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Inside the first grader's brain

What insights can neuroscience offer parents about the mind of a first grader?

By Hank Pellissier

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The sensory lobes that recognize and analyze challenges are maturing at a rapid rate in the six-year-old's brain. In other words, the first grade brain has stunning plastic capability that should never be underestimated. Your first-grader will do best with a sensitive, yet demanding teacher who insists on quality work. According to professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine Daniel Siegel, teachers’ expectations of students’ abilities have a huge effect on student learning. In one study, teachers were mistakenly told that some of their students who had been previously identified as learning disabled were in fact gifted. After the teachers raised expectations, the students performed up to expectations.

Photo credit: Neighborhood Centers

Hank Pellissier is a freelance writer whose fiction and essays have been been widely published and anthologized. A former columnist for Salon and SF Gate, he is a regular contributor to h+ Magazine.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

07/9/2012:
"I really love all the information you send me about my 1st grader, she got kindergarten of the year last year and reading and doing awesome, i give you guys alot of the credit for all your info. you send me, please keep it coming. Thanks again. "
08/3/2011:
"Just hit print above the article and it will show up on one page for you to read or print "
08/2/2011:
"I am very interested in reading your articles on the Preschooler's and the 1st Grader's brains: would it be possible to send it in 1 document? I can't stand the ads on your website that increase the wait-times every single time I hit "next" to advance to the next page. I don't have time to wait AND read the article. Since I don't have time to wait, I'm just planning on giving up the reading part... but it seems like some good info might be included in this article... Do you have a pdf or some other file that I can read the whole thing uninterrupted? Thank you! "
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