Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Library ... wiring brains every day!

Dr. Jill Stamm was the keynote speaker at the Best Practices in Early Learning luncheon on April 14. Her presentation was based on years of research in early brain development after her first daughter was born prematurely at five months. Babies this early don't usually survive but Dr. Stamm's daughter did with a lot of help. As her daughter was growing, Dr. Stamm heard a lot of nevers. She is never going to talk, never walk, never read. Dr. Stamm never gave up! As a fifth grade teacher, she knew what to do. She introduced concepts to her daughter and consistently reintroduced them until her daughter was able to grasp them as best she could. As a result of working with her daughter, Dr. Stamm began to investigate the way a child's brain develops and how we can nurture and stimulate a baby's developing mind.
Her book, Bright from the Start will help you separate the myths about early brain development form the facts. It will show you simple but effective ways to nurture a babies growing mind. And more importantly, it's never to late to start.

The book provides useful ideas for activities for babies and toddlers which include brief explanations of the purpose of the activity and the science behind it. Dr. Stamm's presentation and book validates what we are doing in our programs with language, literacy, modeling and play with a purpose. That we as libraries play an important role in brain development. My new slogan for the library is “Wiring brains every day.”

One of the most interesting chapters is Chapter 5 Screen Time: When Baby Meets Modern Life. It confirmed what I have observed over the past 15 years. Children's attention spans are shorter and kids are more easily distracted with the introduction of video, computers, gaming systems and now hand held devices. A child's brain gets used to a short attention so it gets wired that way. All these devices contribute to a child's brain being trained to scan and shift rather that to pay attention. It's stop and go and on to something new.
I have heard many of the concepts Dr. Stamm has spoken about in her book. I use many of the reasons and explanations with parents in my programs. But I have been around a long time. Bright from the Start would be an excellent resource for those who do infant toddler programs but have limited knowledge of brain development or need an authority to support why we design our programs for young children the way we do. It also acts a guide to help structure infant toddler programs more appropriately and with intent.
As always, my neural pathways are still expanding!

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