High Five is a Chandler Public Library promotion that helps support early literacy for your 0- to 5-year-old. We’re happy to announce a new partner in parenting and early literacy: ParentTV! This service offers short video tips from parenting experts, as well as blog posts and other material, all free with your Chandler Library card. This month’s featured blog post is Brain Training, excerpted from the ParentTV blog.
Brain Training: How You Can Support Your Child’s Healthy Brain Development
As parents, we’re bombarded by all the things we should be doing to help our children grow and develop physically. There’s tummy time, sleep time, and limiting screen time so they go outside and play. There’s yoga for tots and kindergym, and organic wholefoods at every meal (does dirt from the garden count as organic? Asking for a friend). That’s just the first few years.
But, while these things are important for holistic growth, there’s a specific area of children’s development that’s equally important but less widely understood: brain development. The most significant brain development of our children’s lives happens in the first few years.
Brain Development Period: Birth - 5 Years
This is a hugely important period for brain development. The brain is rapidly developing, but it’s also really vulnerable to stressors. At three years of age, your child’s brain has about 1000 trillion brain synapses, or connections, which will later be culled to about 500 trillion in adolescence.
What Parents Can Do to Aid Brain Development at This Age:
Provide a safe, calm, and nurturing environment
It’s important that parents provide a safe, nurturing environment and facilitate positive, repeated experiences with the people in this environment. This helps build the critical foundation of the brain, which, as we mentioned earlier, further neural circuits can then be built on. If this foundation isn’t strong, it can be harder for your child to go on and develop higher order skills and their ability to learn and thrive is affected. Normal levels of environmental stress are important in promoting resilience, but excessive amounts of stress in your child’s life can severely impact their brain development. This is referred to as toxic stress.
Provide loving, responsive, and caring relationships
The normal amounts of stress that all children experience can be managed with the assistance of consistent, responsive, and loving relationships with caregivers. When you respond to your baby’s cues, you are literally helping to build their brain. Playing, singing, and reading to kids at this age gives them an optimal platform from which to learn about their world and build brain connections.