Please see attached for assignment. I also attached a few sources for support and listed some links as well. Thank you! 


Building Brains: The Molecular Logic of Neural Circuits – https://www.sam-network.org/video/building-brains-the-molecular-logic-of-neural-circuits

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills- https://www.npr.org/2008/02/21/19212514/old-fashioned-play-builds-serious-skills

Readings for Question # 1:

First reading for question # 1: Infant brain development Dr. Barr’s notes:

This question will ask you to summarize what you have learned about newborns. This is a “thinking question,” meaning that there is not an answer for you to copy and paste here:

Background: A student in BEHS 343 reported that she couldn’t understand her newborn’s behavior.  She would pick up her newborn and go to a comfy chair and begin to nurse the baby.  But immediately after starting nursing the baby, she would put in ear buds and turn on Netflix to binge watch some program and she never looked again at the baby until she switched to the other breast. Once the baby was nursing and she was binge watching, the baby immediately began fussing.  Then whimpering. Then crying. Then screaming.  She just looked away at the TV.  The pediatrician assured the mother that the baby did not have colic.   Why did this baby get so upset?  To understand this, please watch each of the Harvard Short Videos that are recommended.

To think about what is going on in this question, you need to read the material presented in Week One, including my lecture notes and below them, viewing the Harvard short videos.  There are a couple of possible answers you can find when you look at the Harvard short videos.

Question # 1:

A.    Why do you believe this baby is in such distress?

B.    Which of the Harvard Short videos help explain this situation?.

Points:  4 points.

Assistance:  This question can be easily answered by doing the required readings for Week One.  There are several possibilities that arise when you view the Harvard short videos. Please make a simple reference list of the sources you used. (Does need authors if there are any) and titles and computer links given in our classroom.) Length? A few short paragraphs.



Readings for Question # 2:

Please re-read and view again the useful parts of readings for Week One.  This question asks specifically about the three Harvard short videos introduced in Week One.


Question # 2:

        2A. What is “serve and return?”

        2B. Who starts “serve and return”

        2C. What does serve and return do for newborns?

Assistance:  Length:  A few short paragraphs.  Please list your sources in our assigned readings and videos of this information.

Points:  4 points




This second part of the Week Three Worksheet contains new information.  Please complete the readings here below and then answer the questions.


Readings for Question # 3: 

This is new information you will read about right now. 

Please complete the readings and answer the questions. Here are the readings:

First reading for question # 3: Dr. Barr’s notes on executive functions:

Question three covers material that we have not studied before.  Executive functions are a set of behaviors young children are capable of teaching themselves if they are allowed to play unstructured, old-fashioned play rather than have structured activities and sports and electronics time offered to them by parents and teachers.  Executive functions include behaviors such as self-regulation that takes place when a child is using private speech. The Harvard video suggests that there are three types of executive functions: self regulation (how to control your own behavior), working memory (keeping in mind the tasks one is working on), and mental flexibility (the ability to stop what you are doing and share toys or change directions in what one is doing), and they discuss what they involve.

Taken together the executive functions help children regulate their behavior themselves and get along well with others and learn to share and work harmoniously with others.  Executive functions help children plan and learn how to deal with others and how to change directions as needed.

Why do executive functions matter?  They are predictive of success in school. They predict more accurately a child’s success in higher grades in school than scores on tests of intelligence

Second reading for question #3: Spiegel audio program with transcript

This is a wonderful audio program:

Alix Spiegel (21 February 2008) 
Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills (audio) National Public Radio: Your Health. This is an eReserve. It is found under Content/Course Resources/eReserves/Week Three. Please go to Content/eReserves. 
Then you must choose the little letters above the chart: (Week Three) and then the chart of eReserves for Week Three will pop up.

Please notice that the Alix Spiegel reading has a transcript with it. Look around on the opening page of the Spiegel article and over to the right somewhere it says Transcript.  I couldn’t follow the audio program well enough to take notes, but then I read the transcript and that helped me a lot.  

From the viewpoint of psychologists, educators and parents, this audio program will help you discover:

· what private speech is,

· what self-regulation is

· and what old-fashioned play is,

· and why they all matter.

· why these are critical for normal development 

· in what sort of play self-regulation and private speech occur and why they matter.

· what things around the home and at school can damage normal development of self-regulation and private speech.

Third reading for question #3:  Dr.Barr’s notes on the Spiegel reading:

The Spiegel audio program discusses activities that facilitate development of executive function. 

Private Speech and Old-fashioned play: The Spiegel audio includes private speech, which is an opportunity for a child to self-regulate by talking to himself or herself about how things should be done. That happens when children are playing alone or with each other without adult supervision and are using simple things to invent their own activities. Spiegel also talks about old-fashioned play and alone play, which, in the past, provided the opportunities for a child to teach himself or herself executive functions. Spiegel contrasts old-fashioned play with the usual activities of children today, which are structured activities run by adults, like soccer or baseball games, and video games on the couch. Spiegel reports on a study replicating (copying) an old study years ago looking at self-regulation. Please read about what these researchers found about children in the past and children today and their abilities to self-regulate —it is interesting.

Here is the viewpoint from the Spiegel audio program that is most useful to us! These include private speech, self-regulation and time to play alone. Unstructured play is necessary to give children the time to develop these on their own. 

Unstructured play means that no adult runs it or supervises it. This is play in which children take scraps of paper or sticks or whatever is around, and play alone or with other children. They imagine what some common things (paper or sticks or other things) represent and use those imagined ideas to play with. This kind of play uses lots of imagination and children need to remember what things are. This kind of play does not use fancy toys. Instead, common things and lots of imagination and private speech are going on.

Structured play: Structured play means a teacher or parent organizes a sport or an activity or suggests “Let’s play house” or “Imagine that you are a princess” and gives the children directions and even props or costumes so that, unfortunately, they cannot use their imagination.

Fourth reading for Question #3:  Harvard short videos. 

A Harvard short video on executive functions: This short video gives you additional information about what executive functions are.

On your browser please type in these exact words: 

In brief: executive function: skills for life and learning Harvard Center on the Developing Child.

Warning: If you do not follow these directions exactly, you will get totally lost in finding the

videos from the thousands at that site.

Question #3:

The following questions summarize tall this new material about executive functions and also the value of free unsupervised play:

3A. What are executive functions and why do they matter? (one point)

          3B. What is free, unstructured play and what does it provide for children (one point)

          3C. What is private speech and what does it do for children? (one point)

          3D. Please provide an example of free, unstructured play that you remembered doing when you were a child.  Remember that we are talking about children probably under the age of 7, when private speech begins to disappear. Please, no classroom games for older children as they discuss in the Harvard short videos! (one point)

Points: Seven points.

Source: Again, please use only the Spiegel audio program or its written transcript and also Dr. Barr’s lecture notes and the Harvard short video on executive functions.  Please put any article you quote from on a simple reference list.



Week One Learning Resources:

The following are required readings and viewings for Week One:


1. notes for Week One:

New Possibilities for Parenting Newborns:

As social and behavioral scientists have enriched our views of parenting over recent decades, neuroscientists have been equally busy learning about brain architecture in babies and children and learning about wonderful possibilities for responsive parenting that help construct the richest possible outcomes, including adult outcomes, that result from sensitive responses to our newborns and toddlers.

This course focuses on a new view of parenting and of children.  Child development has a long history of adherence to a very successful medical model began around 1900 from the developments of knowledge about sanitation, germ theory of disease, conquering childhood illness with vaccines, and the development of therapies that address mental health problems and misbehaviors.  If you look carefully at these topics, they rest on the belief that what matters in child development is pathology, and correcting pathology is the whole picture. There is a reading list of medical model topics in child development found under Resources for Parenting References, just under Syllabus in our course. I placed the only two books I recommend (but do not require) for our course.  The rest of the information there is a fine list medical model references about pathology that can be used in other sections of BEHS 343.

Starting early in the twentieth century our first American child psychologist, G. Stanley Hall coined a phrase that has taken over child development beliefs about adolescence.  Hall was descriptive, for in the early twentieth century there were no theories of child development.  He coined the now-famous phrase of “storm and stress” to characterize adolescence.  Even today, as psychologist Richard Lerner says, (and as you will read in this course), parents continue to define their teens in terms of a “pathology” If asked how their teen is doing, they will often answer, “Well, at least he hasn’t crashed the car.” Or “At least he is not into drugs.” Or, at least she is not pregnant and she hasn’t dropped out of school.” That is, teens are being measured against a whole Pandora’s box of expected pathology: “storm and stress.”  And, in this course, many parents mention they are dreading adolescence as their children are growing older. 

The new viewpoint comes from a question that has been around for decades. Neurologists and psychologists have quietly been inquiring about many topics, including that of the storm and stress of adolescence: “Isn’t well-being of adolescents (and all of us) more than just the absence of pathology?  Isn’t well-being more than these negative descriptions parents use to describe their teens?  Methods and measures of well-being did not exist until quite recently, as development of much more sensitive brain scans have become able to measure activities different parts of the brain (Davidson & Begley, 2012). In 1998, a branch of the National Institutes of Health was founded and funds research on well-being (nccih.nih.gov/Health/Wellness and Well Being).

Well-being of teens is addressed in this course, for we now recognize there are positive attributes and possibilities in teens that many of us do not recognize.  My personal contribution to this new line of research is to look closely at what is going on from the time young teens develop adult cognitive reasoning (around seventh grade), and I often find the stubborn persistence of a strict control and punishment orientation by parents unwilling to help a teen gradually assume the young adult roles and responsibilities under open communication and kindly parental guidance. Parents need to begin to give up their strict control of a child who now has become a young and capable adult. 

In a summer session of this course I had a male student rush in a little late to our classroom, and he blurted out to all of us, “I just bought my son an Apple phone and now at last I have something I can take away from him when I ground him and I can really make him hurt!”  This is what I am addressing! In this course we have a session called a “toolchest for dealing with problem behaviors of children” (Brooks, J.,157) What we hope to construct here is a “toolchest for increasing parental understanding of children.”

We begin our course with the newest understandings of how newborns construct their own learning. Babies have many millions of wonderful neurons (cells) in their brain, many more than any human could ever need, and babies are born with a tremendous urge to communicate with us in order to construct circuits that work like software, to connect the capabilities across the brain.  Eye contact, waving arms, cooing, even crying are all efforts for that newborn to communicate with us so she or he can construct all the circuits needed to become a wonderful human being. 

Serve and Return:

Researchers at Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child call this reaching-out activity by newborns, “serving,” and the baby is hoping desperately for a gentle and loving “return” from the parents so that with practice, new pathways can form connecting parts of the brain that connect for healthy development.  That is, the baby is constructing his or her own learning and brain architecture when we return his or her serves in a kind, gentle, and loving way.

If we stop a minute and think about our ideas about raising children we think of ourselves as great teachers, and as Americans living in a competitive society, we imagine our babies will be ahead of everybody else’s babies by the time they begin school because we will have taught them so much! 

In fact, there is a totally different direction for learning that psychologists have recognized for over 120 years, but none of us teachers or parents have been paying attention!

The picture you see here is very different!  Instead of being the “Sage on the stage” (the wise adult teacher) the parent or caretaker now is the “guide alongside” the learner. Neuroscientists have shown us what psychologist have long known, that we parents are here to answer the questions these newborns are raising because newborns are assembling their mental capabilities by first developing neural circuits that support all the things they desperately need and want: love, kindness, gentleness, warmth, trust in people. Then they begin the task of learning about everything else.

And, along with this they teach themselves to speak in the language or languages they hear around them. Our daughter reports that for some time her two-year-old son will not let her pronounce his name in Serbo-Croatian, for she (being American) cannot roll the proper “Rs” in his name. Bilingual children learn to speak multiple languages more slowly that single-language speakers, but do not underestimate the power of a two-year old critic who really understands how his own name (Grijorije) should be pronounced!

Infant Brain Development:

Welcome to new information about infant brain development! Do not worry; we will do a totally non-technical view of infant brain development so you can see the amazing things going on in that little wobbly head of a precious newborn baby.

Babies are born with abilities to communicate with us: 

Why does this matter to parents? The templates for learning come hard-wired in babies! They come with some urgent needs to communicate with us. When these needs are fulfilled, the brain makes the connections that enable a child to be intelligent, responsive, happy, and capable and interested in learning. In the past few years neuroscientists have been able to observe how brain structure is constructed, and continues to be constructed throughout life.

The power of parents and others: 

Here is where we discover the power of teachers and teaching and learning contexts to develop the brain architecture of not only babies, but of all of us, all our lives. The same processes that are zooming along in babies still continue throughout life, but at a slower pace than in babyhood. Thus, the effective teacher has much of the awesome responsibility to help create normal brain architecture for students, just as parents and caretakers have for babies. In just the past few years, neuroscientists have discovered that these successful ways to relate to babies and toddlers are not just “shaping good behavior,” as we have thought of them.  Instead, these interactions with babies and toddlers are actually constructing the brain architecture necessary for that baby to grow into a normal, intelligent, loving child AND adult.  That is, neuroscientists have discovered there are lifelong effects in physical and mental health of the positive and negative interactions we have with babies and children in those first few months after birth. 

Neurons and brain connections between neurons build brain architecture: 

Infants are born with an enormous excess of neurons or nerve cells, awaiting the opportunity to begin connecting within and across parts of the brain. Some of these neurons are already connected at birth, but await strengthening. Most others are awaiting experience to form connections. These unconnected neurons will be connected (with experience and stimulation) all through life. New neurons can be created throughout life, but the vast preponderance of them are created in the first three years of life.

Neglect or missing opportunities: 

To simplify this situation down to the kernel of information we need, we will say, “Use it or lose it!” Babies are born to succeed, but if a baby is neglected or does not have the opportunity to connect with a loving parent or caretaker, or lives in a violent setting and is neglected, frightened, or abused, or perhaps lives in a crib in an orphanage with sheets on the sides of the crib so the baby cannot see anyone, those neural connections are not as plentiful as they need to be and many neural connections are damaged from the effects of toxic stress the baby experiences while searching for some human to connect with. That is, under neglect, or under stress, the architecture of the brain cannot develop in a normal way.


Unused neurons die off in a natural process called “pruning.” (Yes, like a fruit tree!) Neural pruning is fine and a natural process. However, if a baby or child is severely neglected and/or abused, or unloved, many fewer connections are made (neglect) or the ones that are made are actually damaged (from toxic stress) and a baby grows into a child and then an adult with difficulties in trust, secure attachment to a parent or parents or caretaker, with difficulties in happiness, confidence, eagerness to learn, decreased intelligence, and a long list of other critically important attributes that serve to make a successful and happy childhood and a productive adulthood. The presence of these good connections to other people, or the absence of these good connections, at home or at school, has lifelong consequences.

How babies construct brain architecture: 

Most important take-away points: Babies are born with an urgent biological need to work to communicate with us as caretakers. Why? This is how they construct their brain architecture. Please remember that this is not a call to us as teachers to use flash cards to teach information to babies, or to cram academics into very young toddlers. The baby is born with the urge to reach out to learn and to communicate. We are there to provide a warm, loving, rich environment that focuses on responding warmly and appropriately to whatever the baby communicates to us, whether it is a glance, a coo, a cry, a smile or later on, a word or two.

Allowing children to construct their own learning: 

And, from being old-fashioned teachers and parents who lecture “at” children and students (what is called) the “Sage  (wise person) on the Stage,” we will have a new focus, to be the “Guide on the Side” to facilitate learning. This changed perspective will help us understand at a deeper level the work of Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and other researchers who talked and continue to talk (for nearly 120 years!) about children “constructing their own learning.” These psychological researchers understood the point (that children construct their own learning) long before neuroscientists were able to discover and map neural development. Now, only recently, we understand how brain development and learning actually occur. And we find the psychologists were correct all along.  It took a long time to connect what psychologists saw with neural imaging revealing the actual construction of the baby’s brain architecture.


Required Reading Two (several short videos):

Please view these short videos on infant brain development:

Serve and return: 

Here you can view a set of very short (2-to-5-minute) videos will introduce you to important issues about development of brain architecture in infants and toddlers. The videos come from the Harvard Center for the Developing Child.  There are many of these short videos, so please follow my instructions so you do not become lost on this tremendous website! You are welcome to “browse” through the website beyond the basics suggested here if you wish, but please focus on the links I list below. For us as teachers and parents, the most important of these is
 “serve and return” 

Warm, loving, gentle care: 

There is an important deficit in this collection of wonderful videos. You will find the scientists rarely mention loving, warm and gentle care, but you see it in every frame of these videos.  They must take it for granted! Don’t forget warm and gentle and loving care for a baby to gain trust in the world. In fact, it appears to be the case that positive emotional outcomes and their foundations in the brain are formed early in life when there is a rich environment of serve and return care by loving parents or caretakers.  

I suggest these videos:

Each of these videos runs from approximately 2 to 5 minutes. Please type the exact words on a given line into your browser to see these short videos. Warning: If you type in only the institution, you will never find these specific videos, for there are hundreds of them!

Harvard Center for the Developing Child Core Story Part 1 Experiences build brain architecture

Harvard Center for the Developing Child Core Story Part 2 Serve and Return

Harvard Center for the Developing Child Core Story Part 3 Stress

Harvard Center for the Developing child In Brief The Science of Neglect

You are welcome to look at others in this series if you wish. Just type in “Harvard Center for the Developing Child” and explore the jam-packed website. Don’t get lost; I did!

What will we do with this information? We will think about this information and let it soak in now, and return to it in Week Three: Worksheet where there will be other readings and short essays that ask you to discuss and reflect on the information you have gathered in the first three weeks of our course. In the Worksheet we will provide additional information about a new topic called “executive functions.” We also will briefly return to neural development information toward the end of the course when we study adolescence.

Introduction to Parenting Types:  Parenting types are the most often mentioned issues of interest as students begin this course. With that in mind, we will begin our course by looking at a long and strong line of research (around 50 years of research findings) on parenting types and the expected outcomes for children whose parents subscribe to common parenting types found in the United States.  We all recognize that this research came from a time when research topics were limited to the student of middle-class white children and their parents.  Issues such as gender roles of parents, socioeconomic states, single parenting, impacts of divorce, issues of race and ethnicity, LGBTQ parenting, multigenerational families, and military families have one by one been added to this model to make it display the diversity of our families today. Over these decades, psychological researchers have recognized the importance of diversity in families, diversity in society, and diverse backgrounds and rich cultures that new immigrants bring to our society.

By writing about our own upbringings this first week of the course, and using that information for next week’s work, we will help this topic blossom into the many and rich varieties of parenting we all bring to the course. In Week Two we will use our own essays to discuss parenting today.