About The Brain
The brain is a work in progress starting before birth. It is influenced and changed as a result of experiences and practices throughout our lives. This ability to change is called neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change its neural makeup. In early childhood, we have an opportunity to shape the growth and change of the brain by providing key experiences.
There is no time in life when the brain develops more rapidly than during the first five years. FocusedKids provides calming and focusing experiences to use with children in this age group. Practicing these activities helps to shape children’s brains creating the foundation for future learning.
The three parts of the brain we teach in the FocusedKids curriculum are the Amygdala, Hippocampus, and Prefrontal Cortex. We have found that three-year-olds can understand the function of each part, and how to help them work together.
The amygdala is a small almond-shaped set of neurons deep in the brain that is associated with fear and fear conditioning. It processes many of our emotions. During pregnancy and in the early years the amygdala oversees getting needs met. It also seeks novelty, needing to learn about the world around it. An over stimulated amygdala is evidenced by tantrums, crying and other fear or need-based behaviors. Key in the FocusedKids program is helping the child learn how to calm down or satisfy those needs. We call the amygdala the Guard Dog.
The hippocampus, named after its seahorse shape, is responsible for consolidating and coordinating memories for storage. The Hippocampus is recording everything that happens, even from the womb. (Tell this to 4-year-old and you will get some very interesting stories about what she remembers from the womb!) Ms. Elefante with her great memory is the puppet that represents the Hippocampus.
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is about 80% developed at birth and takes the next 25 years to finish developing. It is the gray matter in the front of the brain that is highly developed in humans. It plays a role in the regulation of complex cognitive and behavioral functioning and is responsible for integrating all of the other parts. It helps us learn, solve problems, think clearly, make good decisions, understand our emotions, and control our impulses. FocusedKids uses the Wise Owl puppet to represent the PFC.