Our brains begin to mature even before we are born. Although they
continue to mature throughout most of our lives, brains do not mature at
the same rate in each individual.
This should not be surprising. After all, our bodies grow at
different rates — we reach puberty at different ages and our emotional
maturity at different times as well. Why should our brains be any
Just because you have a classroom full of students who are about
the same age doesn’t mean they are equally ready to learn a particular
topic, concept, skill or idea. It is important for teachers and parents
to understand that maturation of the brain influences learning
readiness. For teachers, this is especially important when designing
lessons and selecting which strategies to use.
All children need to be challenged and nurtured in order to profit from your instruction. Instruction that is above or below the maturity
level of a child’s brain is not only inappropriate; it can lead to
behavior problems in your classroom. Inappropriate behaviors —
avoidance, challenging authority and aggression towards other students —
can be explained by a failure to match instruction to the brain
maturity of your students.
You should also know that all brain functions do not mature at the same rate.
A young child with highly advanced verbal skills may develop gross and
fine motor control more slowly and have trouble learning to write
clearly. Another child may be advanced physically but not know how to
manage his/her social skills. Others may be cognitively advanced but
show emotional immaturity.
For all of these reasons it is important to understand how our
brains mature and the differences that may be present at each stage of