Of late, child psychologists, educators and policy makers are trying to decipher the secrets of neuroscience to understand the methods and techniques to educate young children. Neuroscience is an exciting area of study as it unfolds the early childhood brain-development story. By definition, neuroscience is too complex to understand its difficult concepts and meanings. However, a simple definition could be exemplified as below for the sake general understanding of the concept.
Neuroscience is the methodic, organized and scientific study of human nervous system. Human nervous system deals with a number of related areas of study like anatomy, structure, function, development, genetics, physiology of brain and its components. However, what we are interested in the area where the learning takes place among children. Brain scientists recognize the importance of cognition in learning. One important area of study is the cognitive neuroscience that studies an interrelationship between biological, neural and behavioral processes of the brain. Scientists like Bruer highlighted the importance of cognition in child learning. Another scientist, Levitt, also believed that neuroscience is the base for emanation of all types of human behavior, especially in children in whom learning and memory behavior, combination, controls their moods and emotions connected to daily activities.
Scientists and educators also recognize the importance of neuroscience in child learning. Neuroscience also confirms the following issues and factors as very critical in early child brain development.
The brain development that occurs within the first five years will last the entire lifetime;
Excellent nutrition, health and regimen of exercise is mandatory for optimum brain development;
Children are born with an ability to learn;
Nurturing, close and affectionate relationship between the parents and children will lead to better brain development;
Constant use will lead to better brain development;
Children are the best imitators! They learn by watching, copying and doing;
Children should exercise self-control to optimize learning process;
Children master linguistic skills by listening and using basics of language;
Children are excellent in learning basic math
In other words, children brain is primed and oiled for optimal performance if they get the minimum required care and nurturing. Unfortunately, children may not be able to develop their brain in the way you want it to be because of many known and unknown reasons. Children tend lag behind in their learning as soon as they enter their kindergarten level. Most probable reason for unsatisfactory brain growth is the lack of innovation in the teaching methods or the perceived lagging behind in the learning process itself.
Present and previous brain research informs us that the learning activity and process halts when the excitement and fun attached to the learning process stops. In other words, learning process stops when the fun thrill and excitement for learning stops. Very young children are very eager and excited to learn their first lessons. In fact, many children expect a lot from their school when they enter it for the first time. In fact, the “woh” and “awe” factor is always present in their mind when they enter their kindergarten class. As they adjust to their new environment for learning, they try to cope up with it with the best of their abilities. However, if the learning environment is not thrilling enough, the situation act as a barrier to further brain development and enhanced learning process. This is where teachers and parents could learn and apply the basic principles of neuroscience to enhance learning process in their children.
It is possible to administer good teaching and learning practices with the basic principles of neuroscience. The first basic principle is to make the learning activities fun-filled and exciting so that children will start learning with zeal and interest; this additional interest level may help them in extra information processing and long-term memory storage. A young child who enters the school for the first time should find the class exciting, fun-filled and primed for active learning.
Previous studies on neuro-imaging suggest us that the child’s comfort level with the classroom may affect the extent of information transmission and its storage within the brain. Engaged and highly motivated children are more likely to feel bored or disengaged in their learning process. Information pathway will become free and quick with an active brain. Higher levels of cognition, motor skills, and social, and survival skills become enhanced when information flows freely with in the brain network of nerves and without any obstruction.
Brain research also indicates the following startling facts:
Stress and anxiety are damaging to learning process.
Learning process is the most productive when the classroom is fun-filled and enjoyable.
Positive emotions could enhance learning process.
Learning process undergoes an impediment when children feel confused and bored; low motivation is the biggest culprit for a marked dip in the learning process.
Stressful situations may block free flow of information from entering into the brain’s sectors of cognitive memory enhancement and further storage.
In other words, neuroscience and its study will help both parents and teachers a lot to promote better learning and mastering of different skills.
Modern neuroscience principles and methods allow educator to create a series of effective learning systems that result in faster dissemination of lessons and later retention. Here are some of the basic methods and techniques that help you in making your children acquire the skills to learn faster and in an effective way.
RAD lessons for the home
Home is the first classroom for a child. Parents could deploy these lessons to lay the foundation for later learning in the classroom. The most common principles of brain research suggest us that a lack of better learning experience will result in a reduced input of cognitive skills to the brain functional networks. In other words, parents should try to make early learning exciting and thrilling. Some of the learning activities may include playful games that enhance cognitive and motor skills.
Reticular activating system is an important component of the human brain. It is an efficient filter in the lower part of the brain and it diverts its attention on innovative changes felt in the learning environment. Challenging and stimulating session of learning will easily pass through this filter. This will eventually result in the secretion of a neurotransmitter hormone called dopamine. Dopamine possesses the ability to stimulate and enhance the efficiency of memory areas of the brain and later release of acetylcholinem that enhanced focused attention spans. This is where the importance of RAD is realized. It involves three critical neuroscience concepts that you should while teaching your child for enhanced learning:
The use of Reticular activating system (R) – Innovative issues will promote transmission of information and classroom lesson details.
Amygdala’s affective filter (A) – The amygdala is an almond-shape pack of neurons in the brain. It plays an important part in processing of emotions related life experiences. The filter called Amygdala’s affective filter help transport data though it which eventually help the children to learn in an effective manner.
Dopamine (D) – Increased flow of Dopamine will help the children to link learning process with enjoyable associations inside the classroom.
All three components of RAD system streamline the learning processes and help the absorption of learned components in a seamless manner. Here are additional tips to make learning a pleasurable activity:
Create an amicable and fitting learning environ that is emotional and touching in nature -Teachers and parents should try to master the basics of neuroscience before training their children for better results. The most significant thing that they should is to create an affectionate environment where is there is lesser panic and anxiety. In addition, children should encounter numerous challenges and innovations so that they can learn in a hassle-free manner.
Introduce relevant lesson plans – Let the teaching be straightforward and never act complex in your teaching approach. Let the lessons be more personalized and motivating to your students. In other words, let your children ask themselves why they want to learn their lessons. One simple way of teaching is to make the lessons plans touching and emotional to the child’s mind. For example, you can include most common personalities in the lesson plans. Names of your children’s friends, popular cartoon characters and animation movie names could trigger a sense of emotion in the children’s mind.
Children learn better, when they are busy in memorizing facts and details. Children like associations with lesson plans they like. With intelligence such plans, your children will start building a close relationship with their brain nerve systems. The brain learning filters would allow innovative details to the centers where further refinement of collected information leads to highly efficient cognition and motor skills.
Positive and affectionate association – It is almost impossible to remove all stress and tension from your children’s life. However, careful lesson plans will result in the following situations:
Previous positive experiences in learning will link many activities to different areas of brain.
This will lead to an immediate stress response from an organ called the amygdale.
In future, children could easily revisit these learning centers of the brain by revisiting it numerous times and without negative consequences.
Learning success will catalyze further learning process. For example, provide an opportunity for your children to taste success while they are learning. A simple math success will induce the child to work more on more complex math problems. However, failure to solve a simple math problem may inhibit the child to proceed further on other math problems. Parents should try hard to help children now because any negative impact on the brain will inhibit them from learning. Make children’s learning a pleasurable activity by helping them during stressful situations.
Introduce independent discovery learning process
Children are more likely to remember lessons and information with a consolidation of working and relational memory in their brain. Independent discovery learning will help your children in many ways like:
Find out their weaknesses and deficiencies.
Work on them to rectify.
Find out ways to streamline learning process.
Discover the benefits of effective learning.
Parents should help their children to learn how they can discover the basics of learning. For example, tell them why learning is important to them and in what manner it can help them in their personal and professional future.
Human brains have the ability to form digital and neural images. Once children create a digital and neural image of some events or scenarios, the brain will retain it for longer durations. Neuroscience principles help parents understand the most important issues that relate to brain training. Brain impressions or frames are of better quality when children learn in a positive environment. A bold brain will try to process billions of bytes of information at the same time, organize and index them according to their priority and later create a seamless interaction and association-ship between these collected bytes of information.
By Andre Loh