Getting Started Early: Sensitive Periods of Childhood Development

Sensitive Developmental Periods

Sensitive Developmental Periods

The human brain undergoes periods of massive growth, followed by periods of pruning and selection between neuronal groups — beginning during embryonic development and continuing through the first few years of life, and again around adolescence. The brain reaches its adult weight around age 14, but continues to mature until around age 30.

Childhood learning sensitivities in various areas can also be seen to change around the same times — in language, social skills, emotional control, symbol and math skills, and so on.

While the brain retains a great deal of brain plasticity and learning capacity throughout childhood, adolescence, and most of adulthood, there is no denying the differences in the profoundness of learning ability for particular skills between different ages.

One example of this phenomenon is the fact that children who learn multiple languages before adolescence will commonly be able to speak these languages without a foreign accent.  Adults who learn foreign languages after adolescence always retain a “tell” by which an intelligent native speaker can detect the foreign accent.

Similar distinctions may well be detectable between persons who learn other important skills at different times — during the sensitive period of development vs. long after height of the sensitive period.
life course problems related to early childhood

The image above illustrates the many problems related to poor early childhood development, and the squandering of sensitive periods of development by a poor environment and bad child-raising and educational practises.

The perspective of sensitive periods and life course problems related to poor early environments, does not negate the important influence of the child’s genetic endowment. The genes can only work through the environment, and the environment can only work with what the genes allow. But if society wishes all of its children to reach their optimal achievement, attention must be paid to early environment in relation to sensitive periods of development.

The video below provides a brief overview of this concept.

Dangerous Child training takes advantage of these sensitive periods — while recognising that different children will experience these periods over somewhat different times and at somewhat different intensities for the various skills to be learned.

The developers of The Dangerous Child Method possess distinct advantages over most modern educators, child development specialists, and curriculum developers, in the sense of being free of the chains of political correctness, while possessing significant inter-disciplinary knowledge that allows creative leaps of daring.

The early stages will involve a tentative tracing out of a general sketch, more suggestive rather than definitive or convincing in a rigorous way.

Any reader who possesses doubts about the ultimate profitability of following this long, winding, multi-dimensional meander, should probably go back now, before it is too late. 😉

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