Essay on The Importance of Early Childhood Cognitive Development

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The Importance of Early Childhood Cognitive Development

America has many programs for graduating students that are involved with education and children. While any college student can appreciate education, I suspect that few understand the importance of early childhood development. Having committed to apply for a position in Teach for America, I want to better understand why it is so important to "get 'em while they're young."

In 2001, the US Department of Education, Academy of the Sciences, and the Foundation for Child Development conducted a study on early childhood development. Several interesting, scientific ideas and trends on childhood development emerged from the study. The questions surrounding this research were: how
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At first this growth is uninhibited. However, as the infant reaches toddler age, the brain begins to eliminate some synapses between neurons in order to help the brain transmit information more efficiently. The synapses and neurons that were activated most during growth are the ones that will be preserved. This process helps to create a brain better equipped to absorb knowledge. (1) To optimize synaptic pruning, some studies show that "a specific learning process" may help the brain form itself into a more useful tool. (2)

The Eagar to Learn study found five criteria that are based on neuroplasticity. The first, attention, stresses the need to hone the development of this skill during the first five years of life- the years with the most rapid brain growth. Second, priming, or the acquisition of knowledge through sight and sound, may reshape the synapses of the brain based on stimulus. Practice, the fourth criterion, also uses neuroplasticity to absorb knowledge into the brain. The fourth and fifth criteria are related to language. Learning and rule learning both demonstrate that the sooner these elements of education are specified and controlled, the more likely the brain will have a better synaptic pruning process. In other words, the more weak synapses will be eliminated. Eagar to Learn reports that once English orthography, a component of rule learning, is set in the brain, the brain may become "strongly resistant to change."
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