What Is Technology Really Doing To Your Children’s Brain Function?

It has long been proven that early childhood memory and a sustained attention span are good predictors of academic growth and the direction a child grows in.

Good memory skills are vital to a child’s development and future. A child who is able to apply memory strategy instruction has huge potential and this is yet to be uncovered by formal schooling.

How often do you see children as little as one year old being entertained by an electronic device in their pram, in the car or even at the dinner table? Not to mention, adults walking down the street with their heads down and eyes fixed on their smart devices.

Nicholas Carr wrote a book called ‘The Shallows – What the Internet is doing to our brains’. Carr explained how the internet impacts the way we learn, recall information and solve problems.

We are using the internet as a form of cognitive offloading. We are no longer devoting our cognitive real estate to remember anything that can easily be found on the internet. We do not try to remember phone numbers anymore since it can be stored on our digital devices. We are not required to remember data or facts , as long as we have access to the internet.  With information readily accessible, we do not even need to remember directions as long as we have Google Maps.

As Carr posits, “Google is making us stupid” and the way we think has taken a ‘staccato quality’.  We often skim through sentences and paragraphs.  The need to memorise important facts as we read feels redundant as the information can be retrieved again for us to go through.

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How memory impacts a child’s future

Adults are considered digital immigrants. We were born and brought up before the widespread use of digital technology and devices, whilst our children, the digital natives, were born in an era where technology is omnipresent in our daily life.

Given that we, the digital immigrants, are outsourcing our memory to the internet or Google, it would be careless of us not to consider some vital questions:

  • What will happen to our children and future generations growing up in this era as digital natives?
  • How will it affect children especially in their sensitive years of development?
  • Is memory an important component in the learning process for children?
  • Can memory be protected or trained from childhood to prevent it from being lost due to the advancement in technology?

What part does cognition play in a child’s learning?

Cognition is the process of acquiring knowledge through our thoughts, experiences and senses.  Similarly, the learning process involves acquiring knowledge through experience, study and exposure.  Cognition and learning are both essential to acquiring the cognitive skills we need in life.  We need our brain to think, read, learn, remember, reason and pay attention.

Our working memory is part of our cognitive system.  It acts as a temporary storage for information that we need to process.  It helps with our critical thinking, decision-making and reasoning.  Our working memory allows us to hold onto information so that we can use it – thus, the working part.

Our pre-frontal cortex is responsible for the development of our basic cognitive functions.  In the early developmental years, the growth in the pre-frontal cortex is greater; which explains why there is such a strong correlation between memory and academic learning.

You only have a limited window of time to powerfully change your child’s future

At approximately two and a half years, children begin to demonstrate increases in their ability to sustain focused attention and use their working memory to solve problems.  During the preschool years, brain growth occurs at an unparalleled rate.  This results in structural changes that chart a developmental course for the capacity to store and manipulate information, pay attention and exercise cognitive control.  Indeed, the importance of both attention and memory skills for academic success is supported by both theory and research.  Many theorists have shown that both short-term and working memory are required for the complex cognitive operations involved in learning mathematics and reading.

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Working memory is one of the cognitive mechanisms that underpins children’s learning.   Research has shown that performance on working memory measures is highly predictive of several scholastic skills during childhood. There is evidence that a good working memory at the start of formal education is a more powerful predictor of subsequent academic success than IQ.  This has significant implications for education, specifically with early intervention.

Do something now. Intervene now to save you and your child’s years of challenges ahead

Working memory can be improved though training.  This would alleviate learning difficulties at school.  If children are well-equipped and given the know-how in their early years, it helps to pre-empt and minimise the need for intervention in the later years.

How does Shichida change your child’s future

The Shichida program focuses on the development of memory in young children.  In fact, the Shichida method stands in contrast to what is happening to digital technology.  At Shichida, efforts are being made to enhance the memory of children as young as one-year-old.  It is a small step that parents around the world have adopted to help develop and stimulate their child’s cognitive abilities.

Shichida’s children – bringing out their extraordinary potential

Some of the exciting outcomes of children going through the Shichida program include children recalling up to 1000 items and up to 200 decimal places of Pi.  Because Shichida children love learning and are intrinsically motivated to learn, they go to school ready to excel beyond numeracy and literacy.

With the skills that they acquire at Shichida, learning becomes easy. The children are exposed to learning from an early age, creating a positive relationship with learning and equating it with having fun.

Lynne Kelly, author of the book ‘The Memory Code’, identified the powerful memory technique used by indigenous people around the world.  Indigenous elders used story-telling techniques to name and remember all animals, plants and stars in their surroundings.  This is a stark contrast to us today when we struggle to recall a friend’s phone number.

Similarly, children who have gone through the Shichida training are taught various mnemonic techniques and memory strategies.  Mnemonics are systems designed to help one remember information.  This technique is unfortunately not taught at kinder and schools but is very helpful when learning and organising information.

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Some examples of what Shichida children can do:

This is an example of an eidetic image activity for a 5-year-old child.  This picture of a mandala is shown to the children for 5 seconds, after which they close their eyes for another 5 seconds while replicating the picture in their mind.  This is repeated a second time before the children are given an uncoloured mandala for them to replicate.

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Eidetic image activity completed by a 5-year-old in the first and second week which she was shown the mandala above.

William, 5, took matters in his own hands and decided to write the letter below to the Government to address the dangers of a railway crossing near his house.  William had the chance to meet the Premier Daniel Andrew to present his letter directly to him, and his letter went a long way to initiating positive changes.

Dear Gov

At four years old, Remi loves numbers and decided to create his own grid for multiplication at home. This was beyond what was done in class as he was looking for more challenges.  Below, there is a copy of his work with questions set and answered by himself.

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Jamin, who is five years old wrote this little piece at school in his Prep year. This task was given to the class to write about a video they had just watched about fruit bats. His school teacher was amazed at the details that Jamin recalled and that he was able to write it down so eloquently.

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Let Kids be Kids: Let them Learn

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Learning begins the day a child is born

Children are amazing learners from the day they are born, but many parents worry that placing them in learning situations can actually inhibit their learning ability and creativity. Some innovators are finding that you can find a happy medium to help a child develop in a rich educational environment:

 

I’m tremendously proud to be able to prepare our Australian kids for a very challenging future”, says Shiao-Ling Lim, director of the early-learning programme Shichida Australia. “The evidence is there, the need is there, and definitely the passion is there both with our parents and instructors. First and foremost, however, it’s important that our kids love what we present to them and that it helps them thrive in every sense, even before they step into a formal educational environment.”

 

But Shiao-Ling is also inspired not only by a desire to impact Australian children in a positive way, but also indirectly through independent researchers like Dr. Frank Oberklaid (founding director of the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne). He has found that:

Gone will be the days when just knowing your ABC’s will be enough when you enter school […] if children are behind the eight ball when they start school, it’s too late.”

If the first time a child opens a book is when they are 7 years old, a child is already behind. This is a truth educators (usually teaching more than 20 children at a time) already know. As parents, this is a situation we want to avoid for our kids at every cost.

The Starting Line is at Birth (if not earlier!)

Other of his findings are that a child learns everything about the world the moment she enters it.

We know absolutely that learning starts at birth. The first five years before kids get to school are probably the most important years in terms of education.”

Again, it’s too late once they start school.

Once the mold is set, it’s too late!

Dr. Oberklaid stresses that timing is tremendously important: Why not start creating a strong learning foundation when it’s easier and the child’s mind can learn more easily.

It literally affects brain circuitry, As people grow older, those circuits in the brain stabilise and become much less plastic. If you try to learn a new skill as an adult, whether a language or a musical instrument, it’s very difficult and the reason is the brain’s plasticity decreases over time. It’s like the foundations of a house. You can go back and fix the foundations, but it’s expensive and difficult and never as good as if you got it right at the beginning. And the longer you leave it, the harder it gets, the more complicated it gets.”

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/its-never-too-early-to-start-teaching-our-kids/story-fn59niix-1226113616258

play

What if you could encompass all of the best parts of learning?

To a child, learning is play and play is learning. They do not know the difference because their growing brains are hungry for knowledge and learning. However, every child learns differently so it is important to find a way to help a child engage in a way, where not only are they gaining knowledge, but the seed is planted in them to seek out learning and knowledge for themselves.

class

At Shichida, you will be shown how early learning takes on a new meaning, where you will be guided and shown what and how to work with your child and most importantly, have fun with your child.  With just 50 minutes a week, parents and children will create a foundation together that lasts a lifetime.

Each week, your child will:

Experience comprehensive learning that leads to building success upon success:

  • Every part of the Shichida method leads naturally and organically to the next step.
  • A child learns a certain topic when the child can learn it the best (age-appropriate).
  • They are given many opportunities to learn the material in a loving and supportive environment, and the child is set up to succeed because they are given as many positive experiences as possible in that 50 minutes period.

Focus on input from 0-3 years old and output from 4-6 years old:

  • Because the child is learning all the basic concepts, they are given a wide range of engaging material to interact with.
  • Children are given an opportunity to learn through simple exposure, along with hands-on activities.
  • They are not pressured or tested.
  • Throughout the early years as they gain more confidence, their output bursts forth from 4 years old.
  • The children will be full of confidence and excitement when it comes to learning.
  • They learn to gradually see how they can make a unique and amazing difference in the world.  That is why we focus so much on creating that strong foundation.

Quality time and fond memories:

  • Bonding time spent with parents.
  • Fun and engaging learning activities establish a love of learning as the child has positive emotions repeated over time.
  • In the span of just 50 minutes, the Shichida program offers an ideal capsule of quality time that you can spend with your child.
  • This will also help your child become an independent learner once they go out in the world, carrying the warm memories of these very special and fleeting moments.
  • On top of it all, for parents, this program teaches parents how to be their child’s first best teacher.  When parents and children learn together, magic happens.

As you can see, the Shichida Method is a vital part of a child’s growth and learning that’s a treat to experience.  To find out more, contact us today!

 

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The Memory Code: how oral cultures memorise so much information

Indigenous cultures memorised everything they needed to survive. Information was retained and passed on through stories, pictures, songs and dances. Memory mnemonic systems were used like story system and memory palace. Vivid pictures and series of pictures act as a memory cue. The usage of images, visualisation and linking memory to help in recall.

  • The Shichida memory activities enhances children’s memory because of the following similar reasons:
  • Usage of visualisation and images;
  • Use of story system and other mnemonic techniques to bring meaning and organisation to new information;
  • Practice of retrieval helps with encoding.

Call Shichida Australia today to find out more about how your child’s working memory can be optimised.

Original article by: Duane W. Hamacher, Monash University

Ancient Celtic bards were famous for the sheer quantity of information they could memorise. This included thousands of songs, stories, chants and poems that could take hours to recite in full.

Today we are pretty spoiled. Practically the whole of human knowledge is conveniently available at our fingertips. Why worry about memorising something when we can simply Google it?

The answer seems pretty evident when we go into a panic after losing our smartphones!

Long before the ancient Celts, Aboriginal Australians were recording vast scores of knowledge to memory and passing it to successive generations.

Aboriginal people demonstrate that their oral traditions are not only highly detailed and complex, but they can survive – accurately – for thousands, even tens of thousands, of years.

Yet I struggle to remember what I did last Tuesday. So how did they do it?

Researcher Lynne Kelly was drawn to this question while investigating Aboriginal knowledge about animals for her PhD.

It was evident to Kelly that Aboriginal people catalogued huge scores of information about animals – including species types, physical features, behaviour, links to food and plants – and wondered how they do it.

A memorable thing

Aboriginal elders explained to her how they encode knowledge in song, dance, story and place. This led to a theory that may revolutionise archaeology.

It has long been known that the human brain has evolved to associate memory with place, referred to as the method of loci. This means that we associate memory with a location. How often do memories come flooding back to us when we visit our childhood haunt?

Loci (Latin for “place”), can refer to landscape features, ceremonial sites, abstract designs – anything with distinct features where information can be linked to memory.

Kelly developed this into a framework that may explain the purpose of famous sites such as Stonehenge, the Nasca lines and the Moai of Easter Island.

The meanings of these sites have been a topic of controversy for decades. What Kelly proposes in her new book The Memory Code is that sites such as Stonehenge and the Nasca lines are actually memory spaces.

Knowledge is power

In oral cultures, knowledge is power. It is imperative that the most important knowledge be maintained and preserved by a few select custodians who have proven their worth.

In Indigenous cultures, elders who have passed the highest levels of initiation hold the deepest levels of knowledge.

This is reflected in ceremonial sites where knowledge is passed down. Aboriginal initiation sites include a secret area where the most sacred knowledge is discussed.

We also see this at Stonehenge, where the perimeter of standing stones shields the centre of the ring, where the most important aspects knowledge are passed on through ceremony.

These sites include features that are unique in shape and form. At Uluru, the Anangu elders associate every crevice, bump, and notch around the perimeter of the mountain with knowledge that is stored to memory.

Uluru close up reveals a very textured environment.
Shutterstock/Peter Zurek

Star maps and memory

But loci is not only linked to places you can touch or visit. Indigenous people also use the stars as memory spaces.

For example, groups of stars can represent features on the landscape. Aboriginal Law Man Ghillar Michael Anderson explains how the Euahlayi people were able to travel long distances for trade and ceremony.

The Euahlayi would memorise star maps at night and learn the songs that talk about their relationship to the land. Each star was associated with a landscape feature, such as a waterhole.

Later in the year, they would sing the song as they travelled across country by day. These songline routes became the foundation of some of our highway networks that criss-cross the country.

Rather than navigating by the stars, the stars themselves serve as a memory space.

In The Memory Code, Kelly provides new insights into how oral societies are able to store vast quantities of knowledge to memory without it degrading over time.

It may explain how Aboriginal memories of land that existed before it was flooded by rising sea levels during the last Ice Age survived in oral tradition for more than 7,000 years.

To test it herself, Kelly used the technique to memorise all of the world’s countries in order of population by linking them with features around her neighbourhood, including buildings and gardens – making up her own stories for each one. And she can now recite them flawlessly.

You might be surprised how easy it is to do yourself.

The Conversation

Duane W. Hamacher, Senior ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Is Early Learning a Yummy Treat or Vital Vitamins?

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Click here to listen to the blog post audio.

 

How Important is Early Learning?

macEarly learning education is getting more attention recently and we might see articles about it in magazines, the newspaper or segments on the TV news. Also, as the test results of national tests like NAPLAN and global assessments like OECD-PISA get more visibility, parents wonder about how early-education can affect the life of their child.

So is early learning a vital part of your child’s formative years, or is it something that is nice to have, but not that important?

As a parent who is willing to understand more about how to make your child’s future a better one, you are probably curious how early-learning can benefit them. Do you find that you have any of the following concerns?…

  • I want to make sure that I educate my child, but not pressure them too much.
  • I want my child to be happy and enjoy their childhood.
  • I would love to to spend constructive and quality time with my child to create fond memories with them.
  • I want my child to have fun and do something that they enjoy, whether it is learning or having a play.

These are really common questions related to early-learning.

The best way to address them is to see 3 very important things that happen during 0-5 years old (the so-called “sensitive years”).

1. Early experiences affect the quality of the architecture of the brain.

babyWe can think of the brain’s development at this time much like how a house is built.  The very first step is to build the foundation.

If we build the frames first, it is nearly impossible to come back and re-build the foundation. Much better to build a strong base so we can build a  sturdy house on top.

Similarly, the brain during this period is taking in every aspect of its environment.  If we provide a rich and comprehensive learning environment, the child’s eager brain will absorb everything around them and fire up new synapses.  All that will form a strong base for absorbing and processing all information that will come in the span of their lifetime. If an environment is not stimulating, the brain will have less to work with and the foundation will be a fragile one.

If a child lacks the proper foundation, they start to lose confidence and interest as the material they have to learn becomes difficult.

2. Children are learning their most basic concepts and their place in the world.

kids learnYour child has nature’s unique seed of potential, but it must be nurtured.  Language for example, is one specific skill that needs such nurturing.  Every child has the innate capacity to learn many languages at once.  They have unlimited potential that can only be discovered when exposed to a language-rich and engaging environment.  This applies to every basic concept and skill that they will need in their lives such as numeracy, critical thinking, literacy, and creativity.  All such concepts and skills will be something that a child will use all the way into adulthood.

Like a seed that can grow to be a tree, it still needs the sun, fertiliser, good soil and water to help it grow.

In the same way, if the child has not been provided with a stimulating environment, their understanding of the world will be stunted.

3. The most important bonds are being formed.

playFrom the beginning, babies can recognise human faces, distinguish between different members of their family and even sense tension in their voices.

This is why the first human connections they make are so important.  Loving connections will sow the seeds of trust in the child.  This will help them form positive relationships in the future.

Are you ready to be there to guide them with your full attention during this very important stage of their lives? Your role, as your child’s first teacher, shapes and influences their attitude towards learning.  If you make it fun and join them in the fun, they will love learning.  If you put pressure on them, of course learning will be an uphill battle.

What if you could encompass all of the best parts of learning?

To a child, learning is play and play is learning. They do not know the difference because their growing brains are hungry for knowledge and learning. However, every child learns differently so it is important to find a way to help a child engage in a way, where not only are they gaining knowledge, but the seed is planted in them to seek out learning and knowledge for themselves.

class

At Shichida, you will be shown how early learning takes on a new meaning, where you will be guided and shown what and how to work with your child and most importantly, have fun with your child.  With just 50 minutes a week, parents and children will create a foundation together that lasts a lifetime.

Each week, your child will:

Experience comprehensive learning that leads to building success upon success:

  • Every part of the Shichida method leads naturally and organically to the next step.
  • A child learns a certain topic when the child can learn it the best (age-appropriate).
  • They are given many opportunities to learn the material in a loving and supportive environment, and the child is set up to succeed because they are given as many positive experiences as possible in that 50 minutes period.

Focus on input from 0-3 years old and output from 4-6 years old:

  • Because the child is learning all the basic concepts, they are given a wide range of engaging material to interact with.
  • Children are given an opportunity to learn through simple exposure, along with hands-on activities.
  • They are not pressured or tested.
  • Throughout the early years as they gain more confidence, their output bursts forth from 4 years old.
  • The children will be full of confidence and excitement when it comes to learning.
  • They learn to gradually see how they can make a unique and amazing difference in the world.  That is why we focus so much on creating that strong foundation.

Quality time and fond memories:

  • Bonding time spent with parents.
  • Fun and engaging learning activities establish a love of learning as the child has positive emotions repeated over time.
  • In the span of just 50 minutes, the Shichida program offers an ideal capsule of quality time that you can spend with your child.
  • This will also help your child become an independent learner once they go out in the world, carrying the warm memories of these very special and fleeting moments.
  • On top of it all, for parents, this program teaches parents how to be their child’s first best teacher.  When parents and children learn together, magic happens.

As you can see, the Shichida Method is a vital part of a child’s growth and learning that’s a treat to experience.  To find out more, contact us today!

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3AW Radio Interview with Shiao-Ling Lim “What Amazing Things Can Your Child Do?”

3AW Radio Interview Shichida Australia

Here is a 30 January 2016 radio interview on the 3AW radio show with Denis Walter. Shiao-Ling explains how kids can take advantage of the various aspects of the Shichida Method: Numeracy, Literacy, Visualisation, Creativity Techniques, Image Training, Breathing Exercises, Critical Thinking, to name a few. Why is Shichida Australia the method that helps give kids such wonderful head start?

Where else can you find such a comprehensive program that gives you all these resources for a tired parent and an eager-to-learn child?

For more questions make sure to gives us a call at 1300-FUN-N-GROW (1300-3866-4769).

You can also register for a free demo lesson here.

Listen to the Audio Here:

Amazing Shichida Baby Ammara Practicing Recitation

Another Amazing Shichida Baby, Ammara practicing some Recitation activities during the Holiday Break. The recitation is what gets kids excited about reading because it provides familiar poems, great sounding rhythms and gives kids confidence because they can practise age-specific and appropriate reading material.

Doesn’t it inspire you to recite a poem for yourself?