What is Brain-Based Education?

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Dear Gateway Families,

When prospective families are visiting the school, I am often asked, “how does the school integrate research into the program?”

When I talk about brain-based education based on research, I like to draw from three or four concrete examples. For example, I often explain that our faculty understand that they need to integrate movement throughout the day, because movement increases blood flow through the brain which strengthens learning, improves memory, and generates motivation. Sometimes I point out that our program makes time for play: imagination and play teaches problem solving, social skills and empathy, and requires several portions of the brain to fire in unison, including areas of emotion, memory, organization, and planning.

I might highlight that in order to strengthen long-term memory, our curriculum mixes spiral approaches and interdisciplinary experiences among the discipline-specific work, so that students experience and revisit content and skills through spacing (length of time between reviewing ideas), context (literally when and where the learning takes place), and interleaving (switching between ideas, rather than extended blocks of study).

Or I may share that research has shown that making predictions has a powerful neurological effect on children’s brains. The brain recognizes that something good or bad is about to happen, which leads to increased anticipation and motivation to do something. Students experience an increased in focus and engagement, because they want to find out if their reasoning was accurate and if their predictions came true.

Our school’s commitment to incorporate the best available research about child development and the brain into our teaching and learning is reflected in the major investment of time, money and resources we put in place in order to send half a dozen teachers to the Learning and The Brain conference in San Francisco every February. The participating teachers then return and share their learning with our entire staff at a subsequent in-service event, and together we begin working to evolve and improve our instructional practices to reflect these new insights about the brain.

We look forward to sharing this year’s learning and growth with our community in the months to come.

Warm regards,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School