By Nicole Brekelbaum
Intellectual Capacity and the Young Child
The best thing parents can do to develop the intellectual capacity of their children is to expose them to a variety of learning experiences. Developing gross motor, fine motor, language, cognitive and social skills are all very important. It helps develop what are called neural networks. A neural network is simply a wiring of neurons. In the cortex of the brain there are billions of these neurons and hence the potential for children to develop more or less of these networks depending on the type of early stimulation your child receives. The more neural networks a child possesses, and the greater the frequency of use; the more likely a child is to develop a high intellectual capacity. In fact studies show that a “child has already developed half of his total adult intellectual capacity by the time he is four years old and 80 percent of it by age eight. After age eight, regardless of what type of schooling and environment a child receives, his mental abilities can only be altered by about 20 percent.”[How to Raise a Brighter Child, Joan Beck]. Learning is a gradual process that continually evolves as children grow. Parents interested in raising a 'Baby Einstein' should keep in mind the dangers of imposing advanced concepts on their children. When mature concepts are forced upon an immature brain it is like forging a connection between neurons that are not fully ready for that challenge. What happens is that the child learns these concepts with a high probability of forgetting them later in life - a type of short-term memory. In particular, preschools that emphasize pre-k algebra, pre-k physics, and three or four languages are doing just that - forcing the neural connection. Preschool kids are not mentally ready for abstract concepts and multiple languages. If abstract concepts are to be introduced it must be carefully presented in a very real and simple way that preschoolers can understand. Parents need to understand that raising a child to be bilingual is more appropriate than teaching a preschooler to be fluent in three or four foreign languages.
If you believe that your child is gifted, have your child tested, by an expert, to determine mental readiness. Find an appropriate school that challenges your child and one that does not force him to learn too fast, too soon. A careful consideration and assessment of your child's learning abilities can make learning more rewarding and enriching.
Early learning incorporates the development of skills as outlined in the child development process. Allowing your child to develop skills in the following areas can help early learning and increase mental stimulation.
Using large muscle groups to perform physical activities such as sitting, walking, running, jumping, skipping and climbing.
Benefits: Helps build Balance, Coordination and Strength.
Some Suggested Skill Developers: Playscapes, Jump Ropes, Bikes, Child-size Cars, Trampolines, Outdoor or Indoor Sporting Games and Pulling and Pushing Toys.
Using small muscle groups to perform specific tasks such as coloring, writing, grabbing, eating, smiling and reading.
Benefits: Promotes Hand-Eye Coordination, Strength and Muscle Control
Some Suggested Skill Developers: Rolling Slopes, Spinning Tops, Jacks, Blocks, Travel Mazes, Coloring Books, and Arts and Crafts.
Using speech and body language as a means of conveying, processing and transmitting information.
Benefits: Develops Good Communication Skills and encourages Early Literacy.
Some Suggested Skill Developers: Easy Readers, Story Coloring Books, Musical Tapes, Nursery Rhymes Tapes, Educational Videos, Storytime and Field Trips.
Building relationships that involve two-way communication and interaction such as forming relationships with friends, teachers and family members.
Benefits: Develops Emotional Awareness, Good Communication and Interactive Skills.
Some Suggested Skill Developers: Family Outings, Field Trips, Social Events and Day to Day Experiences.
Thinking abilities such as reasoning, recalling, inferring, grouping and sorting.
Benefits: Develops Intellectual Capacity, Builds Strong Neural Networks and Increases Brain Power.
Some Suggested Skill Developers: Cause and Effect Games, Sorting Games, Pattern Matching Games, Counting Games, Board Games, and Guessing Games.
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