By Gabrielle Principe
Prometheus Books, $17.00, 325 pages
As modern parents, we do everything we can to give our children a head start. We buy them loads of educational toys from birth and occupy their young minds with educational programming promising to make them into geniuses. We enroll them in rigorous academic preschools and drive them to numerous enriching activities each week. What if it turned out that all this well-meaning parenting did more harm than good? “If you wanted to design a way of life that was exactly counter to the needs of developing brains, you would invent something like modern childhood,” writes Gabrielle Principe in her groundbreaking book Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan.
Children’s brains did not evolve for the modern human lifestyle, and as a result modern children face mounting problems. Mental and physical disorders abound. Children’s environments have changed dramatically over the last few decades, creating a breed of sedentary child raised indoors and surrounded by electronic games and TV screens. It shouldn’t be any wonder that they’re failing to thrive.
If you truly want to give your child the best possible childhood, learn how their brain works and how to design a school, home and living environment that helps rather than hinders child development. As a parent, I’m definitely guilty of overparenting. This book opened my eyes and changed how I approach parenting. I learned so much and cannot recommend this book enough. Your Brain on Childhood is an absolute must-read for every parent!
Reviewed by Jennifer Melville