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Cognitive Coaching

First master the fundamentals.

-Larry Bird-

OUR APPROACH

At Fit Learning, we believe in the idea of “cognitive fitness,” because our philosophy is all about training the brain.  After all, just as biceps are muscles that can be strengthened through workout, so too can the brain.  In the same way that muscle memory applies to juggling the ball in soccer, we believe in this same concept for the brain.  We call it fluency!

 

The best way to understand fluency is to think about the alphabet.  Do children even have to ponder their ABC’s?  Of course not!  It’s second nature, right?  Fluency is about training the brain to know and understand concepts in the same way we know the alphabet—fluently!  We call our teachers coaches, because we believe that coaches emphasize fluency on the field more so than teachers do in the classroom.  When coaches run “triangle” offenses on the basketball court or on the soccer pitch, this is ultimately geared toward productivity.

 

Because our training is one that focuses on mental fitness rather than physical fitness, we prefer to label the process as cognitivity.   Productivity of the brain!  We’ve all heard the expression, work smarter not harder, right?  Our coaching approaches learning with this same goal in mind.

 

The Reward Principle:

 

In life, everything that we enjoy doing is because we are “reinforced” by doing it.  Athletics, unlike academics, have continuous reinforcement built into the equation.  Whether it be a high-flying header goal off a corner kick in soccer or a three-point buzzer beater shot in basketball—the positive reinforcements are just naturally built-in.  In school, some children experience great success, whereas others do not.  For those who do well academically, the good grades can provide enough positive reinforcement to keep them motivated.  What about those students who struggle academically?  Where do they get the reinforcement?

 

At Fit Learning, we strive to promote cognitivity through not only fluency-based coaching practices, but also through the ongoing use of positive reinforcements.  We recognize that many of the children with whom we work are often missing essential elements such as praise and incentives.  As a result, we shower our students with positive reinforcements—every step of the way!  Just as children look forward to their next sporting event, they also look forward their Fit Learning sessions.

 

Do you remember your favorite teachers in school?  Do you recall why you liked them so much?  If I were to guess, it was most likely because of the engaging environment they created.  Simply put, they made learning fun!  What happens when learning is fun?  Students suddenly enjoy doing it.  When school work is no longer viewed as a chore, then success naturally follows.  It is our goal at Fit Learning to harness the love of learning that lies within each and every child we see.

 

No Shortcuts to Cognitive Fitness:

 

Just as building muscles requires years of going to the gym, feeding the brain takes no less effort.  To be a fluent learner means that we know and understand the material “inside and out.”  While this takes a great deal of time and dedication, those efforts will pay dividends in the long-run.  Unfortunately, the nature of human beings is that we usually try to find shortcuts to everything.  To  gain a better understanding of this, you can read Dr. Aditi’s article in Psychology Today about Cognitive Misers.   As parent start to establish a pattern of taking shortcuts for our children, there may be an inclination to resort to desperate measures as those college days draw closer.  See Dr. Aditi’s other article in Psychology Today about the “University Cheating” scandal and why people take shortcuts in life.  While  fluency requires years of developing  those fluent-learning practices, our cognitive coaching does not require such an extensive commitment.  We often only need 40 hours of instruction to develop the foundational skills toward fluency-based learning practice.  Once the skill is put into place, our students will be adept enough learners to put it to practice on a daily basis.