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Are Brain Breaks important?

Tuesday, Mar. 14th 2017

“My brain hurts”, the student exclaims as he walks away from his homework assignment. ‘I can’t do any more’. ‘Nothing else will fit into my head!’

This is an all too common phenomena, often repeated daily in most homes and classrooms. The words might vary but the intent is always the same – they’ve had enough! The student feels ‘full to the brim’. Nothing much is ‘going in’ and what it already in there besides, seems at capacity.

Adults are the same. How often have we been working on a ‘cerebral’ task, one requiring consistent and persistent effort? A task that, at times, seems like it will never be completed, despite our conscious and diligent efforts to complete it.

Our brains, like the rest of our bodies, are wonderful creations. Seemingly working tirelessly each day. Helping us shape and create our lives in the direction that we say we want. Moving us forward, towards whatever goals we have prioritised; finishing that assignment, completing the crossword, one more number in the Sudoku…

Often, however, it’s our focused intensity that makes us tired. The hard-working neurons in our brains, seemingly stop ‘firing’ and we ‘hit the wall’. Our ‘thinking brain’ stops delivering us the rapid-fire solutions to our tasks. It is at this time, that a suitable ‘brain break’, can be the perfect solution that re-ignites our efforts and lead us towards completing the task. Usually more efficiently than we started.

‘Brain breaks’ can take many forms, from standing up and walking to another room; drinking a glass of water, doing some simple yoga stretches or even something a little more formal, like putting a golf ball on the carpet or even attempting to organise our desk. The most effective breaks are those that involve moving the body and creating a focus that is demonstrably different from the task at hand. Using modern devices such as phones and laptops to time the break can make it even more effective.

So, the next time you hear your student lamenting about their ‘brain full’ gauge, experiment with some brain break strategies and observe the difference in productivity.



Learning Styles Explained…

Wednesday, Mar. 1st 2017

Each of us acquire information in a variety of ways. It is said, that through the five senses, the average person, takes in 2,000,000 bits of information per second. Far too much information for us to manage on a moment by moment basis. The notion further states that our conscious mind can only process 7+/-2* chunks of information per second which equates to approximately 134 bits per second.

It doesn’t take a math degree, to see that our fantastic senses make available far more information than the conscious mind can usefully cope with – so what happens to the rest? It is said, that it passes through our ‘filtering system’. This system deletes, distorts, generalises, etc the information and chunks it into smaller pieces of information that we see as ‘useful’. Each of us also have ‘preferences’ as to how WE, as individuals, learn, process and retain the information in our lives.

Knowing these preferences and matching them with specific and individual learning strategies, can make a HUGE difference to students’ learning outcomes.

Below is a very brief introduction to some of these preferential learnings styles.


This type of learner does best when they have the opportunity to both listen to and look at the information. They like to look and speak about the information. For them, it is useful to take the time to explain things verbally and to back up that information with visual examples.


An auditory and verbal learner learns best by listening and talking through problems. In order for this type of learner to be successful, they need to be able talk about their ideas and work through what they are learning. They learn through hearing things, but they are also good at writing essays and short answer responses.


The tactile and kinesthetic learner learns best by doing. This student may come across as having nervous energy, but it is just how they process information. They are not being disrespectful if they fidget while listening or learning.

Knowing some of this information and backing it up with appropriate learnings strategies and techniques, helps us to accelerate the learning process.

If you are curious as to how your child best learns, book your assessment today.

Naplan ‘bands’ explained…

Tuesday, Feb. 21st 2017

Many parents ( and some teachers) are often confused about how the assessment ‘bands’ are arrived at and what they actually mean for the students.


This excellent slideshow from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, may help to explain how the bands are arrived at and what the results actually mean.

It is by no means comprehensive but gives teachers and non-teachers alike a deeper understanding of the results.


Healthy lunch ideas for optimum performance

Monday, Feb. 13th 2017

One of our biggest challenges as tutors/mentors is ensuring that our students arrive ready to engage in learning. A good diet, together with HEAPS of fresh water is the key to bette performance.

Here’s an example of a healthy lunch that will keep your child awake and alert in the afternoon.

  Water – filtered water in a metal drinking bottle is great for lunches. Non breakable and no nasty plastics leaching into the water. Remember most filters remove the chemicals from the water.

  Fruit – a whole apple or a whole banana or any piece of fresh fruit. Remember that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ – apples and bananas are highly nutritious and are a great energy boost.

  Fresh greens & salad – when fresh and organic, salad greens keep you awake and alert and provide great nutrition.

  Avoid bread if possible. Bread gives a boost of energy and then leaves you sleepy. No wonder so many children fall asleep in class and just look at people at a conference if they have had bread during their lunch break…they are asleep too. If you need an alternative, wraps are generally better.

  Yoghurt. A quality natural yoghurt and add your own dried fruit or cut up fresh fruit.


Tuesday, Feb. 7th 2017

There are 7 colours in the rainbow and 7 main food colours. If you want to feel a certain way, then you can eat the foods of those colours or wear clothing of the colour.

Light Red represents joy, passion, sensitivity and love
Pink for romance, love and friendship
Dark red for vigour, willpower, anger, leadership, courage

Orange stimulates mental activity, passion, pleasure, aggression and a thirst for action
Gold gives the feeling of prestige

Yellow for intellect, freshness and joy
Dull yellow sickness and jealousy

Yellow green can indicate sickness or jealousy
Green blue for emotional healing
Olive green for peace
Dark green for ambition and jealousy

Light blue for health and healing
Dark blue for knowledge and power

Light purple for romance and nostalgic feelings
Dark purple can cause frustration and sad feelings

White for innocence, purity and goodness
Black for power, evil or mystery

Identifying children with learning difficulties

Monday, Feb. 6th 2017

Children are clever and those who have learning difficulties are quite adept at hiding them. They are usually quite aware of their inability to perform certain tasks, tackle particular subjects and even understand curriculum content and their biggest skill is avoiding them. The easiest way to identify a student with learning difficulties is to watch their avoidance techniques.

  • Going to the bathroom frequently
  • Talking out of turn
  • Purposefully getting into trouble around exams or heavy periods of study
  • Forgetting glasses, books, pens, textbooks, homework etc
  • Copying others work
  • Being the class clown or making light of the reason why they have not completed the work

Handy hints for back-to-school

Monday, Jan. 30th 2017

Our current summer seems to be endless. Long, hot days and equally warm nights. Few of us are sleeping well and many of us are getting a little short-tempered and frayed, primarily due to under-hydration and lack of restful, rejuvenating sleep.

As our children re-entre the school world for another year, it’s important to realise that they too, are often a little under done in the sleep stakes. They too are often under-hydrated.

As a 35 plus year veteran of ‘week ones’, I’ve always held the view that the first week of back-to-school in the hot Australian summer, isn’t so much about the learning and the content, rather it’s often simply survival.

Surviving wearing school shoes and not thongs. Surviving being away from a fridge and cold drinks. Surviving the early morning wake-up and the often crazy-making kitchen dance of lunches, drink bottles, books, uniforms and lost socks.

As working adults, we ALL struggle to find a work-rhythm after a long holiday. School students aren’t any different. They need time, patience and understanding as they adjust and settle into their new year. So, at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, here are a few reminders that can make that holiday-school transition a little smoother;

  1. HYDRATE. Water, water, water. Our brains are often the first part of us to feel foggy and jaded when we’re under-hydrated. We actually set one hour water- reminders on our devices. When the reminder sounds, we stop, stand and drink water.
  2. Move! I know this sounds counter-intuitive but moving slowly and consciously through our physical world allows us to be present and spend less time focussing on the heat!
  3. Eat small and often. Fruit and veggies are king here.
  4. Wet hankies. These are often overlooked but can be the perfect antidote for the heat when used to wipe our faces, necks and wrists.
  5. Breathe. S-L-O-W-L-Y. This is perhaps one of our best ‘go to’ tools in our toolbox. Watch what happens when you stop, sit ( or stand) and enjoy 3 or 4 very slow inhales and exhales.

Kindness and self-compassion. Being kind to ourselves and those around is one of the greatest gifts we can offer ourselves and those in our orbit.

Stay cooooool in schoooool. 🙂