By Jaesook Gilbert
During the holiday season, you have many choices when you are buying your gifts. With children’s toys, CDs and/or DVDs, many promise a particular product will help with your child’s learning. What really happens with our brain development during childhood?
Brain development continues after birth, especially during the first six years. In fact, a 3-year old child’s brain is 80 percent developed and two times more active than adults' brains. By the time a child is 5 years old, the brain is 90 percent developed.
What we are exposed to during early years shape our brain development and our future language and intellectual skills. For example, a child who is in direct contact with adults and engaging with them will learn to be proficient in language skills. If a child cannot explore his surroundings, talk to people, experiment with a variety of things and be talked to, that child’s brain will stop being active. “Use it or lose it” is the motto our brains function by, so:
Respond to children’s cues and clues
Love your children and form attachments with them
Talk, read and sing to children
Encourage safe exploration and play
Teach children words to describe feelings as well as explaining what children are feeling
Have a predictable schedule so children know what to expect and can count on you
Become involved in child care and preschool
Limit television because active engagement is better for learning
Ensure health, safety and good nutrition
Recognize that each child is unique
For more information, visit www.bornlearning.org . The bornlearning™ public engagement campaign provides parents and caregivers ideas on how to turn everyday moments into learning opportunities. United Way’s Success By 6® is promoting this campaign in Greater Cincinnati. To learn more about Success By 6®, visit www.sb6uwgc.org .
Jaesook Gilbert is an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education and School Leadership at Northern Kentucky University.