Brian's Reviews > What's Going on in There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life

What's Going on in There? by Lise Eliot
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's review
Mar 16, 11

bookshelves: baby-training
Read in July, 2010

(4.5) Great stuff, going to try to condense it a bit so it's actually accessible/actionable

Very well presented book covering mental development from conception to pre-school age. She breaks development down into several tracks: each of the senses, as well as motor, social/emotional, language, memory and "intelligence" development. She frequently cites studies in humans and animals to back her arguments, and I actually plan to track down a few of them to see if there have been more recent publications. Definitely more appropriate for the nerdier parents-to-be out there....

In each of these developmental 'tracks', she begins with neural development, explains how these results in functional development, and finally makes recommendations for parents on how to best encourage their child's proper development. These are often very specific and helpful recommendations, though once or twice she says "doing X is good, but don't do too much", leaving it up to us to decide just how much is too much. But on the whole, her recommendations are quite actionable.

Finally, she ends with a chapter on how to make your baby smarter, which is what we're all reading this for, right? It's a much higher level chapter than the previous chapters, and tries to sum it all up a bit. It's good motivation, but the earlier chapters are much more practical and specific, so I'll be referring back to those more often.

Now that I've read the full text, I plan to try to reduce the results and suggestions to a more concise form for reference (I recommend you take notes as you go; it's quite a hefty text). I can refer back to the neural development bits if I need to, though that seems a little less relevant to child-rearing when it's actually happening. I do like the way she separated development into tracks, but I'd like to find a way to depict development chronologically as well as functionally...showing each track over time and show which developmental steps overlap chronologically. But even if I don't get to this, I feel much better prepared for being a nurturing, responsive, involved and demanding parent (see pp. 452-455).
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