I loved this visual from Beacon House so much that I drew it in my journal as a reminder. A visual of the way in which a young persons brain develops.
They cannot reach their higher order functioning for awhile.
1. The first part that develops is the brain stem – which processes sensory input and is in charge of survival. Sometimes we refer to this part of our brain as the Reptilian Brain – or basement brain. Its not conscious. Its automatic.
2. The second part that develops is the Limbic brain which is responsible for attachment and emotional development. (This for me is huge. When a child is going through a huge life transition or trauma – it makes sense to me that they could get stuck here. They cannot actually access their higher order learning effectively if they are stuck here. If they are not feeling securely attached in their environments due to stress, conflict, change, trauma. Children need to feel safe and secure here before being able to learn openly and freely. Actually, not just children – all humans. We need to feel safe before we can truly open ourselves up to the vulnerability it takes to get curious, experiment, and learn).Safety isn’t just about physical safety. Its about psychological / social / emotional safety as well. And these overlap for most everyone but can also be unique to each human. What activates them.
3. The Cortical Brain develops – thinking, learning, language, inhibition. We often refer to this as the Wise Leader, Wise Owl – its the job of the prefrontal cortex to make wise choices – to think things through – to respond instead of react. this is so incredibly important in my opinion. It goes to show how incredibly important it is for educators, parents, caregivers to notice and become aware of the holistic environmental factors that contribute to a child’s ability and capacity to assimilate new information, learn new skills, make thought-through choices. If a child is falling behind, having a difficult time attaining a new skill, or reacting in big feelings instead of using their words or their language to help conflict unfold – this is often why. A child needs to FEEL safe and secure before they can even begin to unconsciously open themselves up to higher levels of learning. Their spiritual selves – their beings – need to feel safe and secure in order for them to open up to new learning and access the cortical regions of the brain. This is a huge reminder of the necessity for a holistic approach to learning, education, schooling. Education and learning cannot happen inside a vacuum. We need to educate ourselves and each other and our children on the importance of mental health and emotional safety – through awareness, mindfulness, practice, community – this is a great reminder when dealing with a child’s hard difficult behaviors or rough edges. They are not trying to be hard or difficult. They aren’t BEING hard. They are HAVING a hard time. We can meet them in a power struggle or meet them in compassion knowing that their reactivity is likely very connected to this information.
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