A Thinking Brain. How Does it Happen?

Some of the children in my class will be here with me again and some will be going to kindergarten next year. One of the biggest developmental milestones is coping skills. How do they move through their morning? Are they able to separate from parents with ease? Can they problem solve with another child? Is their attention span good? Is your child stable? How are their independence skills? How is their self-regulation? There is so much for children to attain before they go to a larger formal learning environment.

The information that I present to you is so powerful. In my class you will see a lot of moving with arms, bodies, and lots of singing. This is very designed music to create moments over and over again to stabilize your child and draw them in. Within this stabilization a child who is settled, relaxed, alert, focused, regardful and engaged “Learns”.

This is so important for the social & emotional stabilization of the brain. This is a requirement, the child’s brain must not be stressed. Thinking does not proceed until the emotional-cognitive brain is stabilized.
A quote from Jane M. Healy, an author of child development books:
Merely trying to shovel in information will serve little purpose unless children also learn how to use their brains to stay mentally focused, put information into perspective, reflect on meaning, plan ahead and follow through constructively- the fundamental components of problem solving.

If your child is having difficulty he or she may be in a fight or flight state. Usually this happens in a child has an argument or feels threatened. His or her brain will produce noradrenaline, a hormone that does not leave the body for 6 hours. At this point the brain cannot learn. Entering a play state can ease the condition, but cannot take it away.

Did you know that children remember negativity more than positivity. Mammals (us) expect nurturance. This is where we find the development of self-regulation. When a child feels nurtured and safe the less reactive they are.
Young children, while involuntarily captured by novelty, really need repetition and familiarity. Anchoring experiences in this way helps them gain a sense of organization and mastery
– Jane Healy

In meaningful “play life” the child increases their alertness and everything becomes easier.

I’m not sure what has happened, but children are expected to learn reading at earlier and earlier ages. Problems in reading have much to do with problems in auditory processing. To know something we can’t just talk about it. You must have experience to “know it”. Then knowing becomes internalized and then can be remembered with ease.

The child’s first 7 years should be consumed with sensory motor activities. This “sense field” should be loaded with play. Images are stored in the brain when the whole body is involved. The more experiences we have the more images get stored in the brain. Then they are in the brain and available for symbolization, or reading. We really do need both sides of our brain. We need them to be involved- see, feel, and organize it all.

According to another well known professional, Vygotsky, “Inner speech develops as the child learns to use language. First to think out loud and then to reason inside his own mind. Eventually, it becomes an instinctive tool with which to think and also communicate thoughts by speech and then writing. I am convinced that a major reason so many students today have difficulty with problem solving, abstract reasoning, and writing coherently is that they have an insufficiently developed mechanism of inner speech.” Young children not given time to develop in those building block years struggle.
I leave you with some things to think about.

  • Does movement help children develop an internal sense of “beat”?
  • Does the inner sense of “beat” correlate with successful reading and math abilities?
  • Do we as a community of play based designed curriculum improve children’s attention?

I hope you have said yes to all three. We’ve got to keep this thinking. We’ve got to get them up, get them physically involved and tune them into the play, designed play.

When you walk into my classroom and hear some of the songs I sing and the movements with them, remember I have studied many years on what works best for young preschoolers and how that little brain is stimulated the most. And I always learn more. Everyday your children are amazing little people.