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Impacting Readiness: Nature and Nurture

by Jane M. Healy
March/April 2011
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/impacting-readiness-nature-and-nurture/5019818/

I first got seriously interested in ‘brain readiness’ many years ago, when, as a psychologist-in-training, I was asked to conduct admissions observations and testing for a private preschool. I readily observed what any teacher knows " that even though the children were all near the same chronological age, their developmental readiness was, quite literally, all over the charts. Whereas some four year olds could draw a person with five fingers on each hand and a full set of facial features, others could barely hold a pencil. Some sat quietly in a small group, intently listening to and understanding a story, while others wiggled, fidgeted, and couldn’t focus their attention.

In those days, before the explosion of developmental neuroscience, my professors explained individual differences in readiness with the term ‘neural ripening,’ a catchphrase for the notion that individuals’ developmental timetables differed biologically " and that there wasn’t much we could do about it. Yet I kept wondering, “Can that be the whole story? What about these kids’ previous experience? Had some parents been coaching Draw-A-Person? Were the unruly ones truly immature " or just undisciplined?”

Another standard belief in those days was that the child with a more leisurely pace of development " the ...

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