Map of Florence

In addition to the usual sights”the Duomo, the Accademia, and the Uffizi”be sure to take a stroll through the less-crowded neighborhoods of Santa Croce and the Oltrarno, stopping in the latter for a stroll through the Boboli gardens. It can’t be stressed enough that Florence is positively mobbed in the warmer months; the earlier you arrive in the springtime, the better.

Map of Florence Photo Gallery

A carefully developed nursery school program termed Tools of the Mind increased executive skills. This program, based on Vygotsky’s views of intellectual growth described later in the travel, developed forty different skills including self-talk to guide behavior, dramatic play to encourage symbolic and imaginative behavior, and strategies to facilitate memory and attention. Compared to control children who had a state curriculum, the Tools children who practiced the skills for one or two years in nursery school performed significantly better on executive functioning tasks such as complex tasks requiring memory of several directions, flexible problem-solving, and the inhibition of habitual responses. Reviewing many other forms of intervention to improve EF including other school-related curricula such as Montessori programs as well as computerized training and other games, and physical programs such as aerobics, martial arts, and yoga, Adele Diamond and Kathleen Lee conclude that successful interventions require increasing levels of difficulty and challenge that provide the greatest benefits for those who have the lowest score on measures of EF, and increasing the positive emotional tone of classes by arousing feelings of joy, interest, and competence, reducing stress, and strengthening social bonds with other children. Increasing EF skills can have many benefits for children because more focused control and greater capacity for reasoning increase physical health, academic success, and occupational achievement.

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