A student once said to me, “Mrs. Marshall, my brain hurts!” That was her response to the critical thinking I was stimulating in my classroom. She just wanted to let her brain rest comfortably, but the puzzlement in the question I presented compelled her to try. She was trying so hard it hurt according to her!
You’ve heard the saying, “no pain no gain” right? Usually we think of that in terms of physical exercise. But hang on. We have so much more power than that to affect change in our own lives and in the lives of our children.
Yes, we can grow muscle. We are told that we can “sculpt” or “transform” our bodies. And we’ve all seen those before and after pictures of people of all ages that have done just that. No one even questions whether or not this is true!
Believe the Truth About Neuroplasticity
But how many people believe in the power of neuroplasticity? A simple way to explain neuroplasticity is that the brain can grow new neurons (brain and nerve cells) and create new connections between them. Scientists now know that these changes can occur throughout life. If that was not true, people with brain injuries or strokes would never recover any function at all. There would be no such thing as rehab.
Neuroplasticity can be stimulated. Its power can be harnessed through use and practice.
How This is Relevant to Homeschooling
I would say this is relevant to teaching and parenting in general! If your child is “clumsy,” it doesn’t have to be permanent. A bad habit doesn’t have to be permanent. If your child has trouble learning math, it doesn’t mean she can’t ever learn complex math. If your child is four and is not walking yet, it doesn’t mean she will never walk. Neuroplasticity isn’t just for people with brain injuries. It’s for all of us. Whenever we learn something new, it’s at work. Whenever your child practices anything, she is making changes in her brain. And this is a very good reason why we should supervise practice so that our children don’t create changes in their brains that will lead to incorrect conclusions, behavior or decisions later.
If your child has special needs, neuroplasticity should bring hope to you, no matter who says something is not possible for your child. Can you remember the last time the medical profession or science has made a pronouncement that they later changed? People have told you to be realistic right? They’ve said that will protect you from “false” hope, right?
Well, has anyone tried to protect you from false despair recently?
Okay, that’s what I’m doing. Stay away from false despair. You have permission to have high hopes for your child.
Protect your child from unrealistic expectations by helping her take baby steps in the right direction — not by having low or non-existent expectations. Begin where she is, and allow hope to flourish.
If you want some specific information about how to stimulate neuroplasticity and help your child’s brain grow in the right direction, you should visit IAHP — both the website and in person. Watch the ten minute video on this IAHP page for an overview. If your child does not have special needs, navigate to the page for well children. What they’ve learned over the years has benefited all of the children that have been exposed to these principles and activities. Also be sure to read Homeschooling and the Brain. (The brain is my favorite subject!)
I had a different topic planned for today. However, I’ve just been made aware that the founder of IAHP has just passed away at 94. He spent his entire life helping families. I was hoping to visit with him one more time this year when I saw this history of his life with an end date.
It was Glenn Doman who gave me high hopes for my premature twins and who helped me steer clear of false despair. I hope the same for you.