by Deborah McNelis
But, even more important and exhilarating for us, is to have the data to demonstrate what best contributes to the healthiest development during this significant time and that it has a long lasting impact throughout life.
This provides us with an extraordinary opportunity. This allows for us to positively contribute to the potential of all children. It is my passion to share this information in very easy and practical ways. Enjoy learning the following basics of early brain development.
We can make a real difference through creating awareness!! ~ Share with everyone you know who cares about children!!
A child is born with over 100 billion neurons or brain cells. These neurons make connections with each other to make up the wiring of the brain. The brain physically grows as these connections are made. It is primarily experience that influences the creation of these connections. Ninety percent of the brain develops by the age of five based on these experiences.
The brain is “experience dependent”. It has to have experiences to develop. After eight months of experiences, an infant may already have 1,000 trillion connections created. Because the brain adapts to the environment it is exposed to, it will make connections based on either repeated negative experiences or repeated positive experiences.
The brain develops through a "use it or lose it" process: connections that are frequently used are retained. Other connections that are not repeatedly used will be pruned or eliminated so the active connections can become stronger. Abilities are developed through this process. Opportunities to move, play and explore with real objects is the way strong connections and abilities are developed best. DVD’s and flashcards are not ideal ways to develop healthy brains. Physical activity, time spent outdoors, good nutrition, plenty of sleep, safe environments, regular routines, and predictable loving relationships all contribute to optimal brain growth.
Early adult-child interactions have a dramatic impact on brain development. Researchers have shown that when parents spoke to their infants often, children learned almost 300 more words by age two than did children whose parents rarely spoke to them. Exposure to language through television does not provide benefits. Infants need to interact directly with others. Children need to hear people talk to them about what they are seeing and experiencing throughout the day for their brains to fully develop language skills.
Warm, responsive care meets an infant's basic needs. However, consistent care giving is not only comforting for an infant; it plays a critical role in healthy development. The way that parents and other caregivers respond to young children directly affects the base of later development. Loving relationships have a positive impact on social-emotional development and learning throughout life.