The fashion for early development is, unfortunately, still in the minds of parents who believe themselves to be the forward-thinking part of the human race. The damage done by such “development,” however, often far exceeds its alleged benefits.
Child development consists of natural growth of the brain structures in the context of interaction with other people and of mastering new experiences and activities.
Different parts of the brain grow at different rates. This happens in stages, similar to how an embryo grows in the womb. The idea of “skipping” a stage of this process and going on to the next one is based on ignorance of psychophysiology.
It must be understood that there are periods of time in brain development that are most conducive to development of various psychical processes: speech, perception, arbitrary memory and attention, conceptual thinking and self-awareness. Knowing this, you can use such periods to their full extent.
In addition to physiology, the necessary stages of socialization, of fitting into society, need to be taken into account. It is important not to miss the time when a child’s independence takes shape or their urge to communicate in order to cultivate the skills of empathy, flexibility and situation management.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH EARLY DEVELOPMENT?
Now let’s review in detail how attempts at early development break into the “physiology – socialization” system.
Let’s start with the fact that in all cases a child has 24 hours a day. The energy received from rest, sleep and digestion is spent on growth and development of all body systems, on movement, on natural cognitive activity and on communication.
The feedback received by the nervous system from all this activity stimulates development of new neuro connections. In other words, the “incoming” signals are processed and external experience is internalized, which is exactly what growth means.
So what happens when the little one’s time is taken too early by learning reading, geography, memorizing facts, etc.?
The child will certainly master what is meant to be studied at a later age; however, they will do so at the expense of spending too much energy.
Evolvement of psychical functions and communication skills will be, so to say, robbed because the time and effort are not spent right.
In other words, a preschooler whose time for story and role playing has been stolen in favor of early development will receive insufficient development through action and creativity as compared to what they should receive at such age. Forecasting, role planning, communication and negotiation skills are also going to be left out of the picture.
Later on this will, naturally, impact adult life when people with well-developed communication and leadership skills win the most; those who know how to work as a team and have a well-developed emotional intellect.
The unwilling prodigy, however, is in no danger of that because the time that other kids spend playing and learning to communicate, work together and defend their boundaries, the poor thing was made to memorize boring facts or read pseudoscientific balderdash.
As a result, the child is not a social success. Those around them do not want to deal with them and, as a result, they may very well grow up to be an outcast instead of a VIP. In addition to that, they are likely to have family problems, because they did not get the experience they need for that at the right age.
Parents should always ask themselves, “What is my child missing because I am making them study this subject right now?”
NOT GOOD FOR THE MOTHER EITHER
You should take into account another important point. If the mother is involved in early development herself, without the help of nannies or teachers, she does so instead of fulfilling her own professional potential.
Yet, when the child goes to school and then becomes a teenager and no longer really need the mother, they begin to despise her, because they can see that she has no real achievements in her life. She has not achieved anything significant either socially or professionally that they could be proud of. It may even be that the teenager will be ashamed of her or embarrassed by her.
That is why the second part of negative effects of early development is in the fact that the mother actually goes downhill. Then, in vain attempts to assert herself through the child’s achievements, she harms not only his future success, but also her position in society. I have seen quite a few such unfulfilled women over forty, left by their husbands, surviving close to the poverty line, working for a meager wage; all because when they stayed home with the child they ground Glenn Doman’s cards into the child’s head instead of honing their professional skills or keeping up with their industry’s news.
Attempts to get ahead of their peers rob your child of opportunity to develop important skills at the right time; as they grow, very few of them manage to compensate for it.
When teaching any skill, you should take into account two parameters: the number of hours spent investing the right kind of effort and the readiness of the brain to receive it.
Let me illustrate with my own experience.
I started teaching my oldest daughter to swim when she was 18 months and it took a year and a half. I taught my middle daughter to swim when she was three and the results took one month. My youngest son learned to swim when he was four and it took two weeks. As a result, all three of them swim like fish. However, there was no point at all in spending so much time and effort to teach the oldest – we should have simply waited a little.
In homeschooling experience there are cases when children do not go to elementary school at all. At the end of sixth grade the child simply passed tests for all six years. That said, they aren’t forced to read or write at home. Before taking the tests, in just a couple of months the child masters all the necessary skills and the six-year school curriculum. This is simply due to the fact that brain structures became more mature and the necessary skills are so much easier for a ten-year old to master than for a first-grader.
So, fewer hours on a subject with good teaching at an older age are likely to bring better results than the standard school curriculum.
As for children who were taught under various early development systems, such as the Glenn Doman’s method, for instance, results of long-term study of their school achievements show the following points.
First of all, children were bored with regular classes and lost motivation to study early on.
Secondly, by the time they were teenagers, their intellectual superiority to their peers leveled out and they were no different than other teenagers. In addition, in high school these children had difficulty dealing with their peers, which had a negative impact on their self-esteem.
Third, their results in adult life, such as career growth and level of income, have turned out to be much lower than those of regular children.
Thus, I see nothing but harm for the child and the mother engaged in early development. There is no sense in spending hours memorizing early on what you can easily find using a search engine and what you hardly ever need in real life.
To form the higher mental functions in early childhood and during the pre-school years, you need, first and foremost, a sensory environment that is not depleted, communication with parents and new experiences acquired thought activity and emotional perception.
The brain matures around the age of 20. The entire period is conducive to developing various adaptation skills and learning to transform the environment.
Early development does not speed up the growth of brain structures. It has no positive impact on social adaptation. It gives nothing at all, except useless waste of time and energy.
A child will benefit much more from sound sleep, various games, new experiences and loving parents nearby.