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Intelligence Development in Young Children - Research
New and very exciting discoveries about brain development are being
made all the time, and especially recently, when research has
accelerated and increased, as a result of new technologies that make it
possible to research the brain using unobtrusive methods. This time I'd
like to write about a few research reports that were published
recently, and what the researchers suggest to parents and educators in
regards to activities they can do with children.
David Armor, a professor at the school of Public Policy at George Mason
University, has found that, "Parents have more impact on their child's
IQ than any other persons or institutions, including schools. The
impact is greatest in infancy and early childhood, much less after ages
eight or nine." As a result of his research, a few of the things he
suggests to parents a
Take care of your own education.
Wait until you are at least in your 20's before having a child.
Get good nutrition and pre-natal healthcare.
Breastfeed your child as long as possible.
Spend as much time as possible instructing your child, starting as
early as possible, in reading, numbers, shapes, colors, etc.
Expose your child to as many experiences outside the home as possible.
Americans tend to believe that their children's intelligence is either
innate or based on what they learn in school; Armor's research shows
the importance of another set of influences: early family environments.
There is ample evidence that a child's intelligence is not fully given
at birth, but continues to evolve and change at least through the early
elementary school years.
A new research published by UC Irvine, shows that piano and computer
training boost student math achievements. The study involved 135 second
grade students, who took piano lessons and practiced solving math
puzzles on a computer. Their math skills improved significantly. This
study was published in the March issue of the journal Neurological
Research. The study was led by UCI physics professor emeritus Gordon
Shaw, who said that this was the latest in a series that link musical
training to the development of higher brain functions. Only 4 months of
the aforementioned activities increased the scores on fractions tests
and proportional math by 27%. Piano instruction is thought to enhance
the brain's 'hard wiring' for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the
ability to visualize and transform objects in space and time, Shaw
said. Music involves ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in
space and time.
Marian Diamond, a professor of Anatomy/Neuroanatomy at the University
of California, Berkeley, and a former Director of the Lawrence Hall of
Science, as a result of her research in the laboratory, suggested to
stimulate all the senses, but not necessarily all at once. A
multisensory enrichment develops all of the cortex: whereas, an input
from a single task stimulates the growth of only a precise area of the
brain. She also suggests setting the stage for enriching the cortex by
first providing a steady source of positive emotional support - love,
encouragement, warmth and caring. She suggests to present to the child
a series of challenges that are neither too easy nor too difficult for
the child at his or her stage of development. Allowing for social
interaction is very important, as well as providing sound nutrition.
She also mentions the importance of promoting the development of a
broad range of skills and interests that are mental, physical,
aesthetic, social and emotional.
Navzer Engineer, Cherie Percaccio and Michael Kilgard, researchers at
the University of Texas at Dallas, have mentioned that brains of both
animals and humans are "plastic" throughout one's lifetime. They
commented that the plasticity, the capacity of the brain to change, is
strongly influenced by environmental conditions. Their research showed
that stimulating environments increase brain thickness, the number of
neurons, and the number of connections between the neurons. They also
found that when transferred back to a standard environment from the
enriched (more stimulating) one, responses decreased by as much as 60%
within a week of moving to the boring environment.
Dr. Beatriz Marique conducted a research in Venezuela, for a period of
over sixteen years. The goal of her research was to analyze the
relationship between stimulation and the development of in-uterus
fetus, newborns and children up to the age of six. The research
population included Venezuelan first time mothers with healthy
pregnancies, and their children. In this research it was shown that
from the very moment of birth, the babies who were enriched by a
stimulating environment were more alert and turned their heads towards
their parents. They recognized the music they heard in the womb. They
were dynamic and relaxed, had initiative and were very curious. They
had good hand-eye coordination, they laughed easily and were very
In other research, there is evidence that Omega-3 fats contribute to
brain development in young children, and that when mothers have a diet
rich in Omega-3 foods (cold water fish fish like Salmon, Trout and
Sardines and Flax seed and nuts) while pregnant, the substance will be
present in the baby's body. Also, mothers who have a diet rich in these
food, will have more DHA in their breast milk, which contributes to
healthy brain development. A good balanced diet that includes Omega-3
fatty acids has shown to support brain development in young children
and to increase their intelligence.
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