How to Nurture the Brain Development of Your Child
The most important thing to remember concerning your child’s brain development is that as a parent you are who your child instinctually looks to for about the new and exciting world!
Luckily, nature has helped you out. There is a reason for all that baby talk, let alone silly faces and noises. In fact recent studies on Macaque monkeys revealed most primates also have an instinct to interact with their newborn this way. That is because infants prefer human stimuli, or in a Macaque’s case, that of other Macaques. They look to others in their environment to learn how to behave and begin to impersonate their actions almost immediately. Face, voice, touch and even smell are all very important from the very beginning. The more interaction an infant gets,or rather, the more stimuli there is to engage his or her seven senses, the more synapses will be activated in the brain.
Language is fundamental to almost all stages of cognitive development so talking and listening to children is especially important during their critical brain-building years. Be sure to engage them, ask questions and encourage imaginative responses. Remember, self-exploration is always the best way of learning.
Language as a form of stimulation has been scientifically proven to make a difference. Infants and children who engaged in various forms of verbal interaction show more advanced linguistic skills than children who haven’t.
It is never to early to introduce your child to books. Nurturing the emergent literacy of your child from infancy through preschool is extremely important. Take your child to libraries or bookstores and have them participate in picking out reading material. Make sure these trips are considered a fun and special event. Make them often to build familiarity and routine. Stay for story hour and make sure your child engages themselves in the story. Set aside a regularly scheduled time each day for reading. Make it enjoyable by designating a special place and time. If your child has trouble sitting, read before bedtime. Make sure the child participates in the reading material. The more senses they use, the more their brain will develop because sensory input activates synapses which in turn, keeps them from being discarded due to inactivity. Use picture books and point to things as you name them. Stop and ask simple questions, such as “What is this?”, “What does it do”, “Who is that?” and be patient with responses. Try music or audio books. Coloring books are great because the child gets to enjoy one of their own creations. Gradually increase the time you read to your children, after all, they may not be excited about sitting still in the beginning!
As your child gets older begin telling stories to them and having them engage in the story-telling process by asking them questions like “and then what did he do?” and using their ideas to continue. Move your fingers under the words as you read to help preschoolers connect printed words to spoken words. Encourage the child to join in while you read. Start with rhyming books with a repeating line so this is easier at first. Be sure to be an animated reader. Try using different voices for different characters and making the appropriate facial expressions as dramatic as possible As your child grows into elementary school ages continue your regular library trips and increase the difficulty of material. Encourage the child to read on their own and try playing games like “popcorn” to help them become more interested.
Use electronic games and devices including computer programs or even Wii with positive, educational themes to reinforce the idea that learning is fun. Music engages the child’s auditory and sensory-perception systems. Sing to infants and play music around children of all ages. Be careful of the type of music you play, however. You do not want the wrong synapses activated! Bright colors also stimulate the brain so use primary colors when you paint the child’s room, the more colors the better. Try to incorporate a color chart on the wall. Keeping the alphabet and a list of the numbers 1-10 on the walls will also help your child grow familiar with these symbols and eventually their meaning. Start young at teaching them how to spell their own name by relating letters to animals or their favorite cartoon characters. Be sure to allow them plenty of time to draw, paint, cook or create as this develops more skill sets. Have them engage with other children and realize common goals with them to develop social skills.
If you want your child to be bilingual it is allot easier for them to learn young. This is because their brain is extremely receptive as they begin to develop social as well as lingual skills. Start with small, easy words as young as preschool and practice regularly. You will be surprised at how quickly they begin to pick it up.
Always remember the key to developing your child’s brain is interaction. The brain is believed to wire itself utilizing the "Use it or Lose it” method. This means the neural connections we end up with as an adult are those that were not subtracted. A widely cited study by nuerobiologist Pasko Rakic and his colleagues, found that the number of synapses in several areas of the primate cortex rises and then falls during the first years of life. Researchers believe the largest number of synapses is present around twenty-four months of age. Consequently, it is crucial to begin aiding in your child’s development as young as possible because the more synapses your child uses the less they will lose. Basically to develop your child’s brain, keep them engaged. Make sure there are plenty of new stimuli around for them to respond to so that you can make sure you’re doing everything as a modern parent in the 21st century to increase your child’s chances of a great future.