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Throughout the early years, your child will grow and change tremendously. For more information about your child’s age and stage, use the following tools. Each summary provides highlights of what you can expect at this stage of your child’s development.


Birth
 
2 months
 
4-6 months
 
6-12 months
 
12-18 months
 
18-24 months
 
3 years
 
4 years
 
5 years
 


 

Nicholas Parker is a healthy, beautiful newborn baby. As his parents admire him, they wonder, "What will Nicholas be like when he grows up? Will he do well in school? Will he get along with other kids and be happy?" Scientists now believe that the answers to these questions depend in large part on how young Nicholas’ brain develops, and that this development in turn depends largely on the nutritional, medical, emotional, and intellectual support his parents, extended family, and community provide for him during his childhood.

Recent advances in brain research have provided great insight into how the brain, the most immature of all organs at birth, continues to grow and develop after birth. Whereas this growth had been thought to be determined primarily by genetics, scientists now believe that it is also highly dependent upon the child’s experiences.

As he grows, Nicholas’ ability to understand language, solve problems, and get along with other people will be influenced by what he experiences as an infant and young child. While good early experiences help the brain to develop well, experiences of neglect and abuse can literally cause some genetically normal children to become mentally challenged or to develop serious emotional difficulties.

At birth, an infant’s brain is only 25 percent of the size of an average adult’s brain. Incredibly, by age 3, a child’s brain has grown to 90 percent of that an adult's brain. During infancy and early childhood, children are flooded with new experiences that impact their brain development. The first 3 years of a child’s life offer parents and other caregivers an amazing opportunity to shape the child’s growth and form healthy habits that will last a lifetime.


Every time a child hears the same story, they learn something new. New connections are made in the brain when Daddy reads a story to his child or has a conversation with him or her. These connections are reinforced through repetition. Repetition is a critical part of a child's learning because it builds the brain's wiring that makes new information permanent. The changes in the brain that happen during early childhood form the foundation for a child's later development.

A child makes brain connections with every experience she has. Connections are important. The more connections a child has, the more ways she has to process information.


ATM Supermarket Laundromat Signs


 

Interaction =
Relationship between parent and child. Engage the child’s brain through personal inter
action, eye-to-eye contact, and gentle care. Video


Touch =
How a child first knows love. Sends signals to the brain to make connections; hugs and kisses; as critical a nutrient as vitamins. Video


Stable Relationship with Loving Adult =
Bond between parent and child. Kids need a loving and trusted adult in their life; a person to depend on. Video


Safe and Healthy Environment =
Friendly and secure atmo-
sphere. Cover outlets; block off stairs; avoid lead poisoning; put dangerous chemicals out of reach. Video


Self-Esteem =
Fundamental to a child’s development and sense of self. Children are little sponges; need to hear they are great; deserve attention and reassurance. Establish a relationship with them that lets them know you care about them, their feelings, and their well-being! Video


Quality Child Care =
Positive and attentive care on a regular basis. Safe, decent nutrition; people who want to love them and spend time with them. Video


Communication =
Words, sounds, and contact. By 6 months a baby can duplicate sounds made by an adult; the more words they hear, the more brain connections will develop. Video


Play =
Everything is learned through play. Play is linked with mental growth and development; it is a child’s work; important to do with the child. Video


Music =
Rhythm and rhyme. Sing to them, with them, and expose them to good music. Video


Reading =
Imagination and creativity and snuggling. The more reading you do with them, the more they learn and the more brain connections develop. Video


 
 




You are an active participant in your child’s early learning ( watch video ). One of the things you can do to make sure you give them the best possible start is to engage in play ( watch video ).

Children spend the vast majority of their waking hours at play. However, play is not simply a way for children to pass time. Instead, it is an important way for children to learn about their world while developing emotionally, socially and intellectually.

There’s no right or wrong way to play; what matters is that a child is given safe toys in safe places and is encouraged to experiment, express herself, learn on her own, control her environment, connect with other people and make sense of her surroundings.

To engage a child in play:

  • Jump right in. Playtime with a caregiver is invaluable to a child - whether you talk baby-talk ( watch video ) or bounce a toddler on your knee.
  • Forget the rules. Add to a child’s play experiences by creating imaginative games and finding new ways to use his toys. Use blocks as flying cars or pretend to be a zoo animal. Encourage a child to make-believe and think creatively.
  • Take a break. Although children often learn the most when they interact with others, solitary play gives a child time to process and understand everything that he has been doing.
  • Participate enthusiastically. Encourage a child’s imagination by becoming involved wholeheartedly and going along with her games.
  • Let a child guide his play. Let a child pick the activity and decide how it is played. Pay attention to the child’s mood and adapt the play accordingly.
  • Watch out for over-stimulation. It’s important to stop playing when your baby loses interest. He’ll tell you when he’s had enough by disengaging, turning his head, or starting to cry.

Most of a child’s experiences involve relationships with caregivers. Newborns come into the world eager for this interaction. They want to connect with you right from the beginning. It is this emotional connection that helps give them the confidence that they need to learn. Science has demonstrated that children who receive lots of love and attention actually learn better ( watch video ). From the very first moments of life with a baby, the love and attention that you share will lay the groundwork for later learning.

Everyday interactions offer the comfort and security that help promote learning ( watch video ) :

  • Love and affection: Giving a child love and attention helps her feel confident, relaxed and happy, which in turn, promotes her intellectual development ( watch video ).
  • A predictable world: Providing routines and consistent responses gives a child a sense that the world is trustworthy and teaches him that he can depend on you ( watch video ).
  • Opportunities for fun: Activities that most encourage a child’s brain to grow are those that she enjoys. If she is forced to participate in activities that do not hold her interest, she will tune out.
  • The sound of your voice: The newborn brain is especially interested in sounds – the building blocks of speech and language. Let a baby hear your voice as much as possible ( watch video ).
  • Understanding and patience: Respond to a child’s needs without worrying that you will spoil him. By responding, you teach him that you care and that he can trust you to read his signals.
  • Time to digest new information: Beware of over-stimulation. If a child is exposed to a lot of new information without time to digest and process it, she will tune out or break down.


 
 


Find child care and early education providers that can best meet the needs of your family.
 
 
 

 
1425 West Grand River Ave. - Howell, MI 48843 - Phone-(517) 540-6829