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How Kids' Brains Form Neural Pathways

June 05, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 183

The human brain is amazing. It takes all the information we receive each day and makes connections to other information that has been stored away. These are called neural connections. Our brains contain billions of nerve cells, or neurons, that work to receive, process, and transmit information. Using dendrites, tentacle-like branches of the nerve cells, connections are made between neurons and information is transmitted from one to another. These connections are important to the learning process.

In recent brain research, it has been discovered that our brains have the ability to constantly change structure and chemistry as they respond to stimulus within the environment. Scientists believe that we are born with a certain amount of neurons and that does not change. However, the brain does grow and develop new dendrites - the connections between memory and learning.

What the Homeschool Teacher Needs To Know About Neural Connections

As we teach our children, it is important for us to understand some of this brain information. In Brain Research and Education: Neuroscience Research Has Impact for Education Policy, an Education Commission of the States (ECS) report, it is stated, "Research shows [that] much of the 'wiring' of the brain's neurons comes after birth and depends on the experiences infants and children have." The optimum time for children to develop neural connections is between the ages of two and 11. During this time, the brain is most susceptible to input and is able to create neural connections that encourage memory and learning.

So what do we do as teachers? We need to look at how we are teaching and think about how we can help our children develop these all important neural connections. These neural connections are made when children are taking part in activities they enjoy and which also challenge them. By providing a stimulating environment, we are able to help our children create more connections in the brain. Activities need to be multisensory and interactive. Science learning provides just what is needed for these neural connections to grow and expand. As children complete experiments and make conclusions, neural connections are made that enhance further learning.

We not only need to provide a stimulating environment, we need to make the learning meaningful for our children. They need to have an emotional connection to what we are teaching and this, too, will increase memory. Think about ways to give your children a reason to learn.

As an example, we are all concerned with the health of the earth and the effects we are having on our environment. Exposing our children to information about what happens to our environment when we dispose of our trash carelessly and having them do an experiment testing the decomposition of various materials helps them to become actively involved in the issue and develops a neural connection between an everyday activity and its effect on the world around us. Now when they encounter information about our environment, they are able to take that information and connect it to something in their lives. A path to memory is made and a lasting connection is developed.

As a homeschool teacher, you can use this information about neural connections to better teach your kids, particularly when it comes to science.

Dr. Rebecca Keller is the founder of Gravitas Publications, which produces Real Science 4 Kids homeschool science curriculum. RS4K includes student textbooks, lab workbooks and teacher's manuals on the topics of biology, chemistry, astronomy, geology and physics which makes teaching these difficult subjects easy and FUN! Please join her and other homeschool parents on Facebook or visit the Real Science 4 Kids blog. Receive Dr. Keller's 10 Tips for Teaching Real Science by visiting either page!

Source: EzineArticles
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