The technological advances in neuroscience
allowed the scientists to research and develop studies about the human brain, especially in the first six years of child's development. This period is a phase of greater plasticity, which is the ability that the brain has to change in each new experience or learning, through the numerous connections made between the neurons.
As a practical matter, is through the plasticity, that the brain alters your structure and operations, generating in this way, new knowledge and skills to child´s life. In the neuroplasticity, the brain is able to modify your physical structure, your chemicals and your function. This occurs through the experiences and stimulus that are responded by the child in your interaction with the environment.
From the birth period, the child's brain is developed in a fast and effective way. This period marks the beginning of the neuropsychomotor development, with the learning of the movements of head, arms, hands, legs and feet. The child becomes able to touch and handle objects, as well as capable in developing speaking skills, through the interactions with the environment. To the extent that the child interacts and socializes, are integrated into your repertoire of acquisitions, new apprenticeships and achievements.
The first steps brings to the child a universe of curiosities and first discoveries. The movement become an instrument of interaction and socialization for young children that, with the right stimulus (according to the age), has the opportunity to develop your coordination and physical skills. When moving, the child learns about the world and about your necessities, being able to express in each new discovery, your own reactions and feelings.
With 2 years of age, the child gained the ability to move freely with arms and legs, with a growing physical strength. The child is able to socialize with other children and differentiate varied objects, indicating toys and materials of your preference. This is a great opportunity to stimulate physical, manual and social skills, with recreational activities in-group and the handling of small musical instruments. In this age, the child begins to develop self-control, and therefore a great opportunity for parents to teach what is right and what is wrong, in a simple language, with examples of what this child experience in your day. Learn to deal with frustration and developing boundaries with clear explanations are important lessons in this stage of life, when the child learns to play in-group and get along with other children.
The three-year-old bring the development of fine motor skills, which is the ability to use and control the small muscles of the body, such as hold on a pencil to draw, handle stories books, cut or tear a paper, wear or buttoning a shirt. At this stage, parents can stimulate the autonomy and self-care by encouraging the child to organize your personal belongings, and develop hygiene habits with the own body. The child's language gains a growth intensified with the increasing of the vocabulary, and the acquisition of new phrases. For this reason, parents should encourage the child to talk and interact with them and with other children. Activities such as listening and telling stories and singing songs help in the development of oral language.
Between the four and six years old, the child demonstrates interest in plays of make-believe and recreational activities with other children. This is the ideal stage for the apprenticeship of social skills such as empathy, cooperation, trust, solidarity and respect for others. At this stage, the child learns to make decisions and to make choices, such as understanding what foods are best for your health, the importance of respecting and obeying rules, how to develop self-control and manage your own emotions .
The development of numerical skills and language abilities are more intensified during this period. The child is able to reason, solve problems, understand quantities and measures, develop hypotheses and argue with examples. Play in groups or with rules are ideal for the development of social skills. Board games, which children needs to count the obstacles in order to reach the finish, are effective strategies to improve mathematical competencies.
As we can see, the child born with a great potential of development and learning, especially during the first six years of life, because of the plasticity that your brain has, resembling a sponge, managing to apprehend a range of information and knowledge.
The key to a healthy child development is in the importance of providing stimulus and learning environments in order that the child can develop and improve your physical, cognitive, social and affective skills. These skills are improved through the practice and are reinforced by the experiences through which the child passes, as in day care, pre-school, at home, in the park, in the nature or through the relationships with other children and adults.
Learning to focus, plan and control actions are skills developed by the executive functions of the brain. Executive functions are brain mechanisms that help in the realization of child´s cognitive activities (such as read, write and calculate), in the planning of daily tasks and in the control of impulses and behaviors. Thus, the executive functions are essential for the development of cognitive and social skills.
The executive functions help in the realization of cognitive activities, responsible for the development and improvement of learning, involving processes such as attention, memory, language and motivation.
Executive functions are crucial for the development of learning, and it is through the exercise of all these functions that knowledge, skills and attitudes are practiced and improved. They have the intent to regulate learning, and can be molded from the experiences and stimulus provided by the environment. These mechanisms allow the child evaluate ideas, strategies and decisions making.
In a classroom, for example, the executive functions are responsible for regulating child's behavior in attitudes like waiting your turn to speak; respect the schedules of school activities; wait for your classmate to play a round or even start eating a food only in the time of the break. In addition, the executive functions help the educator to determine if the student has some type of inattention in the class, any kind of emotional problems or difficulty in concentrating on a particular subject.
Making a practice comparison, the role of executive functions in the brain, it is like an air traffic control that needs to manage the flow of information coming from the command of the aircraft, that has the intention that everything works well and in an organized manner.
The executive functions work in a similar way to an air traffic system because they have the purpose of regulating the flow of information captured by the brain, creating priorities about what information is important and should be used at that time, thus promoting the balance and functional well-being of the child's brain.
The environment provides different challenges and experiences, and it is through the interaction of the executive functions that a number of skills are developed, from the simplest to the most complex, in order that the person be able to plan, execute tasks and solve everyday problems. The main tasks promoted by executive functions are:
· Working memory: has the function to store information to be used for a short time. For example, remember the student about the content of school evaluation of the week; keep in mind the phone number of a friend; follow instructions with several steps without reminders, such as in a board game or in a football match.
· Cognitive Flexibility: is the ability to change the needs and priorities of the moment, in different situations. Cognitive flexibility, allows you to review ways of doing things according to the new situations. Children employ this skill to learn exceptions to the rules of grammar, to make a scientific experiment in different ways to achieve the desired result, or to try different strategies when they are solving a conflict with another child.
· Inhibitory control: Inhibitory control: responsible for the ability to inhibit, avoid or control certain thoughts and attitudes, preventing that the person manifest impulsive behaviors. The brain inhibitory control is the mechanism responsible for controlling aggressive and impulsive emotions. The child's inhibitory control assists in attitudes as taking turns to speak; respect when a colleague wins in a match play; controlling aggression in case of a conflict with a classmate. It is through the inhibitory control that a child can focus your attention in school activities, in the rules of a game or on routine tasks, such as organizing toys or tidy up the own room and then can play with friends.
The part of the brain responsible for the development of the executive functions is the prefrontal cortex. The comprehension of the importance of the executive functions in the child's brain can help parents and educators in understanding certain behaviors manifested by the child in some situations. For example:
Why the child has so much difficulty in answering the word Not This can be seen when parents repeat to the child: you can not eat sweets before lunch; you can not go play out before first doing your homework.
According to the brazilian neuroscientist Suzana Herculano, this occurs because the prefrontal cortex, "which is responsible for preventing us to respond to the automatically stimulus, is still maturing in children, so when the child hears a phrase started with not, your brain confront a dilemma and demonstrates difficulty in avoid the action. Thus, the neuroscientist guides parents to substitute the word "do not jump", for example to "stand still", because in this way the brain will not enter in conflict and is more likely to obey.
The good news is that the harmful behaviors can be remodeled or learned, by the example and repetition of attitudes developed by the parents. Here are some practical tips:
· Teach and explain to the child that emotions can be managed and controlled, instead of manifesting episodes of anger and rage when feeling frustrated or upset ;
· Discipline the child by a firm, clear and objective language, explaining with examples that for every action there is a consequence;
· Talk to the child about the situations that are frustrating and uncomfortable from him/her, encouraging the dialogue and the understanding of your own feelings and thoughts;
· When the child interacts with another colleague, encourage to think about the feelings of the others, teaching lessons of empathy, affection and solidarity;
· Invite the child to practice some kind of physical activity. The sports exercise reduces the stress, combat the anxiety and generates welfare for body and mind.
The skills of executive functioning improve as the child grows and matures, and the key to the effective development of these brain functions is the practice.
To the extent that the child grows and develops your education in a safe environment, full of affection and boundaries, with clear and understandable rules, it is possible to learn and improve beneficial skills to your physical, social, emotional and academic apprenticeship.
http://www.portalimm.com.br/informes/ImprimeInforme.ew?idInforme=6421&idInstituicao=8 (in Portuguese)