Author Archives: natalyakolpashchikova

Bubbles and the prefrontal cortex activity

Fun with CaryCary, our lovely dance/movement instructor has inspired this post!  The children have been practicing moving in a small bubble, medium bubble or large bubble with her.  They have been enjoying these activities since January.  A couple weeks ago, Cary brought real bubbles into the classroom.  The excitement was unmeasurable!  The challenge was amazing to watch… Cary asked the children to watch the bubbles float with their eyes without touching.

“This ability, which depends on the prefrontal cortex, provides the basis for mental flexibility, social skills and discipline.  It predicts success in education, career and marriage.  Indeed, childhood self-control is twice as important as intelligence in predicting academic achievement.” (Building Self – Control, NY Times).

Cary asked the children why they didn’t touch the bubbles.  The majority agreed because she asked them not to.  She asked who told their hands to stay still?  Some answered she did, and a couple older children came up with “MY BRAIN!”  It truly was amazing to be there at that moment to watch children’s faces as they discovered something new in such a simple way.  The activity continued with each child taking turns popping bubbles one at a time only moving in a small bubble (the way they call small movements) and slow speed.  And at last they could all pop the bubbles at the same time moving slowly and respectful of each other.

Self-control is a skill that children need to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.  Brain regions essential to self-control are immature at birth and develop slowly throughout childhood. From ages 3 to 6 years, as these brain regions become more mature, children show improved ability to control impulses.  The home environment is a great contributing factor to developing self-control.  The Montessori method offers many opportunities to practice self-control as well.  Here are some examples: there are no multiples of materials in the classroom and there is no time limit for how long one can work with the material, many materials are self-correcting, only two children at a time can sit down for morning snack, children practice carefully walking around friends work, we practice keeping our hands off of friends work although at times it can be very hard!