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
other birds.

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