Knowledge and experience define and redefine each person’s unique brain. Studies from the latest brain research indicate that genetic structure has only approximately 10% influence on intellectual potential, whereas approximately 90% intellectual potential is determined by the knowledge and experience acquired from the environment. This information is essential when considering how to create optimal learning environments in and out of our classrooms according to the way the brain learns best. The brain learns best in an environment that develops skills to access knowledge diversity, to analyze and evaluate the information, and to communicate knowledge in various forms. A brain-friendly educational environment enables each unique brain together with technology and literacy to explore and create in an inclusive, cooperative classroom. This classroom offers opportunities to focus on each child’s strengths and to respect the ability to support weaknesses that in return can be strengthened. Instructional strategies that include multi-sensory, interdisciplinary, and differentiated instructional methods are strategies that also define the essence of media literacy. It is my life-long goal to inspire and to inform educators to establish a learning environment that truly engages and respects every student’s strengths and talents and that offers the opportunities for all children to reach their maximum intellectual potential.
The concentration of my work is on four major areas in education that are fundamentally based on the latest brain research. These areas include; inclusive education for medically fragile children, the dyslexic brain and teaching literacy from the first year of life, and the importance of creating optimal learning environments for all students according to the way the brain learns best, with a focus on early childhood education. My Doctor of Education degree is in Instructional Leadership with a minor in Early Childhood Education. Master degrees are in curriculum development and brain research, in addition to a dual undergraduate degree in Education and History. I am a Dyslexia Specialist and I specialize in establishing instructional strategies that create optimal learning environments according to the way the brain learns best. The implications of the latest brain research on education are shared through workshops and presentations based on my curricular process known as the Four Brain Essential Learning Steps™. Over many years, I have presented at educator conferences and workshops in China, S. Korea, and throughout the United States as well as teaching college courses in early childhood education and administration.
Early Childhood Education and Literacy for every unique brain
The first five years of a child’s life are critical for brain development that includes the quality of the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive learning environment. As co-founder and President of A Child’s World Education and Early Age Learning Schools established in 1994, the 4BELS process has been fundamental in the academic and life success of hundreds of young students. Media literacy skills are inherently developed in the learning environment created with the 4BELS. In addition to the unique curriculum and instructional process of these schools, the schools are rated as the highest quality in early childhood education through the international Quality Rating System and national accreditation body as well as receiving a 100% curricular review by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for private academic school programs.
Inclusive Education for the Medically Fragile
There are thousands of home and hospital bound medically fragile children that live in a lonely world of medical treatments and isolation. These children in the United States and around the world are confined to their homes or hospital rooms due to medical treatments and severe immune deficiencies. Many are not physically disabled and yet still physically unable to attend school. Medically fragile children need social and educational opportunities to improve their self-image and self-esteem, to promote positive thought processes and their capacity to learn, to strengthen their ability to cope with stress, and to help with their interactions among peers. These opportunities will improve the quality of their lives while under treatment for a brighter future.
The mission of the Talia Seidman Foundation is to work toward ensuring that someday all medically fragile children have the opportunity to continue their daily education in their classrooms and schools through video conference ability, technology, and inclusive instructional strategies.
Living in and out of hospitals while fighting brain cancer with our daughter Talia, we continually asked children what they would want most at this time in their lives. A repeated answer was, “I want to be like everyone else. I want to go to school like everyone else.” Technology makes this possible for the thousands of homebound or hospital bound children in the country, yet the law of “least restrictive environment” still requires only one hour per day of instruction for the homebound student. The Talia Seidman Foundation for Inclusive Education was established to educate, create awareness, and make it possible for medically fragile children, who are physically unable to attend school because of severe immune deficiencies and medical treatments, go to school through video-teleconference technology and to attend school in ‘real-time’ like all the other kids. The Talia Seidman Foundation (TSF) is a complete volunteer organization and 501(c)3 national non-profit that has provided video-teleconference equipment, instruction, awareness, and educational services, free of charge, to medically fragile children. Since its inception, after the untimely death of 7-year-old, Talia, TSF has worked with private and public school districts – assisting them with the continued daily education of their medically fragile, homebound students. In 2001 the foundation was established with the hope that no child will be refused this opportunity based on race, sex, religion or financial status. As a result, 100% of all funds donated to TSF go directly to providing services for the children and their families.
NAMLE Connection and the Importance of Media Literacy
The Four Brain Essential Learning Steps (4BELS) process creates an environment that is emotionally safe. The student is in control, the teacher implements differentiated instruction that recognizes learning style preferences and multiple intelligence strengths, and the classroom is considered high standard according to an international environmental rating scale. The media literacy field and the NAMLE organization is an exciting endeavor because media literacy complements what is considered optimal learning environments according to the way the brain learns best. The skills developed through media literacy and the 4BELS ensure inclusive learning opportunities for every unique brain. The focus is on a child’s strengths and on building self-esteem, confidence, multi-sensory learning options, and creative problem solving and cooperative learning skills. It is an honor to be a member of the NAMLE organization as its members promote and support developing the essential skills that are needed for every learner, young and old, to achieve maximum potential and life-long success.