstore, we see a variety of tablets and big HD screens playing the latest movie releases. But, when all is said and done, are the 30 minutes of quiet time we get from giving a child a smart phone or iPad a good exchange?

There are emergency situations that pop up, and as parents we need to do what is right for our children based our individual situations.  But what about our daily regular daily routines?  What are we trying to accomplish by giving a child a smart phone? Maybe we want a quiet dinner, or we want to be able to finish cleaning the kitchen.  We might need some extra time to respond to work emails. And we should be able to have time to do these important tasks. But when we give a child an iPad at dinner, he may be quiet, but he is missing an important part of growing up! The interaction children get at dinner when they can sit with their family in a safe environment and discuss the day’s events is important for social development.

Instead of turning on Netflix while you clean, maybe have an activity they can work on in the kitchen. Better yet, divide the chores according to age and everyone is able to help clean the kitchen faster!

Responding to work emails is trickier! If you can’t wait until the kids are sleeping, maybe you can respond during homework time, and let the kids know that you have work to complete as well.

When a child is misbehaving at the supermarket, will giving him a smartphone solve the problem? Probably not. The child has learned that the reward for misbehaving is getting to play on your smart phone!  Instead, plan on quick trips to the store or make a list with your child to make your food shopping a fun learning experience too.  The supermarket is a great place to talk about eating healthy, letters, counting, money,  manners, and more!

Numerous studies have shown that children who play games on iPads and smartphones, talk later, have less focus and attention, and can even have delays in basic motor skills. Have you ever tried to take an iPad away from a 5 year old? The hour it takes to bargain with your child to get the iPad back makes the 30 minutes of quiet seem irrelevant!

The next time you need to occupy your children to get work done, take a second to think of the pros and cons before handing them a screen.  If you can’t think of any other activity, I’ve given you a list below!

Here is a list of some activities they could do instead (there are a lot more!):

  1. Read a book/listen to an audiobook
  2. Play a board game with siblings.
  3. Pick up their toys.
  4. Play outside.
  5. Call Grandma.
  6. Help with chores.
  7. Help younger siblings learn something new.
  8. Bake cookies.
  9. Find different colored leaves and press them in books.
  10. Call a friend over to play.
  11. Go to a friends house to play.
  12. Write a story.
  13. Paint
  14. Help cook dinner.
  15. Go for a run or bike ride.
  16. Play doh.
  17. Legos/blocks
  18. Workbooks
  19. Make a fort/play in a tent.
  20. Write a letter/draw a picture for Santa.




New Research supports science behind Brainjogging!

Friday, September 9th, 2016 by admin

The Journal of Neuroscience has recently published a ground-breaking study about the significance of brain training. The purpose of the study was to examine the neurophysiological changes that accompany improvements following working memory training.

In the study a group of children were split into two groups and were given tasks that tested their short-term memory. In one group the difficulty level remained at ‘easy’, while the other group’s games slowly got harder.  The team found that compared to the control group, the children’s memory significantly improved and that the memory boost crossed over to when they performed untrained memory tasks.  More importantly, the researchers discovered that when the children’s brains were scanned there was a change in the rhythmic electrical signal in different areas of the brain, including the areas responsible for visual processing. After brain training the rhythm became stronger!

What does this mean for our “Brainjoggers”?  Keep doing Brainjogging!!  The exercises in the Brainjogging program are designed to stimulate the areas of the brain that control processing and memory.  The more you do Brainjogging, the more these crucial areas of the brain get activated, and the better individuals are able to process and retain new information!

“Training Working Memory in Childhood Enhances Coupling between Frontoparietal Control Network and Task-Related Regions” – Journal of Neuroscience