Pre-K Brain Development
Pre-K brain development is an active process that requires the careful attention of a parent, skilled caretaker, or Pre-k teacher. The Pre-K brain develops continuously starting in utero and continuing into adulthood. An appropriate and healthy start can lead to the development of a contributing citizen in society. But a traumatic Pre-K experience can increase mental health and other problems that prevent a child from adapting to school and later on to community life.
The brain development includes learning words, of course, but words must have a context. The words must be organized in the brain so that they make sense. The context for words might be thought of as the architecture or structure of the brain. In addition a Pre-K child must learn to pay attention, to ask questions, to listen and to make choices or decisions. Most importantly, a Pre-K child must learn to relate to child care providers, teachers, and other children.
A positive relationship with parents and other skilled caretakers. Young children may experience separation anxiety from their parents. To relate to somebody other than a parent is a major learning experience. A parent or caretaker must give attention and patience to this learning. This is the first step for a Pre-K child to develop relationships with teachers and friends.
Learning to focus when eating, or playing with a toy is one of the first steps in paying attention. Time and patience are required to encourage a Pre-K child to focus. Practice will help to prepare a child to pay attention in pre-school and grade school. Some people with serious attention deficit disorder may lose their focus so quickly that it is disabling. They require special schooling in order to learn to hold a job, or participate in many other normal activities.
We naturally offer children simple choices, such as ” would you like PB&J or a hot dog ?” Decision making is a learned behavior. As a Pre-K child grows older, he/she must make more complicated decisions about how to accomplish a task, and what to do first. Practice at an early age in a caring environment is a crucial building block to the complicated decision-making necessary in school and later in life.
Some parent(s) live day to day with extreme stress that is toxic to the normal growth of a Pre-K chlld’s brain. Here is a summary of the toxic stresses faed by minimum waged parent(s);
*** ongoing search for food pantries with food,
***ongoing search for family or friends to share the housing rental fees,
***ongoing search for child care to accommodate to irregular work hours,
***frequent threat of losing job when child is sick and parent has no child care options,
*** threat of homelessness, and of foster care for children.
The extreme stress faced by our minimum waged parent(s) exposes Pre-K children to neglect and abuse. This stress may be toxic to normal brain development. The necessity of helping children adapt to new relationships is threatened. There is no regular time for parent(s) to help children focus on play or to help them make simple decisions. The result is that the basic necessities for healthy brain development are lacking, and healthy brain development may be postponed. Postponed brain development of the Pre-K child requires many different professional skills to remediate. If not available, these children are at risk of failure to adapt school and, and perhaps also to community life.