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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in early childhood

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 What If?


Since the publication of Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, the concept of a growth mindset has received a lot of attention and enthusiasm, especially from educators – and I’ve addressed it, more than once, on my radio programs. I think the concept is incredibly important but I somehow never considered it in relation to classroom management! However, Bill DeMeo and Jennifer Maichlin have, so I invited them, along with early childhood specialist Amanda Morgan, to talk with me about it on Studentcentricity. And what I learned was that it was pretty silly of me not to have seen the connection!

Here’s what Jennifer had to say following our conversation, which you can listen to here.

The most important thing about the application of the growth mindset principles is teaching the child (or adult) the actual science behind it.  If a person learns that the brain actually PHYSICALLY CHANGES (neurons grow and new synapses are created) when they apply the strategies of a growth mindset (persevere through obstacles, embrace challenges, value mistakes as learning opportunities), then they cannot use the fixed mindset as an excuse for overcoming a personal challenge. They begin to understand that, yes, they can choose the fixed mindset but it is within their power to change their behavior, and there are many ways to do so.  Teaching them the research (which can be done at any age) does not allow for excuses and provides empowerment. There is no excuse for not improving; even scientists say so!

Amanda added:

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Posted by on in Early Childhood


In 2005, Dr. Walter Gilliam, a researcher from Yale University, released a study examining the expulsion rates of preschoolers.  That's right -- expulsion.  As in kicked out.  Dr. Gilliam found that in his large, nationally representative sample of prekindergarten programs, preschoolers were being expelled at THREE TIMES the rate of students in grades K-12.

Are preschoolers really three times as difficult as their older counterparts?

I don't think so.

There are many factors that contribute to this elevated rate of expulsions.  Gilliam outlined several in a presentation he made at an NAEYC conference in 2009.  All deserve our consideration as we create quality early childhood programs, but two in particular catch my attention.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood


I grew up in Chicago... not a suburb, but right in the city. I was always surrounded by diversity, mass transit, and the urban lifestyle. I have certainly incorporated all those experiences into who I am, but I think what influenced me the most was the point in time when I was growing up in the city. There was a different focus, you could say, that affected values and how people interacted with each other. It was a time when children were taught to respect and honor adults. It didn't matter whether it was our parents, grandparents, our teacher, or a person in the grocery store. I think this part of our culture is, for the most part, losing ground.

kiddosI understand that children should be able to determine for themselves, who is worthy of honor and respect, but this does not give them license for disrespect. What I was taught has followed me into my adulthood and has been taught to my own children. I think it has enabled me to be sensitive and open to others, especially those who are older and more knowledgeable than myself. This is, in my opinion, a good life skill, worthy of passing along.

I remember what it’s like to be fresh out of college, ready to take on the world, thinking you know it all and no one could possibly know more. But, getting into the classroom for the first time can be daunting, despite the ego and energy. Humbling yourself to ask for advice and help from those who have been there and done that is important and valuable. I am a lifelong learner, from beginning to end. If somebody has something to teach me, I welcome it and make it part of my knowledge base. Something a seasoned educator is willing to share with me might save weeks or even months of time I would otherwise have wasted figuring it out for myself.

I spent time teaching in a large, metropolitan high school a few years ago, long enough to set up a dual credit Early Childhood program in coordination with my College. I was struck by the differences in what those young people felt were acceptable ways to treat each other and adults. These came in all varieties, ranging from disrespect to entitlement to lack of caring in general, about others or themselves. There were many times I had to take a deep breath and move on... and be thankful for the values taught to me by my family... and for being able to grow up when I did.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood


Navigating through the early childhood years is a tough proposition. It’s amazing that so many make it to the other side.

The hurdles come right after the other once the day begins- getting ready to go someplace in the morning, saying goodbye to Mom or Dad at child care, trying something new or going on a new adventure, ending one activity and moving on to another, leaving child care, eating at a restaurant instead of at home, and getting to bed.

All of these can evoke stress and discomfort for young children and their caregivers. When we see each of them as separate events, finding solutions seems overwhelming. But, if we can examine their commonality, they will be easier to address.

Looking again at that string of daily tantrum triggers, you’ll notice every one is a form of transition. The child is being asked to change from one activity to another or from familiar to unfamiliar.

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