I’ve yet to study child development any further than the parenting books that have assisted my journey of sleepless nights and toddler tantrums. Some of these books include Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina and Love and Logic for Toddlers. Ironically, I have been assigned two other versions of these same books for this summer quarter’s MAT program. That has reaffirmed that parenting and teaching must be closely aligned and I may, in fact, know more entering into teaching than I think I do. Now having my second child, I’m learning first hand about the different stages of development and how varied each child can be. Each are born as unique individuals and I feel like very little changes in their personality from that first day until their last. For example, my daughter hated tummy time and anything remotely physical. Instead, she spent her spare energy absorbing language and social cues. She finally decided to walk at a year and a half – perfectly, across the whole room without ever practicing (at least in front of us)! However, her vocabulary and articulation are extremely sophisticated and beyond her years. She is cautious and careful, avoiding most slides and playgrounds in exchange for conversation with anyone who will listen. My young son, on the other hand, was born with both fists up. Even in utero, the kicks were relentless. At four months, he’s rolling over, insisting on standing up and will not stop moving. There are stark differences between their physical prowess and desires.
The main lesson I have gathered from my two children is that nature and nurture are powerful. And yet, even being surrounded by the same environment, these two children were born with different desires, skills and personalities. When one looks at babies, there is a surprisingly wide spectrum of healthy development amidst the age groups. This only continues into secondary school as students excel in different fields, reach puberty at varying ages, and represent the diversity of humanity in the petri-dish of a high school. Knowing this foundational truth of variety can prove extremely beneficial for the high school teachers’ perspective and practice of patience.
Acknowledging that all of us vary greatly, even within our age/gender demographic, could potentially encourage a teacher to practice a more holistic approach to their curriculum. Students will absorb more information when a teacher utilizes a wide spectrum of the senses. Students come from such limitless backgrounds and experiences, and are ready to contribute a unique voice to the classrooms’ culture. Viewing that as an asset and taking some time to explore those differences could benefit everybody. We as teachers can support our students by not only meeting them where they are at, but also by providing multiple ways of sensory learning.
Seeing as this is our first day of class, we’ve yet to dive deeply into the books, but I’ve almost completed John Medina’s Brain Rules because I simply can’t put it down. The most remarkable takeaway I’ve had thus far is that we are creatures of survival and have been for ages. Looking more closely at the way we have evolved explains how our bodies work and what is necessary for ideal growth and learning. Well-rested students in a non-stressed environment, who are physically healthy due to exercise and diet will be the readiest to learn. That seems obvious but it is a great reminder. When a student is experiencing stress either at home or in the classroom, they are in fight or flight mode and unable to learn. As far as the student is concerned, why would grades mean anything when they are experiencing a parental separation or coping with the death of a loved one? Being sensitive to the potential external factors will prove greatly beneficial as a teacher. I’m looking forward to learning more about child and adolescent development throughout our course.