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Theoretical Framework


Neuroscience is now confirming what intuitive adults and societies have long known, mature behaviours are not possible until brain structures have developed and consolidated, which for human beings is well into the mid to late twenties. While we can get our students to 'act as if', through teaching social skills, and reinforcing behaviours such as kindness and empathy, the reality is that these behaviours will only become consistent when a certain level of brain maturation is achieved. Until then, they will be present but their presence will be 'spotty'. Kindness, empathy, consideration for others, and the ability to share are all wired into the human brain, but they can be over-ridden by strong emotions especially in the immature. And so, it is natural for children and youth to be unkind, inconsiderate, and selfish from time to time. 


Students under the age of 6 years old have great difficulty tempering their intense emotions, and have a hard time interacting in 'socially acceptable ways' with their peers because they do not yet have a fully connected prefrontal cortex. These young ones cannot have more than one thought or one feeling at a time. This is not an error in development nor is it something that needs to be corrected through teaching social skills. It needs to be understood as part of the developmental process and we, the adults, must compensate for this immaturity so that our young ones can 'stay out of trouble' until they grow into their mixed feelings.

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PODCAST: The Research Behind Early Childhood Development

Eva de Gosztonyi and Catherine Korah

Chris Colley from LEARN LEARN had the opportunity to talk with Eva de Gosztonyi & Catherine Korah from the CEBM about how our youngest learners crucial brain development. This childhood development is paramount in their growth into fully realized adults. We discussed the ideal conditions for such growth to occur, as well as key neurological milestones along this journey and the importance of free-play in early childhood. A must listen for parents and teachers interested in knowing how our children’s brains develop.  Click here to listen to the audio recording:

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WEBINAR: Making Sense of Preschoolers

Eva de Gosztonyi

Click here to view recording: 


Q&A Webinar - Rest Play Grow book study

Deborah MacNamara and Eva de Gosztonyi

This event was a Q&A webinar related to the Rest Play Grow book study organized by the Centre of Excellence for Behaviour Management. Special guest Dr. Deborah MacNamara joins Eva de Gosztonyi to answer participants questions.Click here to view recording:

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EDITORIAL: Three Things I Discovered Writing Rest, Play, Grow

Deborah MacNamara

For the last couple of years I have been dwelling on the subject of young children while writing Rest, Play, Grow. As my book is released, I thought that the best way to mark it’s passage from my computer into the world, would be to share the three things that encapsulate what I really think young kids would like us to understand about them.

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What Young Kids Wished You Understood About Them

Deborah MacNamara

Preschoolers know much better than they can behave and are impulsive by design.. The parts of the brain responsible for self-control are still under development in young children. The brain is only 20% developed at birth and will ideally become more integrated in the first 6 years of life.

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Why Preschoolers Shouldn’t be Suspended or Expelled: Lessons from Neuroscience

Mona Delahooke

Luke struggled to get through nearly every day at his preschool. The four-year-old had difficulty sitting still and following directions, and when teachers reprimanded him, he usually responded by hitting something or someone. The more they admonished him, the more disruptive his behaviors became. Finally, the school ran out of options and suspended him.

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Cultivating Independence: A Paradox!

Colleen Drobot

Recently I read a study that reported North Americans place a high value on independence. We all want our children to grow up and stand on their own two feet; who wants their 30 year old still living with them? The problem, is as Dr. Neufeld states, we are not birds that can be pushed out of the nest. In fact, the more we push independence in our kids, the more they cling, give up, or look to someone else for help. If we want to deepen attachment and cultivate independence, we first need to invite our children to depend on us.

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“Say Sorry!” How Forced Sorry’s Do More Harm Than Good

Deborah MacNamara

“You need to say you’re sorry!” When problems or conflict arise, adults and other children are quick to demand justice by insisting on an apology, pushing a child to take responsibility for their actions. However, what isn’t often considered is whether a forced sorry is helpful, especially as other kids are great barometers of sincerity and can sense when words of contrition are devoid of true caring. 

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