Last week I wrote about hope being the one skill that we can teach our kids to make them more resilient to life’s ups and downs.
This week I'm writing about the discovery of a brain function that totally validates all we’ve been doing and saying in early childhood ed for the past 50 years.
It's the rapid movement between brain regions that researchers have named "splines" (Ahmed, Ghosh 2022)
As early childhood professionals and parents, almost everything we do, especially during the first few years, is about forming connections between the regions of the brain in order to nurture development that works like a well-oiled machine instead of a bundle of nerves in various states of chaos and confusion.
We use emotional connections, repetition, songs, schedules, positive phrasing, and modeling in order to do so. We teach children to notice and act on emotional cues. We teach them to read faces, bodies, words, and motives. In short, we teach emotional intelligence because emotional intelligence precedes cognitive intelligence as we know it. Emotions do spark learning!
The really exciting thing about the new brain research is that two of the highest priorities in early childhood education, running, and REM sleep patterns, have been identified as the 2 best ways to produce those connections. (Ghosh 2022)
More free play, more outdoor play, and more good long naps!! Yes!
We also know that during the first 3 years of life, as many as one million neural connections are formed every second. (Harvard Center for the Developing Mind)
We deal with children on an emotional level and we slowly bring them to a more rational, cognitive state by making connections in the brain between emotions, language, and thinking.
At the same time that all this exciting brain research is happening, the childcare profession itself is in a state of chaos.
Parents are finding quality childcare harder and harder to find.
40% of all child care workers leave their jobs each year.
Less than 7% in the field have master's degrees
The average starting salary for a childcare worker is $17,000. The average starting salary for a kindergarten teacher is $34,000.
And on top of all that, we're seeing changes in ECE that simply don't reflect the research being done. Namely more 4-K classrooms, more academic learning, less recess less free play.
I question who the people are making the decisions about early childhood? Is it those who have the education, experience, and knowledge required to make those calls? (Gramling 2015 )
And are they really looking at the research being done or relying on antiquated, thinking about child development in general?
Here's my question to you who have experienced firsthand the problems and frustrations caused by inequity in the present childcare systems and still manage to feel a twinge of hope.
Could investments here outweigh the efficacy of investments anywhere else?
Could the elite childcare providers in the United States and the 6.38 million parents who use childcare join together to make a measurable difference in violence and bullying?
If so, how?
We can start today by honoring and celebrating the childcare professionals and parents of America!!! What we do for them, directly affects the children.
Join us here and become one of the elite parents and providers who know they can make a difference and are willing to fight for a more equitable system.
We have all kinds of free articles here and eventually, we'll have one course to sell.
It's still in production, but the name of it is, Creativity, Inclusion, Connection and an intro to building an ABC (antibias, antibully curriculum)
Read more about our nonprofit, early childhood rocks! and our mission here.
When you join our community here you'll get my 22-page guide on How To Get Kids To Listen Without Yelling Or Time-Outs! You'll love the positive phrasing followed by the developmentally correct reasons why they work so well.
This is great to share with parents, providers, and other VIP's (Very Important People). Plus you get to stay in the loop with our non-profit dedicated to enacting change through early childhood education and experiences.
“Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 4 Dec. 2017, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/.
Gramling, Michael. Great Disconnect in Early Childhood Education. Redleaf Press, 2015.
Pica, Rae. What If We Taught the Way Children Learn?: More Straight Talk about Bettering Education and Children's Lives. Corwin, a SAGE Company, 2021.
Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2009. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.