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CLADAC ‘Build a Brain – Early Years’ & ‘The Teenage Brain’ Training Sessions

DSCF8666soundLINCS recently hosted the second in a series of three training sessions in partnership with the Child Learning and Development Advisory Centre (CLADAC). Led by Jo Stockdale of CLADAC, these sessions are designed to give an insight into the human brain and how it develops from birth to adulthood. After seeing Jo present at our annual soundLINCS Conference in 2015, we were thrilled to invite her back to provide a more in-depth look at the field of neuroscience and the way our brains work.

The first session, titled “Build a Brain – Early Years”, focused on the development of a child’s brain from the moments just after birth right up until they’re ready to enter their teenage years. This involved the exploration of how the brain is built in response to the sensory, social and emotional environment it finds itself in. Topics covered included the earliest stages of cognitive experience – as early as one hour after birth – and the importance that enriched sensory, social and emotional environments have in defining impact on the rest of a child’s development right through to adulthood. Learning about the key areas of the brain and how they’re responsible for our daily activities was both insightful and eye-opening. The diverse range of attendees included Early Years Practitioners, Early Years Ofsted Examiners and Adoptive Parents, as well as soundLINCS Music Facilitators and Core Staff. Everyone present agreed that the insightful session would be incredibly useful in their day-to-day practices. Jo was able to tailor the content to all delegates, which meant that all of the information was relevant and engaging throughout.

We were delighted to welcome staff from Lincolnshire County Council’s Children’s Services Department to the second session focusing on ‘The Teenage Brain’.  Further staff members will be joining us for the final session in the series on 15th June covering “Understanding the Impact of Arts and Creativity”.

DSCF8662“The Teenage Brain” session picked up where “Build a Brain – Early Years” left off, covering the turbulent times associated with adolescence. It was fascinating to learn that the brain begins to alter around the age of 10½ years and only reaches full maturity between 27 and 31, taking almost twice the length of time to undergo this change than the group initially thought. The session explored the reasoning behind the common issues prevalent in many of today’s teenagers such as low self-esteem, decreased social interaction and even their new-found desire for increased sleep! More importantly, we discussed ways in which parents, teachers and practitioners are able to help and guide their young people through this uncertain period in their lives. Knowing how to build on strengths rather than addressing weaknesses became a key theme throughout, and delegates were invited to consider how this information could be put to use in their daily roles. Discussions were engaging and thorough and especially helped to reinforce the content across the full day session.

The interactive elements of the two days helped delegates to put these unfamiliar facts into context. For example, the group worked in pairs, taking turns counting up to the number three, and then starting again. This was easy enough to do but once the numbers were replaced with actions, such as waving or touching your nose, the activity became challenging (and hilarious) very quickly. Jo explained that the difficulties came from our brain no longer counting to three from memory, but relying on entirely different processes which have to recognise each other’s actions and respond with the next one in the sequence. Experiencing brain function like this in real time was the perfect way of understanding the points being made throughout the sessions.

Learning about the development of the human brain will be invaluable to soundLINCS for the progression of all five strands of soundLINCS FundC, a three year project delivering music workshops and training focusing on the ‘Inquiring Minds Process’. This is taking place through work with Children in Challenging Circumstances across five diverse strands; looked after children, youth justice services, paediatric services, young parents and children with special educational needs, specifically hearing impairment.

DSCF8756Having this knowledge gives us the tools and resources to provide an even more effective service that takes neurological aspects of a child’s development into account. A feature of these sessions is that the different groups of professionals were able to collaborate to gain an understanding of their different approaches to working with and engaging young people. This led to an exploration of how to combine the delegates’ existing skills, backgrounds and knowledge to help support the continued development of children and young people throughout Lincolnshire and the wider East Midlands.

The final session in the series is taking place on 15th June. “Understanding the Impact of Arts and Creativity” will cover the Neuroscience of Creativity and Therapeutic Use of Creativity to decode what is actually happening to the brain when ‘creative activity’ is taking place. Due to the popular demand of these courses all the available spaces have now been filled and we are very much looking forward to the final session happening here at soundLINCS.

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