To borrow a phrase: love works in mysterious ways. We are born to love and, as it turns out, love and affection are necessary for both optimal positive emotional and physical development. And to be honest, nothing feels better than giving your loved one a warm embrace –or being on the receiving end.
Most four- and five-year-olds can sing the alphabet song and print their names, but few can actually read. So, what does it take to push these kids to accomplish this cognitive milestone? A majority of parents and teachers alike think the answer to this question is lots of practice naming letters and sounds out loud. But, reading practice isn’t the whole story or perhaps even the most important part. Practice printing letters turns out to be imperative to reading success. When the body figures out how to write letters, the mind follows suit in terms of being able to recognize them.
Case in point, a few years ago, neuroscientist Karen James found that preschool children who took part in a one-month long reading program where they practiced printing words improved more in their letter recognition than kids who did the same reading program but practiced naming (rather than writing) the words instead. Letter recognition isn’t enhanced as much by reading letters as it is by printing them.
Learn more about James’s research at Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/choke/201304/montessori-had-it-right-we-learn-doing
It’s a scene we’re sure you’ve witnessed again and again:
A family is sitting in a restaurant having dinner. The four year old is clearly fed up with sitting, and starts to complain, jump on her seat or run around. But a few moments later, she’s quietly in her seat again, enabling her parents and older siblings to enjoy a peaceful meal and conversation for the next 30 minutes.
What happened? Her father handed her his iPhone.
It’s a scene we see repeated in doctors’ waiting rooms, supermarkets, public transportation… and while we entirely understand it, it also saddens us. So many caring, well-meaning parents are unaware of the developmental damage caused to their children by exposure to screen time and screen media.
Take a look at this article about how screen time and media affects your child’s brain: https://handsonotrehab.com/screen-time-brain-sensory-processing/
Montessori explained both the importance of the connection between the hand and the developing young brain and the link between purposeful work and healthy feelings of self esteem and self worth. The following article shows how modern life is impeding both developmental processes.
Research shows that we are each born with a given number of neurons that participate in an empathetic response. But early life experience shapes how we act on it.
Take a look at this New York Times article about fostering empathy in children: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/well/live/how-to-foster-empathy-in-children.html
Some children who have been diagnosed with autism or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) could dramatically benefit from not being exposed to electronic screens.
New clinical case studies have found that many young children who spend too much screen time—on TV’s, video games, tablets and computers—have symptoms labeled as “autism.”1 When parents take away the screens for a few months the child’s symptoms disappear. The term for this phenomenon is “Virtual Autism” or autism induced by electronic screens. The term “Virtual Autism” was coined by Romanian clinical psychologist Dr Marius Zamfir.
Romania witnessed an astonishing rise in autism among youngsters in a children’s hospital. The cause was unknown, so one psychiatrist dug into the activity logs the hospital collected on all admitted patients. In those records he found a strong trend: children presenting with autism were spending four or more hours a day watching some kind of screen: television, computer, tablet, or phone. Today in Romania, treatment of autism by screen withdrawal is considered routine and has public support.
From books, arts and sports classes to iPads and television, many parents do everything in their power to entertain and educate their children. But what would happen if children were just left to be bored from time to time? How would it affect their development?
I began to think about boredom and children when I was researching the influence of television on children’s storytelling in the 1990s. Surprised at the lack of imagination in many of the hundreds of stories I read by ten to 12 year-old children in five different Norfolk schools, I wondered if this might partly be an effect of TV viewing. Findings of earlier research had revealed that television does indeed reduce children’s imaginative capacities.
For instance, a large scale study carried out in Canada in the 1980s as television was gradually being extended across the country, compared children in three communities – one which had four TV channels, one with one channel and one with none. The researchers studied these communities on two occasions, just before one of the towns obtained television for the first time, and again two years later. The children in the no-TV town scored significantly higher than the others on divergent thinking skills, a measure of imaginativeness. This was until they, too, got TV – when their skills dropped to the same level as that of the other children.
In the age-old fight between hard work and talent, researcher Anders Ericsson says it’s no contest. Practice wins the day.
Please read here an interesting article about practice and talent: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/06/01/forget-talent-why-practice-is-key-to-most-prodigies-success/
“Your blood keeps pumping because, like, you’re really mad. And you start to get sweaty because you’re getting really, really mad. And then when you start getting really mad, you turn red.”
Entirely un-scripted, this video was filmed on a Saturday afternoon with students of Citizens of the World Charter School in Mar Vista, California, and their families. These 6-year old kids began learning mindfulness techniques in Kindergarten and can teach us all a thing or two about coping with difficult emotions.
Watch the video here.
When students use their bodies in the learning process, it can have a big effect, even if it seems silly or unconnected to the learning goal at hand. Researchers have found that when students use their bodies while doing mathematical storytelling (like with word problems, for example), it changes the way they think about math. Read More…
Photo Credit: Barnaby Wasson
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