by Deborah McNelis
Do you realize ALL that you are doing and can do to make a REAL difference for children? You are critically important!
As I often say to audiences at the beginning of brain presentations , “I am thrilled that technology allows the study of the brain, like we've never seen before”. When scientific research began demonstrating that a child's early development is largely determined by the daily environment and experiences, rather than genetics alone, I became extremely excited. I was an early childhood educator at that time and knew the impact of the early years, but having scientific evidence to support the dramatic difference parents, quality early childhood educators and care providers make was very reinforcing.
The good news is that advances in brain research have demonstrated the enormous importance of the early years in determining a person's future success in learning and in life. It is now known that a child’s brain continues to develop long after birth. The term “brain development” means more than just intelligence building. It means the actual structural changes that take place in the brain. The experiences a child has in the early years activate the actual physical connections between brain cells that make the brain grow—in other words, the brain's "wiring." We now understand that overall development is based on this brain wiring, most of which takes place before age 5. This wiring develops best when a child:
· receives good daily nutrition
· enjoys a variety of positive experiences
· hearing rich language
· is provided with adequate amounts of sleep
· lives with routines and predictability
· has opportunities to develop relationships with nurturing caring adults and other children
· learns through lots of time to play and explore
Conversely, constant exposure to stress, limited stimulation, poor nutrition and lack of nurturing relationships all lead to types of brain wiring that can contribute to emotional and learning problems. Brains learn very early how to cope with the environment to which we are exposed, sometimes with harmful results.
This information is critical because of the large numbers of children that are in out of home care and education programs for much of their day. Early childhood professionals who are knowledgeable about early brain development have a dramatic and VERY positive influence. Dedicated and caring parents and professionals, create healthy learning environments and the loving interactions growing minds need.
The sad thing is most people do not yet know the significance of the early years. People caring for and educating children can make significant difference in two ways.
1. Providing healthy, safe, nurturing and fun environments for children every day.
2. Creating awareness and understanding of the critical impact of the early years.
I invite you to learn and share with everyone you know. In an effort to help create this needed understanding, I am now making Brain Insights printables available. These make it extremely easy for you to share early brain development information and an activity idea.
There are currently several Free Printables available. You can access each of them now and receive a new one each week at http://braininsights.blogspot.com/
Thank you for your part in making a positive difference toward healthy brains every day!