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Inside the kindergartner's brain

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

By Hank Pellissier

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Talk, sing, and read

Talk, sing, and read books frequently to your kindergartner. Steady exposure to verbiage enables their cerebral cortex to develop strong neural circuitry for swift acquisition of language. Parents also would do well to be active listeners, asking open-ended questions that initiate thinking, such as, 'If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?' or, 'What do you like most about going to the beach?' Plus, explain how things work, use high-level vocabulary, encourage writing, and include your kindergartner in adult conversations. Kindergarten is an optimal year for introducing new words and a second language. Children's book author Tomi Ungerer recently opined in the New York Times that, "between the ages of three and seven, children can learn three languages a year. If you're not teaching them another language, you can always develop their vocabulary."

Photo credit: Gregeichelberger

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.