How to Help Child's Brain Development

Source

Learning Starts Before Birth - 0-2 Years Old

The early years in a human being's life are a magical period of amazing development. Scientific research reveals that babies learn many things including their native language before birth. Hearing develops as early as sixteen weeks of gestation. A mother's voice reaches the uterus with very little distortion as the sound waves pass directly through her body. Acoustic spectroscopy, which makes possible elaborately detailed portraits of sound similar to fingerprints, has documented prenatal learning of the mother tongue. Studies of a thousand babies whose mothers had experienced various degrees of depression during pregnancy themselves displayed depression at birth and in proportion to the depression scores of their mothers.

Maria Montessori in her book, The Absorbent Mind, says that the amount a child learns in the first two years of life would take an adult sixty years to learn. The early years are truly magical. These skills cannot be taught from the outside. A child learns to turn over, move forward, crawl on all fours and then to stand up all by himself/herself. Language is absorbed from the environment rather than it being taught by adults as is done for adults.

Montessori Education allows freedom for children to explore their different abilities.
Montessori Education allows freedom for children to explore their different abilities. | Source

Did you know that babies begin learning things as early as sixteen weeks of gestation?

See results without voting

Child's Brain Development from Age 3

It has been found that by the time a child reaches the age of three, the brain is twice as active as that of an adult. The activity levels drop during adolescence. Hence, early experiences have a decisive impact on the architecture of the brain and on the nature and extent of adult capacities. The importance of early childhood education cannot be underestimated.

There are two important points to be remembered in the development of the frontal lobes of the brain in a child:

The frontal lobes undergo their main growth spurt between the ages of 2-6 years of age. They will surge again after 20 years of age. Only the linkages of other brain regions to these powerful lobes will bring about cognitive changes in the meantime.

The frontal lobes thrive on rhythm and are invited to become the brain's 'executive headquarters' only in those children who have established a sense of rhythm, grace and 'motor flow'.

The frontal lobes are responsible for a host of amazing skills that allow a child to work with:

  • patterns and designs
  • handle complex situations and help tap into a higher order of thinking skills
  • plan ahead
  • think about consequences of his actions
  • develop the use of 'inner speech'
  • control impulses
  • have empathy for others
  • be alert and sustain concentration
  • develop a sense of initiative
  • work cooperatively in groups
  • handle confusion and chaos without panicking.

Brain development is non-linear: there are prime times for acquiring different kinds of knowledge and skills. Young children are usually, instinctively drawn to what they need next in their development. Hence, adults have to pay attention and provide the opportunities for learning and developing new abilities.

Montessori for Early Childhood Years

Early Childhood Curriculum

Parents, teachers and others who are involved in working with children soon realize that there is very little that they can each them. The adult's duty is to provide interesting opportunities and ensure the safety of the child. Early childhood education often focuses on children learning through play. According to the UNESCO ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) Unit, early childhood is defined as the period from birth to 8 years of age.

However, early childhood education is considered to be from the ages of 0-5 years after which children join regular schooling starting from the first standard. With both parents having to go to work children are being sent to daycare centres and other early childhood organizations. The increased awareness about the importance of proper nurturing in the initial years has led many governments to develop an early childhood curriculum for these centres to implement.

Maria Montessori was a pioneer in this field and her example has been followed for the last few decades to a certain extent. She emphasized nurturing and educating a child by understanding its inner nature and providing it with the right learning environment. She recognized the natural curiosity, sustained concentration, sense of order and the need for a calm environment inherent in the child. Montessori schools provide these conditions for the development of the child.

A boy reading a book.
A boy reading a book. | Source

The Child in Daily Life

The child of today spends a great deal of time in a daycare or kindergarten, and a brief time at home. The input it receives in these two environments determines how its brain is going to be wired. The education of a child continues in the home as well. Children like to participate in real life duties such as cooking, cleaning and gardening. Adults discourage a child from contributing to the daily duties whether in the kindergarten or at home because they think a child is too small to be of use. However, it has been found that participating in such activities actually helps to develop the brain in addition to learning through make-believe or dramatic play. Both together allow the child to relate to its life as well as to its 'inner speech' which helps it resolve issues in its life. Human interaction and building relationships with others has to be nurtured from the very beginning.

Media Overload Bad for Children Health

Television Viewing Hampers Brain Development

Parents allow children to watch television while they are busy with other duties. This actually hampers brain development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that children younger than two years of age not be exposed to television. Many more young children are currently watching television than in the recent past. Background television sound is also a disruptive influence. It has been found television viewing lowers the IQ in children. It also hampers the development of creative imagination since all the visual information is provided with no room for the child's imagination.

Nurturing a Magical Childhood

The magical period of early childhood has to nurtured by giving the child the chance to explore the order, harmony and music of nature. Children are very close to nature and will absorb her qualities just by being in her presence. Children also learn by observing the adults in their life. Hence it is important for adults to strive for those qualities that nourish the body, the heart and the mind.

The body needs:

  • to experience rhythm
  • predictability
  • calm and controlled movement.

The heart needs:

  • humour
  • playfulness
  • stories
  • a chance to hear about and express moderate feelings
  • to be part of a caring group
  • to learn without competition
  • to know there is enough to go around.

The mind needs:

  • a chance to work at its best tempo
  • to discover how to think for itself
  • to plan ahead and listen
  • to speak and to be heard.

The responsibility lies in the hands of the parents, teachers and caregivers on how a child makes a start in his/her life. This will in turn determine the quality of future generations, our country and the planet at large. Our inter-connectedness at all levels cannot be underestimated. However, we can begin with one child at a time by giving it the best possible start in life.

This article of mine was first published in Wake Up India -- Journal of the New Life for India Movement, Vol. XXXVI No. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2011. According to the publishers: 'Any material which appears in Wake Up India may be reproduced freely without any changes.' I have added subheadings and bullet points to make it easy to read online.

I thought it would be good to publish it online as well since it is a subject close to my heart.

More by this Author

  • What is Sama Vritti (Equal Breathing)?
    1

    Have you noticed that your inhalation and exhalation are of different durations? Find out the advantages of breathing in equal ration duration and learn how to correctly learn the technique of sama vritti pranayama or...

  • How to Make a Positive Impact in the World
    8

    We can make a positive impact in the world both as individuals and as a group of like-minded people. The change must begin with us and every choice we make affects our fellow human beings, other sentient beings and the...

  • How to Knit a Comfort Doll or Duduza Doll
    10

    Duduza (Comfort) Doll is an easy charity knitting project to bring comfort and solace to children in need, especially in Africa. Learn to make one yourself with the free pattern, videos and links.


Comments 9 comments

kelleyward 4 years ago

You did such a great job discussing how children learn. I also believe the TV should be extremely limited! Voted up! Take care, Kelley


Sushma Webber profile image

Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Kelley, Thank you for your feedback. We don't have a TV at home out of choice though we have no kids yet. We think it is bad for adults too!


Diane Lockridge profile image

Diane Lockridge 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Great hub!

One of my most popular hubs is on a similar topic, entitled "A Comparison and Contrast of Froebelian & Montesssorian Methods of Early Childhood Education" the link is http://hubpages.com/education/-Froebelian-and-Mont... in case anyone is interested.


radhikasree profile image

radhikasree 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

I too believe that nurturing children in their early days of childhood has great importance in building their body and mind. Voted up and useful.


Bruce Clark profile image

Bruce Clark 4 years ago

I think that the best phase in one's life to start learning is during childhood. Things are learned fast during such early years. Thanks for this informative hub. Voted up.


Sushma Webber profile image

Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks Bruce. It is said that what we learn in the first six years stays with us for the rest of our lives. We will have to work hard to change it if we need to change something negative that we learned back then. Parents and teachers do have a great responsibility.


Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA

I am so happy to have come across your hub! Montessori was ahead of her time. That is why it is so hard to get others to understand the importance of the first six years of life... and to take her seriously. I guess when the student(s) is (are) ready, the teacher will appear. For those who are having trouble with their child... read Montessori... For those who want the best for their child... read Montessori!

Secret of Childhood is another helpful and awesome book by Dr. Maria Montessori. Absorbent Mind was her last book and contained her latest discoveries.


Sushma Webber profile image

Sushma Webber 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thank you Kathryn for your helpful comments. Can't agree more. I did not know Absorbent Mind was her last book. The Theosophical Publishing House has been publishing it for some years and it can be bought online from http://www.adyarbooks.com


Kathryn Lhill 4 years ago

Good to know!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working