When I was a student teacher at Mills College I had the exceptional good luck to student teach under the guidance of the Infant Toddler Lead Teacher Bethica. She was amazing, her knowledge and understanding about what the children could learn. I have since lost touch with her but I gained so much from her mentoring.
One of the things that I gained from her was the idea about how the young brain works, an image really. Everyone knows that we have neurons and synapses, and stuff like that going on in our brain. We also know that when a certain pattern of behaviors or actions happen it begins to create a neuro-path way. For example when a baby cries, she gets picked up and comforted. Repeatedly doing this helps her learn that when she needs something she can cry and comfort will soon follow.
One day at the Mills Children’s School, we were discussing brain development. Bethica explained that it was as if a child’s brain were a large grassy field. As we develop, learn, and experience life, it creates paths across the grassy field. The more the a path is used the deeper it becomes (the more ingrained). When we want to change a behavior we need to make a new path and attempt to avoid the old path.
I always thought this was an excellent visualization of how Neural pathways develop. So thank you Bethica for being such a brilliant teacher of young children!!