13th Sep 2015

Body Mind and Soul





Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain


The body, mind and soul are intricately connected. A change in one can trigger changes in the others.




The body plays a significant part in our ability to be great learners and thinkers. We sometimes forget that the brain is a physical organ of the body therefore it requires good hydration, food, exercise and rest. Our physical condition is important to learning.



 Having regular water improves memory and attention. Increasing numbers of young people drink fizzy drinks, energy drinks and coffee all of which act as natural diuretics. Diuretics reduce the body’s water volume by increasing the kidney’s urine production. The propaganda through advertising is an enormous hurdle for parents and educators to overcome in establishing the right attitude about hydration.

How much? Males 12 cups/day. Females 9 cups/day. Very active kids need more.

Set a hydration goal.

Dehydrated brains suffer from cognitive impairment particularly short-term memory.



What you eat matters greatly. By the time a child arrives at adolescences their habits are ingrained.

The connection between brain function and diet is overlooked in the learning process. The brain needs a steady flow of glucose to function at its best.

The problem: Diets with high levels of sugar and fat and low levels protein, fruit and vegetables.

Imbalance: Imbalance generally stays as an imbalance and over time becomes a huge issue and is one of the biggest health issues facing Australians. Why? Young people consume more fast food because it is cheap and easy to obtain.

Changing eating habits can be very hard.

Breakfast. It is constantly talked about as the most important meal of the day. It is more important to learning than ever. Morning breakfast affects the amount of grey matter in the brain. Good eating is not only responsible for weight control but for brain function.

Junk food= junk brain and junk body.

VIP: Diet is not only about better health but about improved brain function.



Exercise helps young people feel better, behave better and think better. Physical activity plays a huge part in reducing the affects of mental illness.

The technological age of video games and internet use is adding to our sedentary lifestyle. Schools should ensure that physical education and daily fitness are never dismissed as a waste of time. It is well known fact that exercise has a positive influence on brain function. The use of movement as a state changer is one of the most effective ways to refocus young people. When movement is attached to new learning it bonds to memory better.

Exercise and learning are two of the factors that grow the brain. Exercise promotes fresh oxygen in the blood, which builds neurons in the anterior hippocampus. The hippocampus controls working memory so exercise plays a huge part in memory and warding off depression and other mental health issues.

What you can do in your classroom.

Have team leaders to invent energizers so that kids lead the activity. Add stretches, touching walls have a ball toss.

Do a walk and talk. In pairs students walk and talk about the lesson or a talking point. Discussion can focus on a test or review of information.

Encourage kids to play sport of any kind.



Sleep deprivation is common in teenagers. Research suggests that students from low- income families, large families and minority groups tend to go to bed later. This is certainly the case in Wilcannia.

Poor sleep leads to distractibility and inattention and has a negative impact on the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is responsible for high order thinking.

To do:

Encourage a regular night time routine of 8 to 9 hours.

No electronic games at least an hour before bed.

For those who don’t sleep well try using a steady rhythmical white noise sound such as a fan.



A young person’s mind is very active on content of their choosing. School subjects tend to get minimal effort from some students. The brain grows from new learning. Connections in the brain grow every time we learn new things.

The brain loves novelty, challenge, complexity and revitalisation.

What is the goal of learning? Getting students to be self directed.

Being self directed means knowing how to get the brain to do what you want it to do. Knowing how the brain works is important but knowing how to work the brain is more important.

How do you we help young people today to be self-directed?

Tell them or read them inspirational stories.

Avoid negative thoughts and lyrics in songs, movies and games.

Be aware of your friends and what they do and say.

Focus on things that make you happy.

Limit time on social media.

Practice mindfulness skills.

Some Mindfulful skills

Be present

Learn to stay in the present. Don’t live in the past. Experience the joy of NOW. It can be difficult

Practice awareness

Learn to pay attention to one sense at a time eg smell. Then explore all the other senses and talk about what is noticed.

Introduce the students to the Habits of Mind.  Explain that the Habits of Mind are the dispositions of successful people and they use the Habits when they don’t know what to do.

Avoid Judgement

When things happen or new learning occurs or people do things don’t judge, label or criticise. Listen with understanding and empathy.



Every student is unique. Genetics and environment play a role in the formation of every person. We are all body, mind and soul interacting constantly to make us who we are. Our soul is our World One. The world of our inner self. Of our dreams, aspirations and experiences. It is our spirit, which needs to be nourished just like our body and mind. Students witness the spirit in classrooms through quality relationship, reflection or meditation and community service.


Nothing feeds the soul more than respect and acceptance.  The way we greet students, the way we interact with them and show them interest. Quality relationships and social acceptance are spiritual encounters. Student who experience social difficulties are often at a disadvantage with their learning and often have few friends.

Reflection /Meditation

Your graditude journal is a great way to express emotions in a safe way. In a world of material advantage, having gratitude is a skill that will liberate young people.

Writing can help clarify, focus and listen to our feelings. Emotions play a huge role in learning. Powerful emotions stay in the memory longer. Negative emotions distract us. Having a gratitude journal can assist young people who struggle with negative emotions to feel positive about themselves.

Community Service.

Working as a volunteer can do a great deal for the spirit of a person as well be a positive experience for the receiver. Providing choice about projects that young people can get involved in so that interest matches experience is beneficial. Research suggests that community service improves student behaviour, develops responsibility and creates collaboration and cooperation.