Yup, the month of showers for flowers has arrived. What also has arrived is some brain fatigue. I know, We just had spring break, but while that definitely was rejuvenating, this year in particular has drained students’ minds more than ever.
There are seven weeks of school left, but with the alternating block schedule, that means only 14 class periods, all courses still needing some focus. Gloria Mark, P.h. D., an informatics professor at the University of California, Irvine, reminds us that when we try to multitask, switching from one task to another, it requires more brain fuel than simply staying on one (note - research actually has found that one cannot “multitask” well unless the tasks are “mindless” activities. Brains are prevented from true focus as they get distracted when jumping from one task to another). “Every activity we do uses a different set of cognitive resources,” Mark says, and so when given multiple tasks at one time, it follows that more cognitive energy is burned, leaving the learner drained. We have all experienced this at some point in our learning.
With all the different learning modes that 2020-21 has brought, including learners multitasking a lot, it now is important to be intentional about finishing the year strong by creating steps that set up success. According to Dr. Srini Pillay, psychiatrist and author, one needs to “unfocus” and let the mind wander. He suggests,
- Schedule times to sit and allow the mind to drift wherever it desires. Middle-school students might struggle with getting started at doing this, so maybe suggest to your child to simply lie on a bed or couch or sit outside, just letting the mind daydream for five minutes or so, seeing what happens and building more time each week.
- Block interruptions before diving into practices/homework. No notifications, text messages, television, or extra tabs open or on. (In fact, a total of no more than two hours of screen time a day is best.) With nothing to distract it, the brain can get one item done before moving on to the next, rather than completing bits and pieces here and there.
- Finally, consider that the learner adds a new hobby or activity this spring. New not only can be fun but also can lead to solutions to current unrelated challenges. By allowing the mind to play in other ways, often positive outcomes occur elsewhere.
Of course, when the Minnesota weather improves, the best suggestion for all of us is to be sure to get outside.
Weeks at a Glance
- Wednesday, April 14: Advanced Literature 7 and 8 applications due
- Friday, April 16: WIN Leader applications due
- Tuesday, April 20 & Wednesday, April 21: math MCA
- Monday, April 26: Teacher Professional Development Day - No Advisory