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.
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.
Relationship between parent and child. Engage the child’s brain through personal inter
action, eye-to-eye contact, and gentle
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
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
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
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
Rhythm and rhyme. Sing to them, with them, and expose them to good music. Video
Imagination and creativity and snuggling. The more reading you do with them, the more they learn and the more brain connections develop. Video