What would the world be like if we knew exactly how every child learns? If we didn’t feel compelled to put children in well-defined boxes that were easy for US to understand. If we instead centered their education around them. Dr. Joqueta Handy tells us why a child’s learning strength is everything that we need to know.


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Disclaimer: The information in this Podcast is for educational purposes only. Vaishnavi Sarathy, Ph.D. is an educator, not a doctor, specifically not your child’s doctor. Please consult your physician before implementing any supplement or diet recommendations.

Audio Transcription: 


Hello, and welcome to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I hope your new year is going super well so far. I’m your host Vaish Sarathy. And for those of you who have joined us in the new year, this is a short, action-packed podcast that explores sound nutrition and equal learning for all kids, especially children with disabilities. This year, one of my aims is to bring the perspective of the gut-brain access into everything we talk about, from a very big lens.

This means that it’s hard to learn efficiently if you have concurrent gut inflammation or systemic inflammation. And on the other hand, during the appeal, there we go so far if we don’t give the brain appropriate input. In this context, I would like to invite today’s guest, Dr. Joqueta Handy, starts both worlds. His adult handy is an integrative medicine doctor, a pediatric speech and language pathologist, which is a very unique combination and takes a holistic approach to learning.

Dr. Haney has dedicated her career to helping children with autism overcome learning challenges, she has created an educational model that improves the quality of life for every child, and gives parents hope that their child can achieve their full potential. Her extensive toolbox includes optimizing diet and balancing brain chemistry as well as innovative educational strategies designed to maximize each child’s academic potential. Children have shown a 70% improvement after 16 hours of one on one instruction losing after handy educational model. That is amazing Dr. Hanby and welcome to this podcast. I’m so happy that you’re here with us.

Dr. Joqueta Handy:

Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be a part of this.


Thank you. And I need to say right now that I’m a big fan of your book, brilliant learning. And I recommend that everybody read it, especially if you’re interested in out-of-the-box strategies for learning for children with or without disabilities.

I’m excited to chat about your strategy. So do tell us a little bit more about your approach to learning about brilliant learning. And I want to pick up one specific area, but you’re welcome to talk more about how identifying learning channels are how kids learn is important for them.

Dr. Joqueta Handy:

Absolutely, I think that will that’s what my whole book is about even the title brilliant learner. Because I believe that all children are brilliant learners. And there was one particular child, I use the story at the very first of the book, Weston, who taught me this. And it literally changed my career that we can’t look at the outside of the package to know or make assumptions about the child, we need to look at the inside. And what their gifts, and what are their talents, and every child has those. And so Western was the one who taught me that. And, again, I built my whole career, all of my strategies on being able to look within that child and say, Show me your talents. Show me how you learn best. And then I’ll build the program around that.

Awesome. It’s so simple. It’s just literally asking the child or stepping back and watching and say, Show me what you will grab what you enjoy the most. And so when I tell parents to do this, or even when I’m working with therapists and teachers, I say the child will show you how they learn best, you need to stand back and watch. So it may be the child that gravitates to the piano, it may be the child that gravitates to the YouTube video where a song is being played. It may be a child who is hands-on, they’re building with something, maybe they’re even if they’re lining things up, which many times we label as a negative or an anti-social behavior. It tells us a lot about how the child learns they need a hands-on can kinesthetic manipulative learning style. So every child will show us how they learn best. And then when you have that, that piece, you can just copy it across the board in any strategy and any subject and you can do this for their whole academic career.


Right. And I really applaud that you’re taking these things that you know, things that we call stims things that we consider negative things that we’re trying to suppress and just move that into a learning opportunity not for the child but for us because I think the child already knows how they want it. Learn, it’s just that we have this particular idea of how a child should learn

Dr. Joqueta Handy:

Exactly that is so true. I look, I spoke with Dr. Martha Herbert, a couple of years ago, I was on a conference with her. And what she said is just stuck with me so much. She said that we should remove the labels of autism, and she was speaking from a physical standpoint and cancer, she was speaking from a disease state because what applies to those two labels, applies to everyone. And that’s what I said years ago, probably as much as 20 years ago, autistic children or children who learn differently, are just here to be our teachers.

What applies to them, we have now seen applies to many children. So as we are a technology-driven world, we know now that science has proven that our children learn differently, they have larger motor centers in their brains because they’re exposed to iPads, computers, and iPhones as young as you’re under the age of two. And so the motor center of the brain is much larger than like in my generation, I’m 52. End, so they don’t learn as well, from a lecture type situation, they need visual stimulation, they need kinesthetic movement. And where we used to say, Oh, this is just children who, you know, are labeled, I don’t like the label as special needs, or it’s really to children who learn differently, but children are who are here to teach us different methods of learning. And now, we’re realizing that this is a teaching method that should be used in every classroom, and across the board, even in colleges.

I’m an adjunct professor at one of the medical colleges here. And they did a recent study on medical students who were applying, and they were trying to look at screen time. And, you know, say that this didn’t make for because of motor centers in the brain, maybe it didn’t work make for the best doctor, in terms of their communication abilities. And when they started applying this filter, they took out almost every single one of the applicants applying to medical school. So what do we see we are a technology-driven world because of that our brains have evolved to be different. And because of that, we all learn differently than we did 3040 years ago.


And this is such a simple mind shift what you’re saying it’s very difficult, it’s very difficult to apply to, oneself, especially if you’ve been thinking in a certain way, especially if you’re a teacher in a special with unquote special ed classroom. But what you’re proposing is a really simple mind shift that all children learn. But all children learn differently. And that’s true more and more these days. And we know that. And actually, this segues really nicely into my next question I was going to ask you about schools and labels. And we know that these differences are unless your schools a Montessori school are really forward-thinking probably 99% of the schools this is not addressed, that the minute you deviate from the lecture-based model of learning, or you can understand you’re given a label.

I was going to ask you if you wanted to share anything about labels. But do you think that this whole label culture comes from the fact that we don’t understand how children learn?

Dr. Joqueta Handy:

I do. I think it comes from that, I think it comes from making it easier in a learning institution or the powers that be for the administration for the teachers versus for the child. Because when we can put something in a box, just like in our homes, what do we want, we want organization, let’s put it on a shelf, let’s put it in a box, and therefore everything is organized. And so we try and then apply the same thing to our children.

If we can give a label then we can put it in a box and we have this box, this group of children and Okay, now we’re going to put them in another box in a label of a classroom, because that makes it easier to assign teachers and, quote learning tools or strategies to that box, but we’re not looking at What are they? They are individuals? Yes. And we’re not looking at has our learning evolved with our culture? Yes, yes. And as it evolved with the needs that we’re being faced with right now. And so I think that’s where removing the label is so much, maybe it’s not tidy.

It’s so much more advantageous for our child. And what I’ve personally seen from hands-on working with children for 26 years is when we take away the label, and we focus on their learning strengths, we see behaviors disappear, we see learning accuracy increase. And so the ease of teaching is so much easier. And so that’s what I, I tell teachers, I’m not trying to make your job harder make it untidy, unorganized, I’m trying to help you make it easier, and a joy to come to work every day. And when you see in any situation, when we see the gift in a child in the learning situation, that energy spreads. And so again, it’s just, I think it’s just better for everyone. One of my favorite schools or teaching models that I’ve come across is the Acton Academy. And their flagship school is in Austin, Texas. And I was just drawn to this school by a TED talk, I think it was back in like 2011.

It was where some of the leading businessmen in our country are sending this their children to the Acton model, and there is no curriculum. And the first time I heard that, or the first time I went to see this school, I have to admit I was a little what’s the right word? I’m almost scared. I think it created anxiety in me. I’m like, how can you have order in this classroom? without there being a curriculum? With the teacher going into the classroom every day? And literally saying to the children, what do you want to learn today? I’m like that. And when I went to look at it, it was just the opposite.

There were children that were five years old, that were creating computer programs and animating cartoons. And they had learned there were six-year-olds learning about what was an autopsy? And, and how, what does the body look like.

I was amazed, and every single child from kindergarten to eighth grade, could do put their thoughts and presentations into a PowerPoint. So there was no mayhem. And what was really neat was, the older kids or teaching the younger kids was mentoring. And like in one of those situations where one of the younger children couldn’t get their PowerPoint to work, it wasn’t the teacher who jumped up to try and fix the situation. It was an older child. And I was like, This is beautiful. This is what this is about, is working together and to learn. And one of the other things that

The learning curriculums that were taught that Acton Academy is based on is where they went into third world countries, and they gave no instructions, and they put a computer behind the glass case, and they could access the keyboard. And what they found was the learning curve in just hands-on trying and trying to figure it out, was much higher than where a lecture instruction was given, and how to operate or devise a learning program. And that’s what’s powerful.


That’s, that makes so much sense even as I just wanted to tell you that just what you’ve been talking about right now about acting Academy has resulted in such alike, you know, I just had like an aha moment and a brain shift because I have been very long ago, you met my son but my son has multiple disabilities, Down syndrome and autism and we’ve been just homeschooling because obviously special ed classrooms don’t work very well for him. It’s hard to assume competence for other people and so on. But just a free-range homeschooling program with what

He wanted to do. And he always wants to study poetry has always worked well, this year, we shifted to an online public school with a rigid program. And I just seen his motivation reign and with the structure. And as you were talking about acting Academy, I just realized that we went from a very perfect but random and chaotic model to a very structured and as we remove the chaos, I think we also remove some of the things that helped in his growth.

Dr. Joqueta Handy:

Beautiful what, what an amazing aha moment. And I think so many times it is just like what I experienced, even though, you know, I’ve worked with special needs children in education, I think I’ve been in every school system and school model between the state of California and the state of New York. And when I was faced with this, I literally had anxiety, and I think that’s what’s so many parents need to realize. It’s okay, you know, what, what is the harm in just trying it, you might discover something wonderful. And if it’s not, right, you can shift and you can change, it doesn’t mean that you’re cemented in, in any way. But there are beautiful things that can come just from exploring.


Yes. And that is, as always a great segue into my next question about parenting attitudes. I think that you were talking about the chaos that’s such an attitude would bring into schools, and it’s understandable that teachers would be initially resistant, that the system would be resistant. So I feel like, at the minimum, it has to be parent-driven. And even if everything else was in place, in your experience, how important is the attitude of the parent in this regard for a child’s learning?

Dr. Joqueta Handy:

It’s huge. So I started as a segue from the book, I started an online portal called brilliant learning online. And it’s meant to just be to take the ball and put it into video form. But the first thing that I did on the very first videos that I made, and they’re just little grab-and-go videos there, the longest one is 10 minutes.

Most of them are just a minute long. But the very first thing that I did was to focus on the parent, we did a six-part parent series. And a lot of the parents were just like, okay, yeah, I just want to skip through that and give me the actual exercises, huh? No, no, no, it starts with you. You have to see your child, as a brilliant learner, you have to celebrate every day, one of the things we talk about is a wall of greatness. And it’s just, you know, a word of phrase, recognizing every day, something that your child did, that was great. And something that you did that was great as a parent because it’s hard, I get it, I raised five children.

I’ve been hands-on in the classroom, I’ve had my own school, I’ve helped build schools, I understand what parents go through what teachers go through, and what administrators go through. And we have to be there to support each other and to encourage each other on a daily basis. So one of the things that brilliant learning online was meant to set up was that community of support. But most of all, to say, the attitude has to start with you. I get that it’s scary. And you know, I’ve been scared. And so let me help you step through this.

Let me give you a place to go on a daily basis so that you can be renewed and given new ideas. But it’s also about you know, some of the greatest things that I’ve learned is from children and from other parents. And so let’s create that place where we can share and come together. So I think parents the parent perspective, and supporting how hard it is in being a parent, especially in homeschooling on a daily basis.


Yes, and I’m on a daily basis, parents like me are always told what their child can do. I’m so grateful for people like you who are here to reinforce the idea of brilliant learning of the innate competence in every child. Thank you for that.

Dr. Joqueta Handy:

Thank you and you bring up such a good point. If another thing that as is on the videos if you’re told that your child can’t and that’s what you’re met with on a daily basis, move away from that. the situation, that situation is never going to get better. And it’s not going to be supportive for you or your child. And so, you know, just like we would move out of an environment, a home environment that’s not supportive.

Do the same thing with the school environment. Because you can there are resources I’m here you can help in creating that positive learning environment.


Amazing. Thank you so much for these insights, Dr. Handy I’m really grateful that you took the time to join me today. I do want to repeat Dr. handy contact information because this is likely going to be a different podcast. You can reach Dr. Handy at brilliantlearningonline.com the email is info at brilliantlearningonline.com she has a fantastic book called brilliant learning and I would highly recommend that listeners check it out.

There’s also www.drJoquetahandy.com. Again, thank you so much for being here, Dr. handy. And you’re listening to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I look forward to meeting you again next Thursday. In the meantime, if you have any comments or questions either about this podcast or others, you can join us @facebook.com/functionality. Bye.


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