Category Archives: Preparing Your Brain for Learning

Teenage moods and what to avoid – help yourself

  I am a great fan of education that empowers the learner to help themselves. If you’ve been reading my Bali Advertiser articles or attended one of my workshops you have some of the knowledge that will give you more power over your education. My last article concerned the four hormones of mood: the downers; adrenalin and cortisol and the uppers; serotonin and dopamine. Your brain best learns when you’re in the right mood to learn and if necessary there are ways you can change your moods. Changing moods is just shifting from the down hormones to the up hormones. ... [ Read More ]

The SEWBaD rules

Kids who are determined to achieve their learning goals are often helped by understanding how their brains work and how best to prepare them for learning. At Brain Day workshops they learn five rules – follow these and half the battle is already won. Why five? Brain compatible education concerns the ‘learnability’ of  material. Five is a manageable chunk for most of us to manage, three or four is best. To help, Breakfast and Diet are linked, so there’s really only four. Why SEWBaD? SEWBaD is an acronym that is easy to remember and therefore makes the learning a more ... [ Read More ]


If you are a teenager in Bali it’s likely you are having less sleep than your parents did at your age. The current generation of kids are getting an average of less than seven hours sleep each night. Kids used to average eight hours, so a whole night’s sleep per week has disappeared. Does this matter? Does it have any effect on your brain and your school learning? Well, it almost certainly does, and the news is not good, but to understand why, first you need to know a little about why we sleep. Neuroscientists have discovered that during sleep ... [ Read More ]


  Exercise is a Brain Compatible Education strategy. In fact, having regular exercise is a no-brainer. The brain uses 20-30% of the oxygen taken into the body anyway, but increasing the blood flow increases the food, especially glucose, and oxygen supply to the brain. What food does is supply the energy and building blocks required by the cells for efficient functioning and growth – a process that produces toxic waste. What oxygen does in part is to grab the toxic ‘free radical’ electrons produced in cellular chemistry and get them out of the system in the form of carbon dioxide. ... [ Read More ]


We live in enlightened times. A scan of the work of nutritionists and neuroscientists tells us how the brain obtains and uses the chemicals it needs for healthy function and the overwhelming importance of breakfast. Not just any breakfast however, as it is clear eating some foods may be worse than not eating at all. In Bali we can easily find an array of tropical fruits, breads  and imported cereals that make breakfasts enjoyable, but many teenagers still skip breakfast saying they don’t feel like it because it’s too hot, or they get up late for school, or they wrongly ... [ Read More ]

Diet 2 Junk Diets, Junk Brains

Even in Bali you have probably heard ad nausea the bad press that junk food gets. If your meals arrive wrapped in plastic, straight from the microwave after being flash frozen or deep fried then you will already know you’re eating poorly. I am not going to repeat the bad news here – your waist line is probably reminder enough. However as a brain education consultant I only have more bad news for you. Junk food diets lead to junk brains. On a junk food diet your IQ suffers, your intrinsic motivation sinks, you’re more likely to be a couch ... [ Read More ]

Brain Compatible Education Strategies for Parents

The laid back lifestyle we find in Bali allows a good deal of freedom and opportunities for a healthy, outdoor lifestyle for our children. One of the advantages of Bali is that English speaking expat parents have a choice of many schools providing English language programs and ‘western’ curricula. School looms large in the lives of children – about one eighth of the year is spent at school. Teachers become very important to our kids, but the most significant adults to most children are still their parents. We parents are remarkably important in guiding the direction our kids take and ... [ Read More ]

Understanding Hormones of Mood

Teenagers are always curious about their behaviour. They say and do things constantly that surprise them and they want to know why. Dramatic changes are taking place in nearly every part of your body. Hormones are chemical ‘messengers’ released by parts of the body to control other parts and teenagers particularly seem to be at their mercy. Many come from glands; you may have heard of some of them – the pituitary, the adrenal, the pineal gland. The hormones they release do everything from creating our sleep patterns, to stopping us urinating during the night (try going 9 or 10 ... [ Read More ]


In Bali’s warm climate even small movements may cause us to sweat. This is normal because the evaporation of sweat is our cooling system. When it is humid it takes longer for the sweat to evaporate so longer for us to cool down after exercise. Regular water intake is clearly essential to maintain this cooling system but it is so much more than that. Our bodies are about 70% water on average, but our brains are 75-80% water. We invest highly in our brains – they get 20% of the blood supply from every beat of the heart even though ... [ Read More ]

Diet 1 Why we fatheads need to watch our diet

When I was at school one of my teachers always called us ‘fatheads’ as he rapped a large bunch of keys against our skulls. That was a long time ago but I wonder if he knew then how right he was. If you take out the water, what’s left of our brains is about 60% fat, so having a fatty brain is a good thing. But there are nice fats and not so nice fats, and downright bad fats. Much of the delicious Balinese food and most of the Western fast food you may be eating will have been cooked ... [ Read More ]