Foundations For Learning

Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.  Janis Joplin, American singer

In real estate, they say “Location, Location, Location.”  For learning, I always start by stressing, “Foundation, Foundation, Foundation.”  And I mean the deep down foundations for learning.  Not just studying harder or longer, treating the learning disability, or reading more to the kids (and to yourself).  Those are nice, but you gotta go deeper.  I am talking about deeper foundation habits that set up children (as well as adults) to be ready to learn (and calmly enjoy the world).  We know all of these things, but sometimes forget their daily importance in our busy, busy lives.

I am talking about:

These are foundation issues because they must be addressed each and every day. These foundations impact health and quality of life and are therefore core components of good learning.   And remember – you have to eat to survive, but you have to eat well to thrive.  Same for what you drink and for the quality of your sleep.  Is your child surviving or thriving?  How about you?

Don’t roll your eyes just yet because you think I am stating the obvious.  These foundations are not only essential, they are also individual.  Nutrition and sleep needs are clearly different from person to person.  And we all know some people who exercise a lot because feel they can’t function without it.   Then there are others who seem to function quite well with minimal exercise.  So, what does your child need?  What do you need?

And this blog entry is not about the quality of your child’s health, its about how nutrition, hydration, sleep and exercise impact your child’s learning.  When I am talking to parents who have a child struggling with attention or learning, I tell them to think of these foundations as “10 percenters.”  Each might account for 10 percent of your child’s readiness for learning on any given day.  That can be a difference of 40% on any given day.  It can be huge.

Again, the contribution of each of these foundations is individual.  For one child, the right foods can increase attention control by 25%.  The next child seems to function fine on a diet of buttered noodles, but will fall apart without enough sleep.  The next child will end up in tears during homework, but not if they run a half mile before starting. Another one gets a headache, but not if they drink enough water. For any child, all the foundations are important, but one may carry greater weight than the others.

Each of these four domains is a field unto itself, so let’s take a closer look at each one over the next several weeks.