This chapter aligns with student learning outcome (SLO) # 1: explain current theories and ongoing research in early care and education.
We study the brain to get a better understanding of children’s development, possible disabilities, recognize the giftedness in all of us and to improve programs and policies for children and families.
This chapter will cover how the brain develops and what is necessary to keep it healthy. It will explore functions of brain regions in a typically developing brain and the impact of trauma and stress. Finally, it will address applications of brain development to the field of Early Childhood.
- Understanding brain growth and development.
- Learn the parts of the brain.
- Discover the implications of brain development for Early Childhood Education.
In addition to terms found in the preface to the text, this chapter introduces terminology including:
- Neuron: brain cell
- Dendrite: part of the neuron that receives information from other cells
- Axon: part of the neuron that sends information to other cells
- Synaptic Gap: the tiny space between neurons
- Neurotransmitters: chemical messengers that transmit information between neurons
- Pruning: reducing the number of connections and neurons in the brain
- Plasticity: how easily the brain can change itself. It is more plastic in the youngest years
- Window of Opportunity: times when the brain is best suited to learn a task.
- Enriched Environment: a stimulating, challenging, supportive and loving environment
- Myelination: protective fatty coating on the mature neuron
- Boundaries: how quickly a brain can develop myelin
- Brain Stem and midbrain: lower part of the brain concerned with survival
- Cerebellum: part of the brain concerned with coordination
- Limbic system: mid part of the brain concerned with emotions and memory
- Cortex: outer part of the brain concerned with higher level thinking
- Occipital lobe: part of the cortex that processes mainly vision
- Temporal lobe: part of the cortex that processes mainly hearing, speech and language
- Parietal lobe: part of the cortex that processes mainly sensory information
- Frontal lobe: part of the cortex that processes mainly sensory and motor information
- Prefrontal lobe: part of the cortex that processes mainly critical thinking, problem solving and executive function and self-regulation
- Emotional Intelligence: 5 specific skills related to understanding feelings of self and others and using them to make positive life decisions
- Stress: physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension
- Eustress: positive stress
- Distress: negative stress
- Thalamus: acts like a gate for sensory information coming into the brain
- Cortisol: hormone released during stress
- ACES: Adverse Childhood Experiences
- Cortical Modulation: ratio of function in brain areas
- Mindfulness: being aware of your body and surroundings in the current moment
- Resilience: ability to overcome early hardships