How Mirror Neurons Impact Learning | Bay Area Martial Arts
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I signed my kindergartener daughter in the six-week promotion to see if she would enjoy martial arts. I knew after her first class that this was going to be truly enriching for her, and she loves going to her classes.
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My 13 year old son started at the dojo when he was 5 and my 9 year old daughter started when she was 3. Bringing them here has turned out to be one of the best decisions that my husband and I made for our children. The amount of focus and discipline that they have learned through martial arts has encompassed all parts of their lives. Both are excellent students and know how to stick up for themselves. My daughter will not think twice about being an ally for someone else. I am blown away by their self confidence. They have learned that you can succeed at anything you put your mind to with hard work and perseverance.

While learning the skills of working hard and self esteem, students get a great work out and have fun with Sifu Adrian and Sensei Ceci. They create a nurturing environment where children learn skills at their appropriate developmental stage. They have become family and I am forever grateful for all that they have done for my children.

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My 7 year old son started at Bay Area Martial Arts in January of this year. After nearly 6 months I have seen such a change in him both physically and emotionally. My son was always scared of trying new things - like riding a scooter or doing a handstand - because his balance has never been that great. Martial arts has really helped him build confidence and the physical strength to try new things. Respect for yourself, your family, and people in the wider world is something that he is learning and doing. Sensei Adrian, Nate, and Ceci have been so wonderful not just to our son, but to our whole family. They really care about these kids - not just to make them ninjas (because lets face it... what kid doesn't want to be a ninja?!?!), but about helping them be the best version of themselves that they can be. Thanks so much you guys!!!!

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How Mirror Neurons Impact Learning

Learning is a big part of child development and how children learn things is dependent on a variety of factors. Much of the time, observational learning contributes to how children learn information and behaviors. This type of social learning can be greatly influential because of the role that mirror neurons play in learning. Providing children with positive environments is key to helping them learn new skills and appropriate behaviors.

A lot of learning happens indirectly through what is called observational learning. This type of social learning happens when children watch and imitate others. Psychologist Albert Bandura originated what is now called the Social Cognitive Theory that encompasses social learning. This type of learning connects traditional learning theories to a cognitive approach and emphasizes how mental factors are involved. This is a great source of learning and can be seen in all stages of development.

In a nutshell, Bandura stated that children learn certain information and behaviors by observing and then mimicking others. Within this process, attention, memory, and motivation are key. And while mirror neurons are responsible for our ability to mimic others, there is some thought that happens before a child imitates someone. This is called the mediational process. During this, the child unknowingly evaluates the type of consequences that are linked to behavior they are observing. Therefore, they are more likely to imitate if there is a positive reinforcement linked to behavior. This is called vicarious reinforcement.

Since martial arts is taught in a group format, it is important for classes to be divided up in a way that is most beneficial for children and learning. While most martial arts schools divide their classes up based on rank, the SKILLZ program takes a child development approach and separates the classes by stage of development that includes all rank levels. This gives children the ability to observe peers that are at higher levels of achievement. By doing this, they will begin to mimic the more advanced moves and, therefore, learn by simply observing.

The modeling and mirror of movement that happens within classes separated this way is a massive learning tool and the instructors are a huge part of this process. SKILLZ instructors are high-energy, motivational forces in class. Therefore, children pay attention and learn more. And since skills that are taught are reviewed throughout a single testing cycle, students increase their memory of skills. Students are then rewarded with high fives, belt stripes, and new ranks, so other students are motivated to receive

those same positive reinforcements. All of this boosts their social learning, according to Bandura’s theory, and mimicking these behaviors begins to happen.

Social learning, with the help of mirror neurons, is a great source of knowledge for children. The continuous interaction between cognitive, behavioral, environmental influences is vital in this process. Being intentional about the type of environments that children are exposed to is important so that learning new information and the development of positive behaviors happen.

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