Current Influences on the Early Childhood Field

This narrative will summarize two articles from different fields of study regarding the importance of early childhood development.  I will detail the ways that the articles have broadened and deepened my understanding of the early childhood field, and explain the ways in which the information in the articles deepen my passion for the field.

The first article I intend to discuss is Children’s Emotional Development Is Built Into the Architecture of Their Brains (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child [NSCDC], 2004).  NSCDC maintains that a child’s environment and experiences influence the growth of brain interconnections: Young children’s positive and negative emotional experiences were found to have a direct influence in the construction of their brains.  The article asserts that thinking is directly influenced by emotions. The information presented in this article deepened my knowledge of the early childhood field, because school readiness is the typical focus, and this article stresses that brain research shows that emotional and social development are equally important (NSCDC, 2004).

The second article that I chose is called the Patterns of Play (National Institute for Play [NIFP], 2009).  This article summarizes seven patterns of play: attunement play, body play and movement, object play, social play, imaginative and pretend play, story-telling and narrative play, and transformative-integrative and creative play. The article states that these various types of play have an effect on children’s brain development, help children to understand their own body, and assist children in understanding the world.  The article asserts, “With the advent of brain imaging technology, these natural tendencies, so important to adaptation in a changing world, may be better understood and fostered” (NIFP, 2009).  While I already have a deep appreciation for the value of play in young children, this article deepened my understanding of the importance of play as also being an integral part in the development of the brain (NIFP, 2009).

Both of the articles deepened my understanding of the early childhood field by introducing me to the neurobiological aspects of child development. I find it exciting that brain research shows concretely the positive impact of play (NIFP, 2009), as well the importance of emotional and social aspects of child development (NSCDC, 2004).  After reading these articles, I listened to Neuroscientist Richard Davidson expound on research on the effects of social and emotional experiences on the brain structure, demonstrate brain imaging, and explain how simple patience, calmness, and kindness are actually skills that can be modeled to help to physically train and change children’s brains (Davidson, 2007).  Searching further, I discovered Davidson has written a book The emotional life of your brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel, and live–and how you can change them, where he describes brain designs that he labels “emotional styles” (Davidson & Begley, 2013).  Davidson talks about each style and about the ability of the brain to change.  I would recommend this resource as it offers valuable insight into the human brain and comprehension into developing emotions, which educators can apply to positively improve their students’ emotional development (Davidson & Begley, 2013).

I find the findings and implications of brain studies on early childhood to be fascinating and look forward to discovering more about it. I am encouraged to find information that demonstrates simply being nice and encouraging (Davidson, 2007) and incorporating various types of play in my profession (NSCDC, 2004) would have such an important impact in the lives of the children in my care.  It is exciting that the field of neuroscience gives physical evidence that shows the youngest years of life is important and significant.

 

References

Davidson, R. (2007). The heart-brain connection: The neuroscience of social, emotional, and academic learning. [Video webcast]. Edutopia. The George Lucas Foundation. Retrieved June 2, 2010, from http://www.edutopia.org/richard-davidson-sel-brain-video

Davidson, R., & Begley, S. (2013). The emotional life of your brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel, and live–and how you can change them. (1st ed., pp. 1-5). New York, NY: Penguin Group. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/dp/0452298881/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

The National Institute for Play. (2009). Play science-the patterns of play. Retrieved  http://www.nifplay.org/states_play.html

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2004). Children’s emotional development is built into the architecture of their brains (Working Paper No. 2). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu

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