Ready to Learn - A Message from Deputy Principal - Students

Throughout this final fortnight of Term 1, our girls will be engaging in learning experiences to help them understand the ways in which their brain and body can help them to be ‘Ready to Learn’.

This social-emotional wellbeing content will be unpacked during Pastoral Care lessons by Care Mentors but will become a consistent language used by staff and students school wide.

We’ve all experienced emotional responses that cause us to become stressed or anxious. As a human being these are natural feelings that we have throughout our lives according to a situation, and these situations and responses are different for each of us. What one person may find stressful may not cause a strong emotional response from another. What we are teaching our girls is that this is okay and that we can learn a lot about our own (and others’) reactions when we understand our brains and three main parts in particular. We refer to these parts as our ‘Survival’, ‘Feeling’ and ‘Thinking’ brain. During Care lessons we are learning about what these three areas are responsible for and why this is so important to our social emotional wellbeing and academic success.

Our ‘survival’ brain represented by the brain stem is in charge of regulatory tasks such as breathing, heart rate, controlling our body temperature and blood pressure. Our ‘feeling’ brain is where our limbic system is found and controls our emotions, feelings and reactions, while our ‘thinking’ brain regulates our thoughts, emotions and behaviour and is represented by our pre-frontal cortex.

Our girls have learnt to represent these three main areas of their brains using Dr Dan Siegel’s Hand Model of the Brain. Place your hand in a fist with your thumb tucked in and your fingers wrapped over it. Where your wrist joins your hand represents your brainstem also known as your survival brain. Your thumb which is covered or being ‘hugged’ by your fingers is your limbic system referred to as your feeling brain. Your fingers that are curled over your thumb represent your thinking brain and brain’s cortex. What happens if your fingers uncurl and your thumb is exposed? You are no longer using your thought processes effectively, your ability to think rationally has been taken over by your feelings and emotions and you react. You ‘flip your lid’.

The purpose of teaching these concepts to our girls is to help them understand that this happens to everyone. However, if we can recognise the signals in our brain and body when we are beginning to feel stressed, anxious or angry, we can put strategies in place to help calm our brainstem with the aim of preventing ourselves from ‘flipping our lids’. During the coming weeks, we will be investigating these concepts further with our end goal being for every girl to have a personalised Ready to Learn Plan.

For further information on this social emotional learning about the brain, visit:

Dr Dan Siegel’s Hand Model of the Brain

Why do we lose control of our emotions?

How thoughts and emotions fuel anxiety

Kara Krehlik

Deputy Principal - Students


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