Mighty + Bright's visual schedules are based on decades of research about child brain development.
Many of the frustrations we have with our kids — including their inability to stay focused, meltdowns over the wrong-colored cup, and screaming when asked to clean up — can be traced back to their brain development.
Following Directions Ain't Easy for Kids
Executive skills are mental abilities that help us plan, organize, start and complete tasks. We all want our kids to develop these types of executive skills:
- Time management: the ability to plan and prioritize tasks and activities
- Working memory: the ability to hold and manipulate information in their minds, like a mental "to do list"
- Inhibitory control: the ability to resist impulsive behavior and delay gratification
- Cognitive flexibility: the ability to adapt to new situations and think creatively
- Planning and organization: the ability to create and follow a plan
- Task initiation: the ability to start a task without being prompted
...but there's a time and a place for learning, and most parents are not in the mood to practice these skills first thing in the morning when we're trying to get everyone out of the house, or when we're trying to get from Point A to Point B.
The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for higher-level thinking and executive skills. This area of the brain is one of the last to be developed, and isn't finished until adulthood, around age 25-26.
Making Transitions and Staying on Task Easier on Everyone
So how do we manage our day-to-day, when we know our kids have underdeveloped brains AND we still need to get things done?
We take some of these executive skills (like that mental "to do" list) and make them visual instead, so our kids don't need to use skills they don't have yet. This makes life easier for everyone.
Visual instructions can be easier for children to understand than verbal instructions for a variety of reasons:
- Children are more visually oriented than adults and find visual information easier to process and understand.
- Visual instructions provide a clear and concrete representation of the steps involved in a task or routine, which is easier for kids to understand than verbal instructions.
- Visuals allow children to see the progression of a task or routine, which can help them stay motivated and on track.
- Visual instructions reduce confusion and misunderstandings by providing a clear and concise representation of what needs to be done.
Whether you're laying out a child's routine using a daily visual schedule, or showing them their week using a weekly calendar, visual schedules support kids' developing brains, setting them up for success and reducing stress for the whole family.
Other Interesting Areas of the Developing Brain
The area of the brain responsible for survival is the brain stem. Some people refer to this as our "lizard" brain, because it's the most primitive part of our brain. It's responsible for saving us when we're attacked by something that requires us to run. This part of the brain kicks into gear when we do not feel physically safe.
The limbic system is an important part of the brain that is involved in the regulation of emotions, particularly in children, and continues to develop into adolescence. During this time, kids are more prone to emotional outbursts and may have difficulty managing or regulating their emotions. As the limbic system matures, children become better able to control their emotions and respond to situations in a more calm manner.