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Your Child's Growing Mind

Book annotation- Healy, J. M. (2004). Your child's growing mind: a parent's guide to learning from birth to adolescence. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

Shannon Young

on 28 April 2013

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Transcript of Your Child's Growing Mind

The Developing Brain: Does Heredity (nature) or environment (nurture) play the major role in development? Example:
Dyslexia- Some aspects may be genetic but the language environment at home, and different types of reading instruction can determine how severe the problem is. With early intervention there can be a change in the way the brain functions during reading. When the brain comes into the world, it is programmed with certain aspects of behavior and learning, but it is susceptible to change while it grows. Maclean- "Triune Brain"
The brain is separated into three different parts that all have a different function. Reptilian Brain- This is know as the R-Complex which Lies at the base of the brain
It represents our behavior:
Forging for food, grooming, forming social groups
This may explain certain cliques, fighting, imitating peers
It operates to keep us safe
If a child feels threatened, the lower brain will block messages to the higher brain
If a child is crying uncontrollably, messages are being blocked from reaching the cortex. They need time to calm down so they can make rational decisions.
Older children have already developed some connections that put the cortex in charge of the irrational behavior. Mammalian Brain-Limbic System This reflects our experiences
The Amygdala is found here which filters incoming experiences through a lens of past situations with fear or major stress
Children may have profound negative associations that trigger signals of avoidance throughout the brain
Sub cortical areas are constantly working to regulate chemical transmitters.
Neurotransmitters, peptides and nurohormones
Children with early abuse may have permanently altered the ability of the brain to use serotonin for feelings of well-being and emotional stability.
Children may suffer a long term inability to relate positively to others if they face abuse or neglect at 18 months- 3 years. The Thinking Brain:
The Cortex Has 6 layers of nerve cells.
We are born with billions of nerve cells but the neurons must become organized into a system that is made up of perceiving, thinking, talking and remembering.
The first two years of our lives are a time of dramatic change for the cortex.
At birth we must learn how to receive information and then pass it from one area and then another.
The brain of a child uses more energy than an adult. Children 3 years of age uses 2 times the amount of energy that an adult does.
If a child is being inconsistent or difficult to reason with, the brain is experiencing a "developmental typhoon" because things are confusing to them. Every environment that we experience from day to day with our five senses forms a connection within our brain.
Depending on our daily interactions, our brain has the ability to "Prune" connections that have no meaning to us, and strengthens the connections that we use frequently.
It is well known that children have the ability to learn at a quicker pace than that of an adult because of myelin. Myelin is a fatty substance that develops within the brain of an infant is present until the age of 20-30. This substance coats message sending axons that allow them to transmit messages fast within the body. It is possible for some messages to get lost before they are connected, which accounts for gaps in learning. Part Of The Brain Working Together What Can Be Done By Parents And Educators To Help Growth? Make sure that the appropriate amount of support is being administered.
There should be no excess pressure to learn at a accelerated rate.
Growth cannot be rushed. STEPS TO HELP WITH GROWTH:
Provide a collection of stimulating, interesting toys and experiences that spark curiosity.
Be available to provide an environment that challenges children with new learning experiences.
The brain is growing, so let it take what it take in what it needs. Intelligent Beginnings: Birth- 2 Years Brain development is very important and it should be thought about before the infant is even conceived.
The health of the mother is an important factor when the baby is in the womb.
The cells of the mother are growing while she is pregnant just as her baby is.
As soon as 26 days of pregnancy the baby has formed a spinal cord and brain.
This is a crucial time for the baby because there are things that can go wrong within development.
The emotional state of the mother has a big impact on the babies brain.
A pregnancy with a lot of anxiety and fear may produce an infant that is more active in the womb and shows irritability later.
Our brain uses compensation because we all have gaps in our brain, but we can learn to reroute them. What really happens when we try to form a baby who is a genius? When parents introduce phonics early (some as early as in the womb) it can distort the natural development process effecting the sensory organs and nervous system.
For example: If a child is introduced to loud music or loud noises they may have early signs of hearing loss or produce a defense mechanism by not responding when hearing loud noises.
If a child is exposed to over controlling parents, they may have trouble with motivation, discipline and personal adjustments in the future. Environment for effective brain building: Children thrive the most in a stable and predictable environment.
It is important to learn that their behaviors have consequences.
It is important to look at 6 factors in a babies environment:
Emotional and verbal responsiveness of the caregiver
Avoiding restrictive punishment
How the physical environment is organized
Play objects are appropriate
How involved with the child is the adult
The language that is being used
Offering a variety of daily activities
It is best for the caregiver to not teach the child, but rather, let the child teach the caregiver. Possible outcomes of a child that is in an environment that is not conducive to their needs: If heavily managed by the caregiver, the child may lack thinking skills and initiative.
When adults are restrictive and limit activities for the child, children show poorer problem solving skills and mental organization.
A child's development can be limited when harsh physical punishment, shouting or sarcasm are present.
Children need movement to be able to make connections within their brain.
It is crucial that children have the opportunity to be within an environment that allows them to explore, wonder and manipulate. Important Guidelines For Effective Brain Building: What Everyone In A Child's Life Should Know! Active interest and involvement
Start the activity but pass it on to the child
When a baby is laying on their stomach, put the toy far enough away so they can grasp it with their hands
Use positive encouragement
Make sure the environment is safe: Childproof!
Have large pillows and carpeting
Keep playpen time to a minimum
Make sure there are windows
Have shelves me accessible to children
Introduce new toys a couple at a time
Have interesting visuals within the environment: Bright colors
Call attention to specific objects that may not have been explored
Link language to sensory
Provide toys with sound. They improve cognitive skills Order In Which The Cerebral Cortex Grows: Having a better understanding of how the brain develops can help caregivers provide the right stimulation at the right time.
Occipital Lobe- Vision
Parietal Lobe- Touch and spatial awareness
Temporal Lobe- Hearing and language
Frontal Lobe-
Motor Cortex- Body movements
Prefrontal Cortex- Develops last- Reasoning, self-control, memory, planing, attention, judgement Gaining A Better Understanding Of The Lobe's Vision- Occipital Lobe-
Infants can recognize faces and simple patterns
The ability to coordinate images from both eyes, known as binocular vision, is practiced from birth to age 3
Introducing a variety of patterns and shapes while an infant can help them better understand letters and numbers in the future Touch and Spatial Awareness-Parietal Lobe-
Motor development is programmed by nature and one should not try to manipulate the steps.
When a child uses a walker there may be an interruption in the multi-sensory and visual-spatial feedback that is received by the brain. The brain uses the information it gains from seeing the feet to help discover walking. It also may deprive the child's cerebellum of crucial balancing exercises.
Tummy time is very important because children spend an abundance of time on their backs in a crib, stroller or seat. Hearing and Language-Temporal Lobe-
When an infant is 1-2 years old, they can already distinguish between rhythm and sound
Hearing continues to develop until the age of 7-10
At 8 months, infants can enter an important developmental stage where they are able to discriminate between speech sounds and sounds that are not in the environment
Noises can be detrimental if they are to loud or there are to many
Make it simple, soothing and pleasant The Executive- Frontal Lobe-
This lobe plans, organizes and carry's out our thought process
The motor cortex develops at an accelerate rate and is responsible for actions with the spinal cord and cerebellum
At 8-9 months we begin to distinguish between strangers and people we know.
When a child shows anxiety due to a stranger the prefrontal lobe has had a growth spurt in abstract thinking
Children are able to organize their muscles when there is a connection between the subcortical areas and motor cortex
Myelin, which is found within the body, works from the top to the bottom. Because of this, we use our mouth, eyes, arms and hands before we use our legs and feet
Concrete learning (Touching, Bathing, Walking) should come before abstract learning (alphabet, numbers) Warning Signs of A Problem: Infant is acting "Too Good" and sleeps all the time
Poor eye contact
Fails to respond to voices or sounds
Asymmetric movement of the limbs
Delay in milestones
Delay in social responsiveness
Fails to develop language within the proper time
Abnormal response to noises and stimuli Age 2-7 The Brain Of A Child- "Highly creative and successful adults often once learned to play with objects and now play with ideas and innovation" Jane M. Healy Set The Stage For Learning: It is important to have proper nutrition
Have access to stimulating toys- It is predicted that if children are introduced to challenging play material after age 1 they may later have higher IQ scores and higher school achievement in reading and math
Have simple toys available where brain activity is needed to understand
Focus on developing fine motor skills because this will help in the future with attention, self- control, handwriting and art
Between the ages of 2-4 is a good time to introduce physical challenges. The motor cortex has a growth spurt Children And The Ability To Think- Between the ages of 2-7 there is a shift in understanding due to a cycle of myelination and synapse
The brain is actively developing all the time through "growths" and "spurts"
By the age of 7 there is more sensory integration, a major leap in language and a leap in logical reasoning by questions and reflection
By the end of second grade, children should have a basic foundation of math, reading, handwriting as well as a solid basis of motivation, attention and independent problem-solving We all have schema's (Mental "hooks") in which we connect information that is learned with information that we already know. Everyone may experience the same event but the way we connect to prior knowledge is different. It is crucial to the development of a child to follow six steps when they try to solve a problem:
Talk through questions that they must answer to gain a conclusion
Ask them similar questions that gains the same response
Allow some time to answer
Reenact the solution once it has been found
Encourage them to gain the understanding
The teacher or parent must take time to ask themselves what they may be assuming the child holds for prior knowledge but may in fact be lacking Alexander Luria introduces the topic of functional units. The brain of a child is like a puzzle and only they can assemble the pieces together. There are three steps to the functional unit which allows information to be processed and connected and these are:
Regulating consciousness and attention
Converting signals that are meaningful and sending them to the correct section of the cortex
Evaluating the information The Functional Unit: During the years in preschool and kindergarten, children begin to use abstract thought because they have a clear understanding of the environment around them. Searching for Patterns to Connect: Patterns are an important aspect of learning about relationships. Children must learn to see relationships and patterns so they are able to easily organize the thought process. Children who do not learn to explore meaning, become the "technicians" of their grade. Play is important! Symbolic, manipulative and fantasy play are all critical actions that enlarge the mental framework. "Five-To-Seven Shift" From the ages of 5-7 is a time when children hit the most vital state of change as sensory and symbolic thought combine. Children ages 2-7 need intellectual challenges and activities that they can pursue and understand. Learning should be connected to personal experience and hands on activities should be provided which can bring meaning to the child. It is essential that a learning difference not turn into a disability due to a lack of opportunities. Childhood into Adolescence: Furnishing the Adult Mind- Age 8 and Beyond Learning is a procedure that helps to mold our brains in order to accomplish the highest level of development where the frontal lobe is able to take over. At age 8-11 skills begin to become more refined. For example, learning to read is replaces by reading to learn. This is where repetition plays a significant role in order for the child to transition to a another phase of learning. With a mind that is growing at ones own rate, there can be times when students fall off the path of smooth transitions. There are two particular "quirks" that may be displayed. While understanding the information that is presented may be easily understood, some students may have difficulty putting together ideas and knowledge, and showing these connections in writing. The input is being correctly implemented but they struggle with output. It is important to demonstrate how to correctly complete this task in a way that the student understands before they reach a level of frustration. Another baffling irregularity that may present itself is the difficulty to learn basic skills automatically. As infants, we begin to take in information, and as it becomes comfortable, it is sent to a different part of our brain so that the remainder of the brain can be used for more complicated situations. Some students do not harbor the proper skills so this step can happen. For example, a younger student may stop to worry about letter formation or spelling, instead of the content within the writing. By age 9 students have gained basic processing skills. At age 11 it transitions into abstract thinking because there is a sufficient understanding of the object world. There are several factors that may alter or hinder intellectual growth throughout this period of time:
Potential that has been inherited
Expectations indicated by culture
The quality of previous brain development
The life at home with support or challenges
Emotional state and motivation of the child The brain undergoes spurts in growth at different times during childhood and adolescents. During these durations of time the brain prunes connections so that the child is able to use new connections that are being formed. With new abstract thinking and connections, confusion can be a daunting element. It can be difficult for some adolescent's to understand this new found thinking element. Students must learn to regulate the new abilities. In addition to new elements of thinking comes a new form of decision making. The adolescent becomes aware of possible outcomes and struggles with being independent or arguing when attempting to decide the best possible choice. Decision making could potentially become dangerous if the choice to use drugs and alcohol are introduced. Parents can be the best resource in helping to prevent this from happening. Certain actions that are presented early by a parent can alter how the substances are perceived by the adolescent. By parents portraying their own negative view of drugs, or being close with their child, they can greatly impact how the child responds to the pressure of substance abuse. Boys and Girls: How do they differ? There are more differences between children of the same sex but it is widely understood that boys and girls prefer different activities and excel at certain skills. Female Male Receive better scores on tests of verbal skills Speak earlier Master writing and reading earlier and excel in spelling and grammar Are verbally fluent at an earlier time Show a superior ability in fine motor skills Enjoy playing in groups Enjoy one-on-one play Excel in mathematical equations Excel in visual spatial skills Excel in mathematical reasoning Surpass girls in large body movements Many don't fit in either patterns Better at understanding relationships within the physical world Adults treat boys and girls differently which could form an explanation for the differences Language- Verbal Symbols
Speech- Expression
A better understanding of the "How" and "Why" we speak Reasons For Using Language:
Instrumental- To state needs and wants
Regulatory-Control behavior of others and self
Interactional- Establish contact with other people
Personal- To state choices and responsibilities
Learning- Ask questions and get answers
Imaginative- To pretend and create
Representational- Talk to other and share ideas (Healy, 185) Certain sections of the brain are stimulated for speaking, listening and understanding what is being said. Language abilities can be found within our left hemisphere although it can be different for some. Development of the area will help to achieve effortless communication Memory How can children learn to remember? There is a six stage process in which children learn how to remember:
Sensory memory- Input is registered
Attention- Sorts what is put into the brain
Short- term memory- For a brief time the information is kept alive
Working memory- Holds onto a few pieces of information until it is sent to the appropriate connection and place
Long-term memory- Stores the information that has been chosen to be remembered for a lifetime
Retrieval- Retrieves information we would like to use from the long-term memory (Healy, 232) It is important that children gain an understanding of how to input relevant information and how to sort relevant from irrelevant. Attach meaning to memory when working on improving the skill. At three months children have gained a memory of toys and common objects that they have seen before, and can distinguish them between objects they have not seen. At 8-12 months babies show that information is being held about familiar people, and begin to show fear when confronted with an unfamiliar face. During preschool years children begin to transition from the use of "Eidetic Imagery" (The ability to hold a meaningful picture with in ones short-term memory) to verbal memory. They can remember aspects of experiences but do not fully understand memory. When the child transitions to the elementary school years, they begin to form strategies when using their memory. The ability to group things together that need to be remembered is triggered. Children are able to choose relevant information to be remembered. Adolescents allows for abstract thinking and they are able to make new connections. They are able to pick two or more pieces of information that they hold in their memory until the new information is evaluated. The brain is a powerful tool that professionals within a school system and parents must learn to understand. We must attempt to grasp a better understanding of it's complexities so we are able to help infants, children and adolescents gain healthy and effective ways to learn and develop. Environment and personal experiences are a critical aspect of development, which can be provided if we are consciously aware of what these facets are. This presentation is an annotation of the book, "Your Child's Growing Mind" by Jane M. Healy who is a teacher, author, and lecturer who has worked with many ages of children from pre-school to graduate school. She holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Case Western Reserve University, and work in developmental neuropsychology. She outlines how the brain develops from when inside the womb to adolescents, and provides important information that can help to gain the correct developmental pattern. With the information that is presented in this book, school counselors, teachers and parents can work together to provide the best possible environment and support. A child may be responding a certain way because they lack a component of development that needs to be introduced. It is a long and interesting journey to fill our "hooks" of knowledge and construct a brain that represents that of an adult. The first eighteen years are vital to the formation of who we are as a person. Having the knowledge that has just been gained by this book can assist in healthy development. (Healy, 19) (Healy, 21) (Healy, 35) (Healy, 37) (Healy, 42) http://www.zenlawyerseattle.com/the-triune-brain/beyond-the-reptilian-brain/
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