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Why you should keep your child from overstimulation
Children these days are facing more screen time than ever. If in the past, they were limited to television at home, now they are given cell phones at an earlier age and reaching for their parents’ tablet at restaurants. Instead of looking at the scenery out the car window on road trips, they watch movies on DVD players or play games on handheld devices. The increased screen time and outlets for distraction introduce the problem of overstimulation. No longer are children told to keep themselves busy, but they have various tools already at hand to keep themselves busy. As a result, they grow a lower tolerance for boredom, and they do not know what to do with themselves when there is nothing stimulating them externally. Children no longer give themselves the time to be bored, yet it is time worth having. That is why it is very important to limit stimulation so their brains can get a rest. Let them be bored. It can do wonders for them. Here is how boredom can help your child: Fosters Creativity It is natural for children deprived of outside stimuli to occupy themselves with whatever they have at hand--which is their imagination. When the mind feels disengaged, it will wander in order to find engagement, leading to creative thinking. This is an important skill to exercise. Sandi Mann, a researcher specializing in boredom, stated, “Once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to really wander, you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious, which allows sort of different connections to take place.” The idea that wandering minds lead to deeper thinking was backed by a study at the University of Central Lancashire. 80 participants in the experimental group performed a boring activity before having to think of as many uses for plastic cups as possible. Those 80 participants came up with many more creative answers than participants within the control group. As previously written, creativity is already deemed a very desirable trait in employees (LINK). Companies look for this when hiring and are likely to value it even more in the future, so have your child practice thinking outside of the box! Let them make up games in the backyard or chat with imaginary friends. Let them consume less and create more! Increases ability to focus It may be worrisome for some parents to see their child constantly staring out the window and daydreaming. However, believe it or not, letting the mind wander will actually increase their ability to focus on a task later on. A brain that is constantly stimulated will lead to shorter and shorter attention spans. Think of all the overwhelming apps and perks a phone has to offer. Dr. Joseph Firth of Western Sydney University said, “[T]he limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the Internet encourages us towards constantly holding a divided attention -- which then in turn may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task.” This also leads to constantly multi-tasking, and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin says, “[Y]ou’re rapidly shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neural resources as you go.” This kind of overstimulation and bombardment of tasks will decrease the efficacy of your child’s brain functions. If you remove things that will distract or overwhelm them, your child will be able to space out, which will then give their brain a rest until they need it for a specific task, such as studying or solving a problem. At that point, the brain will have reached its full potential for focus from the recharge. Hones observation skills Lack of stimulation would not only increase the ability to focus but also hone observation skills. It may seem boring to a child to sit on a blanket in the park and view the scenery. It may seem pointless to sit by a window and people watch. However, just because it seems like nothing is going on does not mean your child is doing nothing. No matter what, the brain is working to a degree, whether it is active or passive. In this case, your child may be observing what is going on around them. Rather than being bombarded with information, your child is calmly taking note of things, whether they recognize this or not. This is a practice of meditation and mindfulness. Removing stimulation gives them an opportunity to take in what is around them and notice things much more keenly than if they had been distracted by something or many somethings. Have you ever experienced this after playing the same game over and over again? You still see the Tetris or Candy Crush screen in your mind’s eye, whether you are sitting around or trying to sleep in bed. Even after, it inhibits your observation skills and holds your mind captive. Quiets their mind Building on the previous point, your child needs to quiet the mind. A lot of times, being busy is a distraction. It can distract them from things that actually have to be done, like choosing to read the news over working on an essay. It can pull them away from troubling feelings, like the pestering thought that they do not belong anywhere or stress that they will never be good enough. Preoccupying or diverting themselves does not solve any problems, nor does it actually make them feel better, because those issues are still there. Once they remove all the stimulants, your child will be able to actually listen to their thoughts, or even to quiet the mind if the thoughts are unhelpful. This will help them figure things out, trust their voice, and learn to take effective action. Sometimes, it is good to be alone with your thoughts. Improves self-discipline and patience This then leads to an improved self-discipline. Your child may feel like they have to be doing something all the time in order to feel productive, even if it is constantly researching or watching TikTok videos. However, nothing is actually being done. By encouraging your child to take a break from YouTube or Snapchat, you are really encouraging their self-discipline. Once they learn to fight the urge to flood their minds with irrelevant information and all the emotions that come with the Internet, they can redirect that newfound self-discipline to purposeful action. They will stop procrastinating. They will be better at time management. They will actually pay more attention to their surroundings and friends. This will also increase their patience. Often games and apps give frequent rewards with fanfare-like music or fun graphics to provide a sense of achievement. That is a lot of stimulants, and also sets up unrealistic expectations for real-life success. Staying away from that may help them work on long-term goals with patience instead of striving for quick gratification. == All of the advantages mentioned above will lead to many more advantages in your child’s life, and it all stems from removing stimulation and embracing boredom. That is where it starts. There is such an emphasis on the hustle these days, but more and more people are realizing they need to take a step back and truly live in the present, let their minds wander, and embrace the excitement of life. Let your child appreciate the wonderful portals that boredom can open up for them if given the chance. Set restrictions on their Internet usage. Free up their schedules. Let them wander and play outdoors by themselves. Whenever they whine, “I’m bored!” tell them, “That’s good.” Create times for you to sit with your child and do separate activities together in silence, like painting or fishing. Now that you have finished reading this, you can unplug and let your own mind wander into fun daydreams and imagine a brighter future for your child!
Challenges help student head toward a bright future after a decade with JEI
Meet Sahana Noru, a student of JEI’s Math program since 2008 when she was only a kindergartener! Now in high school, she is graduating out of the program, but she leaves with a bright future ahead thanks to all that she has learned over the last 11 years. Sahana and her parents recently answered a few questions for JEI Learning Center as we say farewell to her as a student but look forward to her continuing growth and contributions. Reminiscing on when Sahana first began, Mr. and Mrs. Noru revealed that they had visited a number of Math programs before deciding on JEI and enrolling Sahana in the South San Jose location. They said they were ultimately won over by the personal teacher-to-student environment, the series of workbooks, and the inviting and genuine interest of Director Ms. Hanh. Sahana said, “Thanks to Ms. Hanh for having supported my JEI journey. She was always there to help, guide, and coach.” Sahana admitted that there had been many challenges throughout her journey with JEI. She told us, “Towards the end of JEI Math, the math became tougher, and I had to put a lot more time and effort to focus. As I progressed, I also got into a rhythm of completing things on time with fewer and fewer mistakes,” a key aspect of the JEI Self-Learning MethodⓇ. She was also involved in dancing, speech, and debate at the time, saying, “Balancing all of these activities was a tough task, but I was motivated to complete the math program at JEI.” And it all paid off! It was these very challenges that made the overall experience worth it. When asked what specifically was the most rewarding part of attending JEI, Sahana said, “Learning and mastering new concepts in math. The feeling of accomplishment after having completed the course.” Her parents added, “She has become a well-rounded student and has developed strong fundamental knowledge in math concepts. She is doing well in school and entered into the advanced track in math.” Unfortunately, the program does not extend throughout high school, but if it did, Sahana said, “I would continue JEI Math because I think it helped me get ahead of what we were doing in school and also helped me understand concepts better.” We would love to keep helping her, but luckily, it seems we have set her on the right path with our unique Self-Learning MethodⓇ! She is keen on always improving and has a bright future ahead of her. Mr. and Mrs. Noru told JEI, “Currently, her interests are in pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Business. She feels her strength is in math and she wants to build on it during undergrad.” After strengthening and growing in math, Sahana is now ready to get through high school and take college by storm! We love that she has envisioned a bright future through our program and are excited to see all the things she will accomplish. Thank you, Sahana, for being the paradigm of a Self-Learning student and good luck in the years to come! If interested in JEI for your own child’s growth and future, find a center near you and browse all the programs we have to offer!
Past Math Olympiad and Essay Contest winner, Alicia Shin, shares advice to future participants
Alicia Shin was in the math and English programs at JEI Learning Center for two years when she won first place in the 8th-grade division for Math Olympiad 2019 West Coast and second place in Division D for the Essay Contest 2018. Due to her success, JEI Learning Center reached out to her to get more information about her process and what advice she has for future contestants. Alicia admitted feeling reluctant at first for both competitions: “I was kind of nervous. I didn’t really want to do them because it kind of feels bad when you don’t get the results you want. For the Math Olympiad, I was pretty confident, but not for the Essay Contest because math is my favorite subject, but English is not.” The strategy she used for Math Olympiad was skipping the questions she already knew so she could tackle the ones she did not know first. In the end, she ran out of time and could not go back to the easier ones, but this proved to work for her as she won first place! The Essay Contest was harder for her, but she still did well and learned a lot. She said, “Now I kind of see how [brainstorming] affects the essay. I came to a stop in my topic because I had not brainstormed enough, so I think I can work on that next time.” She also realized the importance of proofreading, which includes playing around with paragraphs and sentences to see how they fit together, pinpointing odd phrases, and improving the overall flow. It was a rough process for her as she said she wanted to give up after writing for about ten days. Alicia explained how she had a hard time focusing and what she learned about time management: I learned the basic fact that successful results don’t come from cramming. I didn’t have time to look for the information because of my schoolwork and then I kind of ended up in a slump, which gave me a hard time concentrating. I learned that I should finish schoolwork before it’s too late, and that I should work on what I have when I have time. So one day if I have enough time to work on it, I shouldn't say I can do it next time or when there’s time later; rather, I should do it that day when I do have time to work on something that I need to do. Throughout this challenging process, Alicia felt particularly grateful for her teacher, Renee, at the JEI Learning Center in San Diego. Alicia explained how Renee helped her become a more confident writer: I trusted my teacher in JEI. Renee really helped me out. Whenever I had a hard time organizing my thoughts, she talked with me and told me how to form parts in my essay . . . Renee really helped me with my grammar and writing. When I struggled with grammar because I couldn’t understand concepts, she explained them to me. Also with writing, she really helped me organize my thoughts and writing in general. If the sentence didn’t really fit, she told me and really wanted me to attempt to fix the sentence. Her mother also noted changes in Alicia throughout her experience with JEI, saying that in the beginning, Alicia would talk about the difficulties she would have in English class. However, after enrolling in the JEI English program, her daughter grew confident, got good results, and started to believe in herself. Mrs. Shin said she was very grateful for JEI. She had once considered pulling Alicia out of JEI after some time there, but Alicia had told her she would like to continue because she loved the teachers: “Renee is her favorite teacher, who helped her a lot, gave her confidence, and motivated her.” After the Essay Contest, Alicia discovered a newfound determination to do better in her weaker subject. She said that in high school, she plans to follow up with what she is learning in English class instead of falling behind like she used to. “I would like to read more books and improve my vocabulary,” she added. When asked to explain what determination means to her and give advice to future contestants who are too scared to put themselves out there, the two-time winner said: I am actually one of those people. I would tell them to just do it because once you try multiple times, you get confident, and I noticed that in attempting competitions, I improved on a vast scale. On the other hand, if I hadn’t tried, I wouldn’t have been able to be informed on what I could work on, and I’d stay at the same level without making any improvements on where I’m weak. I’m proud of myself for winning the contests before I really don’t have a chance anymore. Alicia advises other students to stay determined, defining it as never giving up, even if the task given is boring and tedious. For success, she concludes, “I think it’s when you work on something with your best. Doing your best is success, and then getting a result that may satisfy you even if it’s not the best result ever.” With that, see success for your child in this year’s Essay Contest, which will center on the importance of books. Share Alicia’s experience with your child, register for the Essay Contest in the month of October, and witness your child grow confident and determined!