Inside the first grader's brain
What insights can neuroscience offer parents about the mind of a first grader?
By Hank Pellissier
Inside your first grader's brain
"That's not fair!"
If your six-year-old's pleas for justice are driving you nuts, take note: Your child’s fixation on fairness is developmentally positive. The first-grader's swiftly developing brain is leaping from magical thinking to logical, rational mental processing; she’s eager to understand the principles behind rules and regulations.
First graders are incongruously attracted to both the penal code (laws, police, ethics, traffic signs, crime, jail) and to competitive winning — at all costs! They'll panic if you jaywalk because they fear prison. But they'll also lie, cheat, and argue to win.
What's happening neurologically inside the first-grader's conflicted skull? The buzzing three-and-a-half foot child in front of you is experiencing major brain blasts as his cognitive circuits are getting programmed — for life! First-graders have trillions of pathways that connect their neurons in the cerebral cortex. This tangle of wiring is getting pruned in a six-year-old at an alarmingly intense rate. The rarest-used pathways are eliminated to streamline each individual's thought process. Here's some help to optimize your first-grader's quickly developing mind:
Photo credit: Heidi & Matt
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