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Neuro-engineering: Enhancing brain development through role models, goal setting, stories, subconscious habbits building and cognitive skills development

A major factor in determining whether young children will thrive later in their life, is the level of the development of their brain and cognitive skills, when they are younger than 5 years old. The age, is rather important, as the human brain is mostly formed before children become 5 years old, so failure to develop a child’s brain at this age, will severely impact the way its brain will be developed for the rest of its life. We are proposing, the institutionalization of travelling teachers who will impact the children brain development, long-term life goals and good habits building.

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A major factor in determining whether young children will thrive later in their life, is the level of the development of their brain and cognitive skills, when they are younger than 5 years old. The age, is rather important, as the human brain is mostly formed before children become 5 years old, so failure to develop a child’s brain at this age, will severely impact the way its brain will be developed for the rest of its life. We are proposing, the institutionalization of travelling teachers who will impact the children brain development, long-term life goals and good habits building.

Teachers (either government employees, or volunteers from an NGO), will travel to communities and work together with the community’s super-mama (https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/super-mamas-for-low-income-communities) to gather all of the community’s young children together. There, he will teach them a number of subjects which will greatly aid young children’s development. The reason for the collaboration between the two individuals, is that the teachers will be travelling between different communities, whereas the super mamas will be staying in the same community. So, the super mama will be knowing most people in the community and the people will know the super mama. Obviously, it will be easier to gather the community's children together, if the super mama arranges the gathering and that will be her only contribution. The subjects that will be taught, include:
  • The importance of reading and the alphabet. Reading books greatly develops a child’s imagination, cognitive reasoning, empathy and intelligence. Of course, children at that age, cannot successfully be taught to read, but they can be taught the alphabet, which is an important first step. The teacher, will read through some picture books with compelling stories. Furthermore, he will have some printed copies of picture books, which he will be able to give to the children for free.
  • The history and culture of their place. Research shows that children who don’t relate to the values and traditions of their culture, have increased chances of becoming alcoholic or drug addicts when they become adults.
  • Interactive stories about successful individuals from their nationality or area. Research suggests, that having role models that children can relate to, from such an early age, will subconsciously develop the goal setting area of the children’s brain, a characteristic which is positively associated with personal success later in life.
  • The importance of personal hygiene. Furthermore, the parents that will drop their children, will be given a free package containing a toothbrush, soap, shampoo, towel, tablets for cleaning the water, etc. In the past, such kits were manufactured and given for free to poor children in India, for less than 1$ each. Fund raising campaigns could be run, with the aim of raising enough money to produce a large amount of cleaning kits.
  • Food with mottos printed on it, could be given for free. In the past, Unilever has printed mottos on Indian bread, about the importance of hand washing before eating. The initiative, proved successful, as people saw this before eating the food and the numbers of people washing their hands before eating, dramatically increased.So, an actual solution to the problem, will be to specifically hire and train teachers on the above subjects and then send them travelling on different communities for a session lasting a whole day. The teachers will be hired, trained and paid by NGOs interested in helping young children to thrive in the future, or socially responsible companies, wanting to boost their public profile.

An important part of the initiative, is the logistics and the volunteer recruitment of teachers. Regarding the organization, I suggest that a minimum 0-5 children population threshold be set, and all of the communities that have at least this number of children be visited. The trip planning, would be decided centrally by the NGO/voluntary organization that provides the teachers. The teachers shall be based in a central location and all of the communities that fulfil the minimum criteria and exist in a pre-determined radius from this location, shall be visited by the teacher.

The recruitment of teachers, could be conducted by student organizations such as AIESEC, or other voluntary initiatives. The programme duration time, should also be set in advance, in order to manage variables including VISA issues, where the volunteers shall be hosted and who oversees them.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

This idea, is designed for all of the world's 0-5 year old children that are living in low-income communities.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

1) measure 0-5 illiterate children's cognitive capabilities and 0-5 literate children's cognitive capabilities. Then, teach the illiterate children some basic reading skills and give them picture books to read. After 6 months, measure their cognitive capabilities again and see the method's actual results. 2) encourage volunteering for a small number of teachers which will be travelling in the community. The short-term possible identifiable benefits, will be the good hygiene habits that will be built by the children, 3) pitch the idea to major socially responsible companies and large Non-governmental organizations, to try to acquire funding and support for the idea.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

- Partnerships from NGOs - Partnerships from socially responsible companies - Government support and budget allocation

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.

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Spam
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Team

Very interesting idea! I like your travelling teachers scheme. This could solve problems that children in low-income families are not able to develop their cognitive skills at 0-5 years period.
The idea is good but I have some questions related to travelling teachers scheme. In China, there are lots of similar schemes for poor areas. Although those teachers or volunteer students could offer some help for learning, they cannot stay for a long time and children have to adopt themselves into a new environment again when new volunteers are coming and this could cause some conflicts on cognitive skills development due to the fact that each person has his own teaching style.
Are you able to make sure those volunteers could stay till these children formed a relative cognitive skill?
Idea is really good!

Spam
Photo of ISMI Group4
Team

Thank you for your contribution Andy!
Unfortunately, the teachers will not be able to stay for a long time, as they will neither be permanent employees, nor will they be enough to cover all of the communities at the same time (otherwise, the cost will be too high). The teachers will travel between communities and deliver a sort of seminar. Of course, it is not a perfect solution, because of the children having to adapt to new teaching environments, as you mentioned. But, it is the best affordable solution that will provide a significant difference from the current state of complete illiteracy in a big number of low-income communities. Also, an important part of our idea, is the fact that printed copies of picture books will be given to children, so that they can experiment themselves and subconsciously develop their cognitive skills.

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