About linchpineducation

Sara is the Founder and Director of Linchpin Education. After many years loving life in the classroom as a dedicated teacher she has recently turned her attention to motherhood. Bringing together her experience as mother and teacher, Sara has launched her own company designed to link together quality teachers with quality schools.

Music and the Brain

Music does not exist outside the brain. It is simply the movement of air molecules until our brain responds and works with it to create the music we hear, understand and enjoy.

Recent developments in Neuroscience using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have shown just how our brain is able to convert sound waves to music and the results are astonishing.

So whilst The Mozart Effect (1993) and its claim that listening to classical music will make your child smarter appears to have been disproven, there is proof that music is a brain changing past time.

The process that the brain engages in to hear music is a multi-faceted and organic one. It requires the different regions of the brain to be constantly working together to update information. The integration of low-level and high-level processing helps identify the sounds and then the neurons in the brain fire up to link those sounds with historical information and memory in order to identify what is known as music. Ever wonder why there is so much repetition in a music class? This is why. Building memory and firing up the neurons is a critical part of cognitive development.

Aniruddh Patel of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego regards music as a transformative technology because “not only is it a product of the brain’s mental capacities, it also has the power to change our brain.’

Essentially the goal of all education is to change our brains. We want for our children to learn new things, achieve new milestones and develop as capable and competent people. To do that they need to be engaged in the activity of changing their brains.

Did you know that it is believed that 30-60% of the child’s brain wiring depends on genetics whilst 40-70% develops based on interactions with the environment, including parents?

Sean Brotherson, a Family Science Specialist from the NDSU Extension Service states that, “Children benefit from a variety of different activities…the three critical activities that contribute considerably to overall brain development are music, art and physical activity.” He continues to say that, “Music engages all aspects of the brain and stimulates multiple aspects of brain functioning. Children should be exposed often to many different kinds of music, but especially rhythm, rhyme, and repetition in music and songs.”

Music education and classes such as Einsteinz Music are brain changing events in a child’s day. Each song instantly launches a network of frantic activity in the brain that is firing the neurons and engaging the brain in making new connections.

Providing an enriched learning environment is the best thing you can do as a parent to support your child as a learner. You can do this with four simple steps:

  1. Provide an interesting variety of brain-building activities and think of one new experience you can introduce every few days. Remember, brain-building activities are things like: stroking a pet, rolling a ball, climbing a ladder, playing with a large cardboard box, singing a song…
  2. Encourage repetition of songs, rhymes, stories and experiences every day. A young child’s brain is wired such that they feel safe when repetition is provided and they learn better this way too. Just think of the bedtime routine as a perfect example.
  3. Talk, laugh, sing, play… your child’s language will only develop by hearing language and lots of it! One of the best ways is through story telling, songs and rhymes.
  4. Challenge your child. Encourage them to stretch their ability and work slightly above their current level with your support. Eg. As they master rolling the ball to you slowly shuffle back and encourage them to roll a little further.

 As parents you are your child’s first teachers and you are charged with the almighty task of wiring their brain and establishing their learning pathways. Music classes for babies and toddlers are a great brain-building activity. They are great fun and provide parents and carers the opportunity to engage in a positive and enriching learning experience with their child.

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40% of Childhood Asleep!

Every living creature needs to sleep and it is the primary activity of the brain during early development. In fact, by the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake. Sleep for Kids states that, “a child will spend 40% of their childhood asleep”!  This sleep is critical for both their physical and cognitive development.

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch (2006) suggests six reasons to get enough sleep and the number one is Learning and Memory. Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.

Learning and Memory functions are typically divided into three types: Acquisition, Consolidation and Recall. Acquisition refers to the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation represents the processes by which a memory becomes stable and Recall refers to the ability to access the information (whether consciously or unconsciously) after it has been stored.

Whilst acquisition and recall only occur during periods of wakefulness it is believed by many researchers that the brainwaves seen during sleep are associated with the formation of some memory.

So if so many researchers believe sleep to be important for learning and memory what is the impact of lack of sleep? I am sure many of us can relate to the feeling of sleep deprivation – lack of focus, attention drift, limited ability to process information. Without proper sleep we cannot easily retrieve previously learned information from our brains. In addition, our decision making is impacted and often we struggle to make good choices with regards to our behaviour. Our mood is also affected by sleep deprivation. A bad mood is not a positive state for learning. It has been shown that we acquire new information better when in a positive state of mind.

So as everyone makes their lunches, packs their bags and prepares for the school year how can parents ensure their children arrive at school with the best start possible, a good night of sleep?

There are some helpful hints available at www.sleepforkids.org

For Pre Schoolers (3-5 years) one can expect them to be typically sleeping 11-13 hours per night with most not having a day sleep after 5 years of age. They may have difficulty falling asleep and waking up during the night are common. As their imaginations develop they may experience dreams, night terrors and sleep walking.

Parents can help by:

  • Maintaining a regular and consistent sleep schedule
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that ends in the room where the child sleeps
  • Making sure the child sleeps in the same sleeping environment every night, in a room that is cool, quiet and dark- and without a TV

School children aged five to twelve years need 10-11 hours of sleep per night. Increased demands on their time from school, sports, co-curricular activities and social groups are matched by an increased interest in television, computers, the media and Internet. All of these factors can result in difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to sleep. There has been a link shown between watching television close to bedtime and sleep issues.

At this age it is common for children to experience sleep problems and disorders. Believe it or not this can lead to hyperactivity in the classroom and can impact negatively on their ability to recall learned information.

It is important for parents to assist by:

  • Teaching healthy sleep habits
  • Emphasising the need for a regular and consistent sleep schedule, bedtime routine
  • Ensuring the child’s bedroom is conducive to sleep – dark, cool, quiet, TV and computer free

The school year is upon us once more and as our kids return to the classroom let’s help them be prepared by ensuring they are getting the rest they need. As the team at the Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School (2007) say, “It is clear that a good night’s rest has a strong impact on learning and memory.”

Welcome Queensland!

Linchpin Education is delighted to announce the appointment of Mrs Meagan King as State Manager, Queensland.

Meagan has vast teaching experience having taught in several states of Australia in both the public and private sectors. Meagan completed her Master of Education Degree (Gifted and Talented) in 2004. She has been published in several Educational Journals and has also co-authored a book focusing on catering for Gifted students in the mainstream classroom. Meagan is passionate about education, developing curriculum and working with teachers who share her drive and enthusiasm.

Meagan is a great addition to our team and is looking forward to offering personalised service to schools and teachers across Queensland.

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Two words that mean the most to a teacher… Thank You!

After all these posts about gratitude and writing about all the things I am grateful for I was delighted to receive this message from the mother of an ex student –

Just to let you know…my son got 99.90 ATAR score – thankyou for inspiring him to reach his potential! 

What is so special about this message is actually not the amazing score, although it is a phenomenally good score!

It’s not even the incredible talent of this young man, and he is incredible!

What is amazing to me is that I taught this boy SIX years ago! He was in Year Seven and wasn’t even in my class. I selected him for an extension group designed to challenge underachieving boys and worked with him for about two hours per week.

Now… six years later I receive this message as he graduates High School.

If ever a teacher had a doubt…

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

– Henry E Adams

Below you can see the article showing my old school and how well they done on the league tables this year. No wonder with the incredibly talented group of boys in that class!

I can’t wait to see what they bring to the world in the future… it promises to be mind blowing.