You Are the Architect of Your Child’s Brain
By Warren McPherson, M.Ed.
I would like to go back to the beginning of infancy and examine how the critical formation of your child’s personality and intellect began. Together, let’s review how the quality and consistency of your interactions established a secure bond in the natural unfolding of your child’s development; how, every time your child reached out to you, your joyful responses built trust and synergized your child’s efforts to develop themselves. A loving, responsive environment leads to the critical bonding essential to a healthy start in life.
Your consistent, loving interactions with your child brought them to the Montessori classroom with language fully formed and healthy limbs for moving about and exploring their world and a lively curiosity and the confidence to exercise it. Your child was already a talker and an active explorer joyfully engaged in his or her world, secure in the loving bonds formed in the family. Your child had internalized the capacity for walking, speaking, listening, and moving purposefully and well as regulating their emotions according to circumstances. The absorbent mind of your children was already profoundly engaged in observing and learning about their world.
Around age three, a new three-year cycle of development began. You had laid down an indelible foundation for a lifetime of learning.
Recent research shows that the failures to lay down these secure bonds and experience these stimulating interactions handicaps children for their entire lives. The symptoms of this failure in our society are reflected in:
- High rate of anxiety disorders
- Conspicuous consumption of mental health drugs in our country even among the young.
- Lack of capacity to handle the stresses of modern life
The brain images of children stranded in Romanian orphanages showed blank spaces where vital development networks ordinarily occur.
Despite the absolute importance of this period of time in each child’s life and the critical importance of bonding with parents and quality caregivers, the US is only one of three countries in the world which has no societal provision for the new parent to stay home. The other two countries in this category are Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea. In Sweden, by contrast, mothers or another parent are required to stay home for a period of no less than one year without losing their jobs.
So my hats are off to you for providing a secure, loving, healthy foundation for your children and for entrusting your children to Montessori teachers trained to sustain the process of nurturing your child’s unfolding development.
Maria Montessori was a great anticipator because the Montessori Method develops the whole personality of the child, not merely his intellectual function, but also his powers of deliberation, initiative, and independent choice, with their emotional compliments. Some recent studies suggest that emotional intelligence trumps cognitive achievement as an indicator of long term success and productivity.
To create emotional security and emotional IQ follow the seven rules beginning with R:
- Routine- bedtime, weekend, meals
- Ritual- grace before meals, family sayings, etc.
- Reverence-honor living things, pause to comment on the beauty and importance of everyday things
- Repetition-for toddlers 200 times in context, demonstrate steps (isolation of the difficulty),practice makes perfect
- Respect-teach manners, model (‘respect is what you get when you give it’)
- Relationship-construct a dialogue, listen carefully and avoid negative reinforcement(Montessori believes children do things for a purpose)
- Relax- you’re in this for the long haul
The Trinal Brain and Positive Discipline
The trinal model of the brain has three parts; the brain stem, the limbic brain (or, emotional brain), and the cerebellum (the frontal lobes of the brain).
The quality of your communications determines how they are received and processed by the brain. The limbic brain colors the message. Retention and understanding require engagement of the cortex and frontal lobes.
All learning is a construct. Even perception is a construction of the brain. Several channels feed the cerebellum to allow the brain to construct an image. The nature of how perceptions are constructed answers the age old philosophical question: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to here it does it make a sound? The answer is no since sound perception is a construct of the human brain. That is why patience, reflection and process are so important to the construction of healthy learning.