Training Students to Use Their Prefrontal Cortex to Focus
Kids often have a lower attention span compared to adults. They can be distracted by just about anything, and this can interfere with learning. While this may improve as they get older, there are a number of exercises that can be done to help improve their focus. The prefrontal cortex provides the key to enhancing students’ attention.
What Is the Prefrontal Cortex?
The prefrontal cortex plays an integral role in cognitive control functions which include mental processes such as decision making, comprehension as well as problem-solving. It is the part of the brain that is found in the region of the frontal lobe that is nearest to the front of the head. It is a small portion that occupies the orbital, medial, and lateral surfaces of the frontal lobe.
The prefrontal cortex starts developing before the child is born, advancing through childhood to late adolescence, where it becomes fully developed. Natural physical growth and daily life experiences such as learning contribute to this development. This explains why young students exhibit limited cognitive capabilities in comparison to teenagers.
Use Your Prefrontal Cortex
The brain is so fascinating with its ability to be reprogrammed and adapt through learning and experiences. Interactions between students and educators significantly influence the behavior of children. Using one’s prefrontal cortex to illustrate what planning and motivation look like makes a far more lasting impact as opposed to teaching this theoretically.
In a study by Psychology Frontier, it was established that there is a significant connection between the prefrontal cortex and non-verbal learning. It has also been determined that the prefrontal cortex has a lot to do with the observational practice of hand movements.
A well-developed prefrontal cortex contributes to academic performance and desirable life outcomes. Exercises aimed at enhancing the prefrontal cortex are quite simple, considering the tremendous benefits associated with these activities. These activities are aimed at the development of executive functions, which involve a set of cognitive processes that influence behavior and reasoning.
Here are some of the ways in which we enhance students’ prefrontal cortexes for better focus and outcomes:
Encourage active listening: Helping students understand what is what by active listening through simple and clear demonstrations in the classroom. This improves students’ communication skills and the quality of interactions within and outside the classroom walls.
Make-believe games: Allows children to learn through pretend experiences. Play promotes a child’s cognitive development, contributing to their social and emotional development as well as creating new avenues for learning.
Setting definite routines in the classroom: Creating a sense of structure and stability in the classroom. A clear outline of what is to be done and at what time regularly gives room for children to develop planning skills and motivates them to focus on the activities that are important to them.
Promoting an attitude of gratitude by teaching children ways of showing gratitude and encouraging optimism. Positive emotions activate the prefrontal cortex, promoting creative thinking intellectual capacity as well as enhancing the brain’s ability to process information.