Recently, I did a talk for parents on ‘Movement and Brain Building’ where we discussed how movement has a profound effect on not only motor skills but also vision, hearing, emotional regulation, attention, learning and academic skills.
This article is about the benefits of early education and teaching babies. Do think about ‘learning’ as being both physical and cognitive skills development.
Two major points were:
- From five months of gestation (i.e. when the fetus is five months old in the womb!) to five years of age, the brain is highly plastic and adaptable. As a result, teaching a child during this time presents a ‘unique window of opportunity for learning.’ This is a critical time for the baby’s brain to develop and set the neurological foundation for future physical and cognitive development. I find it particularly amazing that babies are already learning before they are born!
The brain at birth weights 25% of an adult’s brains weight.
The brain at 1 year weights 50% of an adult’s brains weight
The brain at 2 years weights 75% of an adult’s brains weight
The brain at 3 years weighs 90% of an adult’s brains weight
As a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, this is a crucial time in which to treat infants who are at risk of or have a developmental delay, or with delayed milestones or a medical diagnosis. The earlier we start therapy intervention, the more significant and longer-lasting benefits noted. It’s NEVER TOO EARLY!
If we wait till school years, it is not too late, however we miss out on the unique opportunity to enhance baby brain development, and create strong neuronal maps and foundations.
2) Four essential ingredients in teaching babies are:
AFFECTION – Happier the child, more likely they are to learn
NUTRITION – A baby’s brain is sensitive to the quality and quantity of nutrients it consumes
REPETITION – Children master skills by repeating them over and over again. This helps develop and strengthen correct neural maps and pathways in the brain
STIMULATION – Teach children through all their senses (touch, vision, hearing, movement, body sense, smell, and taste), however consider that ‘too much’ can be overwhelming
These are also critical ingredients for treatment sessions with babies. We aim for sessions to be fun and motivating for both parent and baby. 🙂 Repetition and stimulation are also used to help develop good neural pathways and foundations for movement and learning.