Keeping kids engaged

Neurologist Judy Willis, MD, shares advice for parents on the best way to keep your child engaged and interested in whatever they're doing
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Keeping kids engaged

After the brain has been active doing something for a while, you'll probably notice that your child begins to get a little restless, especially if it's something they don't love. Be advanced in what you're thinking when you're watching your child. You want to think about, oh, they're doing that. What are they likely to do next? You're thinking in advance of what's likely to happen. Because after the brain is actively working in one section, the visual or the auditory, for more than about 10 minutes in younger kinds and up to 20 minutes in adults, it runs out of the neuro transmitters to keep it processing. So you need to help your child by planning synaps, like a gap between a neuron, and a dendrite and an axon; a brain break. Anticipate before the zoning out or acting out, before your child starts feeling negative about the topic;; stop and process the information through another sensory modality in another part of the brain that is full of neuro transmitters and is ready to go.

Neurologist Judy Willis, MD, shares advice for parents on the best way to keep your child engaged and interested in whatever they're doing


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Judy Willis, MD, MEd


After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Judy Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine where she was awarded her medical degree. She remained at UCLA and completed a medical residency and neurology residency, including chief residency. She practiced neurology for 15 years before returning to university to obtain her teaching credential and master's of education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then taught in elementary and middle school for 10 years.

Dr. Judy Willis is an authority on brain research and its applications regarding learning. With the unique background as a parent, neurologist, classroom teacher, and neuro-educator she writes extensively for parenting magazines and professional educational journals. Dr. Willis has written six books for parents and educators about applying brain research to parenting and teaching.

Dr. Willis is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Education, University of California and gives presentations to parents and educators nationally and internationally about how to help children learn joyfully and successfully. She is on the Board of Directors of the Hawn Foundation, dedicated to helping children improve academic performance and acquire vital social and emotional skills. In 2011, she was honored by Edutopia, as a “Big Thinker on Education”.

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