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The Curious Brain
November 01, 2008

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

The Brain thrives on: Good Nutrition, Loving Touch, Movement, Language, Direct Experience through Unstructured Exploration, Community and Recognition of Unique Time Tables.

We have a tendency to provide children with so much structure that we are teaching them "what" to think rather than "how" to think that comes through self-directed play and plenty of unstructured time.

Over the last 20 years, looking at children ages 3 to 12 years there has been a drop of 12 hours a week of free time for unstructured activities and structured sports going up by 50%. Some parents feel that they have to have their child's life mapped out by the time they are 8 years. They see unstructured play as a waste of time or they are concerned that their child will become bored and boredom equals behavior problems.

Electronic Media, screen time or monitor time can do more harm than good when it comes to developing the creative brain. Dr. Linn from Harvard Medical School notes that although this type of media might be entertaining it can be "antithetical to play." "Play is about discovering what the world is all about and not becoming a passive spectator limited by rules that other people have engineered. There is speed, noise, action and distraction and she feels that children need time, space, and silence."

Studies indicate that being actively involved in the environment and socializing in the environment will stimulate growing brains in an appropriate way. An activity, which engages interest, imagination and sparks the desire to seek out an answer, ponder a question or create a response helps to enrich the brain's growing power.

Children who are hurried from one activity to another may get a lot of sensory input but will be shortchanged on the time-consuming process of forming association networks to understand and organize experience meaningfully.


WHAT CAN I DO AS A PARENT TO STRENGTHEN
THE CURIOUS BRAIN?

1. Try to provide uninterrupted playtime every day, and to help your child find easy access to open-ended materials.

2. Try to buy as few single-purpose, media-linked, and electronic toys as possible.

3. When buying a toy, ask the following: What is the potential of this toy for fostering
imaginative play and creative problem solving? A good toy is 90% child and 10% toy.

4. Try to give your child as many concrete experiences with everyday activities as you can.

5. Think about things around the house that can expand opportunities for creative play.

6. Keep your child's screen time to a minimum so that it does not interfere with active play. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of quality screen time for older children and no screen time for children under the age of two.

7. Encourage more human time through talking, eating meals together, and playing together.

8. Limit extra-curricular activities especially before the age of eight years of age.

9. Push down academics does not make brighter children. Many of our school environments are not "developmentally friendly." The emphasis should be on turning curious children into lifelong learners.

10. Support developmentally appropriate early childhood programs that promote social-emotional development. Young children are learning how to function in a group setting, listen and take directions and how to regulate their emotions.


posted by: Bonnie Bruce

Research That Supports The Development of Healthy, Happy, Young Children
October 23, 0000

  • Play is the cornerstone of development and it takes time for good play to happen.  Play equals learning and forms the foundation for all higher learning.
  • Family meals are important for not only nutrition, but can be a predictor of academic success and social skills.
  • It is better to do less and have more down time with family.
  • Cherish family traditions.Limit Screen Time – too much “screen media” and we see attention problems, and nutritional concerns.  Children under the age of 8 years spend an average of 5.5 hours on media every day.  Recommendation is no more than 1 -2 hours/day of educational, non-violent programming.
  • Push down academics does not make brighter children.  Many of our school environments are not “developmentally friendly.”  Children are getting their first taste of failure, before they learn to write their name.  Natural development and the needs of the curriculum should match.  The emphasis should be on turning curious children into lifelong learners. 
  • Social-Emotional development should be the focus of early childhood programs.  The emphasis should be on learning to play cooperatively, how to function in a group setting, listen and take directions, and to learn to regulate their emotions.

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