It is really exciting to have technology providing the study of the brain, like we've never seen before. Scientific research demonstrates that a child's early development is determined by the environment and experiences, rather than genetics alone. For us to provide the best for children, we must understand how a child's brain develops.
…..And it isn’t complicated!
Early Experiences Wire a Brain
The experiences children receive in the early years of life are crucial to overall brain development. When a child has an experience, connections are formed between brain cells. The cells are dependent on experience to create these connections. After eight months a child exposed to a nurturing and stimulating environment may already have 1,000 trillion connections created. These connections physically grow and develop the brain. It is primarily the early experiences that largely determine the basic strength and function of the brain's wiring system. It is that simple!
Warm and consistent parents, who cuddle and talk to their children and provide fun learning experiences, promote healthy brain development for their children. It is so refreshing for many parents to learn that beyond meeting a child’s basic needs for safety, sleep, and providing good nutrition, all that a developing brain needs most is loving interaction and play.
The Brain Adapts to Any Environment
Because the brain develops based on experience, a young child’s brain will adapt to a negative environment just as easily as it will adapt to a positive environment.
Prolonged, severe, or unpredictable stress-including abuse and neglect-during a child's early years can result in negative impacts on the child's physical, cognitive, emotional, and social growth. Babies who do not get responses to their cries, and those whose cries are met with abuse, develop brain connections to prepare them to cope in that environment. As a result their ability to learn and respond to nurturing and kindness may be impaired.
It is Repetition That Makes Strong Connections.
The brain organizes through a "use it or lose it" process. The brain eliminates and strengthens connections in an effort to become more efficient. So, experiences that are repeated frequently lead to brain connections that are retained. Connections that are not used often due to lack of repeated experience are eliminated. This is how a child’s brain adapts to the experiences in daily life.
Consistency is key. The brain feels comfortable when it knows what to expect. When children learn through repetition, that a parent will be there for them when needed, they can relax and feel safe. Providing loving interaction, adequate amounts of sleep, healthy nutrition, time playing outdoors, physical activity, and lots of creative play, and exploration contributes to a child with a healthy brain.
Through understanding how quality experiences impact brain development we can make a real difference. This is what children want all of the adults in their lives to know. It is my goal to make this common knowledge. We can all play an important role in making this happen for all children. Now that you know, tell everyone you know how easy it is to positively wire a brain.
This is the reason I created, The Brain Development Series is to make it easy to develop healthy brains even during busy everyday life. For further information or interaction activity ideas go to www.braininsightsonline.com
Quality Experiences Make a Positive Impact
- Children need to hear people talk to them directly about what they are seeing and experiencing in order for their brains to fully develop language skills. Research shows that when mothers spoke to their infants often, their children learned almost 300 more words by age two than did children whose mothers rarely spoke to them. Language heard through television or conversation not directed to the child did not provide the same benefits. Infants need direct interaction with language right from birth.
- Opportunities to just play, create, explore, and manipulate objects provides the best opportunities for real learning. When these activities are driven by a child’s own interests this is when you will almost be able to see brain connections being made!
Toys or objects that are best for children do any or all of the following:
- Provides an opportunity for direct interaction and manipulation
- Gives a child a chance to develop something with their hands
- Offers a variety of ways of using the toy or objects
- Sparks imagination and creativity
- Allows the child to repeat a process
- Promotes physical activity
- Warm, responsive care meets an infant's basic needs. Research shows that consistent care giving is not only comforting for an infant, it plays a critical role in wiring the emotional areas of the brain. The way that parents and other caregivers respond to babies, directly affects the brain and creates the base for learning and relationships throughout life.