Does neuro-scientific research claiming that we can’t make up for first 3 yrs stand up to scrutiny?

Posted in: Research

The Science of Neglect  VIDEO   Click on link to the left  

And for another angle on early brain development….  The Myth of the First Three Years

Does neuro-science stand up to scrutiny?  Click on link above for NY Times article – ‘A new understanding of early brain development and lifelong learning‘ by John T Bruer.   Bruer disputes some strongly held opinions about babies’ brains and the significance of the first three years.  Read a review of John T Bruer’s book by Carol Tavris in NY Times   Mozart isn’t the answer

To what extent does a child’s first three years determine his development and personality?  Is it ever too late to learn from enriching experiences later on?  A good level of stimulation is essential to synapse production and the baby’s brain is forming trillions of these synapses (connections between nerve cells) which are later ‘pruned away’  if not used.  Is pre-school already too late and can parents be entrusted to provide the right environment?    Tarvis’s summary outlines Bruer’s belief that far from the window of opportunity slamming shut when the first three years are past,  there are plenty of opportunities for development throughout childhood and later life. 

There can be no doubt that a relentless focus on the first three years has resulted in ‘piling on the guilt’  with parents believing that home-life simply isn’t enough.  In fact the natural environment of most children’s daily lives provides all that babies need to thrive,  when loved and cared for by a parent.   Indeed many of the benefits of early intervention using specially designed early education programmes wear off by adolescence.

As Tavris concludes,  Bruer’s book about the first three years  is ‘ample food for thought’. 

More reading:

Early Years Interventions and Social Justice – Guardian Letters page 29th April 2014 in response to article  on neuroscience by Zoe Williams in the Guardian 26th April 2014.

Marie Peacock

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