Friday, November 7, 2008

Brain-Building Play at DCM

On October 23rd, Jane Healy, Ph.D presented "Your Child's Growing Mind: How Families that Play Together, Build Brains Together" as part of DCM's Just for Grown-Ups lecture series.

Many thanks to those who joined us and we offer special thanks to The Christopher Family Foundation for sponsoring this amazing event!

During the presentation, Dr. Healy discussed how hands-on, open-ended play experiences, like those found at DCM, are essential to children's development.

Experience Shapes the Brain throughout Life
A recent article in The Washington Post states that educators are now looking to neuroscience to offer guidance on what works best in terms of educational strategies. According to the article, the recent revelation that the brain's structure is much more flexible than was previously thought, is helping teachers find ways to create brain-building experiences. In her presentation, Dr. Healy discussed the plasticity of the brain and how experiences indeed shape the brain's development. She states, "New experiences make the brain grow." New experiences strengthen the neurons' potential to take more messages in and send more messages out. This happens, Healy says, as a result of stimulation. We (as children or adults) stimulate our brains and learn when we manipulate ideas and objects.

Brain-building Play
According to Dr. Healy, play is changing. She states that children are becoming more engaged in electronic play that may distort the brain-building process, interrupting development of language, creativity, problem-solving, social interaction skills, and ability to sustain attention. Healy states, "While there is nothing wrong with adding new kinds of play, we need to not forget the power of 3-dimesional, hands-on, object play. These kinds of play experiences stimulate the brain and lay the foundation for children's intellectual, social, emotional and language skills."

Fufilling Children's Need for Brain-building Play at DCM

In today’s world, the type of objects children are playing with and the stimulation they get in return are different than in the past. These different experiences affect how the growing brain "wires itself." Electronic toys and technology provides children with new and different experiences, but Dr. Healy stresses that, "a balance needs to be struck between these experiences and those 3-dimensional, open-ended, hands-on play experiences necessary for children's development." DCM is filled with "brain-building play experiences" for children and families. Healy encourages parents to visit the museum because it is filled with "simple little things" that build children's brains and allow for open-ended, child-centered play. "The very best play is 90 % child and 10% toy," says Healy. "Families there (at DCM) together can learn to play, release stress, build brains...and clearly I think the children's museum is a fabulous place."

To hear Dr. Healy's entire presentation, please click here:

Save the Date!
Join us on: Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Lilian Katz, Ph.D
International Leader in Early Childhood Education
as she presents,

"Nurture Learning by Developing Children's Innate Dispositions"

Fees: Advance Sale - $15 members/$20 non-members
Day of Presentation - $20 members/$25 non-members

To register, call (630) 637-8000.

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