School Break Boosts: The Efficacy of Intensive Instruction

By Jess Corinne
November 24, 2021

The first of the calendar year is near which also means an influx of health and fitness goals are as well. No one can deny the effectiveness of exercise – small steps every day lead to bigger goals and noticeable results. Your brain is a muscle and, just like any other muscle, it requires consistent attention and strengthening. Working out your muscles occasionally might spike your feel-good hormones, but it will not create the momentum you need to truly feel a difference. We acknowledge how difficult it is to kick start a new goal, especially one so seemingly trying as learning how to read or automating multiplication facts.  Thus, it is even more important to train your mind and your body to embrace the work that needs to be done in order to achieve the results you desire. You do this by chiseling away at your goals a little bit each day. Once you see change, you feel more motivated to apply yourself and the grit necessary to rise above the challenge and see success. Let’s explore how brain science, mindset, and reduced stress all contribute to the efficacy of intensive instruction. 

Neuroplasticity is Alive and Well!

In essence, neuroplasticity is the capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behavior in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction. The ability to retrain the neural pathways in the brain with consistent and repetitive stimulation (i.e. instruction) has been scientifically proven time and time again. Inch by inch, step by step, we have the ability to rewire the brain to process information in an efficient and optimal manner. Therefore, the plasticity of our brain is the reason why multisensory, evidence-based instruction delivered in an intensive fashion is extremely effective. Implementing sensory-based instruction four or five times a week develops the foundational skills learners require to stand upon in order to apply themselves and reach their full potential. 

Start Strong 

It is a well-known fact that it takes three weeks of consistent exercise to see change. The same bodes true for brain change as it does physique. School breaks present the ideal opportunity to start an instructional program on the right foot. Working on goals several days a week (with much-deserved recovery built-in) not only expedites progress but also gives learners a surge of confidence and inspiration to carry with them once they return to their school routine. Taking the first step towards a goal might be the hardest, but it opens the door of opportunity to establish a habit and a mindset that will carry one through the adversity one might face in order to reach independence on the other side. Starting an intensive program over a school break will establish the practice as routine, so that, once the learner goes back to school, the after-school sessions are no longer full of fatigue and resentment, but rather with excitement for the gains they know that they can achieve. 

Reduce Stress to See Success

There is no denying the uptick in anxiety learners face in the current societal climate. Studies show that our brains cannot take in information effectively if it is consumed by stress and distractions. Utilizing time away from the layers of stress that can be present in a school environment allows a learner to take full advantage of the instruction. Educators are able to make more strides in their learner’s abilities than during a typical school day by implementing instruction over school breaks when anxiety is reduced. Educational therapists and specialists are trained to teach learners strategies that will allow them to cope when faced with stress so that they are able to continue growth once they return to the classroom following a break. 

Accelerate Your Learner’s Trajectory

Learners who are significantly behind in reading, comprehension, writing, and math can make significant gains in a reasonably short time if they receive the right sensory-cognitive instruction in an intensive manner with a trained professional. Struggling readers can see years of growth over weeks of multisensory, evidence-based instruction, for example.  In a study conducted by ERIC, researchers proved that learners, particularly neurodivergent learners, who receive data-based individualization on an intensive basis experience the most gains in a short period of time allowing them to see and sustain success faster than their peers who receive instruction once or twice a week. To maximize growth, lay the foundation for how to learn intensively over a school break and continue to reinforce the gains made in the weeks to come! In sum, school breaks give the gift of time, so let’s not waste the time we have as caregivers and educators to give our learners the gift of bolstering their neural pathways and diving back into school with not only a stronger skill set but a richer view of their abilities to learn to their potential.

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