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Resting the Brain Optimizes Learning Gain in Children

*The young brain is a fast learner

Young kids are master learners, soaking up new information at incredible speeds.

Children spend a larger portion of their time in a deeper phase of sleep known as slow wave sleep (SWS) as compared to adults.

In SWS, newly learned material stored in the hippocampus (center of learning and memory) transfers to the prefrontal cortex (center of cognitive and executive function) for long-term storage, resulting in more efficient information retention.1

*Resting the brain maximizes efficiency

Children need down time for consolidating information learned earlier in the day and storing newly acquired knowledge.

This allows the brain to relax and achieve a state of creative flow, while integrating the newly learned data with existing pathways to operate at higher overall efficiency.

A pause in the intake of knowledge prevents information overload and relaxes the brain.

Studies have shown that memory consolidation occurs while we rest, as the hippocampus communicates with the neocortex to engrain the memory or learning experience.2

*How to provide a child with brain rest and how is it beneficial?

Nowadays children receive constant inputs from a variety of after school activities, TV shows and school work, without much down time to process it all.

Have a designated quiet time midday.

It allows time for the child’s brain to process and integrate the information learned throughout the morning.

Overtime, the child will develop self-reliance and will learn to self-entertain, important skills for a child of any age.

*A story from the front lines of motherhood: quiet time works!

When my daughter was an infant, we put her in the pack-n-play for 15 minutes per day during quiet time.

One day while checking on her, I heard the humming of a song and watched as she brainstormed new and creative ways to play with her old toys.

It’s a win-win situation so go ahead, give it a try and see for yourself!

You might want to go a step further and create an esthetically beautiful, clean space for resting.

Dr. Maria Montessori, the child development expert, was a strong proponent of aesthetic spaces to aid in the learning process and calm the mind.

“The child must live in an environment of beauty,” where the splendor of the natural world is integrated within the home using green spaces.

Dr. Montessori believed plants inside the home that a child can care for offer great developmental benefits.

“Children acquire knowledge through experience in the environment” therefore, an orderly room promotes a “state of flow,” deep concentration and creativity.3

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Wishing you all the best on your journey! 

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  1. Anna Peiffer et al. The power of children’s sleep – improved declarative memory consolidation in children compared with adults. Scientific Reports, 10:9979, 2020.
  2. Tambini et al. Enhanced brain correlations during rest are related to memory for recent experiences. Neuron, 65 (2): 280-290. 2010.
  3. Maria Montessori The 1946 London Lectures.

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