Stimulating baby’s brain won’t guarantee future academic success, writes Sara Mead on Education Sector.
While neural connections in babies’ brains grow rapidly in the early years, adults can’t make newborns smarter or more successful by having them listen to Beethoven or play with Einstein-inspired blocks. Nor is there any neuroscience evidence that suggests that the earliest years are a singular window for growth that slams shut once children turn three. To the contrary, the social programs with the strongest evidence of positive long-term impacts, including high-quality preschool programs, take place outside the zero-to-three window.
The now-or-never theory of child development doesn’t just waste public money on sending a Bach CD to every baby, Mead writes. It’s not just a case of anxious parents stocking up on Baby Einstein videos.
More darkly, some have seized on the importance of early brain development in an effort to excuse elementary and secondary schools from the difficult task of working hard on behalf of all students â€” on the grounds that by the time many students get to school they are already hopelessly and permanently behind.
In 1997, Hillary Clinton, then the first lady, held a White House conference on child development that spread the children’s brains can be changed in the “first three years,” but then lose their ability to adapt.