This adage isn’t just for the aging. “Use it or lose it” applies to young kids as well. The brain goes through a process of neural pruning, where it will eliminate anything that isn’t being used.
How can early childhood educators take advantage of “use it or lose it”? Provide lots of opportunities for kids to practice what they learn. Here are a few ideas:
- Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Reinforce through repetition. Reading the same story or playing the same game 50 times may bore caregivers, but young kids will benefit from the repetition.
- Ask about a child’s experiences. Bringing up the memory of events reinforces the initial learning experience. “Tell me about the animal noises you learned today.“
- Create similar experiences. Link prior experiences to new experiences. “Does this chicken puppet look like the chicken we saw yesterday?”
- Contrast experiences. Link previously learned skills to things that are not the same. “This turkey is different from the chicken. How are they different?“