Learning Domains and Brain Connections

Learning Domains and Brain Connections

Research on brain development has found that the brain grows in size and develops connections fastest during the first three years of life and continues through adolescence.

“Connections” refer to the way a brain takes in and processes information. Leaders in research and early education organize learning connections into four domains that target the essential areas of learning for proper development and achievement: language, cognitive, physical, social/emotional.

For ease of understanding and implementation in a home setting, I have broken down these learning domains into eight simple learning targets. This is an easy way to think about how children learn, and how you can expose them each day to the things every growing child needs.

1. Let’s Listen, Let’s Talk
2. Let’s Read, Let’s Write

3. Let’s Figure Things Out
4. Let’s Pretend

5. Let’s Use Our Hands
6. Let’s Move Our Bodies

7. Let Me Be Me
8. Let’s Be Friends

A basic understanding of learning domains will empower you to facilitate learning and recognize when your child is on the right track. It will also help identify whether a child needs work in one area or an intervention (for example like a speech delay). I knew my younger daughter was progressing at a different rate from her siblings and was struggling with recognizing printed words. She was later diagnosed with dyslexia and dyscalculia.

If a child is having difficulty putting sequences together or grouping similar objects, there may be an issue, such as a learning disability, or they may simply need direction or more practice. Being engaged in how he or she plays can help identify early issues and concerns. Often the earlier, the better.

Using these simple eight learning targets, you can make sure your child is exposed to all areas of learning daily and can facilitate what he or she needs. Refer to How to Structure a Day.

For example, an only child will have less social and emotional experience than a child with two siblings. It is important to organize play dates or attend play groups to expose that child to social situations, especially before starting formal schooling. It will be less stressful for the child, and he or she will feel much more confident interacting with other children and being with new adults.

Another example would be a child who is drawn to Lego blocks and constantly asks or plays with them. It isn’t necessary to deter that child from playing with Lego blocks, but instead, encourage and set up things that expose him or her to other learning areas, like reading, listening, or writing. If the resources or opportunities aren’t available, a child won’t grow in those necessary areas.

Note that even though domains are grouped into areas of learning, a child learns in an integrated fashion. Integrated learning means that more than one connection is happening at a time. One connection triggers another or affects another. Areas of learning will overlap, and some activities will reach all learning targets and domains at once.

If a child plays a game of ball, for example, he or she will use more than one connection and many connections simultaneously. Even though a child appears to be participating in only one activity, many connections are happening at the same time.

During a ball game, a child will:

1. Call to another player (Let’s Listen, Let’s Talk)

2. Follow instructions from his or her coach, or wait for a turn (Let’s Figure Things Out)

3. Use his or her hands and arms to catch and throw, and legs to run (Let’s Use Our Hands, Let’s Move Our Bodies)

4. Talk before, during, and after the game with other players or his or her friends (Let Me Be Me, Let’s Be Friends)

Print the eight learning targets and keep them handy! Facilitate situations and be creative in targeting learning domains each day. Sample activities by learning targets to follow.

The paperback version of Create a Home of Learning is available at Amazon, your favorite bookseller or jodidee.com

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