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Rock Creek USD 323

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How the Pre-Kindergarten Brain Develops


Serve and Return

How the Pre-Kindergarten Brain Develops

            Some research is faulty.  Some research has a pre-conceived agenda.  Some research is contradicted by other research.  In regard to the brain’s development during early childhood, however, the research is credible, clear as a bell, and nearly uncontested.

            Here’s what we now know about the brains of pre-kindergarten kids:

1.  Brains are “built” over time but develop mostly during the first years of life. 

2.  The brain is built by both genetic and environmental factors.  We are hard-wired to

      learn but need interactive experiences with care-givers in our early years to thrive. 

3.   Brain cells and synapses are actually healthier and more numerous when appropriate

      interaction occurs in the early years.  In other words, pre-k educational activities

      actually make the brain physically better.

4.  The key to developing the pre-k brain is interaction.  Watching a television show (no matter how educational) isn’t good enough.  Pre-k kids need someone to interactwith them.  Just like tennis, they need someone to serve to them and they need someone to return their serves.

5.   Generally speaking, the more interaction and experiences a pre-school child receives, the better they will do in both school and society.


            Although the state has yet to fund all-day kindergarten, school districts have taken it upon themselves to implement it anyway since they know that kids benefit from it.  Most school districts (Rock Creek included) already have a terrific program known as Parents as Teachers for kids up to three years old.  The next big challenge in education will deal with how school districts can serve families of 3-4 year-olds, who are likely not receiving the type of “serve and return” interaction they need to benefit themselves and society.  Many school districts are implementing preschools to address that challenge.

            Some people, when they hear the term “pre-school”, immediately think of two things:  Government-run day care and increased taxes.  The first one is not at all true.  The second one doesn’t need to be true.  Through a series of articles, I will attempt to explain more about pre-k brain development, the benefits of pre-school, the types of pre-school programs, and the options for funding pre-school.

            We’ve always known that education is an important part of fighting the social and moral problems of poverty, crime, unemployment, bigotry, and ignorance.  Now we’re starting to understand that the sooner we start educating kids the more likely they’ll grow up to be partners in that fight.  We’re also starting to better understand how a small investment early on can lead to huge dividends later.