THE AMAZING LEARNING POWER OF A CHILD
By Fredi Trammell
A flurry of interest has become popular among news magazine circles the past few years relating to the findings of scientific research in the incredible learning abilities of infants (even newborns) and young
children. God knew all this about the little brains when he created them. This is the reason His Word is teeming with exhortations and instructions concerning the bringing up of children.
Since NEWSWEEK became the first news magazine to introduce a regular department devoted to the family, more than a decade ago, it has produced countless stories and four special issues on America’s most beloved—and sometimes beleaguered—institution. The editors of NEWSWEEK say few stories have sparked as much reader interest and response as the February 19, 1996 issue with the cover title, “Your Child’s Brain.” The story explored science’s most recent breakthroughs in under-standing how biology and
environment interact to shape children’s minds. Scientists report having reached an exciting but sobering conclusion: much of children’s potential for learning language, music, and mathematics, as well as their capacity for emotional and moral growth, is “wired” into the brain during the first few years of life.
The new findings raised crucial questions about how parents, teachers and communities could help kids develop, NEWSWEEK editors decided. The news magazine editors were so impressed by these elaborate findings they decided to issue a complimentary copy of a ninety-six page bonus of its magazine to subscribers entitled, “Your Child: From Birth to Three.”
Early in the year of 1997 ABC aired a special program called: “I Am Your Child”, concerning the vital impact of knowledge and emotional stability in the first three years of life.
As research unlocks the secrets of babies’ brains, NEWSWEEK says, “families have a hard time learning the lessons.” The news magazine went on to report that on a recent morning news program which featured segments on how early experiences wire a child’s brain, at least one interviewer ended the chat with, “But, Doctor, in the end, what’s really important is that you love your child, right?” The answer was, “If only that were so.”
Shocking evidence points to how the foundations of social, emotional, intellectual and moral values are wired extremely early into a child’s brain. In the first ten years of life basic moral and spiritual values
have already been set almost as immovable as concrete in the little child’s mind.
What parents and teachers of young children do with a young child affects his entire life far more than most vaguely realize.
Children learn quickly and the normal child learns very easily! One word, positive or negative, can plant an idea into a tender, young, mind that will never be erased! This is why Christian parents and Christian teachers of small children must desperately seek the face of God for the youngsters entrusted by the Lord to their care.
“Arise, cry out in the night. . .pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord; lift up thy hands toward Him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger…” (Lamentations 2:18).
The scriptures teach that humanity does not only hunger for natural food for sustenance, but also for “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
Nobody knows where our four year old grandson, Grant, learned the difference in a king and a peasant and their degree to be respected. But somewhere an idea was placed in his little mind. One Sunday morning, Grant eagerly took a dollar from his mother, and sailed down the stairs of their church to Super Church. Sharon watched as his pace slowed considerably on the last few steps. She noticed he was staring intently at the dollar bill he had stretched out between his hands. At the bottom of the stairs, he abruptly turned and headed back up the stairway toward her. Sharon, puzzled, asked, “Grant, is something the matter?” He looked up with questions written on his expression. “Mom,” he asked in a sober tone, “Is
this dollar for Jesus or is it for Super Church?” Frantically searching for the right words without having to teach a lengthy “Bible study”, his mother assured him, “The dollar is for you to give in the offering at
Super Church, but when you give it to Super Church, it is really for Jesus.” With this, Grant protested with the determination only a strong-willed four year old can muster, “Look at this dollar, Mom! It is old. It is torn. It is wadded all up! It looks like a dollar for a peasant instead a dollar for a King. I cannot give this dollar to JESUS!” With this, of course, the dollar was quickly replaced with the newest dollar bill Sharon could find for THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!
The early learning abilities of a young child is incredible! The newborn infant’s mind is a fertile garden ready for seeds to be planted and then nurtured to become a fruit bearing plant.
“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children as olive plants round about thy table” (Psalm 128:3).
Eventually the plant will produce fruit from whatever type of seeds (good or bad) were planted. This is an exciting thought. It can also be a frightening thought. Will we assume the responsibility of planting proper
seeds into the little child’s heart? Careful planning and wise, godly choices must be made in the seeds planted. This will consume time and energy normally spent on temporal things which are more gratifying for the flesh.
“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season, we shall reap, if we
faint not” (Galatians 6:8, 9).
There is a subtle, limited time we have the grand opportunity to plant seeds of righteousness and godliness into the heart of small children. Seeds take root, and the roots burrow into the soil, stabilizing growing
plants. With growth comes the ripening of the fruit from seeds planted. The tender plant is nurtured either by those who cared the most or if “caring ones” choose to “sleep”, the enemy will come and sow “tares”,
according to Matthew 13:25.
The devil unscrupulously chooses an alternative if we fail in our responsibilities to the Kingdom of God. Will we as parents, grandparents and children’s ministers commit ourselves to serving God in this capacity
of planting precious seeds and nurturing young children in spiritual growth? Or will we selfishly find “more important” matters to attend?
We must carefully plant seeds of love for God, love for others and daily communication with God (prayer) as eternal values into the tender, hungry heart of the little child.
The process of learning in a certain species of a tiny finch bird was correlated with an in-depths study of a newborn infant’s learning process and the results of the study proved incredible.
Each bird species has its own language and dialect. According to the study, ten days after the tiny bird is hatched, it begins garbling sounds of its own chirping language. The mother and father finch, diligent in
teaching their infant bird, spend much time each day flying by the nest chirping to their babies. Although the young bird is learning his own dialect from his mother and father (his teachers), he becomes confused at times and chirps dialects of other species of birds who daily fly by his nest chirping. This does not deter the faithful parents. They relentlessly continue to teach their tiny fledglings. They are faithful, consistent,
and persistent! Consequently, the baby finch hears his own dialect more than the stranger’s dialect. By the time the little finch is thirty days old, his language has been learned. He no longer confuses his dialect with
Further study indicated an awesome discovery. There was found within the tiny bird’s brain a language room with a window for entry. At the time of birth, the window was wide open. At the end of thirty days, the tiny window was completely closed. This study indicates the window was open for only thirty days of the bird’s life. During this thirty days, the mother and father birds took advantage of teaching their young the language dialect of the finch bird. After thirty days lapsed the young finch bird fluently chirped the finch chirp and had no difficulty confusing his chirp with other bird’s dialect, even though he flew wing to wing with them every day!
Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
An even more amazing study in Medical Science research has found a newborn infant’s brain contains a language room. The little window of entrance to the infant’s language room is wide open at birth.
The newborn is universal. He may learn Russian, Spanish, English, Japanese, or any other language fluently, even at an incredibly young age! His learned language will inevitably depend upon what he hears and is taught by example! He learns what he is exposed to. Is this a challenge?!
Three groups of twelve week old infants were chosen. Each group consisted of six babies. Each child was strapped in an infant seat and taken with his group into a room. The room was darkened with only a video visible. The purpose was to study the infants’ ability to learn distinction in sounds. A smiling, friendly woman appeared on each video screen. Slowly and distinctly she would make one syllable sounds every five seconds. In the first room, the woman on the video would voice, “aaaah”, in the second room the woman sounded, “oooou”, and in the third room the babies would hear and see the woman say, “ooooh”. This procedure was repeated several times a day.
Without exception, after a few sessions, the baby subjected to the sound, “ooooh”, began to say “ooooh”. Likewise, the babies who saw and heard, “oooou”, and “aaaah”, began to say the vowels they had heard and seen.
Notice how people talk to young children and infants with long, drawn out vowel sounds with emphasis placed on every vowel. This process is called “mother sounds.” We should never talk to an infant or young child with short, abrasive, curt sounding words. This confuses a little child. Remember, they are learning not only words but voice inflections as well. Every sound they hear enters into their language room window inside their little brain. They are learning from every sound. . . kind, gentle and loving sounds and also, harsh, quarrelsome and hateful sounds.
The language room window in the baby’s brain, the study revealed, completely closed by the time the child reached puberty or adolescence, age twelve to fourteen. After this age, it has been proven, it becomes much more difficult for the human being to learn a language.
Educators are seriously questioning the reasons behind beginning language classes for children after they have reached the ages of twelve to fourteen years. Pre-schoolers and the primary grade children, they say,
are much more adaptable to learning languages than the older students.
If children could be nurtured in the ways of the Lord, using the principle of the finch birds with consistency and persistency; by the time they reach adolescence they should have received their “heavenly language”, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance. Then the child would be grounded and settled in the Gospel and more likely to remain true to the principles of the laws of God throughout their lifetime.
Trillions of neurons, they say, are waiting and in readiness to be wired into the newborn baby’s brain. According to medical science, when the newborn feels a touch, when he bears a voice, when he sees a bright color, when he hears a song and even when he senses love or contempt, something in his little brain goes “ZZZT”, and a connection is made. His brain is being wired. This process continues as he grows. His mind is filled with words, actions and the spiritual or evil environment to which he is exposed.
Manoah asked of the Lord before his son, Samson, was born: “…How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” (Judges 13:13). If a man with no knowledge of the Holy Spirit viewed rearing a child in this manner, how much more should we, as God’s spirit-filled people be determined to seek God’s face for direction in training and teaching our children.
God desires parents and teachers who will ask of him knowledge, wisdom and understanding for the development of their young children.
Excerpted from Let the Children Pray
By Fredi Trammell