Friday, June 7, 2019

UC Child Wellbeing Research Symposium

I attended the UC Child Wellbeing Research Symposium 6-7 June and got the chance to listen to some great keynote speakers. I found Laura Justice very interesting and following are some notes to summarise key points that I will reflect on.

Laura Justice
Experiences are crucial for development of neuro pathways.

Nature and Nurture

Structural brain changes are due to early experiences. Laura focused on how being reared
in poor situations (poverty) affects the brain. In her study she looked at food insecurity which
was a phrase that I hadn't heard of before basically referring to an ongoing lack on food in
the house. Food desserts were another new concept to me, described as areas where people
live that have no fresh food available, no supermarkets or places to purchase quality food.
For many whānau in this situation, serious mental health issues can develop. Tamariki raised
in these situations are being exposed to toxic stress or ongoing high levels of stress correlated
with the caregivers stress. Their regulatory system is on fire. The brain of the tamaiti is
being altered by being exposed to living in poverty environments. A current research paper
published refers to this A Brain on Poverty Noble 2017        Noble 2017

Achievement or opportunity gaps in vocabulary are largely due to lack of experiences. HIgh quality experiences are crucial for buffering the effects of early adversity on the child’s brain.

Joint attention was discussed and this is when an adult and a child are sharing a focus these periods are really crucial for language
development. Serve and return develops the brain circuitry/pathways. If you think of playing
table tennis, serve and return is when the conversation is bounced back and forth between
adult and child or child and child.

On average, classroom conversations or serve and return were 4 turns.This is especially
important to understand in play based learning as you have to ensure that the conversations taking place a extended if they are to develop vocabulary of the child.

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