Your child’s brain grows at an explosive rate during the first three years of their life. Long-term effects of early stress, poverty, neglect, and maltreatment are a well documented negative impact on the development of a child’s brain. Understanding the brain development has shown us how important children’s earliest experiences are for their well-being. Play has a long-term beneficial impact on brain development.
The human brain is innately curious and programmed to learn. Young children are driven to master their world. Given a typical environment and barring any serious physical issues, children will naturally strive to learn their environments and world, without a lot of intervention from adults.
Play is incredibly important for children.
Through play kids take ownership, exploring their interests with the support of family. Activity is critical; children do not like to learn through a passive input, they are active learners. Flash cards, workbooks, worksheets, educational videos and “educational” games are several tools that parents can offer to aid their children in learning and development. Computer and tablet games can deprive children of the natural interaction with their world so critical to development.
What children need and enjoy is rich, varied input in natural settings. The opportunities for this type of information are everywhere and should be taken advantage of in their development. Take a walk through the neighborhood and talk with your child about what they see. Allow your child to help with cooking or sorting clothes.
Read to your children and teach them songs and nursery rhymes are some of the most appropriate introduction to reading available.
During these critical brain growth periods, long, thin nerve pathways grow inside the brain. These are wiring that connects and carry electrical impulses from brain cell to brain cell. The resulting network, which increases daily in the young brain, forms the neurological foundation of skills that your child will use for the rest of his life.
Life experiences after birth, in conjunction with your child’s gene code, determine the eventual wiring of the human brain.
Existing connections eagerly await new experiences that shape the neural networks for language, reasoning, problem-solving, and moral values.
The development of a child’s brain is affected by early life experiences.
Why would the brain create more synapses than it needs, only to discard the extras?
The early stages of development are strongly affected by genetic factors; for example, genes direct newly formed neurons to their correct locations in the brain and play a role in how they interact. However, although they arrange the necessary wiring of the brain, genes do not design the brain completely.
Genes allow the brain to fine-tune itself according to the input it receives from the environment. A child’s senses report to the brain about her environment and experiences, and this information stimulates neural activity.
Speech sounds, for example, encourage activity in language-related brain regions. If some inputs increase as more speech is heard, synapses between neurons in that area will be activated more often.
New experiences build upon established patterns and create new patterns and networks for more learning. Connections that are repeatedly used will become permanent. Those that are not used get discarded.
You can add stimulus to your toddler brain development by engaging in games and fun activities with them. Everything you do with your toddler – playing, talking, eating, walking, reading, cuddling, and singing help jump-start his brain. When you use your imagination with him, for example, you help his brain to make “imagination pathways” of its own.
Children remember experiences that have an emotional component.
Gentle, loving fun combined with relative supporting language from parents creates an atmosphere in which learning thrives. Things you do together enhance their learning skills and assist in helping develop early social skills. This cannot be accomplished with high-tech toys like tablets, video games, or TV.
The earliest messages that the brain receives have an enormous impact on a child’s development
Early brain development is the foundation of the ability to adapt and build resilience, and there is a cost for these qualities. Experiences have such a great potential to affect brain development, and children are especially vulnerable to persistent negative influences during this period. These early years are a window of opportunity for parents and extended family, and positive early experiences have a huge effect on children’s chances for lifelong achievement, success, and happiness.
Only active play can do that, so go play!