Isn’t it wonderful when you get simple information that can make a big difference? Sometimes the concept of brain development can seem too complicated or overwhelming. However, optimal brain development can occur very easily through every day experiences. The Week of the Young Child is a perfect opportunity to ensure everyone realizes the importance of the early years and how we can support a long lasting and dramatic impact.
It is really exciting to have technology providing the study of the brain, like we've never seen before. On going 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.
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 receive consistent and caring 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 (or care provider) 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, 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 critical that this becomes common knowledge. We can ALL play an important role in making this happen for ALL children. Start now! Tell everyone you know that we can make a dramatic, long lasting and positive impact through providing quality experiences in the early years!
The reason I created, The Brain Delopment Series is to make it easy to develop healthy brains even during busy everyday life. For further information for interaction activity ideas go to www.braininsightsonline.com
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