Your Brain on Childhood

Your Brain on Childhood

The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan

Book - 2011
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Random House, Inc.
This book reviews the consequences of raising children in today’s highly unnatural environments and suggests ways in which parents can learn to naturalize childhood again, so that a child’s environment gels with how the brain was designed to grow. In a clearly presented, accessible narrative, the author marshals scientific evidence from a wide array of fields to explain why there is a disconnect between the brain’s evolutionary history and the technology-centered present. Research from both human and animal studies indicates that brain development is fostered by consistent opportunities for face-to-face communication and freewheeling pretend play.

The startling implication is that today’s structured, controlled, and fabricated surroundings are exactly wrong for developing brains. Instead of emphasizing technology and organized activities, parents and teachers could better help children learn by encouraging exploration, experimentation, and exposure to the real world. Recess, now often dismissed as a waste of time, should be considered an essential part of children’s cognitive and social development; lessons should be individualized as much as possible; and the current focus on homework and letter grades should be de-emphasized and eventually eliminated altogether.

Fascinating and controversial, this well-researched discussion by an expert on child development will make parents and school systems rethink how we are raising our children.

Baker & Taylor
Examines the adverse effects of the over-scheduling of activities for young children and of parents' reliance on technology-based childhood programs, stressing the need for unstructured time as an important way for children to develop cognitive and problem-solving skills.

Book News
Principe (psychology, Ursinus College) examines the consequences of raising children in today's unnatural environments and ways parents can realign childhood to a more natural state. She explains the science behind the way children's brains develop, how the biology of human evolution makes parts of contemporary life unfit for today's children, how evolutionary pressures have shaped the brain, how natural selection has designed children's brains to learn, and how childhood experiences wire the brain. She argues that childhood is what makes the human species unique and that speeding it up is a bad idea. Drawing evidence from psychology, neuroscience, biology, anthropology, public health, and landscape architecture, she outlines seven recent changes in children's lives that are having negative effects on their development, such as technology, too much organization in their lives, staying inside, and lack of play, and the underlying cultural assumptions and how they have been driven by aspects of human thinking and media myths. There is no index. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, c2011
ISBN: 9781616144258
Branch Call Number: 155.4 PRI
Characteristics: 325 p. ;,23 cm.


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Feb 06, 2013

An excellent book for anyone who believes that kids can best learn by exploring nature and using their imaginations rather than starting academic rote training full time at the age of 3 or 4. Best summarized by the author's proposed bumper sticker, "Childhood isn't a race".

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