Introduction Neurons. Axons. Serotonin. Synapses. Dendrites.
How do these have any application to my daily
interactions with young children? How do I use
the knowledge gained by brain research to improve
my teaching? Many knowledgeable providers in
the early care and education field are pondering
these questions. It is important for parents and
teachers to know the biology that surrounds learn-
ing so they can evaluate the environment and make
changes to improve the potential success of chil-
dren. This is called brain-compatible learning and
means you apply the lessons learned from brain
research to plan and create an optimal atmosphere
for learning (Gregory and Parry 2006).
Brain research confirms much of what educa-
tors have been espousing for years: that the early
years are the important years for learning. These
beliefs have long been held; now science has vali-
• When a child has a choice in selecting her own
activities, involvement is increased.
• All children’s senses need to be stimulated—
though not at the same time—in an enriched
atmosphere. • Activities presented to children should match
their stage of development and their interest
level. • Activities that develop the physical, social,
emotional, and intellectual aspects of each
child are the most effective.
• There should be a balance between activity
and rest: between quiet learning and active
learning. • Children need a loving, stress-free environ-
ment for optimal learning to occur.
Young children do not learn in a vacuum. Every
moment has opportunities for learning, and the
environment surrounding the child affects what is
learned and how. What educators knew to be best
practices has been confirmed in the last twenty
years through scientific exploration of how a child’s
brain operates. From the moment of conception to
birth and through the early years of life, the brain is
evolving to create new connections based on what
children are learning. And learning creates a brain
that is more equipped to learn!
• Every situation is a learning experience.
• Children need to be nurtured and have physical
contact with other people.
• Children learn through their interactions with
people and the environment.
• Play is an essential component to learning.
• Hands-on activities result in lifelong learned