Brains are Built
Did you know we are born with almost all of the brain cells we need throughout our lives? Our brains do not grow much in size but they do develop, and this development is very rapid in the short time from conception to five years old. Brains continue to develop until early adulthood.
During the early years of a child’s life, their brains make about 700 new neural connections every second – billions by the time they are three years old! Our brains are built by what we are born with (our genes) and what we experience in life (our environment). These two elements interact, and the experiences we have in our earliest years of life affect the structure of the brain as each new skill builds on the ones that came before.
The structure of the brain will be strong if our early experiences are stimulating and positive, or it can be fragile if they are not. Brains are built in stages with more complex structure being built upon simpler ones. Just as with a house you need strong foundations to support the walls and roof, a brain needs a sturdy base to support all future learning.
Building better brains is possible by having positive nurturing interactions with your young children. Brains are built by an interactive process called “serve and return”. This is a relationship between children and their parents or caregivers. Serve and return is like an imaginary tennis match between a parent/caregiver and their child. Instead of hitting a ball back and forth communications are shared between the two. A child may “serve” with a smile, gurgle or speak to the caregiver, a good caregiver will response by “returning” and joining in with the conversation, a laugh, playing peek a boo, or sharing a toy etc.
These interactions throughout a child’s earliest years are the building blocks upon which their brains are built and the quality of these interactions determines how strong their brains are built.
Learn more about building better brains by watching this video: