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Create With Freedom Not Control

Create With Freedom Not Control

One of the things missing with educational systems insistence on tests is the lack of concentration and value on the journey. Even in youth sports now we are seeing children as young as 6 and 7 years old playing on “elite” travel teams. These teams travel to ‘away’ game because there is status in that travel.

Controlling these kids time with such rigid structure is not beneficial to their long term mental and physical growth. Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and science writer Carolyn Gregoire offer many insights to the idea of openness leads to creativity. Being open to new things

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Nature Calls

Nature Calls

One of my wife and I’s favorite things to do is to be outdoors. Studies are now showing the immense benefits of outdoor activity in a scientific manner. A study from Stanford University showed that being in nature had therapeutic applications for addictions. It also showed it reduced compulsivity and improved self control.

Studies and actual applications for children playing outdoors as a big part of the school learning have shown tremendous results. There are so many things a child can do in the great outdoors. They can find things on the ground that interest them and take them home.

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Smartphones Are Really Just Answer Phones

Smartphones Are Really Just Answer Phones

Clearly, kids today have more electronic stimulus than ever before. Whether they are plugged into their headphones, watching video games, or communicating on their phones they are swamped with outside immediate stimulus.

Another thing that happens when you are continually looking at your phone is that you lose focus. That’s right, you lose focus. How many times have you seen people walk into things or other people when they are staring at their phones? How does the constant interruption to look up and then back down to your phone affect your ability to focus for long periods of time?

A

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Please and Thank You: A Lost Art

Please and Thank You: A Lost Art

At a recent event I was speaking at the fire alarm went off. Over 200 people exited the building and stayed outside until the firemen arrived to give the all clear signal. I saw this as an opportunity to conduct a quick small-sample social experiment. I went to one of the doors leading back into the building and kept it open as the people passed through. Most people totally ignored the fact that the door was being held open for them.

Out of thee 100 or so people I saw walk by only 9 said thank you. Not only that,

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Brain Plasticity

Brain Plasticity

Our brains are not muscles, but they can and do act like one. One of the most important parts of brain development for our children is their brain's’ plasticity. Young people’s brains are able to be shaped and molded by their experiences and actions. Even negatives can be of benefit to the children.

Yes, that is right; failure is a good part of children’s experience. You see, when children face adversity their brains and the parts of the brain that deal with memory, are on high alert. They develop coping mechanisms. They have to learn to weed out the unnecessary

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The Dendrites Come Marching Home Stressed And Upset

The Dendrites Come Marching Home Stressed And Upset

In an earlier post I mentioned dendrites and the hippocampus. I want to delve into more of what they do to affect your behavior, and yes, your ability to enjoy life. What is happening in our students and athletes is a toxic stressful environment. I am all for positive stress. I look for opportunities to provide and participate in it. It is my fuel to be competitive.

When negative stress is accumulated over a long period of time performance, fun, and enjoyment are affected. Over time the dendrites, the cells the brain uses to communicate inside the brain are destroyed.

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Colleges Looking For Kids From Teams That Struggle

Colleges Looking For Kids From Teams That Struggle

That is right. You read it here first. More and more teams are looking for kids who come from organizations and teams that have struggled. Seems many of the kids from the winning teams pose a false sense of bravado. They actually believe they are better than the other kids. Remember that toxic environment I talked about earlier? It is seeping into and being flushed out by certain coaches at certain colleges. They are recruiting kids that come from solid, well mannered, with proper disciplined homes. Money, socioeconomic status is being rejected.

These coaches recognize two essentials ingredients to a

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Elite Teams And Too Much Winning

Elite Teams And Too Much Winning

The brain and its dendrite, cells used for communication are becoming more and more toxic. The solution, make sure your child has manners, make sure whenever possible you look for the best environment for your child that has thoughtful positive role models.

 This pertains to teams your children play on as well. It may not be their “in thing” or cool and proper to say no to the elite, triple “A” team, but your child’s brain, and your child will thank you in the years to come.

More and more of these teams are being formed with an “elite” status

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How Toxic Is Specialization In Sports?

How Toxic Is Specialization In Sports?

Because of specialization in sports and in the classroom, more and more children are becoming swimmingly upset. I like to use the duck analogy, on the surface everything seems to be normal, but when something happens they start paddling and quacking like crazy. There is so much pressure on them at an early age to be great or excel in school and the classroom that the first environment in which they should be learning becomes toxic.

This toxicity takes shape in many forms. You can see kids, parents, and coaches get discouraged when things don’t go well in a game

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What Does Negative Thinking Have To Do With It?

What Does Negative Thinking Have To Do With It?

Negativity in the brain manifests itself in many actions by the body. A reaction to stress, sometimes unintended, gets the brain worked up. In some cases the brain decides that it is going to taste the negative toxicity and get a little dopamine rush. Ever seen a child snap at a friend, teammate, classmate or parent? This child seemingly is absolutely fine then all of sudden a small incident will happen and they will fly off the handle? There is a reason for that.

Think of positive and negative thoughts. The negative thoughts have a shorter distance to travel in

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What Does Negative Thinking Have To Do With It?

What Does Negative Thinking Have To Do With It?

Negativity in the brain manifests itself in many actions by the body. A reaction to stress, sometimes unintended, gets the brain worked up. In some cases the brain decides that it is going to taste the negative toxicity and get a little dopamine rush. Ever seen a child snap at a friend, teammate, classmate or parent? This child seemingly is absolutely fine then all of sudden a small incident will happen and they will fly off the handle? There is a reason for that.

Think of positive and negative thoughts. The negative thoughts have a shorter distance to travel in

Read more

What Does Negative Thinking Have To Do With It?

What Does Negative Thinking Have To Do With It?

Negativity in the brain manifests itself in many actions by the body. A reaction to stress, sometimes unintended, gets the brain worked up. In some cases the brain decides that it is going to taste the negative toxicity and get a little dopamine rush. Ever seen a child snap at a friend, teammate, classmate or parent? This child seemingly is absolutely fine then all of sudden a small incident will happen and they will fly off the handle? There is a reason for that.

Think of positive and negative thoughts. The negative thoughts have a shorter distance to travel in

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Rough Housing

Rough Housing

Rough·House

NORTH AMERICAN informal
verb
gerund or present participle: rough-housing
rəfˌhous,ˈrəfˌhouz/

act in a boisterous, violent manner.

"in front of the stage hundreds of teens and young adults roughhouse, flinging themselves into each other"

Therese Borchard says BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) actually acts like fertilizer for the brain. There seems to be neuron growth in the hippocampus and cortex when rough housing and fun are introduced to children. When the children have some manners and sense of community real long term learning can take place. Their brains, like muscles, strengthen and grow so they can solve problems better, more often.

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Play IS An Answer

Play IS An Answer

The Mercer Island School District in Washington State has reintroduced tag at recess for the children in their school district. This form of free play exercise has proven to be very beneficial to the children. It helps them strategize, be creative, problem solve, and have fun. This kind of learning environment where the physical nature of play is attached to the brain is fast becoming an excellent way for children to learn and grow.

Allowing kids to experiment and be free seems to be unlocking the brain's desire to learn and grow in a holistic approach. I heard my children

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Long Term Success

Long Term Success

Research done in the 60’s and 70’s at Stanford using marshmallows showed conclusively that delayed gratification led to long term success. The immediacy of eating one marshmallow quickly ended up being a detriment to the subject as opposed to the subject who waited and ate two. More times than not research shows that waiting for a goal, and working towards a goal is much better for the child than an immediate reward. That try for a short term victory may come back to haunt a coach, player, and team in the long run.

Resilience as defined by Pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburgh,

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Let Them Be Kids

Let Them Be Kids

Researchers have written numerous papers, books, and given seminars on this subject. There is a natural order for children to grow. Ironically, it is called chaos! The only constant amongst children in sports and school is their age. They do just about everything differently, at different ages, and even at different times of the same day.

Dr Steinberg states that the plasticity of the children’s brains is at its peak for biological and social development. The prefrontal cortex is at its most malleable stage. What does that mean do you as a coach, parent, or teacher? It means that children’s

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Balance, A Key Ingredient In Learning And Life

Balance, A Key Ingredient In Learning And Life

Just thirty years ago kids engaged in unstructured play outside with their friends for long periods of time. The brain benefited from all kinds of play and activity. These afternoons outside helped the children grow and grasp many complex learning skills from the simple implementation of playing, imagining, and being creative on their own.  They had fun.

Balance, a key ingredient in learning and in life, was at the forefront in all the activities they did. Coaches rarely yelled at kids, and parents, for the most part, just cheered quietly or did not come to the games. This approach has

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Why Balanced Excellence?

Why Balanced Excellence?

Over the last 30 years a remarkable change has occurred in the way we coach and teach our children. At Balanced Excellence, we believe strongly that the synthesis level of thinking is needed here. If we take the science that is available to us and combine with what we already know about the holistic natural approach to children’s growth we may have something cutting edge here. This way is certainly not working. Immediacy and winning with elite status is robbing the children of the benefits of trial and error during their childhood journey. The base, so important to learning life

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Winning, Development, and Fun are not mutually exclusive

3 in 1

 

I recently interviewed a high school varsity coach who also coached an n “elite club” team. The sport does not matter for this discussion. Hopefully by now you know my mantra that if it is really true, than it applies to all sports, and life. I did not tape record this interview because quite frankly, I did not think it was going to be anything special. I was interested in getting some more background information on the “elite” club team mentality. Specifically, how it applied to the younger children.

 

The beginning of the interview went
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