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EDUCATION

NEUROSCIENCE: WHAT HAPPENS IN A KINDERGARTEN’S BRAIN?

What is happening in the brain of a child of this age ?; What insights can neuroscience offer parents of a child in kindergarten? These questions were answered by Hank Pellissier, brain education and development expert, author of the book “The Brightest Brains: 225 Ways to Raise or Damage Intelligence.” We invite you to read this note with interesting tips so that parents can better support their children’s development at this crucial stage.

Kindergarteners can be full of self-esteem, thanks to the fact that graduating from kindergarten makes them a “big boy” in school, where they mingle with older models. In fact, the range of personalities that we can find in a garden with children between four and a half years to six years of age is often bossy, belligerent and conceited with newly acquired motor skills, demonstrating them in games such as sprinting. and tricks with the hands. The kindergarten child’s brain has many mental enhancements: improved memory, attention span, tighter control of reality, better self-control, and an understanding of codes of knowledge – numbers and the alphabet.

Despite this, kindergarteners are both burdened and blessed with their brain activity, which is tremendously alien to adult intelligence. At five years of age, a child has 100 billion brain cells (neurons) with 77 percent in the cerebral cortex – the area that builds language, math, memory, attention, and complex problem solving. The neurons are sprouting like maniacal dendrites, slender octopus arms that glide out to receive data from up to 15,000 other cells and axons that relay information to other cells. The links between neurons – or synapses – build cognitive pathways that create specialized “brain architecture” for each individual that allows them to understand, accumulate, and retain knowledge.

In a Note from the Center for Child Development at Harvard University: “The first experiences in the architecture of the brain make the first years of life [from 0 to six years] a period of great opportunities and great vulnerability for brain development” . In other words, these are crucial years for building the foundation for “the architecture of the brain” – a time when, as a parent or adult in charge, you can have a significant impact on a child’s development. Kindergarten is also a critical year because surely parents want their child to enjoy the educational process. How can you help a kindergartener navigate the expectations of her new “big boy” world? To begin with, you can follow the following tips:

Talk, sing and read

Talking, singing, and reading books frequently to your kindergartener is a great idea. Constant exposure to language allows your cerebral cortex to develop strong neural circuits that allow rapid language acquisition. Parents would also do well to be active listeners, asking open-ended questions that initiate thought, such as, “If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?” or “what do you like most about going to the beach?” Also, another great support is explaining how things work, using high-level vocabulary, encouraging writing, and including school in adult conversations. Kindergarten is an optimal year for the introduction of new words and a second language. Children’s book author Tomi Ungerer recently opined in the New York Times that, “Between the ages of three and seven, children can learn three languages ​​a year. If you are not teaching them another language, you can always develop their vocabulary. “

Reading helps at this stage

Learning to read by letters in words “by their sounds” is difficult for many kindergarteners, even if their auditory brain development is excellent. One of the reasons, points out Jeannine Herron, with a Ph.D. degree, author of “Making Visible Speech”, is that memorizing the alphabet is misleading, because letter titles – A, B, C, etc. . – do not sound exactly the same as the sounds they represent. For example, the letter P has a “P (e)” sound, E is the off-base shape with its “PE” pronunciation, and all vowels can be used with more than one sound. This difficulty is delayed by thousands of struggling readers. To avoid this, Herron recommends teaching kindergarteners to “pay attention to what their mouth is doing” when approaching phonemes.

Be gentle

Because of their burgeoning learning abilities, kindergarteners need to feel safe and secure. A study from Stanford University in 2007 indicates that traumatic stress and fear can release toxic levels of the hormone cortisol; This can destroy neurons in the hippocampus, a region that supports factual and episodic memory. To protect their self-confidence, you can give your child positivity, love, and encourage them to reflect on what they have done. Minimize reprimands, avoid unnecessary power struggles, and don’t use yelling or spanking in discipline. Express empathy if they are afraid of nightmares or the dark, and be patient about nighttime “accidents”: Many children continue to enuresis until the age of seven years or older.

Stimulate the senses

This year’s experiences will have a huge impact on your child’s absorbing brain. When they are not in school, children benefit greatly from activities that arouse their curiosity. Expose your child to interaction with three-dimensional materials and take them on sensory rich walks: to festivals, parks, zoos, museums, concerts, and natural outdoor areas.

Let’s focus on kindergarten

The attention span of a child at this age is about five to 15 minutes. To boost your child’s concentration level, involve him in activities that require attention, such as meditation and board games. Teaching self-control and delayed satisfaction will also help your child academically: The correlation between self-control and GPA (American College Entrance Test) is twice as high as the correlation between IQ and GPA. You can also increase your child’s patience by modeling her own behavior – speaking and acting calm, for example. Finally, limit television to one hour per day: Studies suggest that television overstimulates the neurological system, resulting in hyperactivity and shortening attention spans.

Exercise? very important!

Ideally, kindergarteners should have at least 30 minutes a day to run and play outside. Research from Columbia University found that exercise creates brain cells in the dentate gyrus. According to John Ratey, Physician, author of Spark, exercise elevates a chemical he calls “Miracle-Gro for the Brain” because it builds the brain’s infrastructure. Full-body exercises such as soccer, swimming, gymnastics, and dance are recommended. Also, for optimal brain growth, feed your child a balanced and nutritious variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products and meat, and limit the intake of sweets, cookies, fruit juice and sugar, salty junk food . Egg yolks, fatty meats, and soybeans contain choline,

Music!

Expose your children to music, and if they show any aptitude, get them to play an instrument. Play structured, melodic music for them and sing songs. From UC Irvine, Gordon Shaw taught 19 children piano or singing lessons for eight months, and found that the children demonstrated dramatic improvement in spatial reasoning. Shaw, who refers to music as “a window into higher brain functions,” has published numerous studies indicating that children who study music are ahead of their peers in math.

Source: Great Schools – Inside the kindergartner’s brain – GreatSchools.com

Translation: Victoria Cifuentes, English Pedagogy Student – USACH

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