Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Heightened Learning Blog has a New Home

Eventually I will be transferring many of these posts over to my new blog.

There's a great new post waiting to be read.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Strengthened Parent & Child Relationships

Home-schooling has many benefits

Home-schooling allows kids to relate to adults better, especially their parents. Being with my mom all day, and learning through her and my dad shows me more and more that I can trust them and that they want to be my friends.


I've certainly observed this gratitude that children have for their parents in the teen homeschooling population. The teens that I work with never seem to mind having their moms around. In fact, they seem to enjoy it!

One mother commented to me last week that she thinks that the more time parents spend with their kids, the more their kids are going to spend time with them later in life. I think she's onto something!

Often times I feel that my students appreciate what I'm there for as well. There's a mutual understanding that we're both there to learn together. Rarely do I feel a personal divide between us because I'm an "adult" and they're a "teen." We're all people -- growing and learning together.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Alex and the Sleep Monster

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Adrian Grey, an artist & wonderful father. While there, he showed me his children's book that was in the process of being published. It is artistically stunning and an experience that both children & adults can enjoy.

Today, I am happy to announce that he has graciously put "Alex and the Sleep Monster" online. I hope the website encourages you to check it out!


p.s. I'll get back to blogging more soon, wonderful changes are happening!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Effortless Mastery

Spring-cleaning is about renewal. During my cleaning spree last week, I came across Kenny Werner’s “Effortless Mastery” hidden amongst many a book.

Juanito Pascal, my truly inspiring guitar teacher, introduced me to the book years ago. Though Werner’s book is largely touted as a text for musicians looking to play without fear and negativity, his words go much deeper than that.

The back cover explains:

“While Mr. Werner happens to be a musician, the concepts presented here are applicable to every profession, aspiration or life-style where there is a need for free flowing, effortless thinking”

I agree.

Students looking to master any skill would benefit from his thoughts. His main point being that all skill comes from practice in a relaxed state. This relaxation promotes us to be appreciative of what we are doing instead of being harshly judgmental. We perceive excellence through each moment that we fully give to our activity. Through this excellence we love what we engage, building on positive associations.

I would call this profuse moment, mindfulness.

I see my students struggle with this as they criticize themselves for what they have yet to learn -- especially writing. They have so many ideas about what a writer is and should be that it blocks their ability to try. Negative thoughts of “I’m bad at writing” are often heard during the first session.

Often times, students are trying to build a bridge without the supports in place. To break way from these habits of negativity, I bring a student to what they can do. Feeling comfortable here, I can slowly help them to build on their existing skills.

I often recommend for parents to end any signs of frustration before they start, even if it means stopping the activity altogether. It is always better to start from a tabula rasa than a mind imprinted by negative experiences.

Though I struggle with mindfulness daily, I experience it teaching. Part of why I love my work is that it requires a relaxed focus with my student and myself. I have to be very present to optimally teach them in just the right way. Hardly ever do I find my mind racing to other ideas or inquiries that will not benefit our interaction.

And now that I am thinking of positive interactions, play comes to mind. The idea of play is so important to my work. I realize now that during play it is easiest to be mindful. We’re in an activity that we love, so we appreciate and indulge in it. This loving indulgence is the way to mastery.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's all about Saturday morning radio!

Kid Rock: WAWL's "Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl" is a healthy part of a balanced musical breakfast.

It’s Saturday morning. An energetic DJ busts out an emphatic, “It’s time to get all that energy out! Get up and dance around.” He then spins some Ramones, some They Might Be Giants and even some beat poetry set to wind instruments. The beats span decades and genres, with well-known tracks that I can’t help but belt out. There’s a heavy rotation of original new artists, most with an ethereal, lo-fi sound.

Oh yeah, and it’s a radio show for second graders.


Having enjoyed college radio for a long time, I'll have to tune into WAWL this Saturday.

This show is billed as educational by giving interesting insights into music as well as the content of the music. More importantly, I suspect that listening to radio helps to build listening & attention skills over all.

Happy listening,


Monday, December 05, 2005

Learning through Good Nutrition

As a holistic educator, I look at many aspects that make up each of my students. One aspect that I focus on (which parents are often surprised by my questioning of) is nutrition.

The simple question, “How is your family’s nutrition?” holds a goldmine of answers. As a diagnostician, the answers to this provide many insights.

Proper nutrition, meaning nutrients balanced as in the Zone or (the even more disciplined) Paleo diet philosophy, aids in cognitive functioning, emotional wellbeing, and overall stability/energy.

Nutrition is certainly a touchy subject, and I’m careful to approach it with the utmost care. Often times, to get the most out of my educational approach, I ask families to provide their child with healthy snacks and water before and during our session to optimize their energy level.

The difference a healthy food can make is astounding. Watching a student rise from being lethargic to energetic is always interesting. The best part is when my student realizes that food really does matter and they start implementing good nutrion on their own.

A balanced food is one that has good ratios of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, such as fruit with yogurt or almond butter.

Some snack ideas to help boost brainpower are:

*Almond butter (it’s more expensive than peanut butter, but it has more nutrients in it) and celery
*Yogurt with grapefruit or berries
*Cheese with vegetables
*Cottage Cheese with cinnamon or other spices
*Hard Boiled Eggs

Snacks to steer away from:

Sugary snacks
Juice boxes (have the whole fruit instead!)
Over processed foods

My favorite brain food is almond butter, as it gives me a quick boost of energy without any “crashing” like a sugary snack would induce. I also think the nut butter gets absorbed more quickly because it does not have to be broken down as much as whole nuts do.

Many of my clients live a very healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, they help others to attain their nutritional goals.

Touted as the next best thing to fruits and vegetables is Juice Plus, a whole foods supplement.

Juice Plus is the most researched nutritional supplement available. It is whole food, containing 17 nutrient dense fruits, vegetables and grains. It comes in capsules, chewables or gummies.

Want to know more about super foods? The Natural Life is here to help!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

All play and no work makes for lots of completed projects!

Often times, clients have mentioned that I have a remarkable way of engaging their children. Just today, I was told that my writing class was the favorite out of an array of homeschool classes held at a local coop. This was surprising to me, as I know that I “compete” with some super fun, hands on classes.

However, on introspecting more, I know that my approach to education works very well with my students. This approach is one of flexibility, understanding, and appreciation for each student individually.

A great example of this approach in action is that all of my students know that homework is optional. This freedom enables them to practice their work without the added stress of *having* to get something done.

Each week, I am pleasantly surprised at the number of students who choose to hand in their writing projects. Furthermore, many of them dive into extra projects without being given any external incentive (I don’t believe in giving out external motivators, such as stars, points, toys, etc.).

I theorize that their work ends up feeling like (or is even perceived as) play. Play being any activity that engages us because we have an interest in it. This self-interest is the greatest motivator to enhance learning.

Education as play is certainly crucial in the academic development of children. The earlier my students are responsible for their own education, the better. Thinking experimentally, I would doubt that I could induce this play feeling in older students because they have engrained the idea that learning is work, it's hard, and it's mandatory. However, I do think that over time, older students would slowly acclimate to this new approach.

Speaking as a student of life, I certainly play a lot (today I learned to do a headstand!). Googling topics, reading, and intellectually engaging in activities are routine parts of everyday. As an adult, I greet this state of wonder for its interesting, fruitful, and growth producing interactions.