Why are some children able to thrive and make their dreams come true, while others aren’t? Is it up to fate? Or does it have to do with genetics, IQ, upbringing, socioeconomic background, or education?
What scientists have discovered is that what happens in the first few years of life, particularly before formal schooling begins, is what lays the foundation for success in the future. What children experience even in the preverbal state, can either increase or negatively affect their chances of reaching their full potential.
Decades of scientific advances and technology have finally paid off because now researchers have finally begun to understand how the baby’s brain develops. In essence, we are our brains. So no matter what activity we might be engaged in, it’s our brain in action.
During our early years, the brain is optimized for learning. Every time we learn or experience something new, connections are formed. Those that are not used repeatedly are lost. That’s why the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is true.
Children are learning machines that are born ready to be programmed for anything: language, culture, idiosyncrasies, beliefs, you name it.
What a child experiences, particularly during the first three years of life, directly affects the way the brain gets built. What they are exposed to and how they are treated will influence the quality of life as adults. Every baby, regardless of where he or she comes from, comes ready to learn, and it’s up to parents and caretakers to build that brain.
Researchers, scientists, and educators have defined a set of four experiences that boost brain capacity and help children to be better prepared for school and for life:
A nurturing and responsive caregiver, rich language, play that promotes learning and good nutrition.
Introducing a healthy dose of these experiences from birth is at the core of the Early Childhood Development movement. Governments are realizing that if you really care about education, then you have to care about what happens before a child starts going to school.
Science has shown that “serve and return interaction” is crucial for brain development. A baby does not distinguish between a blood relative and another individual, he or she simply needs a response when a request for interaction is placed.
Children learn from whatever they’re exposed to. We need to be what we expect them to become.