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Deborah McNelis

Deborah McNelis

Deborah McNelis , M.Ed is the founder of Brain Insights, a company successful in creating the awareness and understanding of the critical impact early brain development has on learning, well-being and success in life. She is an award winning author of, The Brain Development Series, international speaker, educator, and parent. Her passion to achieve the best possible outcome for all children through educating and supporting adults on the basics of brain development is contagious. Deborah knows that every child has great potential that can be reached when adults have a real understanding of how the growing brains of children develop best. Her insightful, fun and inspiring presentations and materials based on scientific research have been well received throughout the world. Her knowledge and enthusiasm lead to the clear realization of the extremely positive difference we can easily make for the benefit of all.

Posted by on in What If?


There is a major focus on pushing young children to learn academics at earlier ages. Of course this is all well intentioned. Everyone's goal is for children to be successful in school and in life. But, if this is the focus and desire for children, it is essential that the knowledge that science is providing for us is used for the base of the experiences children are having every day.

Previous to technical advances, scientists were not able to study active brains. Early childhood education was based on behavioral studies and theories. Scientific evidence has now been available for many years and should be making a remarkable difference for all children. However, for some reason this is not always the case.

When you ask a child what is it that they want to do most, is the common answer, “I want to do lots of worksheets.”? No, what children express is their desire to play!  Children are born ready to learn. They naturally want to explore, move and figure out what they can do and what this world is all about. This happens through play. And play is exactly what a developing brain needs. Play contributes greatly to the all important development of better math, language, problem-solving and social skills. Evidence also shows that play is very effective for the reduction of the effects of stress on the brain.

Through “hands on” experiences young children are learning about their environment and how things work. Just think about how everything is new to them. They need to use all of their senses and try things out in various ways. Through play children find out that they can make things happen and they have an effect on their world.

You will also commonly see children do the same actions repeatedly. Through repetition the brain verifies that what it is experiencing is true and creates strong pathways for functioning in life.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood


orange brainThe brain doesn’t fully develop until about the age of 25. This fact is sometimes quite surprising and eye opening to new parents and early years professionals who are interacting with children every day. It can also be somewhat overwhelming to contemplate. It is essential to realize however, that the greatest time of development occurs in the years prior to kindergarten. And even more critical to understand is that by age three 85 percent of the core structures of the brain are formed.

The wonderful news is, brain research provides information to relieve the minds of caring adults. Neuroscience provides the knowledge of what developing brains need most for learning and well-being in life. And the even better news, it really isn’t complicated.

It Is Just This Simple

The brain grows in sequential fashion, from the least complex functioning area to the most complex. There are three crucial points to make about this fact.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

babyEnvision a world filled with happy children who are eager to learn, are healthy, feel confident in their abilities, have well developed language abilities, strong math and reading skills, are creative and curious, get along with other children, are physically fit and active, and are self disciplined. Picture all of these children developing into adults who contribute their skills and abilities to society.

Due to a wealth of research we are extremely fortunate to have the knowledge and understanding of all that contributes to actually making this dream possible!

Ongoing scientific evidence continuously demonstrates that through meeting a child’s needs for nutrition, sleep, safety, time outdoors, play and loving experiences a child’s brain will have the chance to develop optimally.

The sad news is, not all children have the opportunities for experiences that create the likelihood of this vision. Too many of our young children are exposed to multiple risk factors that can affect the development of the brain in unhealthy ways. Risk factors may be inadequate nutrition, neglect, chaotic environments, exposure to environmental toxins, lack of time in nature, trauma and abuse, great amounts of screen time, a focus on academics too early, limited predictability from caregivers, high levels of stress, and lack of quality of daily care.

All of these influences can contribute to a brain being “wired” in a way that leads to physical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems. The brains of young children learn very early how to adapt or survive in the environment to which they are exposed.

It is time to ensure that EVERY adult understands the positive impact this knowledge can have. We also need to ensure everyone knows how detrimental it is for us to continue to ignore this information. 

Children will benefit most if everyone is involved in first creating greater awareness and then investing in implementing change. Making this happen must take place at an individual level, in families, in childcare facilities, schools, through the business community, social service organizations and in local and state government.

If we want success for our children it is up to us, the adults in their lives, to become aware of where change is needed and then work together to continue doing all we can to see improvements take place. For this vision to happen for all children, it is up to us to develop strategies to eliminate the detrimental effects on young children, and provide all that young growing brains need …. and deserve!


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