1. Young brains often do not fully activate in girls until about age 20, in boys, as late as 25.
2. The last part of the brain to develop is the Pre-Frontal Cortex-it controls impulses, organization, moral reasoning, emotional regulation, concentration and prioritizing.
3. Adolescents often do not fully process cause & effect (another skill of the pre-frontal cortex) so they really DO NOT know why they just did something stupid or why they got in trouble for it.
4. Young brains need 9-13 hours of sleep daily to concentrate, metabolize sugar and retain information effectively.
5. Chaotic, unpredictable and cluttered environments are detrimental to student learning; routines, organization and clear expectations are beneficial and for goodness’ sake, clean up your classroom!
6. When young brains are stressed, they act out or zone out. It is an INVOLUNTARY response to stress or boredom AND boredom is stressful to the young brain.
7. Young brains often misinterpret instructions and emotions up to 40% of the time.
8. Optimal brain engagement occurs when there is a positive emotional connection between student and teacher-relationship, relationship, relationship-it makes a considerable difference in the learning environment.
9. Young brains often overuse their amygdala, which results in extreme stress and dramatic emotional responses. Validate their feelings but explicitly teach them how to manage their feelings in a productive way and decrease stress when possible.
10. Numb buns = lame brains. Young brains need breaks to reset their neurotransmitters and attention span clocks. Every 4-8 minutes, engage students in a learning task such as turning and talking or retelling (first, then, finally) what was just learned.
Every 10-30 minutes, students need to be moving around, even for just a minute or two, to increase oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Use an energizing brain break to get their blood pumping.
*Recommended Resources: Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning (Judy Willis), Your Child’s Growing Mind (Jane Healy), Teaching Smarter with the Brain in Focus (Sarah Armstrong), The Primal Teen (Barbara Strauch), Teaching with the Brain in Mind (Eric Jensen), Brain Rules (John Medina), Secrets of the Teen Brain (Sheryl Feinstein)