Do you have a child in matric – the following
information will help them NAIL their exams!!!
Nutrition and Exercise
As your brain is largely made up of water, essential fatty acids and proteins, and is fuelled by carbohydrates, it needs these ingredients to grow/develop and function optimally. Drink plenty of water regularly. Increase meals high in Omega 3 such as oily fish, eggs, flax/canola oil and walnuts. The body also takes a while to break it down protein which means that when you eat this type of food, a steady supply of fuel/energy is being provided for thinking, problem solving, planning, organizing and paying attention.
Be careful what you snack on during studying. Soft drinks, chips, chocolates, etc. appear to be a quick source of comfort, but do not satisfy for long, resulting in high levels of blood glucose which then drop very quickly. As the brain is very sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels this quick rise and fall is not conducive to its optimal functioning. Trans fatty acids in the snacks mentioned above can also hinder the effect of Omega 3 in the brain, diminishing functions of memory and concentration.
Low GI foods are the best choice for steady release of glucose so the brain is kept going with a constant, stable supply of fuel. Fruit and vegetables provide the vitamins that build healthy neurons, improving your long term memory, thinking and concentration and help you to sleep better as well.Serotonin-rich foods are good choices too and will keep you positive and help to control anxiety. Thesefoods include turkey, chicken, tuna, lamb, salmon, soya beans, green veggies, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, pasta, rice, oats cottage cheese, milk and peanuts.
Physical exercise is very important to get more oxygen to your brain and strengthen it too. The more your body moves the more awake your brain becomes so try to exercise for 20-30 minutes s at least 3 times a week. Rather go for a walk in the garden or a bike ride between studying instead of watching TV or playing a computer game.
It is important to have a balanced view of your self (self image). Sometimes we can be so blinded by our weaknesses that we do not give credit or attention to our strong points or we focus a lot on our strong points and ignore the weaknesses.Remember that you control your brain-
- you decide on what you want to think and when you want to think about it
- your brain can only believe what you tell it
- your brain believes and understands things the way you see it
for example, if you tell yourself that you cannot do maths, your brain will store this as the truth. Even before you have opened your maths bookor tried do the sum, your brain has already decided that you will not be able to do it.
Remember your brain believes only the truth as YOU see it !!
How you see yourself will determine how successful you can actually be. Some of your personality is genetic, but you can still chose to be the kind of person you want to be, if you want to be friendly or not, if you want to be organized or not etc. You are not just a slave to your personality.
Know your capabilities, strengths/weakness so that you can set realistic goals. It is always good to challenge yourself to improve, but setting goals that are too high for your ability level can cause you to feel insecure and inadequate. The more inadequate you feel the more stressed and anxious you become. Your emotions impact very strongly on things such as memory and concentration and an anxious or stressed person will find it very difficult to focus, retain new information and recall previously learned information.
Your brain is made up of neurons which collect information through your 5 senses. Information heard for the first time is stored temporarily in your short term memory. With repetition, brain waves send it to your long term memory where it is stored for a longer time. Rehearsing the same information 6-10 times within 72 hours ensures it will be stored in your long term memory.
Finding your individual learning style is crucial to studying successfully. Not all people learn through rote means in a ‘parrot fashion’. Some become easily bored studying this way, lose focus easily, and retain very little information. Visual techniques are also useful study strategies. Summarizing your notes into columns of key notes with key words to help trigger the main points, helps facilitate memory. Mind mapping is also a fun way of visually representing larger volumes of work, in order to obtain a ‘big picture” of the notes, as well as the various elements that contribute to it. Mind maps should have lots of different images, symbols, colors etc. This visual information becomes a trigger for your memory. Using pneumonic (like our NAIL example in this article) is a good strategy for when you have to learn a lot of factual information. Once you have summarized your key points, use letters of the key words to make up a rhyme or a funny word/sentence.
Some people like to talk about what they are studying and enjoy the verbal interaction and feedback from this. Getting a study partner or recording your notes whilst reading them out loud, then playing it back to yourself may also be useful.
Other people are “movers” and learn well through doing or physical activity. Walking around your room or tossing a ball whilst reading your notes might help.