Why Ages 2-7 Matter So Much for Brain Development
When Albert Einstein was a child, few people, if any, could have predicted the significant contributions he would make to science later in life. His language development was delayed, which concerned his parents to the extent that they sought medical attention. “Einstein had such difficulties with language that others around him believed he would never learn,” Einstein’s sister once revealed. I’m curious how this child went from being at risk for developmental problems to becoming, well, Einstein?
That question is partially answered by two gifts that Einstein got from each of his parents when he was five years old. When Einstein was confined to his bed for the entire day due to illness, his father presented him with a compass. It was a curious contraption that piqued Einstein’s interest in science, according to the scientist. In the following year, Einstein’s mother, who was also a superb pianist, presented Einstein with a violin. These two gifts each presented unique challenges to Einstein’s cognitive abilities at just the correct time.
The development of children’s brains occurs in spurts known as key periods. The first happens around the age of two, while the second occurs throughout puberty, respectively. The number of connections (synapses) between brain cells (neurons) doubles at the beginning of each of these periods. In comparison to adults, two-year-olds have double the number of synapses. Because it is through these connections between brain cells that learning takes place, having twice as many synapses as at any other moment in one’s life allows the brain to learn twice as fast as at any other time in one’s life. As a result, the experiences that youngsters receive throughout this age have a long-term impact on their development.
This first key period of brain development begins at the age of two and ends around the age of seven, according to the National Institutes of Health. It presents an excellent opportunity to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive educational experience for children. The following are four strategies for maximisimaximizingtal period: promoting a love of learning, focusing on breadth rather than depth, paying attention to emotional intelligence, and avoiding regarding early children’s education as a mere stepping stone to “real” learning.
Encourage a lifelong passion for learning.
Young children should be encouraged to appreciate the process of learning rather than focusing solely on results. Students’ enjoyment of exploring new activities and learning something completely new can be emphasisemphasizedators and parents. We must help children understand that making errors is a normal and welcome part of the learning process.
This is also a good time to build a growth mindset, which is the concept that talents and abilities can be developed through work rather than being fundamentally fixed characteristics. Educators should avoid categoricategorizingor making generaligeneralizationsheir abilities regarding their students. Even flattering remarks such as “You’re very intelligent” are detrimental. Instead, stress the importance of perseverance and the creation of secure learning environments. Children will learn to enjoy learning if we demonstrate enthusiasm for the process rather than focusing just on the outcome.
ENCOURAGE A LOVE OF LEARNING
One method to avoid focusing on results during this stage of growth is to place greater emphasis on the breadth of skill development rather than the depth of skill development. Exposition to a diverse range of activities helps youngsters acquire skills that may be applied across a wide range of disciplines. This is an excellent time to get youngsters involved in activities such as music, literature, sports, math, art, science, and foreign languages.
David Epstein argues in his book Range that a person’s variety of experienexperiencesuently underestimated and underappreciated by others. At some time in one’s life, concentrating on greatness in a single activity might be suitable. People who succeed in our rapidly changing world, on the other hand, are those who first learn to draw inspiration from a variety of sources and to think creatively and abstractly. To put it another way, our society requires individual-rounded individuals between the ages of 2 and 7 who are especially in need of a well-rounded education. Their developing brains are ready to take in a wide variety of skill sets as they grow in maturity. A crucial part of the process is the “sampling period,” as Epstein refers to it. This is the time per period to establish a children’s product line. There will be plenty of time for them to special specialized in their careers.
FOCUS ON BREADTH, NOT DEPTH
Yes, we want students to be proficient readers and to understand the principles of mathematics. However, we should not ignore the importance of emotional intelligence. The benefits of learning during this first essential phase of brain development should be extended to interpersonal skills such as kindness, empathy, and teamwork, as well as cognitive skills such as reasoning and problem problem-solving to Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson’s book The Whole-Brain Child, it is critical to cultivatcultivatingn’s empathy as early as possible in their lives. Acknowledging one’s feelings is the first step in developing empathy. As a result, they recommend that parents assist children in this age group in labellinlabelingmotions (“I feel sad”) and then telling the story astoryhat caused them to feel that way (“I feel sad because I wanted ice cream and you refused”). Once children have mastered the art of categoricategorizingwn emotions, instructors can begin asking questions that teach them to examine the feelings of others.
One strategy to inspire others to care for one another is to involve youngsters in the activities that adults perform for others. Even enabling young children to assist with household chores might help them become more helpful and considerate individuals.
DON’T OVERLOOK EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
During this important period, children’s brains uniquely have thecaninformation. If intelligence is defined as the ability to learn, then youngsters between the ages of 2 and 7 may be the most intelligent humans on the globe, according to some estimates.
Some skills, according to research, cannot be learned effectively once this first important stage of brain growth has passed. According to research, children in this age range are best suited to learn the patterns of language development, which will enable them to master a second language to the same level as their native language. However, by the time children reach the age of eight, their language learning abilities have deteriorated, and second languages are not as widely spoken as native languages. When it comes to learning musical abilities such as perfect pitch, the same age effect is observed.
Although Einstein’s parents did not send him to school, it is important that they did not enroll in hienrollphysics classes, which would eventually contribute to his winning the Nobel Prize. Instead, Einstein’s father incorporated him into the engineering work that he was doing at the time. His mother enrolled him in violin lessons because she wants to develop an appreciation and love for music. Both hobbies contributed to the complete development of his young mind. Considering early childhood education as a prelude to “serious” education is an interesting thought experiment. However, it is these maybe that will be remembered the most.