Dr. Bruce Perry on Helping Students Learn

One of the individuals who has largely influenced our work at Lakeside and across the world is Dr. Bruce Perry from the Child Trauma Academy, Houston, Texas. Dr. Perry has contributed much to the world of child trauma and neuroscientific approaches to helping children. He has spoken on a variety of topics on how to help children deal with significant issues. In this article from his presentation at GradNation at Virginia Beach, he addresses how we can be more helpful and cautious in how we treat children in order to help them learn in school.  I think the article speaks for itself.

Dr. Bruce Perry spoke at the United Way of South Hampton Roads GradNation Summit on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, about relationships and brain development in children.

By Lauren King The Virginian-Pilot © March 5, 2015, VIRGINIA BEACH

Dr. Perry spoke for GradNation at the United Way in Virginia.
Dr. Perry spoke for GradNation at the United Way in Virginia.


To help improve the way children learn, it’s important to know how the brain processes information, according to Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist and senior fellow of the ChildTrauma Academy in Texas.

As part of Wednesday’s GradNation Summit, a conference focused on positive development for children, Perry said the brain takes in information starting at a base level and can make its way to the higher reasoning areas, but only as long as it’s not in a state of stress.

“You first have to go through the really dumb part of your brain,” he said.

“The dumb part of the brain begins acting on it and the higher part tries to explain why you did it.”

This is an important lesson with regard to educating children because when a child is stressed, the natural instinct is flight, fight or just shut down,” Perry said.

If a teacher yells at a student to sit down or stop talking, depending on that child’s previous experiences, it can sometimes shut down the process of learning because they’re reacting to the stress of being told they’re doing something wrong.

It doesn’t help, Perry added, if the teachers are stressed. Or if the child is feeling stress that might have been passed on by parents or from experiencing traumatic incidents.

One way to combat those feelings is to build positive relationships and overcome the isolation that has become commonplace. The average American household has about three people in it, Perry said, and the typical American spends about 11 hours a day on digital devices.

“If people made a more concerted effort to spend time with each other instead of their electronic devices, children might be more open to learning,” he said.

Thank you so much Dr. Perry, for the many ways you have been an international voice in helping our children overcome obstacles, grow, develop and learn more effectively in school.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network


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