Different Learners by Jane Healy

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Different Learners by Jane Healy Ph.D. is my favorite non-fiction book this year. It synthesizes the latest brain research for parents and educators. It’s important; it’s scary; and it’s a must read.

Healy is refreshingly accessible to the non-neuroscientist. Watch a quick video from Jane here to get an introduction. Go here to browse inside the book.

First, let’s talk about  environment and the role it plays with learning disabilities, or differences. This brain  research should scare us about what we’re doing to children in this country, in our own houses, in our schools. While genetics do play a part in learning differences,  learning disorders can be triggered by environment. Or not. It depends on the environment.

For example, chronic stress can worsen or even cause learning deficits and ADHD symptoms. For kids, stress comes from things like the following.

Stressors for kids —

  • chronic over-scheduling,
  • having the TV on all day long!, (75% of Americans do this)
  • excessive noise,
  • disorder and chaos,
  • lack of adequate sleep, (think in the 10 hour range)
  • lack of physical exercise,
  • separation from nature.

Another scary scenario that can worsen or cause a learning deficit is inappropriate school curriculum. Pushing overly advanced academic skills does harm to children’s developing brains. Yes. It’s true. We should be worried about the push for academics early in our children’s lives. If our children aren’t ready, get ready for some negative effects.

The book is broken into three parts (see below). I’ve only covered a small part of what stood out for me. Different Learners includes MUCH more – like we can do to create good, brain-boosting environments for kids. The three sections are as follows:

I.  Brain Crisis: Problems and Possibilities (Too Many Dyssed Kids; What’s the Problem? Diagnostic Dilemmas; What Should We Call This? Understanding Learning Disorders)

II. Your Unique Child (Brain Differences and Learning Differences; Rewiring Children’s Brains: How the Brain Builds Itself and How We Can Help, How Your Child’s Brain Works: “Brain Juice,” Emotion, Motivation, Attention, and Medicating Children’s Minds; Genes, Learning, and the Environment: Biology Isn’t Always Destiny; Who’s INtelligent?: Learning Styles and One-of-a-Kind Brains)

III. Childhood in the Twenty-first Century: Pathway to Problems or Gateway to Success? (Stress: The Great Dys-abler; Brain-Cleanin 101: Banish Brain Disruptors; Brain-Celaning 102: Tackling Lifestyle Factors; Successful Environments for Successful Children)

I highly recommend you read this book – it’s very thought-provoking and filled with compelling research!

**Don’t miss my review of Waiting for Superman.

*** What is a Beautiful Oops? Find out HERE.

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  1. Thanks Melissa for another valuable post! I have not read Jane’s book yet but certainly intend to. It sounds like it will be on my favorites list and one I will want to tell everyone about. As you know these are topics that I am passionate to have everyone understand! Our children need every adult in their life to know that their brain is going to develop optimally through nutrition, safety, sleep, time outdoors, routines and predictability, and lots of loving interaction, and play!