Thursday: Daydreaming is Good!
Daydream Your Way to a Better Tomorrow
Chess players and athletes have used it for years, but did you know that visualization can help all of us? It’s easy to see how visualization, either in one’s mind, or by drawing visual representations can help in subjects like math and science, but what about in other subjects or even for general organization? As a writer I visualize everything: scenes, dialogue, characters, plot twists, themes—they all start in my mind before they ever hit the paper (if they ever do). But, how can it help you and your student?
When we visualize ourselves doing activities, research has shown that the parts of the brain that are activated when we actually do the activity are the same that are activated when we “daydream” about it. Body builders that thought about working out for the same amount of time as their more active brethren saw a gain of muscle mass nearly half of what those that actually worked out did. Crazy, right?
By visualizing our schedule the night before, we can actually increase efficiency the next day. Further, when we actively daydream, we create a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy; if we think it’s going to be stressful and muddled, we’re often right, and vice versa. Visualizing a daily routine can vastly help students with executive functioning issues as they begin to “see” their day and thus time itself. They can see themselves showering, getting ready, eating breakfast, and in a way, this prepares their minds for the sequence.
Even more useful is having students visualize tests before they take them. By imagining the types of problems and working through the steps in their minds, they take a bit of control, and by doing so can increase their proficiency while decreasing anxiety—but they have to approach the visualization from a positive place; it will do them absolutely no good if they are just as stressed about the visualization as they would be about the test and visualizing material they don’t have a firm grasp on won’t help either. If done correctly, visualization can increase motivation, confidence, and motor function.
Let’s talk subjects and ideas of how to visualize them:
Chemistry: Picture the chemicals interacting in your head. See the valence electrons and, more importantly, the gaps that need to be filled in order to gain a full valence shell. Now picture those gaps being filled by another atom with very few valence electrons. Voila! You have a bond!
Math: Picture the equation in your head (or shape if geometry). Fill in the information you have and work through every step until you get an answer. When visualizing, try to keep the math at the level you can do in your head, i.e. 4+5 instead of root3 divided by sin45degrees. That hurt my brain even writing it down!
English: Picture the sentence in your head. Circle the verb. Make an arrow from the noun that is doing the action to the noun or phrase receiving the action. Congratulations! You’ve just diagrammed a sentence with noun, verb, subject, and object!
Reading: Picture the scene and characters in your head as the story progresses. Make the characters in your head do what the story says. You are all powerful! You have a movie in your head!
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
The simple thing is that visualization will help you get better at whatever you choose to visualize, as well as help your mental organization. The important thing to remember while visualizing is to try to make it as close to real as possible; include as many steps, no matter how small as you can.
Also, here’s a great article on visualization with another great practice activity.
Still don’t think visualization is real? Well, my unicorn army and I visualized taking over this blog, so check and mate.