Neuroplasticity and learning

What is neuroplasticity, and why it’s important when considering child’s development and education?

In short, our brain becomes more rigid with age, and it’s important to form a strong foundation of thinking patterns from early childhood. Trying to learn how to see the world differently, or to behave in a different way even after 14 years of age means breaking and “fixing” some parts of the foundation. This requires a greater effort and is not as successful as building the right foundation from the start.

Thompson RA, Nelson CA (2001) Developmental science and the media: Early brain development.

Neuroplasticity and age

Neuroplasticity is brain’s ability to change its structure and function in response to environmental demands through neural connections. Neural changes occur on multiple levels and on different time scales (from milliseconds to decades) and can be positive or negative. Positive changes are reflected in improved capabilities and performance (e.g. acquisition of new skills and knowledge). Negative plasticity is evident through a decline or loss of functional ability.

Age is the most important factor determining brain’s capacity to change.

Neuroplasticity is strongest during our first five years of life, which provides us with the invaluable ability to learn with enormous ease. We acquire new skills through mere observation, immersion, and interactions in our social environment.

After the age of 3 our cognitive functions start declining, and our brain enters a steady “use it or lose it” stage, when established neural connections become stronger and more permanent through repeated use, while unused connections weaken and prune off. This is why repetition is the key to learning mastery.

Confidence is one of the most important qualities that can improve your child's future

Why is it so important? 

It turns out that when compared, confidence trumps competence.

There have been studies done to prove that confident people are perceived to be more competent, even when facts suggest otherwise. If a person projects confidence, others tend to believe that the person knows what they’re talking about. At the same time, being too modest doesn’t serve well. Modesty is regarded as hedging against possible failure. If a person doesn’t trust in his or her abilities, how could anyone else?

To convince others of your abilities, it’s important to develop a habit to communicate that you are good at what you do — without any self-deprecation regarding your core competencies. To feel more authentic demonstrating confidence, you may first have to convince yourself. Ask yourself: What am I good at? What was my greatest success so far? Why should others be led by me? What do I know that they don’t? If you have a hard time answering these questions, you have a problem — how should you convince others of your expertise if you aren’t convinced yourself?