Preparing kids' brains for the 21st century

Neurologist Judy Willis, MD, shares advice for parents on what can be do to help children develop their prefrontal cortex, which controls executive function skills
Brain Development In Children - Preparing Kids' Brains For 21st Century
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Preparing kids' brains for the 21st century

As we are entering the 21st century, that is the century that our kids are going to inherit. What can we do, as parents, to see that they take advantage of the opportunities, the technological opportunities, the globalization, so that they can embrace what they are going to inherit. There is a part of the brain we can actually influence that will make them ready for the 21st century. In the prefrontal cortex, the last part of the brain to mature, it is actually going through its most rapid phase of mileanation and pruning away of what it is not going to use, during the school years, starting around age 6. While that part of the brain is maturing of the networks and cutting away, that executive function; we need to have kids use executive function. Executive functions are the skills they will use for the 21st century; judgement, critical analysis, deduction, induction, problem solving, figuring out what is critically valuable and what is opinion. So ask your kids their opinion. Go online and find websites that you think are opinion. Let's find one that you think is biased. Let's find one that we think is accurate. Ask them. Which car should we buy and why? Let them use their judgement and analysis. They will be ready for the 21st century.

Neurologist Judy Willis, MD, shares advice for parents on what can be do to help children develop their prefrontal cortex, which controls executive function skills


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Judy Willis, MD, MEd


After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Judy Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine where she was awarded her medical degree. She remained at UCLA and completed a medical residency and neurology residency, including chief residency. She practiced neurology for 15 years before returning to university to obtain her teaching credential and master's of education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then taught in elementary and middle school for 10 years.

Dr. Judy Willis is an authority on brain research and its applications regarding learning. With the unique background as a parent, neurologist, classroom teacher, and neuro-educator she writes extensively for parenting magazines and professional educational journals. Dr. Willis has written six books for parents and educators about applying brain research to parenting and teaching.

Dr. Willis is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Education, University of California and gives presentations to parents and educators nationally and internationally about how to help children learn joyfully and successfully. She is on the Board of Directors of the Hawn Foundation, dedicated to helping children improve academic performance and acquire vital social and emotional skills. In 2011, she was honored by Edutopia, as a “Big Thinker on Education”.

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