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Impacting Readiness: Nature and Nurture

by Jane M. Healy
March/April 2011
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Article Link: https://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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