“To learn well is complex. Alongside the hard work, the pedagogy, collegiality, passion, delight, knowledge, joy, and engagement there is the detail of physical learning spaces themselves.”
Professor Stephen Heppell
On Friday 9th of December, Professor Stephen Heppell joined the London Parents Forum to offer insight into the ‘Science of Performance Learning’.
1. Interactive spaces for learning:
Do not discourage your children from learning in a social environment, talking through concepts with parents and siblings will help to consolidate their learning. Boredom is the most detrimental thing to productivity, more so than distraction. If you can encourage your child to enjoy their learning experiences they will subsequently perform better.
Stephen encourages parents to download an app called Lux Meter. This tests the amount of light in a space, the optimum light level is 500+ Lux. Anything below this is detrimental to learning. Make sure that your child has a good source of light. Don’t sit your child away from the window to try to stop distraction this will be counter-productive. If a natural light source is not an option then LED lighting is next best option (not fluorescent).
3. CO2 levels
Make sure student has chance to access fresh air continuously throughout the day. If your child is working in the same room for extended periods of time, then make sure they can go outside for breaks or have a window slightly open. This is because CO2 levels increase the longer you spend time in a room. CO2 has been scientifically been proven to effect a students ability to concentrate.
It has been highlighted that temperature can also have a large effect on the performance of students. The optimum temperature for students is between 18-21 degrees. This variable can knock off up to 2% off your child’s final grade.
There is a common misconception that students should drink a lot of water ahead of the exam. This is not the best approach to take, as the student then risks needing the loo throughout. This will take their minds of the task in front of them and effect their performance. An alternative is water with a pinch of salt or isotonic so that it does not pass through the body as quickly.
6. What to eat before the exam
There is no evidence that proves some foods are better to eat than others ahead the morning of an exam. Brain foods are good but should be given in the weeks running up to the exam, not just the morning of. Do not give children foods like porridge. Foods like this ‘rob your brain’ of the nutrients it needs so that it can be digested. Do not give your child foods that are high in sugar content. That said, any breakfast is better than no breakfast at all. Professor Stephen Heppell suggests that a good snack to eat on the way to the exam is dried Mango dipped in dark chocolate as it slowly releases sugar in the students bloodstream.
Make sure that the chair your son or daughter is working in is comfortable. A hard chair will be uncomfortable and end up acting as a distraction if they are constantly trying to re-arrange themselves.
8. Encourage your child through actions/ modelling behaviour
Quite often, children will be eager to put off studying or learning. Stephen suggests that your children will be more likely to want to learn if it is something they have seen you doing. Perfect examples of this is writing letters, shopping lists and maths that appears in every day life.
9. Let your children build the protocol
Give your child some choice to their learning, e.g. where they want to work, what they want to study. If you give them the choice, rather than forcing it upon them, then they will value and strive to work better and more independently.
10. Value their work so that they value it
Ask your children what they are doing at school and what they enjoy. Put good work up on the fridge, show them that you value their work so that they will value their work and continue to put a lot of effort into it.