Everyone knows that young children’s brains are like ‘sponges’, absorbing everything they see, hear and feel. We also know that they have an amazing ability to learn new skills faster than adults. But what is the scientific reason behind this?
This feature is mostly due to what is known as “NeuroplasticityIt refers to the brain’s ability to form and change its connections and pathways based on experiences.
Neuroplasticity gives children the ability to learn and break bad habits and things very quickly. This ability is most stable and rapid before a child’s fifth birthday, when most things he encounters or experiences may be new to him.
A newborn baby will have all the neurons in its brain for the rest of its life, but what really makes the brain work is the connections between those cells. Formed during the first years of a child’s life. A baby creates at least a million new synapses every second, more than at any other time in its subsequent life.
Recent scientific research shows that the connections necessary for many important higher-level skills such as motivation, self-regulation, problem-solving, communication, and self-esteem are formed in the early years. It is very difficult to make these basic connections in the brain later in life.
How these bonds are formed is done through the child’s everyday experiences, through positive interactions with parents and others around him, and through the use of his senses to interact with the world around him.
A young child’s daily experiences determine the brain connections that develop and last a lifetime, depending on the amount and quality of care, stimulation and interaction they receive in their early years.
Opportunity up to five years
The First Things First website says (First things first), from birth to age five, a child’s brain develops faster than at any other time in life. Because the human brain is the only organ that is not fully developed at birth, a child’s brain at birth is on average about one-fourth the size of an adult’s brain. A child’s brain doubles in size during the first year of life, continues to grow to 80% of adult brain size by age three, and is 90% complete by age five.
The period from birth to five years is a “critical period” for children because during these early years a young child’s brain is busier than an adult’s as it is constantly learning the best way to cope with any situation. . And it all has to do with the interactions around it.
Debbie Ravenscroft, a lecturer at the University of Chester in the UK, lives science (Direct scienceScientifically, the ability to learn quickly is linked to many domains, including flexibility, experiences with adults and their environment, and their biological drive to explore.
Infants and language acquisition
Ravenscroft points out that language acquisition, in particular, is an area where children often have a significant advantage over adults. This is largely due to “children’s ability to tune in to the rhythms and sounds used in their native language and thus become proficient and fluent speakers by the age of four”. This ability can help young children learn a second or third language with remarkable ease.
And inside Research paper Published in the journal Perspectives in Psychological Science in April 2022, the authors note, “Older children and adults are born seeing and hearing missing language information, and increasingly they lose this ability.”
Additionally, children can distinguish speech sounds and tones used in all languages of the world and are open to all input, regardless of the language environment in which they were born.
Time is an important variable in the language acquisition process. From birth to adulthood, studies have found that children can learn language quickly and efficiently because of neuroplasticity and cognitive flexibility, or the ability to switch quickly mentally between two different concepts or ideas, as well as the ability to think clearly about multiple ideas. at the same time.
Importance of daily experiences for the newborn
Scientific research shows that the quality of a child’s experiences in the first few years of life, whether positive or negative, helps shape their brain’s development, although genes play an important role. These experiences permanently affect their health and their ability to learn and succeed in school and life.
Therefore, although children have the ability to learn quickly, they will find challenges if they are not well supported by caring and empathetic adults who shape their environment and experiences. Knowing that the best time to learn is “early on.”
Reading provides a wonderful and shared bonding experience for a child, as well as a love of language and ensures connections are made in the early brain.
It is important to talk, sing, read and play with babies from the day they are born, to give them opportunities to explore their physical world and to provide them with a safe, stable and nurturing environment.
Children who experience lots of positive interactions tend to be healthier and more successful in school and life. The reverse is true, young children who lack the necessary communication and care do not develop many brain connections, which has a negative and lasting effect.
Poverty, exposure to domestic violence and lack of access to quality early learning experiences are factors that negatively impact a child’s early development and thus their long-term success.
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