Early childhood intellectual stimulation
It’s important to study the human brain as part of early childhood development. Facts about brain development show us the vulnerability of the brain within it’s environment especially before age one. Brain development is more rapid during this time and its environmental influence is long lasting.
Positive stimulation, good nutrition and good health in the early years support optimum early brain and physical development and later learning and behavior.
Brain development takes place before a child is born, the neural tube, which will form the brain and spinal cord is formed. From a few initial cells, the brain makes billions of neurons, at birth all the brain cells or neurons we will ever need are already in place. Before we are born about twenty five percent of these neurons migrate to the correct location forming connections and are hardwired. They control basic functions of the body like breathing , and the heartbeat.
At birth the connection between the other 75 percent of our neurons remain unfinished. These neurons form neural pathways and connections when they are exposed to the environmental stimuli that our senses transmit to our brains. Sensory experience like listening to a story, watching a parent while being held, smelling a flower stimulates brain cells. These cells join other brain cells creating pathways where information can be exchanged.
The brain of a three year old child can have twice as many neural connections and burn twice as much energy as the brain of an adult. That is why a child can pick up a language or a skill easily.
Children develop more neural bridges than they will need later in their lives. Their brains gather all the experiences and stimuli that are new to them. The neural bridges that are constantly used become strong and more interconnected. They become a permanent part of the body of the brain making these major determents in a child’s thinking and learning ability.
When a child repeats an activity with intense concentration, she is naturally building her brain.
The preschool years are a period of intense learning with physical and intellectual development. At age ten the brains rapid growth ends, which makes knowledge, language and learning skills much harder. Its important to learn language during preschool to make sure many neural pathways relating to language are created and reinforced. Positive experiences benefit a child’s intellectual development, as well as a environment of rich varied experiences. Children that have developed poor cognitive and behavioral characteristics are likely to have difficulty succeeding in the school system.
Stress can lead to long term damage causing the body to make lots of stress hormones called cortisol, which results in depression, anxiety, learning and emotional problems.
Good nutrition and loving care are important in the growth and other organs.
Its important for a child to feel close to an adult. A responsive adult recognizes a child’s physical and emotional needs and limits. She responds to the child’s unique queues and signals for care. She promotes the child’s social and emotional development. The caregiver communicates this message to the child. Whatever you do is important to me. The Child responds with confidence in new exploration and discovery.
A caregiver should provide the child with a safe and clean environment. They should recognize that young children need ordinary activities that are stimulating without being over stimulating; lots of touching, talking, singing, holding and playing. Children also need the freedom to make their own choices and learn from their mistakes.
A child who has a healthy attachment feels secure, knowing that his needs will be met. This attitude allows for healthy fulfilling relationships later in life. A caregiver’s position is to make a difference in a child’s health and well-being for now and the future.
A child benefits most from actively learning and experiencing through imitation, exploration, problem solving, trail and error, pattern recognition, analysis, and playing. Since children have the ability to create more neural connections than an adult, they require our time, effort, and high energy. The benefit of building and exercising strong networks of neural bridges during our formative years remain with us for the rest of our lives.