Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) have proven, for the first time in history, that physical fitness in children may affect their brain structure, which in turn may have an influence on their academic performance.
More specifically, the researchers have confirmed that physical fitness in children (especially aerobic capacity and motor ability) is associated with a greater volume of grey matter in several cortical and subcortical brain regions.
In particular, aerobic capacity has been associated with greater grey matter volume in frontal regions (premotor cortex and supplementary motor cortex), subcortical regions (hippocampus and caudate nucleus), temporal regions (inferior temporal gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus) and the calcarine cortex. All of those regions are important for the executive function as well as for learning, motor and visual processes.
A later school start time could mean teens are more likely to get adequate amounts of sleep, according to Penn State researchers.
In a national study of urban teenagers, researchers found that high school start times after 8:30 a.m. increased the likelihood that teens obtained the minimum recommended amount of sleep, benefiting their overall health and well being.
“Teens starting school at 8:30 a.m. or later were the only group with an average time in bed permitting eight hours of sleep, the minimum recommended by expert consensus,” said lead author Orfeu Buxton, associate professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State. “Later school start times were associated with later wake times in our large, diverse sample.”
From the LDA newsletter we bring this wonderful story about ways to more effectively have children remember their math:
In their book The Kinesthetic Classroom, Traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala cite studies that show us how learning certain concepts through movement is efficient and long-lasting.
Movement gives learning experiences something fresh and new, which the brain likes. This novelty helps keep the attention of the students, making their learning efficient. It’s been my experience over years of using movement in math class that even those students who are timid and reluctant to participate at first are nevertheless paying attention and are interested in what’s going on around them. Their brains are still activated.
In this paper, we present a way of describing variation in young children’s learning of elementary arithmetic within the number range 1–10. Our aim is to reveal what is to be learnt and how it might be learnt by means of discerning particular aspects of numbers. The Variation theory of learning informs the analysis of 2184 observations of 4- to 7-year-olds solving arithmetic tasks, placing the focus on what constitutes the ways of experiencing numbers that were observed among these children
According to the Pathways to Mathematics model [LeFevre et al. (2010), Child Development, Vol. 81, pp. 1753–1767], children’s cognitive skills in three domains—linguistic, attentional, and quantitative—predict concurrent and future mathematics achievement. We extended this model to include an additional cognitive skill, patterning, as measured by a non-numeric repeating patterning task.
In this new study children who exhibited knowledge of the connections between the base-ten-blocks and written number symbols had higher posttest and transfer test scores relative to children who did not exhibit knowledge of these connections.
Here is some research about what parental involvement with math (homework) can do with their children’s math achievement. Here is the short of the conclusions:
Parents’ involvement in homework (vs. activities) was more affectively negative (d = .34), particularly among parents low in self-efficacy (d = .23). The more affectively negative parents’ involvement, particularly in homework, the poorer children’s later math motivation and achievement (βs = −.09 to .20).
A very comprehensive review of math apps for small children with recommendations about design and content for parents and teachers to look out for.
part of their summary:
Overall, these results demonstrate that many of the commercial educational apps for young children that are categorised as ‘maths’, are not necessarily reflective of best practices in app content and design. 58 Can Maths Apps Add Value to Young Children’s Learning? Most apps did not comprehensively capture all areas of mathematical development, nor did they adequately include features of personalisation, such as explanatory feedback and programmatic personalisation, which this research has shown maximises children’s outcomes in app-based learning. This demonstrates the limited options for identifying high-quality maths apps currently available for parents and teachers and highlights the need to improve the meaningful categorisation of educational apps on the app stores to facilitate parent and teacher choice.
Researchers lead by Flavia H. Santos set out to develop a Developmental Dyscalculia Assessment:
Developmental Dyscalculia (DD) signifies a failure in representing quantities, which impairs the performance of basic math operations and schooling achievement during childhood. The lack of specificity in assessment measures and respective cut-offs are the most challenging factors to identify children with DD, particularly in disadvantaged educational contexts. This research is focused on a numerical cognition battery for children, designed to diagnose DD through 12 subtests.
Santos, F.H.; Ribeiro, F.S.; Dias-Piovezana, A.L.; Primi, C.; Dowker, A.; von Aster, M. Discerning Developmental Dyscalculia and Neurodevelopmental Models of Numerical Cognition in a Disadvantaged Educational Context. Brain Sci.2022, 12, 653. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12050653
Research shows that children who play with puzzles are better able to imagine what something would look like if it were changed, such as rotated or flipped.These spatial skills support children’s understanding of math and science and have been shown to predict children’s success in the STEM disciplines.
Research suggests that when we see and use gestures, we recruit more parts of the brain than when we use language alone, and we may activate more memory systems – such as procedural memory (the type that stores automatic processes such as how to type or ride a bike) in addition to our memory for events and experiences.
Children are logical creatures; more logical than you probably expect or notice. Most of their learning is cultural, though. That is to say, children learn language from repeated exposure, not from dictionaries. If you want children with large vocabularies, you’ll need to use lots of different words around them. If you want children who read, you’ll need to read with them and to be seen reading by them. We understand this in American culture, and we have robust messaging around it.
Children learn about multidigit numbers through the experiences they have in their lives. Addresses, bus routes, prices, and more—all contribute to children’s understanding that, say, 345 is greater than 78.
We can support children’s math learning by giving them more opportunities to play with math objects.
New research shows that children’s understanding of mathematical language – terms such as more, less, few, most – is important for their mathematical development, already in preschool. Preschoolers are exposed to mathematical language in preschool via teachers but also at home via parental talk. Both are important contributors to performance. Mathematical language can be effectively stimulated in preschool providing opportunities for early interventions to foster language learning at school and at home (e.g. through storybooks)
In the classroom, “brain breaks should take place before fatigue, boredom, distraction, and inattention set in,” writes neurologist and classroom teacher Judy Willis, and that means they should be far more frequent. “As a general rule,” Willis continues, basing her conclusions on decades of research, “concentrated study of 10 to 15 minutes for elementary school and 20 to 30 minutes for middle and high school students calls for a three- to five-minute break.”
It was known from studies that spatial training improves math performance, but what in the spatial training exactly improved that math performance most. A new study revealed that:
age, use of concrete manipulatives, and type of transfer (“near” vs. “far”) moderated the effects of spatial training on mathematics. As the age of participants increased from 3 to 20 years, the effects of spatial training also increased in size. Spatial training paradigms that used concrete materials (e.g., manipulatives) were more effective than those that did not (e.g., computerized training). Larger transfer effects were observed for mathematics outcomes more closely aligned to the spatial training delivered compared to outcomes more distally related. None of the other variables examined (training dosage, spatial gains, posttest timing, type of control group, experimental design, publication status) moderated the effects
The ADHD study, published in Nutrients, found that a prescribed amount of caffeine may increase the attention and retention of people with the disorder. They made this discovery through animal models, finding the substance “increases capacity and flexibility in both spatial attention and selective attention, as well as in working memory and short-term memory,” .
The results so far have been positive, although the team is aware that some of the other symptoms of ADHD like hyperactivity and impulsivity may be exaggerated by caffeine. More research is needed, with the team suggesting it may just be appropriate when the symptoms are purely attentional based and should only be administered under appropriate medical supervision.
This article is from the latest Neuropsychologia and describes how fMRI can show what changes in the brain when you learn arithmetic. At the start of learning you need a strategy to work out a multiplication for which we use areas in the prefrontal cortex and the Intraparietal Sulcus and gradually you can more and more retrieve the answers from memory and activate other areas. These changes can occur already after a few weeks of learning. It happens that the changes in adults differ from the changes learning makes in the brain of children.
A new paper explores, among many other things, discussion of the prevalence of MA and the need for establishing external criteria for estimating prevalence and a proposal for such criteria; exploration of the effects of MA in different groups, such as highly anxious and high math–performing individuals; classroom and policy applications of MA knowledge; the effects of MA outside educational settings; and the consequences of MA on mental health and well-being.
The International Science and Evidence based Education (ISEE) Assessment is an initiative of the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP), conceived as its contribution to the Futures of Education process launched by UNESCO Paris in September 2019. In order to contribute to re-envisioning the future of education with a science and evidence-based report, UNESCO MGIEP embarked on an ambitious project of the first-ever large-scale assessment of the knowledge on education.
Research in the area of equivalence and the equal sign dates back decades, demonstrating students often possess misconceptions concerning the meaning of equivalence and the equal sign. Students often understand the equal sign to mean the answer comes next
Interesting research was done in Canada, the US and the UK to find out if there is a correlation between numeracy, how well people understand data about covid-19 and their behaviors. Here is the short:
Overall, results suggest that while basic numeracy is related to one’s understanding of data about COVID-19, better numeracy alone is not enough to influence a population’s health-related attitudes about disease severity and to increase the likelihood of following public health advice.
A new study published by Frontiers upsets assumptions about what needs to be taught in math class. Most of us think that skills like multiplication and division are learned, but a growing body of evidence suggests that some math skills are inherent.
The study findings indicate that even division is something children can do before formal education begins. This clearly has implications in how math may be taught in the future.
The foundation of the research is the approximate number system (ANS), a theory which states that humans and other primates have the ability to approximate large sets of objects without language or other symbolic interpretation.
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