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Environmental Implications of Brain Research
October 28, 2002

"Courage is the power to let go of the familiar." —Raymond Lindquist


In the July, 2001 issue of Child Care Information Exchange, Pam Schiller's article, "Brain Research and Its Implications for Early Childhood Programs," offered the observation that "...nature lays down a complex system of brain circuitry, but how that circuitry is wired is dependent on external forces such as nutrition, surroundings and stimulation." According to Schiller, these are a few of the implcations of this research that early childhood programs should include in their programming:

* Rest and nutrition influence brain function. Children need restful sleep at night and they need daily naps. The brain uses sleep time to do its housekeeping and to reorganize itself. Children need diets rich in protein (meats, nuts, cheese), fatty 3 acids, and selenium and boron (leafy green vegetables). Offer children the opportunity to learn about the value of eating healty foods. Make sure snack menus contain more complex carbohydrate items like fruit and less simple carbohydrate items like cookies and cakes.

* Offer water frequently during the day. Thirsty brains can't think...

* Offer toys and equipment that are multi-sensory. The more senses involved in a learning situation, the more likely the child is to process the information.

* Novelty causes the brain to be more alert. Rotate your toys. Offer home-made games. Rearrange your classroom every three or four months. Use novelty in moderation. Too many changes at one time may be disconcerting to children.

* Use aromas to create your atmosphere. The aroma of peppermint, orange, and cinnamon make us more alert. Chamomile, lavender, and rose calm us down. Add aromas to paints and play dough. Place potpourri bags (out of reach of children) in the classroom.

For all the ideas provided in this article you can order a copy of the July 2001 back issue of Child Care Information Exchange at www.ChildCareExchange.com. You can also benefit from a lecture on brain development by Pam Schiller at the 2003 World Forum in Acapulco, Mexico. 


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