How Does TSK Learn? From TV, Tablets…or how about a Set of Blocks?

You have a PROBLEM SOLVER at your house!  Even if TSK is only a few days old…or is close to 2 years, his brain is busy solving problems. Now, you may not have realized there WAS a problem(s), but TSK’s brain has been busily analyzing and changing behaviors to understand his world.  Your job is to give him the benefit of your

  • experience,
  • your time and love,
  • and the tools to understand his world.

So, what tools can you provide for TSK to learn about the world?

How about Visual Media?  After all, it’s all the rage…every kid needs his own tablet…and needs to play with (and possibly break) your cell phone at least a few times by age 2 years…right?

Genetically Speaking, Let’s look at how TSK’s Brain has learned to understand the world. The obvious answer is, TSK SEES the world!

So, what do our visual media…TV, tablets, like the I-pad, or video gaming units, or even the cell phone…all have in common?  They are 2 dimensional.

But, how does your child’s brain – all those nerve cells combined into groups that fire together called neuronal nets – learn to solve problems? Hint: It’s more than just SEEING!

Some research suggests we learn a lot about our world because we play in a 3 dimensional world.

Let’s start with the hands; there are 2 things to consider; the sense of touch and the actual movements.

1)    Touch – TSK’s brain starts to piece together the world, from touching mom’s or dad’s face, to learning about hot and cold, or feeling water or sand

2)    Movement -A recent study out of Columbia University found that adults who were the most efficient at solving problems used more hand gestures. The researchers traced this problem solving ability to having an active motor cortex, which is the part of the brain that controls movements.  Thus, they were using several parts of the brain, at the same time!

Learning to manipulate items, even such as learning to count on the fingers, seems to be very important for future problem solving, because it “teaches” this motor part of the brain to activate, as we get older.  Even though, as we get older, most of us don’t use our fingers as much to count or do simple math, there remains a part of the brain that does this.

Studies dating back to 2012 have shown that the adult brain part that controls our movements, called the motor cortex, has an interesting function when we even just think about numbers.  If you are asked to count, with your fingers, which hand do you use?  Well, if you use your right hand, your left motor cortex would become active, and if you use your left hand, your right motor cortex will activate.  And when you do other problem solving tasks, whether you use your hands or not, that same motor cortex will activate.

Now that sounds funny; if you are thinking out a problem, why should your movement part of the brain need to work?  Genetically speaking, we don’t know, but it seems to be the way the human brain is made!

So, back to the Question of the Day: What does a child need to learn to solve daily problems?

Well, until we know more, be sure they have toys to manipulate, like blocks, cars, dolls, push and pull toys.

No one knows the full impact of visual media on our littlest citizens, but just don’t forget the touch, or tactile manipulation of toys. Having both block play and computer play may help that brain to be a great problem solver!  Give that kid a hug, and a set of blocks- Gene