What is neurodevelopment?

Neurodevelopment  is an organizing structure through which learners and learning can be understood.  A mind’s neurodevelopmental profile comes to be because of a multitude of bidirectional and intersecting functions of the brain.  In A Mind at a Time, author Mel Levine states that “the total number of neurodevelopmental functions are inestimable.”

Our neurodevelopmental profile is determined by the following factors:

  • Our genes
  • Family life and stress level due to each of our socioeconomic realities
  • Cultural factors
  • A child’s friends and peers
  • Overall health
  • Emotional health

What are the nine principles of neurodevelopment?

1.  A positive view of neurodevelopmental diversity.

2.  A stress on neurodevelopmental profiles.

3.  A quest for specificity and individuality in understanding students.

4.  A policy of labeling observable phenomena rather than children.

5.  A commitment to collaboration among professionals, parents, and children.

6.  A desire to strengthen the strenghts and affinities of children.

7.  A belief in the value of demystification.

8.  A consistent effort to help learners learn about learning.

9.  An infusion of optimism for kids with all kinds of minds.

Why is neurodevelopment important to me as an educator?

The quality of a student’s educational experience strongly affects their neurodevelopmental profile.  This is important to understand as educators because it is the one domain we truly have any influence over.  Research around children’s brain scans has shown positive changes in actual structure of the brain when an under-stimulated brain gets stimulated: new tissue will grow.  Moreover, a student’s educational track record affects their level of motivation. If a student experiences a plethora of positive experiences in school, they will likely be more motivated to continue with their efforts.  In contrast, a student who fails repeatedly over time will probably have little encouragement to persevere.

“Every child instinctively knows what many adults have long since forgotten: Our differences are not something to be tolerated, they are something to be celebrated.”

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