Learning disorders and challenges.
The links across the top are to the common Learning Challenges - below is an understanding of how normal brain function works
Every child is born with about 100 billion active brain cells. These are all the active brain cells they will ever have.
So how is it that some people are so much cleverer than others? If Einstein’s or Da Vinci’s brain had the exact same number of active brain cells that we and your child have today, how is it that we have not had some of the great thoughts they have had? One definition of intelligence is that it is not what you know but how well you can make connections between what you know to make new composite ideas. Of course, the more you know the more pieces of information are available for you to make connections with. The difference between brains lies in the number of connections each of these 100 billion brain cells have made. Each individual cell is capable of making up to 20,000 connections. That means that when you connect the colour of a fig parrot’s wings with the glow from the planet Uranus, as you will using Reading Master, for example, you will have actually physically grown a new connection (synapse) in your brain.
The more you use that connection to make further connections the more immediately available the information at the end of that connection will be for your mind to ‘remember’ and the easier the connection process will become.
Your associations are your own!
What is the first thought you have when someone says "blue". Is it sky, flowers, or the way you look when you are feeling cold? The color blue or red is not necessarily located in a file in everyone’s brain labelled ‘colors’. For some people red has an association with fire engines or for others it may be the color of Mommy’s car. The brain stores information like branches on a tree. Each of the 100 million active neurons or cells in a child’s brain is capable of growing up to twenty thousand different branches.
Synapses in the Brain
One definition of intelligence is that it is not what you know but how well you can make connections between what you know to make new composite ideas. Of course the more you know the more pieces of information are available for you to make connections with. The difference between brains lies in the number of connections each of these 100 billion brain cells have made. Each individual cell is capable of making up to 20,000 connections. That means that when you connect the colour of a fig parrot’s wings with the glow from the planet Uranus, as you will using Reading Master, for example, you will have actually physically grown a new connection in your brain. The more you use that connection to make further connections the more immediately available the information at the end of that connection will be for your mind to ‘remember’ and the easier the connection process will become.(Excerpted from "ReadingMaster GuideBook" by Denise and Grant Ford)
Using an electron microscope Hutternlocher observed synapse production peaking in three different areas of the developing brain. “The production of synapses in the brain is strongly linked to the ability to learn.
The later the production of synapses peaks in a particular portion of the brain, the more the learning related to that portion is influenced by such environmental factors as teaching and parental nurturing.” He discovered it is easiest to learn through the ears at 3 months, as this is when the density of synapses in the auditory part of the brain is at its greatest. Because this auditory part of the brain develops so early in childhood, music and languages are therefore much easier to learn at an early age. He also found that it is easiest to learn through the eyes even earlier than this. The eyes and ears will develop on cue without much help from the environment.
Development may be hindered, however, by starving either of these senses while they are developing, but you can’t really speed up the development of sight and sound nor produce babies with “super-sight” nor “super-hearing”. However, higher thinking skills develop later so are therefore much more dependent upon environmental input. This means thinking is more a product of environment and what you put into that environment in the early years than it is to do with any sort of innate or genetic ability. If we are basically wired as nature intended then we all have innate or genetic ability. The question is are we using it or losing it?
In the middle frontal gyrus (controlling motivation and sophisticated thinking skills), synapses peak around 3 ½ years and decline stops around mid-adolescence. Because higher order thinking skills happen after visual and auditory skills, activities dependent on these skills come later. However the basic mathematical concepts on which calculus will be constructed upon are most appropriately delivered between two and four years of age. These basic concepts are in fact much harder to grasp after this - when we traditionally attempt it. What is most interesting about Hutternlocher’s research is the idea that developmental changes that come later, such as higher thinking skills, are more dependent upon the environment than are the more basic developmental changes involved in seeing and hearing. What is also interesting, is the observation of synapses in the middle frontal gyrus being at their greatest density around three and a half years. The overwhelming conclusion of this research is that during the first 4 years of your child’s life it is absolutely critical to spend time with them wisely. (Excerpted from "Parents as First Teachers" by Denise and Grant Ford.)
The interconnections contained within the ReadingMaster books were designed before any of the books were written. The challenge was to write 27 books that draw on a common and familiar library of 350 base images, 400 keywords and 70 spellings of the 44 sounds in the English language within storylines that are accurate and true to life. The reality of the books enables connections to be made even beyond the more than eight hundred and fifty direct links programmed, to the real-world experiences of the children and adults interacting with these tools. This design enables access to information based on the user's interest and in a way that mirrors the way that our brains store and retrieve information; in information trees of our own design, based on our own associations. For example, if you’re playing on the computer in the book, Michael and the Rainforest, and you click on where the word "birds" is first mentioned, you are taken to a "hummingbird" in the Rainforest Birds FlashBook. Here you learn about the Hummingbird. Then if you click on the word "hummingbird" in the Flashbook you are taken to "hummingbirds hover like helicopters" (a different page, later on) in Michael and the Rainforest, reinforcing what you have just learned in the Flashbook. It is up to the user how far down a trail they want to go and there are virtually no endpoints to the circular linking. If, for instance, you click on the word "owl" in the sentence, "She has big round eyes like an owl," in Fluffy the Show Cat, you are taken to the owl in the New Zealand Birds FlashBook where more information is provided on owls. If you click on "red" on "Red Persian", you are taken to the rainbow in the Rainbow Sounds Reader where you may add Red Persian to the list of red objects you know. All of this helps the brain add information by associating them with its existing knowledge files.