What Does Enrichment Mean?
Few schools and teachers understand enrichment and brain plasticity and use the knowledge properly. Most people, inside or outside the educational community, are at best barely beginning to understand the new science of the brain. New research is coming out daily that redefines what the human brain is and what it can do. Brain function benefits most if the enrichment programs provide a clear improvement over a baseline, prevailing environment in ways related to the measured outcomes. As an example, if a child comes from severe poverty, attending a Montessori preschool can and has worked wonders, all the way through middle school.2 Remember our definition:
Enrichment is a positive biological response to a contrasting environment, in which measurable, synergistic, and global changes have occurred within the brain.
As educational policy, enrichment means more than a commitment by policymakers and educators to create a specific climate at school. Enrichment means that curriculum, assessment, environment, and instruction all will have to be revisited. Any program will have to meet the criteria of enhancing that we introduced earlier to get the "enrichment response." Exhibit 7.1 puts the seven "golden maximizer" factors into a school context.
The Seven Golden Maximizers
Before the maximizers are detailed, let's make sure we're on solid ground in our research. With the recent emphasis on "scientific teaching" is there a solid basis for each of these factors? The answer is "Yes," and the evidence is broad-based. Here are each of the factors and a quick review of the powerful science behind them.
Exhibit 7.1. Seven Factors or "Maximizers" for Contrasting Environments.
- Physical Activity (voluntary gross motor)
- Novel, Challenging, and Meaningful learning
- Coherent Complexity (not chaotic)
- Managed Stress Levels (not boring or distressful)
- Social Support (at home, school, and community)
- Good Nutrition (balanced and healthy with supplements)
- Sufficient Time (not rushed, plenty of sleep)
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- First Grade Sight Words List
- Social Cognitive Theory
- The Homework Debate
- GED Math Practice Test 1