Make Them Count

When I was growing up, my parents always said “the first seven years matter the most.” At the time that information only came in one ear and out the other, but today I understand it and see how much wisdom hides on those seven words.

As part of a professional development training, my coworkers and I discussed a study done by Gail G. McGee, M. Connie Almeida, Beth Sulzer-Azaroff and Robert S. Feldman called Promoting Reciprocal Interactions Via Peer Incidental Teaching. The research dealt with children with autism and incidental style Applied Behavioral Analysis, but one thing pointed out, that can be generalized, is that the younger a child is, the faster and further they seem to advance.

When a child with autism starts therapy at an early preschool age their progress is categorized by a steadily inclining line graph, however, when a child begins when he or she is at kindergarten age that line seems to move only horizontally. True explanation has not been discovered but one theory states the elasticity of the younger brain is a major factor in improvement. The same learning pattern appears to emerge with typically developing children as well. When I teach a piece of information to a two-year-old, that child seems to retain it immediately, but the same is not true for children at five and six – they require repetition to remember.

I guess today’s lesson has to do with your values and what individuals you want your children to be. No matter influences later on, you children will never learn more that in their first few years of life. Focus on that time, cherish it and use it wisely because it leaves a scientifically proven mark.

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