As parents, we’ve all dreamed of being endowed with a superpower enabling us to understand how our children learn, adapt and evolve. Like a perfectly calibrated compass in the sometimes confusing world of education. Wouldn’t that be magical (and, above all, very practical 😅 )?
But rather than magic, it’s science – or rather neuroeducation – we’re talking about here!
If the term sounds complex, rest assured, its essence is simple: better understanding our children’s brains to optimize every learning moment.
Why don’t we start with a definition? Neuroeducation is the fruit of a beautiful encounter: that of neuroscience, which probes the mysteries of the brain, and the sciences of education. It’s as if passionate neuroscientists and educationalists had decided to get together over a coffee to combine their expertise and rethink learning. ☕ 🧠
Neuroeducation aims to decipher the brain workings involved in the acquisition of new skills and knowledge. It looks at the optimal conditions for stimulating learning, identifies the obstacles that can hinder it and proposes methods to counteract them.
Centered on the learner, neuroeducation is a genuine invitation to look at learning in a new light. It sees it not only as an academic journey, but also as a personal quest to understand the brain.
Neuroeducation is therefore not just about transmitting, it’s about learning… to learn! 🚀
The cornerstone of neuroeducation, cerebral plasticity is the brain’s ability to constantly reorganize and remodel itself.
Imagine your child’s brain as a dense, lush jungle, initially difficult to traverse. The paths of learning are at first blurred and ill-defined. But with each new experience, a pathway emerges, each lesson clears it further, and each interaction brings unexplored paths to light. Over time, thanks to training and the accumulation of experience, certain paths become clear and well-defined.
This process of brain adaptation and structuring gradually transforms a complex labyrinth into a network of easily navigable paths, making learning increasingly natural and easy. Fascinating, isn’t it? 🌿
Every new experience, every lesson learned, every smile shared shapes new neuronal connections. It’s in these early years that the sponge-like brain is best able to absorb the world around it. This period of great receptivity enables a multitude of information and skills to be acquired at a remarkable speed.
It’s during childhood, when brain plasticity is at its peak, that neuroeducation comes into its own. By harnessing the power of this cerebral adaptability, neuroeducation-based methods maximize children’s learning potential, making every experience more rewarding. 💡
✏ Note: Brain plasticity works both ways. If a child is repeatedly exposed to negative or stressful experiences, this can also have lasting impacts on the structure and functioning of their brain… Hence the importance of a caring and stimulating environment for harmonious development.
Learning is first and foremost about understanding our own functioning: identifying what seems easy or complicated, developing strategies to progress, recognizing our concentration needs, and deciphering the subtleties of our attention. In a word, this is what we call Metacognition!
Metacognition is our ability, when faced with a task to accomplish or a problem to solve, to step back and analyze the situation, and pay attention to what’s going on in our heads and bodies. This is where our “little inner voice” comes in, that internal dialogue that guides our thinking: “Remember how you’ve already solved a similar problem“, or “Focus and break down the problem step by step“. Thanks to it, we automatically call on our feelings, our past experiences, our knowledge… to develop a strategy that will enable us to achieve our goal. 🎯
This introspective exercise of “reflecting on the way we think” is not just for adults. It’s also an essential building block in our children’s development, preparing them to navigate an ever-changing world and tackle life’s challenges, whether cognitive, academic, social or emotional.
✏ Note: In addition to helping children understand their own functioning in order to develop their skills and gain autonomy, Metacognition will also have a very positive impact on their sense of competence and self-confidence. Rather than thinking “I don’t know how to do it”, the child will think “I don’t YET know how to do it”.
This perspective, theorized by Carol Dweck, American Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, transforms challenges into opportunities. It fits in with the notion of the “growth mindset”, recognizing that our abilities and intelligence can develop with effort and time, unlike the “fixed mindset” which sees our qualities as immutable.
By adopting a growth mindset, the child understands that the brain evolves and that nothing is fixed forever. This approach not only encourages him to relativize and persevere in the face of difficulties, but also strengthens his resilience and desire to learn. By believing in the ability to evolve and progress, every effort becomes a step towards developing one’s skills, transforming every experience, easy or arduous, into an opportunity for growth.
Neuroeducation reminds us that every child is different, has his or her own rhythm and way of assimilating. This is where the need for a tailor-made educational approach and a flexible pedagogy adapted to these singularities emerges.
Just as tastes and colors vary from person to person, the ways in which children learn can also differ and evolve. It’s important to recognize that these methods are not fixed labels, but can vary depending on the task, evolve with age, or develop with new learning strategies.
Learning is not limited to rigid styles such as Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic. In fact, an effective approach integrates and balances these different aspects. A child may be more receptive to certain visual or auditory information at one moment, while benefiting from kinesthetic learning at another. Flexibility is therefore essential to adapt to the changing needs of the learner.
The challenge is to help the child understand how information is received (for example, by listening) and how it can be processed or expressed in different ways (by writing or experimenting). Encouraging a fluid transition from one modality to another enriches the learning experience, making the child more adaptable and able to assimilate in a complete and integrated way.
It is therefore beneficial to vary teaching methods to stimulate a wide range of learning abilities, fostering a more global and versatile development.
Neuroeducation highlights how crucial it is to take into account the variations inherent in each individual. Not only between different children, illustrating inter-individual variability, but also within the same little learner, depending on circumstances. This is what we call intra-individual variability.
For example, some days Maxime may prefer to do his homework in the living room, with Mum’s music playing in the background. On other days, however, he prefers the quiet of his bedroom to immerse himself in his mathematics. At the same time, his sister Jade likes to work in the quiet of Dad’s study, by the window, watching the flowers and butterflies fly by. 🦋
Thank you for joining us in this discovery of the foundations of neuroeducation. Want to know more? We’ve put together a sequel to this first article! On the program: exploring the prerequisites for successful learning. It’s over here! 📝