How Stress Affects the Brain During Learning | Edudemic

Credit: DUNCAN SHAW/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Universal Images Group

Credit: DUNCAN SHAW/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Universal Images Group

We are now well into the school year; the progress reports have been sent out and the countdown to the first report card has begun.

As a parent of two teenage daughters, I find myself with a lot of free time on the weekend. They are too busy doing homework to hang out with me (okay, that might just be a convenient excuse, but still. They do spend a lot of time working at their desks). In between sports teams, extra curricular activities and school work, I hardly see them and when I do, it is usually with a sort of deer-in-the-headlights look to them as they contemplate everything they have to get done.

Both as a person working in a school and as a mother, I am always searching for ways in which we can teach our youth to cope with the demands of everyday life. How to manage their time, how to cope with failure and build resistance. How to, in the way over-used words of poor old Churchill, how to keep calm and carry on.

The article below came to my attention yesterday just as I was listening to an episode on Mindfulness in the Classroom on CBC Radio One’s The Current. The first step in solving a problem is knowing what is causing it. It is helpful to understand as an adult in a child’s life how stress literally shuts down the brain. We have all seen it happen. I think the whole Mindfulness movement is probably one pretty high-powered tool in our toolbox to combat this kind of stress.

Is stress a concern for you in your classroom? How do you deal with it?

A fight or flight reaction may be useful in some situations, but it is highly detrimental in the classroom. Whether anxiety stems from test taking or from an unstable home environment, the brains of students experiencing high levels of stress look different than those who are not — and those brains behave differently, too. In


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