When one talks about The Glory Years we typically refer to those times in our past that are remembered for great success or happiness. Maybe it’s your 20s, 30s or even your 50s. Most people probably don’t think it’s when they were a toddler.
However, the years from 2-7 are when our brains are best primed for learning — so, from a learning perspective these are indeed The Glory Years.
The evidence on this remarkable learning time is clear (e.g. Edutopia: Why Ages 2-7 Matter So Much for Brain Development. Neural connections, and hence learning, increase when we are young, but not in a uniform progression.
The first critical period of rapid brain development happens around ages 2 to 7 — the second and final one happens during adolescence. Between the ages of 2 and 7 the nerve connections between brain cells (called synapses) actually double in number, accelerating learning. After age 7 the brain begins to ‘trim’ its neural connections to focus on the areas most useful for daily life. So, it’s during the early years that learning things like languages, interrelationships between concepts, and the mastering of physical tasks like running or riding a bike happen with greater ease.
If you are familiar with Albert Einstein, the extraordinary scientist from the early part of the 20th century, you may also know that his childhood was anything but normal. He struggled to even speak as a young child, and had some significant issues in school including being expelled. But, as difficult as his early years were, he was incredibly successful in some areas such as playing the violin, studying magnetism, and being able to think in pictures rather than words. His well known adult accomplishments can likely be tied to his diverse childhood experiences.
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