Believe it or not, in a world that seems to be getting more and more complicated, there are a few easy ways to help enhance your child’s development, and they can make a world of difference down the line. Our thanks to Harris Publications’ “The Brain – The Ultimate Guide” for the following information.
Experience has been proven to be the most important element in developing a strong, healthy brain. Even before we are born, we are learning about sounds, temperature and balance. Once we enter the world, our brains are taking in everything – whether we can immediately make sense of it or not. It is experience that begins filling up our knowledge bank. Each of the following enhances your child’s brain development, from infancy to the teen years:
• Access to a stimulating environment: books, toys that teach letters and numbers, museums and libraries. It’s “action learning” and the experience that solidifies the multiple styles of learning.
• Something as simple as a hug from a nurturing parent diffuses tension and stress, and bolsters brain circuits involved in emotional regulation, impulse control and decision making.
• Talking and reading to your child, from an early age, promotes learning and brain growth, and builds strong language skills. It also bolsters your relationship with your child, which will come in handy during the teen years.
• Music lessons: Yes, music lessons. They weren’t kidding when they said that Mozart makes you smart. Music allows the brain to map sounds to neural pathways involved in muscle movement, as well as promoting focus, awareness and academic performance. When we make music, we use more of the different parts of our brains than any other activity!
• Play time – studies show that children learn best through self-directed play. It helps them develop and exercise vital brain circuits, as well as learning how to “play well in the sandbox” with others.
• Allow your child to take some risks. This flies in the face of the need to protect our children, but a little risk-taking promotes learning new things, as well as reinforcing brain circuits for motor control, regulating emotions and making decisions.
Many of these suggestions are going to be familiar to you. Some have been second-nature to parents for a very long time. It’s just that neuroscience is proving that what we’ve intuitively known is the right path to take.