Developmental neuroscience suggests that the power of experience may profoundly alter a child's brain.
Visualize a two-year-old (see Exhibit "V" Preschoolers, Too) sitting on the lap of a parent: Greeted by the latest GMnavy.go Webisode, the toddler meets yet another secondary schooler creator and "discovers" the student's Prime-Time-winning presentation, perhaps the leaping rhythm and exotic vowels of a poem . . . perhaps a coloring book-like outline the child recognizes as one she can "freeze," print . . . and using her colored pencils or crayons . . . color! A common sight might be a tiny child clicking a button on her computer to bring up the day's top-rated animation gleaned from 20,000-plus Uni-Sites, each such work accompanied by the reader's icon (see exhibit "Q").
● At no cost to parents, the GMnavy.go model will offer the youngest of children potentially synapse-altering moments day after day. A toddler will learn to add her favorite animations to her "toy box." She will quickly realize that she can then retrieve them . . . and re-experience the fun of her big-kids-built toys . . . crayons, music and all. A variation introducing scissor skills might be to cut a coloring page into smaller frames (all with a bit of help from Mommy or Daddy) and fan them to make her own "movie," bringing delight and perhaps mental connections between the abstract and the concrete.
● The process of learning is cumulative, each new learning opportunity building on all that came before, leading to the figurative sieve coined in this site as the age-three separator.
● In "Catch 'em Young" in The Wall Street Journal, James J. Heckman, Ph. D, Nobel laureate in economics, delivers a chilling message: "By the second grade, gaps in ranks of test scores across socioeconomic groups are stable, suggesting that later schooling has little effect in reducing or widening the gaps that appear before students enter school." Heckman notes that "Adverse early environments are powerful predictors of adult failure on several social and economic dimensions."
Unlike interventions where reach, take-up and attrition are problematic, the GMnavy.go model, as ubiquitous as the computer and the Internet, will be poised to bring untold advantage to the lives of the youngest kids, too. Even the youngest child may assimilate information in ways not yet imagined or understood by neuroscience. Clearly, however, by age three, there is already stark contrast in the level of background experience and knowledge from one child to the next and from one socioeconomic group to the next, a phenomenon that is again evident in the first grade, the second grade and throughout a child's elementary and secondary school years.