Boost early brain development
Nina Chen, Ph.D., CFLE, former Human Development Specialist, Jackson County, University of Missouri Extension
Scientists have discovered how children’s earliest experiences affect the way the brain is shaped. They have also learned how early brain development and the parent-child relationship interact to create a foundation for future learning.
Research on early brain development suggests the following guidelines to help children build their brain power and develop healthy patterns for life-long learning.
- Talk, read and sing to children. Talk to your
child, make eye contact, read aloud, play rhyming and word games,
describe what is happening during daily routines, ask them questions,
respond to their clues and cues, and sing songs. These ongoing interactions
and conversations help young children build a foundation for language,
social interactions and later learning.
- Be warm, loving and responsive. Children’s early
attachments affect how their brains grow. They need to feel secure
by receiving care and attention in a warm, loving and responsive
- Encourage safe exploration. Exploration and
play are important learning experiences for children. Provide them
opportunities to move around, explore and play freely. Opportunities
to interact and play with their peers can help children explore relationships
and learn problem solving skills.
- Establish routines and rituals. Daily routines
and rituals such as nap time, bedtime and mealtime with positive
feelings are reassuring for children. When children have consistent
and predictable routines, they know that they can count on you for
a sense of security.
- Limit television viewing. Avoid using television
as a babysitter. Research shows that children who were raised in
families that limited television viewing time and were selective
as to the types of programs they watched learned the best in school.
- Ensure good health, good nutrition and safety. Have regular prenatal care, have routine child check-ups, get timely immunizations, safety-proof play areas, and make sure everyone eats a balanced diet and gets sufficient rest.
Shore, R. Rethinking the Brain: New Insights into Early Development. New York, NY: Families and Work Institute, pp. 26-27.
Last Updated 03/13/2017