The Brain Building series presents an interesting fact about early childhood that can help parents, grandparents, and caregivers nurture children’s developing brains in their first five years. You can expect it in your inbox on the first Monday of every month.
Below you will find an archive of Brain Building posts. Please consider sharing them with your social networks–don’t forget to tag us @ChildMovementFL!
Did you know that in the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second?
Early exposure to language can help a child build vocabulary, communicate better with adults, be ready for kindergarten and develop an essential life skill: the ability to read by the end of third grade.
Language develops through social communication as well as verbal, so be sure to use eye contact, make facial expressions, smile, and gesture while you talk with your baby.
What are some ways you communicate best with your baby?
It’s #BrainBuilding Time!
Your little one is listening to everything you say and storing it away at an incredible rate. Instead of using “baby” words, use the correct names for people, places, and things. Speak slowly and clearly, and keep it simple.
Did you know that as children grow into early childhood, their world will begin to open up? They will want to explore and ask about the things around them even more.
Encourage their interest in books by taking them to the bookstore, or creating a bookshelf for them. Their interactions with family and those around them will help shape their personality and their own ways of thinking and moving.
Time spent reading together with your child during their preschool years leads to higher reading achievement in elementary school, as well as greater enthusiasm for reading and learning.
What are ways you encourage your children to read more? Are there any books your children love that you’d recommend to others?
It’s #BrainBuilding Time!
Your baby is listening, absorbing, and responding from their first moment in the world. Use a soft, sing-song voice to talk early and often with your baby.
Did you know that a hug encourages bonding by increasing the levels of oxytocin in the body? There are many benefits from hugging. Here are our favorites:
- Elevates mood
- Increases empathy & understanding
- Relaxes the body
- Boosts immune system
During their first year, babies are developing bonds of love and trust with their parents and others as part of social and emotional development. The way parents cuddle, hold, and play with their baby will set the basis for how they will interact with them and others.
How have hugs helped your child deal with a tough situation?
It’s #BrainBuilding time!
Use lots of #loving words rather than using directives such as “No, Stop, Be quiet.” Babies respond best to lots of loving words, including words of encouragement, praise and questions.
Did you know that during play kids learn to cope with emotions like fear, frustration, anger, and aggression in a situation they control? They can also practice empathy and understanding.
As children grow into early childhood, their world will begin to open up. They will become more independent and begin to focus more on adults and children outside of the family. Their interactions with family and those around them will help shape their personality and their own ways of thinking and moving.
How can you encourage your child to meet and play with their peers?
Did you know that elevated curiosity is linked to higher math and literacy skills among kindergarteners?
“The curious mind engages processes and brain regions associated with anticipating a reward. We want to learn more because the answers are satisfying. In addition, the hippocampus, a memory hub, ramps up activity, preparing to store information.” The more we want to know an answer, research suggests, the more memorable it becomes.
During their second year, toddlers will show greater independence; begin to show defiant behavior; recognize themselves in pictures or a mirror; and imitate the behavior of others, especially adults and older children.
Encourage their growing independence as they learn to become aware of themselves and their surroundings.
What are other ways your toddler is showing independence?
Did you know that kids who play with literacy materials, like pretending to read to stuffed animals, have better language abilities in kindergarten? The power of play!
In the first year, babies learn to focus their vision, reach out, explore, and learn about the things that are around them.
Cognitive, or brain development means the learning process of memory, language, thinking, and reasoning. Learning language is more than making sounds (“babble”), or saying “ma-ma” and “da-da”. Listening, understanding, and knowing the names of people and things are all a part of language development.
It’s #BrainBuilding time!
At one month old, your baby is laying the groundwork for speech with every sound. Babies learn by mimicking—so replay their sounds back to them. Babies not only love the attention, but they are also learning that their voices have power: They call, you appear!
Have you noticed your baby using his or her vocal chords in ways other than crying?
It’s #BrainBuilding time!
By six months, your baby’s personality is in full bloom. Every sound your baby hears and makes at this stage is laying the groundwork for speech and language development. Make sure you keep talking to your little ones!
Have you been noticing these behaviors with your baby?
It’s #BrainBuilding time!
At nine months, you’ll start to hear emerging baby speech patterns. Get ready for lots of babbling as your baby will soon be able to follow a simple command, like “Give Mommy the cup.” Babies at this age also have a great time mimicking you by mirroring your facial expressions and echoing your sounds.
What are other behaviors you are noticing from your baby at this age?
It’s #BrainBuilding time!
By two weeks your baby is already communicating with you!
You may notice your baby is starting to coo and smile. Make sure you respond to your baby’s attempts to talk with you.
By month two, your baby is beginning to smile at people, can briefly calm themselves and tries to look at people they know. They may coo, make gurgling sounds and pays attention to peoples’ faces.
Have you been noticing these behaviors in your little one?
By the age of one, you’ll begin to notice your little one is listening to everything you say and storing it away at an incredible rate. Instead of using “baby” words, use the correct names for people, places, and things. Speak slowly and clearly, and keep it simple.
At nine months, you’ll start to hear emerging baby speech patterns. Get ready for lots of babbling as your baby will soon be able to follow a simple command, like “Give Mommy the cup.”
What other behaviors have you noticed in your little one?
By month six, the sounds your baby receives and makes become the foundation for speech and language development. A good idea is to take turns making sounds, talking, or singing, and play games that encourage your baby to repeat sounds.
Your baby not only loves the attention but they are also finding out that their voice has power. They call out and you appear! Hearing you speak (besides being music to your baby’s ears) is the best way to get your baby speaking and understanding.
Have you noticed your baby using their vocal cords in ways other than crying?
Children live and learn through play! Babies explore life through their senses. The first game they play is discovering their hands and feet and discovering others.
When we talk to our babies, we stimulate their brain development. It’s good to change our tone of voice and look them in the eyes while doing so. With this type of interaction, we are helping them develop social, emotional and language skills. We are also able to create a stronger #connection with them.
Children’s executive function and self regulation skills grow at a fast pace in this time, it’s important to adapt activities to match the skills of each child. Children must determine what is needed, hold this information in mind and then follow through without getting distracted.
Babies cry to let caregivers know they need something. By crying, your baby is already communicating with you that they want your attention. They can be hungry, cold, overwhelmed or simply want affection.
Although they are interested in the faces around them, it is in seeing others mimic them that they learn to mirror back facial expressions.
These sounds and noises help your baby practice the mouth movements they will need for their real words. Babies pick up communication quickly when their parents react to their babbles with supportive language cues!
Incorporating gestures into your communication, also helps your baby connect words to meaning. What are other behaviors you are noticing from your baby at this age?
Some parents may find this development pattern in their baby. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, consult your pediatrician. It’s perfectly normal to have many questions about this special time.
Did you know that babies are not born with the ability to copy facial expressions? Although they are interested in the faces around them, it is in seeing others mimic them that they learn to mirror back the facial expression.
While babies typically say their first words when they’re between 9 and 12 months old, studies have found they begin laughing much earlier — at just 3 months. This makes laughter one of the earliest clues of how we humans experience the world.
At this age, toddlers learn through trying, and a challenge gives them opportunities to grow. They may not always succeed, but the practice is very important. This is a learning process.
When mom receives the right nutrients and a healthy diet of whole foods, it all goes to help baby’s develop in utero. So reach for those dark leafy greens to give baby a jump on college prep!
Speak your child’s game language! Choosing age-appropriate toys and games for your child is like speaking a language your baby can understand, which also make him/her feel understood.
Listening and singing to music improves spatial awareness. It also builds language skills and mathematical thinking. So feel free to get silly, sing songs or even make some up as a family.
Exposure to stress and trauma can have long-term negative consequences for the child’s brain, whereas talking, reading, and playing can stimulate brain growth. Nurturing a child by understanding their needs and responding sensitively helps to protect children’s brains from stress.
Between 18 and 36 months old, toddlers learn through trying, and a challenge gives them opportunities to grow. They may not always succeed, but the practice is very important. This is a learning process.
Children’s executive function and self-regulation skills grow at a fast pace during this period, so it is important to adapt activities to match the skills of each child.
- Provide many materials and opportunities
- Games that require active inhibition
- Song games with many movements
- Fingerplays, or songs and rhymes with hand gestures
Did you know that although genes play a role in the basic wiring of the brain, genes allow the brain to fine-tune itself according to the input they receive from the environment? So the more you talk and interact with your child, the stronger the brain building will be!
The language portion of the brain is enhanced greatly by interaction with others because the brain can then connect words with objects and experiences.
Different lap games for your children serve different purposes. Here are some game ideas for you to play with your little one: Peek-a-boo & Trot, Trot to Boston; This is the Way the Farmer Rides; Pat-a-Cake.
For children in this the age range of 7-12 years of age, it is important to steadily increase the complexity of games and activities.
Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like jumping, running, or balancing).
Everyone loves music, our children do too. Not only do they love it, but it also builds language skills and mathematical thinking. So feel free to get silly, sing songs or even make some up as a family. Learning and fun go hand in hand.
Cortisol, a hormone that kills off connections in the learning and memory parts of the brain, is produced during trauma. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) protect your child from all stressors, a close relationship with you and other caring adults will help her learn to cope and to feel good about herself.