As we embark on week 8 of Quest Virtual School, our in-house teacher, Michele, reflects on the innate intelligence of children. In their youth, they are like sponges absorbing what is around them without being conscious of this fact.
What Do Kids Know That They Don't Know They Know?
Kids are “super learners”. Life for kids is all about learning and adding new skills all the time. The things we do habitually is all new for toddlers and preschoolers, so the brain is in a constant state of learning, being flooded with new neural pathways and cell production creating brain plasticity. This is called fluid intelligence, the constant acquisition of new skills. As we age, our world shrinks. We work at the same job, some of us vacation at the same spots and return each night to the same house. Acquiring many responsibilities cuts into our sense of exploration and adventure, diminishing our learning of new skills, (our responsibilities are a good thing and produce other qualities in our brain that lead to great satisfaction in life, but I’m saving that for another page😊). With age, fluid intelligence tends to decrease significantly as time passes very quickly through life. The truth is those responsibilities do limit critical parts of our brain. So, does it have to follow that we just join the ranks of age-related cognitive decline and succumb to the traps of a sedentary life? The short answer is a resounding NO! There is a little secret kids know that they don’t know they know! Movement floods the brain with all the neural receptors necessary to create the “super learner” brains of toddlers and preschoolers! “Movement helps us seek reward and avoid risk, which in turn make it crucial to our survival” (Adam Siniki, The Bioneer).
We cannot lose. Before attempting any new movement, the brain visualizes it. If we perform the movement correctly, reward hormones rush our brains which strengthen neural pathways that lead to perfecting the desired movement. At the same time, if we fail (more likely, more often with age) our brain detects the error and creates mapping necessary to correct the movement. Either way, our brain is still being flooded with cell firing reproduction! When we succeed, we win and when we fail, we win just the same! Ninja and Parkour are two sports that engage the brain as much as the body. The planning of your movement, envisioning the techniques and failing are all game changers in the battle of aging and decline. An added beauty of Ninja and Parkour is none of us need any skills or muscles to begin. Just as the kids try, fail, and try again, every attempt creates that “Super Learner” brain so critical to brain plasticity, and strengthens our bodies at every attempt. We encourage you to come alongside your kid at Ninja Quest. Take a class together or try open gym together as a family, knowing that when you fall or succeed you are still learning, still gaining, and still winning…at life.