By: Tina Davidson
My second grader knows a lot about the brain.
This is thanks in part to the book, “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain!” by Dr. JoAnn Deak and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley. His Montessori learning center teachers use this book to help their students understand how they can grow and stretch their brains. One day my son had a conversation with me about his fantastic elastic brain. He explained he had a large rubber band when it came to math since this subject is a breeze, but when it came to reading he still had a small rubber band– he is not an expert reader yet.
This rubber band idea is explained in the lesson plans that accompany the book:
Each of us was born with large and small rubber bands, corresponding to areas in which we are skillful and areas where we can grow. Model how rubber bands can stretch, and explain that this stretching is symbolic of brain growth.”
You can download the lesson plans for “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” for free online and purchase the book on Amazon.
The Magic Decade
Recently, after a drawing exercise at school, my son brought home the picture posted above. He told me it was a picture of the brain and proceeded to tell me where the cerebrum, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala were located on it. (As a brain blogger and mother, I was quite impressed with how much he knew about brain anatomy). He also offered to draw and label the parts of the brain on his picture, but I told him it wasn’t necessary since I preferred the original abstract picture without the labels.
Sometimes I visualize my son’s brain more like a sponge than a rubber band– he soaks up information quickly and is able to retain it. He is in what Dr. Deak refers to as the “magic decade.” During the first ten year’s of one’s life, key neural connections are being made. The University of Maine has a bulletin online that addresses the various stages of brain development in children, what you can do to support growth, and the different windows of learning. The bulletin mentioned:
Brain development does not stop after early childhood, but it is the foundation upon which the brain continues developing. Early childhood is the time to build either a strong and supportive, or fragile and unreliable foundation. These early years are very important in the development that continues in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
The early years are very important but remember the concept of neuroplasticity and that it is never too late at any age to grow and stretch your brain.
What routines have you established to help your children learn? How have you stretched your brain lately? Do you think my son’s picture should have been orientated the other direction and I posted it upside down?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of rubber bands and your brain.
Sources & Resources
Deak, JoAnn. “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain.”
Online lesson plans for “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain.” www.littlepicklepress.com
The University of Maine. Judith Graham, Extension human development specialist. Revised by Leslie A. Forstadt, Ph.D. Child and Family Development Specialist. “Bulletin #4356, Children and Brain Development: What We Know About How Children Learn.”