The Mindful Learning Model
A Neurocognitive-Developmental Learning Program
What is Mindful Learning?
Neurocognitive-development is defined as “learning occurring through developmental experiences which lead to cognitive growth by connecting and integrating different areas of the brain” (Kelsey, 2016). As a neurocognitive-developmental program, the primary focus is on the neural integration of the different systems of the brain through the natural developmental stages children experience. The Mindful Learning Model looks at and analyzes how children take information in, how they process, think about, make a decision, and then act on that decision. The Mindful Learning Model is a relational, cognitive, social, and emotional developmental model. The model provides children with the opportunity to reinforce how they learn in more meaningful, mindful ways. Children become motivated to learn from an adult.
The first three elements make up the relationship-building phase of learning. One must develop a strong, trusted relationship with a guide/adult who has mastered the skill they want to teach. You will never be fully invested in your own learning if trust is not built. You will ultimately give up or lose your motivation to learn the skill before you get a chance to master it. This is the reason why many people who are successful in a particular arena of life will dedicate their learning to one person; one mentor whose relationship positively impacted their success. How we build relationships with children in the early stages of learning makes all the difference in their future outcomes.
“We don’t pay attention to boring things” John Medina from Brain Rules (2014) tells us. The development of attention is the cognitive process that shapes the direction of the flow of energy and information in our minds that occurs when we learn (Siegel, 2015). In terms of mindful learning, it is important to specifically bring awareness to what we want the child to learn. When we help a child develop focused attention, we teach the child the meaning of a situation.
Children often interpret the world through their bodies and emotions, leaving them with heightened abilities to “feel,” yet lacking the cognitive abilities necessary to “think” through their emotions efficiently. This may result in reactive and impulsive behaviors. When we begin to teach a child how to regulate their emotions, through their relationship with a trusted adult, children learn to actively “fix” their own problems instead of relying on adults to do it for them. We can turn a situation from being reactive into being proactive when our focus is on mindful thinking.
Communication abilities come in different kinds of modalities, and each modality requires different parts of our brain to work. When we explore the idea of integrative communication, we teach children the importance of all modalities of communication and how to use them appropriately and effectively regardless of the child’s natural communication style.