An Earnest Investment

An Earnest Investment

By: Mohammad Khari

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"Your brain only gets built once."
Linda Richter
Professor, University of the Witwatersrand

Children are without a doubt fascinating in many aspects. They possess many unique features that make teaching them crucial, tricky, and rewarding: their amazing ability to enjoy mundane tasks repeatedly, their never-ending curiosity, and the fact that they are always busy with a task can teach adults a thing or two about life. Children are blessed with some amazing physiological characteristics as well: they make more than 1,000,000 neural connections in a second and at age 3-6 months, they can discriminate all the sounds of all languages of the entire world!

The factors leading to successful child development have been long investigated. Fate, money, intelligence, luck, hard work, genetics, and education are among the most famous ones labeled by different groups working in this field from different perspectives. The one thing they all agree on is that the early stages are crucial in laying the foundation right and, as science confirms, we start learning before we are even born!

In this issue’s main video Early Childhood Development, we learn how important frequent, intentional, and individualized interactions between adults and children are in forming high-quality relationships. This rich documentary also delves deeply into the simple yet amazing idea that “all babies, no matter where they are born, come ready to learn.”

Touching upon some projects focused on Early Childhood Development (ECD) all around the world, notably The Abecedarian Project, this documentary advocates the benefits of scientific studies and experiments like The Still Face Experiment (conducted by Edward Z. Tronick) and The Marshmallow Test (Walter Mischel) in the study of children’s development, boiling it all down to the life-changing concept that “the brain has to be built.”

Four brain-boosting experiences help children be better prepared for school and for life: a nurturing responsive parent or caregiver, a rich linguistic environment, play that promotes learning, and good nutrition. Early Childhood Development explains how interactions, connection, and reconnections are important in children’s development and why “real conversation with real people is educational.” It also explores the roles of languages and symbols, music, self-regulation, and meditation in leading a child down the path to better jobs and lower criminal activity.

In our lite video ESL Lesson Plan Template for Young Learners, Gemma Perry highlights the importance of setting clear, simple, and achievable goals in lesson planning while keeping an eye on your students’ profile, their level and age, and the subject you are teaching, in order to keep your young learners engaged. She dissects each lesson into four logically designed stages of warm-up (for both grabbing their attention and reviewing purposes), introduction, practice, and dismissal. She also points out that lesson plans for young learners should include simplified instructions, logical links, and a proper pace.

As mentioned in the main video, “brains are built bottom-up,” that is why the education children receive plays a significant role in their future and it is considered a solid investment to allocate resources to ensure that these “experience expectant” brains fulfill their true potentials. After all, the whole challenging and crucial stage of early childhood development is anything but child’s play!

Mohammad Khari is an English lecturer at Ozyegin University, Istanbul. He holds a BA in English Literature, an MA in Philosophy of Art, and a CELTA. Mohammad has been reading and researching on the integration of neuroscience into pedagogy, sharing his ideas through a series of professional development sessions.

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