Most parents of a teenager have asked the question at one time or another, "What were you thinking?" In a recent study conducted by psychological scientists Laurence Steinberg & Jason Chein of Temple University and Dustin Albert of Duke University, they argue the significant influence peers have over their adolescent friends risky behaviors. This study shows an increase in risky behaviors by these teenagers when directly observed by their peers. They report greater activation of brain structures, such as the ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex, which are involved in evaluating rewards.
If we are to accept the relationship between peer influence and risky behaviors, we must also consider the influence these teens hold over each other based upon the amount of time these teens spend with each other. By spending large amounts of time with their peers, these scientists claim the feedback may overtime tune the brain's reward system to be more sensitive to the reward value of risky behavior. They go on to say, "This sensitivity leads teens to focus on the short-term benefits of risky choices over the long-term value of safe alternatives."
In a positive milieu environment, such as ours, students are encouraged, supported, and accountable to each other. We use a strong message of..."you have what it takes to be successful, you matter, and we care about you." This environment is ideal for creating a safe, structured, positive peer community where the students feel connected and accepted. We teach our students about empathy to help them focus on building that positive peer culture while challenging the negative sub-culture that is prevalent in today's society. Utilizing these different tools enable Cedar Ridge students to dismiss typical peer stimuli and apply healthier internal motivators to determine their choice. By focusing in on long-term benefits derived from choices, our graduates are training their brain's reward system to respond more sensitively to mature, healthy stimuli.
Association for Psychological Science April 2013
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
|Denise working with student|
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
The quieter you become, the more you can hear. ~Zen Proverb
Over the past twenty years I have observed an interesting phenomenon in many students who have attended my therapeutic boarding school--a sudden and somewhat dramatic shift in both comprehension and productivity. This shift usually occurs just prior to the student attaining level 800. Instead of staff and therapist symbolically “pushing”the student along, the student starts leading the way. Instead of struggling with subjects in school, the student’s productivity jumps ahead, not only to the surprise of teachers and therapists, but to the surprise of the students themselves.
|Level 800 Students|
Two additional important developmental tasks happen around the time of reaching level 800: 1) The student has meaningful goals for themselves; and 2) They are finding it much easier to distance themselves from past loyalties or problematic peer relationships. Typically, students coming into Cedar Ridge lack meaningful future plans and are unwilling to separate themselves from the past friendships that supported their problematic behaviors. This shift to making future plans and distancing themselves from unhealthy peer relationships are two critical milestones seen by students working for future success.
These students clearly demonstrate a marked reduction in anxiety along with a distinct positive shift in emotional maturity and confidence. This reduction of anxiety seems to be the biggest factor in the accelerated productivity that I have witnessed. In a DVD series called, Social Anxiety: The Untold Story, Jonathan Berent talks about how anxiety contributes to learning problems. He mentions that problems diminish as anxiety is managed and an improvement in learning tasks ensues.
Often what gets construed as learning deficits or attention issues are actually habits of detachment from uncomfortable stimuli. This detachment is almost always automatic and unconscious to those who do it. It is important to understand that detachment is a form of avoidance, which is dissociative in nature. Reflexively, detachment serves to provide relief from the source of discomfort. Unbeknownst to many, this strategy of “avoidance” only serves to reinforce the discomfort that triggered the detachment in the first place.
When anxiety is reduced, the mind becomes calmer (quieter). When the mind is quieter, creative processes re-engage. The constant regressions to past feelings subside and the normal process of maturation resumes. The mind will tune into the rhythms of life in a more natural, developmental way both automatically and unconsciously.
Friday, September 26, 2014
1. Never let the student lead you into a conversation that indicates to them an alternate time frame for going home. Students usually probe about getting back into school at some specified date or ask if completing a certain number of school courses can be the criterion for leaving. The student then uses the alternate criteria as means of getting around the therapeutic expectations. The parent Mantra in response to any probing questions is, "You need to work on graduating the program first."
Friday, August 29, 2014
Sending a teenager away from home to attend a prestigious boarding school in preparation for their college career requires a great deal of sacrifice from families. International families often struggle with the same issues in addition to complications that cross-cultural education will encounter.
We are proud of our uniquely large population of professionals who have lived abroad resulting in a broad range of staff who have bilingual proficiencies. Our academic team uses their firsthand knowledge when working with our international students in an effort to eliminate any cultural barriers that would otherwise impede educational goals. One way in which Cedar Ridge Academy prepares our international students for future successes in their American educational experience is by enrolling our students in a course designed for the development of educational and professional skills.
This course is designed around the objective of preparing students beyond the classroom and to compete in today’s modern world. The course emphasizes the importance of good communication and identifies
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Cedar Ridge Academy sets itself apart from other private schools to international students by offering a flexible but rigorous curriculum designed specifically to enhance academic pursuits whether that comes in the form of accelerated learning or personal life skills which include: increased motivation, confidence, autonomy, physical fitness and hard work. Our learning environment allows the academic team to tailor a specific learning plan to meet the needs of each individual student.
The entire Cedar Ridge experience is dedicated to encouraging and supporting students along their own path to academic mastery and the personal insight required for future success. Our goal is to prepare students to be proactive and successful in their transition from home to college. Some of the ways we approach these goals are the following:
1) Blended Learning and self-paced academics - Students at Cedar Ridge Academy have a blend of academic experiences including: traditional teacher lead instruction, one on one teacher tutoring, and "online" class instruction that can be watched repeatedly and or paused so the student can ask questions, or look up information.
2) Academic Mastery - Students must complete each assignment, quiz, and test with a minimum score of 80% before being allowed to move forward in the curriculum. When a student scores less than 80% they are required to repeat that assignment, quiz, or test.
3) Integrated Therapy - Students at Cedar Ridge Academy have the advantage of onsite professional Therapists to help students explore success beyond the classroom.
4) Diet and Exercise - Cedar Ridge Academy integrates dietitian planned meals and snacks helping to ensure your students nutritional needs are being met. Cedar Ridge Academy students have weekly Shotokan Karate classes and scheduled Physical Education classes during the school day. The students also have a variety of extracurricular sports they can participate in including basketball, golf, volleyball, and fast pitch softball.
Discoveries about how the brain can be stimulated to create new neurons (neurogenesis) indicate that exercise is highly beneficial for such development. In order for this neurogenesis to occur, one or more of three conditions must be present; and here at Cedar Ridge Academy we focus on providing all three requirements daily. The first of these conditions is "exercise," not just a few minutes of exercise, but a sustained level of exercise. The second of these conditions is "novelty." When the brain is presented with novelty for a sustained length of time, new brain cells can be triggered to form. Lastly, the condition of "enrichment" can stimulate neurogenesis.