Greystone House Montessori Schools Houston, Texas. Child care Montessori provider in Champions, The Woodlands, Spring Texas Greystone House Montessori Schools Houston
Current Editorial
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THE DENDRITIC CONNECTION
Who among us does not want a child as bright as Albert Einstein? When his brain was analyzed after his death, it was found that it was not bigger than a normal brain. What was remarkable was the enormous number of dendritic connections. This is the biology that enables us to extrapolate one fact into another possibility. Research on the brain and learning processes has exploded, and today we have a much better understanding of how brain biology is effected by activities in the early years in our homes and schools. From the day we are born, our brain literally customizes itself for a particular lifestyle. Soon after birth, the brain prunes away unneeded cells and billions of unused connections. It’s a time of enormous selective receptiveness. If a baby hears multiple languages, those become imbedded in the child’s permanent abilities, as does only one language - or minimal language. Most educators are familiar with the value of “crawl time” in developing learning readiness. In 1960, the average 2-year-old spent 200 hours per year “strapped down” in car seats, infant carriers, and strollers. Today’s 2-year-old spends 500 hours strapped down. This has a huge impact on reading skills, and we’re concerned that children today truly are biologically different from children of 50 and 100 years ago.

Much of our intelligence is learned in the first year. Children learn how to react in hundreds of simple cause-and-effect situations. These situations guide them about being disappointed, pleased, anxious, sad, fearful, proud, ashamed, delighted, or apologetic. Known as “attunement,” this process must happen during the critical first year of role modeling. Infants who are given vestibular stimulation by rocking develop vision and hearing earlier. A lack of vestibular stimulation can be linked to learning problems including dyslexia. Much of our vision develops in our first year, particularly in the first 4 to 6 months, with a major growth spurt at age 2 to 4 months. The growing infant must get a variety of stimulating input, including plenty of practice handling objects and learning their shapes, weight, and movement. They need a feast of information. Specifically, this flood should not include television, which allows no time for reflection, interaction, or three-dimensional visual development.

Infants may understand basic counting principles and simple physics before the age of one. Neural circuits for math and logic are ready to be developed long before brains are ready for abstraction. Think about how delighted children are to share in the game “One for you and one for me.” An infant sitting in a high chair will repeatedly experiment how gravity works when an object is held over the side and dropped.

Within the first two years, there are multiple possible futures based on how the child’s environment is structured. For example, children who are allowed appropriate risk taking will usually be more courageous. Caregivers who are fearful or limiting will decrease courage in the child by placing limitations on crawling or walking. The bottom line is that most of the brain’s infrastructure is in place within the first 48 months. Greystone House is committed to maximizing ultimate ability in this critical first period of life. It can make as much as 20 points difference in IQ. Some specific areas that we focus on include general health, exercise, emotional development, intellectual challenge, creativity through art, and effective feedback.

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