Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Increased Focus on Developing Young Brains!

 by Deborah McNelis

Recently an increased focus is (finally) being placed on young growing brains! There is a great amount of discussion about ensuring that all four year old children have access to quality early childhood education. 

But, an issue arises with differing viewpoints on what is most important for those young learners. Which brings me to the point of this post....


An Increased Focus on Developing Young Brains!

CELEBRATING........ this group of talented, knowledgeable and dedicated educators and parents! You as a group of caring individuals consistently both promote and provide the type of optimal experiences these young brains need most. 

I so want everyone to recognize and acknowledge your efforts and expertise, since there are so many educators I talk with across the country that are required to only push academics. 

It is essential for the children, that we create a VERY PROMINENT voice singing the praises of early education programs that are providing individualized, play based, creative, exploration, experimentation, and self directed learning!


In a recent post, More PreSchool? Yes! Let's Do It Right, Rick Ackerly shared two wonderful examples of this type of learning environment. He emphasizes the importance of recognizing how children need to learn at their own pace. In the post he shares the importance for early education:  

"When everyone focuses on skills that really matter: focus, self-control, creativity, connection, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, perspective-taking and problem solving, and when professional educators create benchmarks like: asking questions, welcoming challenges, making guesses, changing your mind, building on other’s ideas, etc., then kids will not only learn to read, write and calculate, but will also grow brains that will stand them in good stead throughout their lives."

In recent conversations, I have been expressing how much demonstrated outcomes and evaluation have impacted what is done with children in many situations. Even though we now have more research and evidence about what is best for early learning. It is hard to witness that so many adults are focused on evaluations that learning is happening .... and with the mindset, that it all better be happening on the timeline we have decided the adults want.  

This is a photo of a worksheet a parent gave me to use when I do speaking engagements. She shared it so I could provide an example of what is happening in too many locations.   This child had just recently turned 3 and was expected to first trace the letter E and then freehand write the letters on the bottom. Can you see the  evaluation he got because he was not able to complete what was being expected of him...  even though this was developmentally inappropriate?  In red marker... it is an INCOMPLETE AND  SAD FACE  :(  AND..... he also had a stapled packet of worksheets for homework that he was expected to do each week as well!

Developing Brains need play and exploration ... not worksheets!



... for all each of you are doing to make wonderful experiences happen everyday!!  Thanks for all you do and for sharing your ideas for additional children to benefit from!! .... And the children thank you for every opportunity you take to help make the ways in which they learn best better understood!!

Deborah McNelis,  MS. ed, is an Early Brain Development Specialist and owner of Brain Insights®
Deborah is the award winning author of, The Brain Development Series, Naturally Developing Young Brains, and the Love Your Baby App. She has been seen in several publications, heard on numerous radio shows, and receives rave reviews for her enlightening and engaging presentations.
Deborah’s newest initiative helps entire communities, “Create Great Connections”. Her goal through this work is for everyone to gain an understanding of early brain development, it’s impact, and the ways we can all easily make a REAL difference.   
 Early Childhood Brain Insights Blog:


  1. Oh my goodness. I think I'm going to be sick!!! Thank you so much for what you are doing.

    Can I ask where you got that great graphic of the people in the circle? I love that and could make use of it but don't want to steal it if you paid for it.

    Thanks again for the hard work. The world needs you.
    Linda J

    1. Thanks for your very kind comments! And.. reaction to the example I shared! Hopefully the experiences that are promote on this blog everyday... will SOON become the experiences of EVERY young child!!

      You can e-mail me at to discuss the photo...

      Thanks for your part in making a difference Linda!

  2. Thank you so much for providing individuals with a very terrific possibility to read from this
    Web site. What is the Montessori Method?

  3. Hear hear, Deb! If we all keep saying this, it will eventually seep into the mainstream thinking!
    Macaroni Soup! Active Music for Kids!

  4. That worksheet makes me want to cry. The children in that class are surely getting the message that learning is NOT fun.

  5. Yes, it sure is important to continue sharing this message until it becomes common knowledge.... and there are no longer children being pushed before their brains are developed and what they are ready for!!

    Thanks again everyone for all you are doing to make this difference!!


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