Together we are growing children’s brains
From the What Every Parent Needs to Know set of talks and materials
Your child is living in a three-dimensional world of people, plants, animals… and a whole host of things to engage with and make sense of. Surrounded by voices to interpret, social skills to understand, dangers to be aware of and emotions to fathom. All within bodies that are growing and developing daily, changing how they move, how they feel and even how they respond. In every moment your child’s brain developing. So, are you growing your child’s brain effectively? To learn how takes some understanding of how this growth and development is occurring.
Your Child was born with a brain eager to learn and hungry to make sense of their world
This powerful motivation to learn will see them driven to explore and understand their surroundings, with learning opportunities everywhere, that are just too rich to resist. Whether or not you consider pulling over your vase of flowers a desirable experience, they will be seeking ways to test what they know, to challenge the boundaries of their environment – and their relationships!
If their efforts are often fruitless or met with resistance, they will learn not to bother. And it is then that frustration, boredom and difficult behaviours will follow. So, if you want to protect your flower arrangement, or your carpet, understand what is going on and provide them with experiences they can explore.
Is your child’s developing brain growing effectively and how can you learn to support this growth?
It is amazing to think that as you look into the eyes of a new-born that they already have most of the 100 billion neurons or brain cells that you have within your adult brain. And yet at birth, your child’s brain will have been around a quarter of the size of yours. So, how does brain development happen? How do we even begin to understand everything we need to?
Born with some primitive abilities, growth and development comes from making connections between brain cells, forming as a result of every experience. The good and the bad as they make the 1,000 trillion connections needed to wire up their adult brain.
Your child’s brain is effectively making connections, growing through every experience they are exposed to – whatever they may be.
Our brains can translate a multitude of sensory information, systematically rearranging and transforming. Using memories from our past to create coherent messages that allow us to operate in this complex world. A process we have become so good at, that we take it for granted. But just like any other skill, this takes lots of opportunities to practice, and your child will make lots of mistakes along the way. But remember – they instinctively know when their brain is growing effectively – they just need you to learn how.
With brains more active and more flexible at three years old than at any other time, your child is looking for every opportunity to experience and explore. And the experiences you offer and the choices you make have a massive impact on this process. From whether you sit together and play or turn on the TV. Whether you walk to the playground talking about the sounds and smells all around you, or travel in the car. Even that time you took your shoes and socks off just to feel the wet grass between your toes.
So, embrace every opportunity with your child as you play, engage and experience this amazing world of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures together. As you learn the importance of growing your child’s brain effectively.
Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods. Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child. www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk
DEVELOPING EVERY CHILD’S POTENTIAL