Educational Neuroscience Aims to Help Your Child With Their Learning Disability
If you’re a parent who has a child struggling in school due to a learning disability, you may sometimes feel helpless and without many options. Helping your child with homework assignments at home or speaking to their teacher about their difficulties simply isn’t enough.
However, an emerging and promising field of science, known as educational neuroscience, might be the solution that many parents have been waiting for. It combines elements of medical science with education to give struggling students a more personally targeted way of learning.
What is Educational Neuroscience?
Educational Neuroscience is the combination of neuroscience, which is the study of the nervous system, and education. It’s a way for educators, psychologists, neuroscientists, and other medical experts to come together and combine their expertise to help children who are struggling in school.
This field of science holds great potential to help children with learning disabilities, such as those who suffer from dyslexia (reading difficulties) or dyscalculia (difficulties with math and numbers). Neuroscientists play a role in the field of educational neuroscience by acting as monitors of a child’s neural network or brain changes. They can identify areas of the brain that may have development issues, and they can relay this information to teachers or other medical professionals.
Working together with this information, psychologists can then develop a treatment plan for any emotional issues that may need to be treated, while teachers can create personalized lesson plans that focus on strengthening specific learning skills based on the neuroscientists’ findings.
How Educational Neuroscience Can Help With Learning
When a child is learning how to read, neural circuits are formed within the brain, and connections are made between different brain structures. Developmental dyslexia, for example, can occur if there’s any type of disruption within this neural network in the brain that deals with reading. Because this type of disruption can happen when children are first learning how to read, there are early opportunities to identify these disruptions and, in turn, tailor a student’s learning objectives around that.
This is where educational neuroscience may be most effective. Problem areas for learning certain skills can be identified quickly by neuroscientists, and teachers can then intervene by focusing more on the materials or lessons that are more effective for each child. This can help to speed up the learning process for children who are otherwise struggling, as teachers can then concentrate more on what works for each student and less on what doesn’t.
How Learning Difficulties are Pinpointed
In addition to standard testing on reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, educational neuroscience offers a more personalized way of monitoring your child’s progress. It can help to identify which areas of learning or which tasks offer the most benefits to them.
When a student is working on a learning task or activity, their brain function can be measured in real-time using an fMRI, which is a type of functional neuroimaging. It’s a technique that has been used to study people doing everyday tasks, such as playing video games, to see how they respond to certain types of stimuli. Other studies have used fMRI to determine how different forms of speech during lessons can lead to improved reading and literacy in students.
It’s also one method that is being used in educational neuroscience, as it can help identify which areas of the brain are most active in your child and at which points during an activity. This can help narrow down the specific learning activities or lessons that are most effective for your child and which ones aren’t.
It can also provide periodic updates on your child’s progress over time to determine if they’re still responding well to certain learning activities. While this type of neuroimaging is mainly used in a clinical setting, the goal of educational neuroscience is to translate the results of this type of imaging into data that teachers can use. This way, they’ll know exactly what type of skills your child needs to develop and how to go about teaching those skills more efficiently.
Teachers Specializing in Educational Neuroscience
Currently, researchers are looking to bridge the gap between researchers and teachers. Although researchers can see the benefits of educational neuroscience in clinical studies and the laboratory, they haven’t yet developed a way to incorporate this into teaching practices.
This means that in time, more and more options may become available for your child as more teachers begin to involve educational neuroscience strategies in their lessons. Some teachers who specialize in teaching students with learning disabilities may already be aware of this field and might be using some aspects of it in their day-to-day lessons.
However, educational neuroscience is still a newly emerging field, so most teachers are still unfamiliar with it. Researchers are now looking for creative ways to bridge that gap, and we may see this happening much sooner than later. Discussions on how to pair teachers with neuroscientists and other medical experts are now taking place within this field.
Schools Focusing on Educational Neuroscience
The possible benefits of educational neuroscience for your child may soon be found in all levels of the educational system once it’s fully accepted and developed in schools. For example, it’s well known that some students learn better in different learning environments than others. That’s why different types of schools exist, such as traditional schools and Montessori schools.
In Montessori-based schools, teachers adopt a more hands-off approach to teaching in which students are encouraged to freely explore activities during lessons. In traditional schools, lessons involve more teacher interaction and instruction.
Once a system for involving educational neuroscience is designed and can be applied in teaching, your child may have more options once schools begin to offer educational neuroscience-based programs. Some schools may even decide to specialize exclusively in offering this in the same way that Montessori-based schools do with the Montessori method of teaching.
The Future of Educational Neuroscience
The field of educational neuroscience is growing fast and quickly gaining acceptance. While it hasn’t become commonplace in schools just yet, parents should expect to find more private institutions offering programs based on it over the next few years. It’s an exciting new type of education, and many universities, such as Stanford, Columbia, and Vanderbilt, are currently training a new wave of educators and researchers specifically for this field.
Your Next Steps For Your Child
If you are in the Phoenix AZ Metro Area, contact us at the Serin Center to discuss our Independent Educational Evaluations available in our Peoria, AZ & Scottsdale, AZ offices. Our independent evaluations assess for intelligence, academic abilities, executive functioning, and obtain parent and teacher feedback to integrate findings and give concrete solutions and goals that go beyond merely determining if a child should be granted accommodations under section 504 or individualized assistance as part of an Individualized Education Plan.
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The neuropsychological evaluation, like those done in our Peoria AZ office, aims to provide critical developmental information of a child or young adult’s capacity in a lot of different areas.