As we continue our discussion on lifestyle choices in early childhood, this segment will look at the effect family lifestyles have on your child’s developing brain:
In the first months of life, a child’s brain development depends on human interactions through relationships with the people around them. Your child must first feel safe in her environment for any learning and development to occur; once the feeling of safety is attained, all other interactions contribute to developing the neuron connections in the brain. When a child is born, their brain is in a “flexible” state; most of the hundred billion neurons are not yet connected. In a University of Maine article, Judith Graham, human development specialist, states that “A child’s experiences, good or bad, influence the wiring of his brain and the connection in his nervous system. Loving interactions with caring adults strongly stimulate a child’s brain, causing synapses to grow and existing connections to get stronger. Connections that are used become permanent. If a child receives little stimulation early on, the synapses will not develop, and the brain will make fewer connections”
You may think what does this have to do with lifestyle? I ask you to consider your daily schedule, the type of child care that you choose and the time that you spend with your child. Playing, reading, exposing your child to music, and communicating with direct eye contact with your child will determine the extent of their future abilities. Some studies have stated a child’s IQ — their level of intelligence — and their success in life is directly tied to the neuron connections that you help construct. Your touch, the sound and tone of your voice, and the look in your eyes connect the strongest, enduring structures in their brain. You are the architect, design and build a brilliant human being.
The message of this excerpt is: make time for your presence in your child’s life and choose the people who care for them carefully, with their future in mind. Communication is paramount with children in the earliest years in their lives. Their future depends on what we all do for them now; and ultimately, the future of the world will be in the hands of the children we are nurturing with quality interactions.
These facts alone should have a crucial influence on how adults interact with infants and children in their care. It should also have far reaching effects on how we mandate and fund early childhood education. The future of the world depends on the choices that we make now for the education and care of the newest among us. What could be more important…. than creating stellar human beings?