Productivity is one of the most highly regarded and desired traits in the workplace today. And to be productive, multitasking is the go-to method. The ability to switch between multiple tasks rapidly is seen as a special skill, but it can stifle productivity and increase the likelihood of making mistakes. But with the growing flood of information and technology, distractions are at the forefront of our every step. And while this is affecting everyone, these distractions are most detrimental to children’s developing brains.
The idea of “multitasking” or what is better described as “rapid task switching” impedes not only efficiency but also weakens our ability to embed new information into our memory. When we learn new information, we use declarative memory in the hippocampus. When distractions occur during learning, the brain shifts from the hippocampus and relies on the striatum, which involves more second nature-type tasks. When we switch tasks, our brain must also change from one neural network to another, which consumes mental effort and brain fuel. This keeps children’s developing brains from absorbing new content to the best of their ability.
As Dr. Russell Poldrack – associate professor of psychology at UCLA, stated regarding children, “Even if he learns something while multitasking, his ability to remember what he learns later or use it in other contexts will be diminished.” Also, children make better decisions when they are focused on one thing at a time and make more minor mistakes. But keep in mind, not all task switching is bad. If we are stuck on something, switching to another task can recharge the brain. However, this is different from responding to emails and texts or checking social media while learning a new concept. Additionally, a practical multitasking situation might include listening to classical music while studying.
Armed with this knowledge, the Gentle East Martial Arts Program utilizes cutting-edge brain training in every class. To be the most effective in learning new information, the classes are divided into short sections, so focusing on one thing at a time is possible while minimizing distractions. This allows students to grasp a new skill quicker and solidify it into their memory so it can be built on from there. Along with this learning method, boosting positive chemicals in the brain provides an efficient learning process. Parents are also encouraged to use this technique with their children at home during online learning or homework time.
Although a strongly valued concept, rapid task switching is counterproductive to productivity, which it is supposed to enhance. Therefore, adults must make changes in children’s learning environment for optimal brain development and learning. Minimizing distractions and encouraging a single-task focus will boost performance and efficiency while also saving mental brainpower. Children can then complete their work in less time and without stress while also having more time to do things they enjoy.
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Author: Jennifer Salama of Skillz Worldwide. Edited by Master Eric Rangel-Ribeiro
Jennifer is a 4th-degree black belt and has been training in martial arts since 2001. She has a Master’s Degree in Child Psychology and has embraced the SKILLZ curriculum because of its focus on child development and using martial arts as a vehicle to develop the child as a whole.