Baby minds are precious gifts entrusted to caregivers for developing. Only in the security of a warm and nurturing relationship and a richly stimulated environment will a child become all he can be.
The brain is built of billions of cells called neurons. Each neuron has extensions or dendrites, which branch out to make connections with each other. These connections are called synapses. This is what allows all brain activity such as language, thought process, motor control, etc. Synapses are the wiring system of the brain.
Making neural connections (synapses) is the way a brain grows. During the first two years of life synapses develop significantly. Some of this growth happens automatically with maturation. A more significant amount of brain development or building a brain’s neural connections relies on a child’s individual experiences. This is where a child relies on parents and caregivers to provide the experiences needed for brain growth.
Synapses develop rapidly from birth. When we provide the child with the needed experiences, connections are being made and enforced. Synaptic connections that are exercised and used grow stronger, multiply and develop strong and stable connections.
Affectionate embraces build strong emotional bonds and secure, trusting relationships. Early loving experiences are critical to intellectual development. When caregivers provide children with lots of things to see and hear, they are not only happier, they are also getting important early learning experiences.
In order for brain cells to grow bigger and establish stronger connections, they must be exercised. Early experiences provide needed opportunities to develop neural circuitry. Because we know that problem solving and higher thinking skills are dependent on rich experiences we plan each day offering a variety of activities such as art, music, and literature.
Building with blocks gives children experiences with the concept of math, logic and space. Building a castle with blocks and knocking it down, stacking rings, or lining up a row of toys are all experiences that help a child become a skilled mathematical and logical thinker.
Playthings that allow imaginative, open-ended, hands-on play can provide ideal stimulation for a child’s growing changing brain. Music stimulates every part of the brain. We make music and dance a fun part of our daily routine.
As they climb up stairs and slide to the ground, children strengthen neural connections which control movement.
It is critical that children have opportunities to crawl, climb, push, pedal, throw, dig, and splash. As children run their hands through sand and water, they make neural connections that cannot be made in any other way.
Sharing a book leads to learning to read. The more you do it, the more connections will be made in the brain. Repeatedly reading the same book helps the child make a connection between the written page and the spoken word.
Children are exposed to lots of socialization, talking, singing, and reading to develop the parts of the brain, which handle language.
A child’s first three years are his most important for learning language. The more language he hears, the larger his vocabulary will be throughout his childhood and adulthood. Children’s early attempts at communication with adults and other children are encouraged by our responsiveness, and modeling of good grammar and rich vocabulary. Children need to interact with people to learn a language. They learn words by hearing them repeatedly. It is critical to engage them in conversation. The little things that caregivers do, like talking, singing, reading and playing simple games have many lasting effects.