Evelyn wants to know about everything and I am always burning to tell her. But, of course, I can’t explain things to her like I would to an adult because she won’t understand them. When kids don’t understand, they lose interest. When they lose interest they don’t listen. If nobody’s listening, why bother talking?
So, I come up with creative ways to explain complicated topics.
In the last presidential debate there was a lot of talk about the country falling behind in math and science and our lack of a highly skilled workforce. It kind of makes me feel bad about not being a math teacher. I am good at teaching. I tutored math students of all ages for years. And I’m a woman – a cool woman even. I could give confidence to so many youngsters. But I digress.
Last night I wanted to explain to Evelyn why human babies are born so incredibly helpless. Calves can walk, fish can swim, monkeys can hold on to mama’s hair. So what’s up with human babies? Why can’t babies do anything for themselves?
This we can explain in adult terms fairly easily. I’ve done it before in posts and I did it in my book. But a child of six is not going to understand the same straight forward language. Read how I might explain it to an intelligent adult and then listen to a clip of me explaining it in child’s terms.
Why Babies Are Born Helpless, for Adults:
- Human adults have large brains capable of complex thought.
- Adult human brains are larger than the adult brains of most other animals.
- This means that more total brain growth will take place in humans than in other animals.
- So, by the time a human brain is able to control walking, for example, its brain will be larger than a calf’s at the same stage of development.
- The human brain is about on par with a newborn calf’s brain when the human is one year old.
- Since a one year old human’s brain (and face and skull) is too large to fit through a mother’s pelvis a human must be born at an earlier stage of development than babies of other species.
- Unable to walk, stand, or grab because their brains are so under-developed, human babies are helpless.
- Once humans reach 1 or 2 years old, they finally start to catch up with other animals.
- At this time other animals brains stop developing, while human brains keep growing.
Did you get all that? I’m pretty sure Evelyn wouldn’t so, in order for her to grasp this ever-so-fascinating concept, I will need to make use of analogies, simple language, and tangible stuff (like vegetables in place of brains).
Why Babies Are Born Helpless, for Kids:
- Humans are smarter than most other animals.
- This is because our brains are bigger.
- But when you look at human babies they don’t seem smarter at all.
- Why is this?
- Well, to understand, let’s pretend for a minute that brains are like gardens.
- A human’s garden has rows of carrots, radishes, lettuce, kale, and zucchini. A cow’s garden only has rows of carrots and radishes. They both have the same amount of carrots and radishes but the human garden has more types of vegetables.
- Now, we need to fit both of these gardens into a small bag – that is, the skull.
- Since the cow’s garden doesn’t have as many veggies in it, we can go ahead and add a little fertilizer. The veggies will grow a little bigger but they’ll still fit in the bag since there aren’t too many of them.
- When we pick the two gardens and put them in their bags, the cow veggie bag will have just a few nice crunchy big carrots and crisp radishes. The human bag will have a whole lot of stringy roots and tiny little sprouts.
- If we were to let the human’s garden keep growing to make nice big veggies, we wouldn’t be able to fit them all in the bag.
- So the best way to keep the human’s garden small enough to fit in the bag is to not let it grow very much from the beginning.
- So now let’s think of these gardens as brains again. When a cow is born it is able to walk. When a human is born it can’t walk at all.
- This is because the part of the brain that controls walking is bigger in the cow’s brain (think crunchy carrots). But the same part of the human’s brain is just a little sprout.
- It might seem like the baby calf is smarter than the baby human but he’s not really.
- Someday, when the human’s brain (garden) has had a chance to grow more, it won’t just have carrots but it will also have kale and zucchini and all the other veggies. These extra veggies are like talking, going to school, and cooking.
- So, we don’t get to walk as soon as we’re born like cows do but they won’t ever get to do homework and talk about gardens.
Try this out with your kids and see how it goes. Listening and following along to stories and complicated thought processes is good exercise for kids.
If we all do this with our children, then maybe we won’t need to depend on science and math teachers to develop the skills kids need to excel. Much of the really great teaching can come from a child’s home.
What analogies have you used?