At the Académie Happy Neuron we stay updated on what science tells us about brain development.
It’s now common knowledge that young children are the best at learning languages. Then, why are we waiting for them to be over 6 years old (sometimes even later) to teach them a second language at school? At the Académie, we believe that now is the best time for your child to learn new languages through immersion. Not only will they learn languages that can be useful for them when working and traveling but they will also develop the perspective that the world is a diverse place and they will develop their executive functions (attention, focus, decision-making, etc.) more than their monolingual peers.
Talking about executive functions… During our readings we started to understand the importance of the development of executive functions in young children and it’s relation to success. If a child develops the part of his brain that will later help her organise, plan, stay focus and execute, then she’s hundreds of neurons closer to achieving her dreams and making a difference in the world.
With that in mind, we are interested in the Montessori method and the Vygotsky approach because those are two alternative methods that have been shown to foster the development of executive functions. The nicest part is that those two methods of learning are play based.
Deliberate Interactions for a Happy Brain
In a learning setting the child learns from the curriculum (materials, activities) but also from his interactions with his peers and the teachers. Knowing this, we are being deliberate in how we interact with the children. We are helping them make sense of the world around them and understand their own emotions. We don’t see a tantrum as a burden : it is an opportunity to connect the logic side of the brain with the emotional side!
If you are interested to know more about our deliberate interactions, we strongly recommend the book ”The Whole-Brain Child : 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind”.
Science and Environment
We offer (and will keep developing more) programs related to science or environment. This is simply because those are concepts that we expect to be at the center of the lives of the children of today. They have to be for an healthy and prosperous humanity!
We also think that the understanding of the scientific method will help our student grow curious and inquiring minds. A seed in the brain of futures innovators, scientists & leaders if tomorrow.
Reading and writting
Many young children learn to read before school age, and it increases their vocabulary and their cognitive ability, but the child should never be pushed to do so against his will as it could have detrimental effect in the long run. This is why we have a very fun reading and writing program that is engaging and tailored to fit the child’s interests and abilities.
First we put a lot of emphasis on phonemic awareness with different material and tactics, such as smooth blending words once in a while when we read ( b-uuuuusssss, bus ), rhyming songs and poems, homemade book of words starting with the same letter (cop, car, cat, cut), puzzles and games for the children to associate rhyming words, etc.
Then, when we feel that a 2 and a half year old child is interested in doing so, and after discussing with the parents, we can also teach the child the letters names and sounds and how to sound out words with the explicit synthetic phonics method. We have many small books for the beginning readers.
As for writing, we make sure to prepare the child’s fine motor skills (with cutting exercises, drawing shapes, chalk drawing, letter tracing in sand, etc.) but we also want to sparkle the child’s interest in writing. This is why we give the children many opportunities to “write”. She can write about her day in a journal, write what she plans to do during a play pretend session, write a letter to a friend or write her observation during a museum visit, for example. Furthermore, to give the child some practice in storytelling, we can script for her a story or a letter that she wants us to write down.