So, I have mentioned it before and I will no doubt mention it again but I am just so truly fascinated by neuroscience and young children’s developing brains and how our experiences in the earliest years have the enormous potential to shape our future. I have always been interested in looking at it from a child development perspective and how I could best nurture this growth as an Educator, however, becoming a parent has added another layer to this interest.
Since having Evie and especially as she continues to grow older and starts to find her place in the world, I have become more and more interested in how to best respond to her big emotions in a way that shows understanding about what is also happening in that amazing brain of hers during this time. And of course, knowing how much of what I do with her now shapes her future, I want to continue to expand my knowledge about just how important her everyday life experiences and interactions are.
I would get a lot of questions from parents about what they could be doing at home with their children in terms of preparing for school. I believe as a society, we have this notion of childhood being a time to ‘prepare’ rather than a time to just ‘be.’ I also believe that we over-complicate things and think that every spare second needs to be filled with some elaborately planned experience (see my blog on ‘Why your Kids Need to be Bored’ for more info around this here). I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t and that you may be surprised with just how powerful the everyday things you do with your children really are.
5 powerful things to do with your little love to enhance brain development and create a positive future:
Possibly the most important thing for your child, even as a fresh, squidgy newborn (obviously apart from nourishment and cleanliness) is building safe, trusting and reciprocal relationships with them. I go into more detail about the importance of this in my blog here.
Responding calmly and timely to your babies (and young children’s) cues and ‘demands’ is not spoiling your child or ‘making a rod for your own back.’ It is in fact doing quite the opposite. It is building trust, security and confidence in your little one and letting them know that the world, albeit new and unfamiliar, is a safe place for them to explore, learn and take risks.
So basically, be that one person who is absolutely crazy about that child and would go above and beyond to meet their needs. Having just ONE of these people in their life makes a huge impact.
If you have followed along for a while now you probably have caught on that PLAY is a popular theme for us and I am so happy to have this platform to advocate for play and share my knowledge around its importance. Want more detailed information? Have a read of my blog ‘How to Motivate your Kids to Learn’ here.
“Research has shown that self-directed and open-ended play can be specifically linked to better language and problem-solving abilities, expanded creative endeavour, better social skills, enhanced memory capacities and less stress in children” (Nagel, M, 2012). WOW! Need I say more!?
- Everyday life experiences
Lets be honest, most of us, if not all of us, have been persuaded by the clever advertising of the toy companies convincing us that our child simply must have this amazing light, sound, moving, singing, talking toy to enhance their development and that there is nothing else quite like it.
Sometimes it is so easy to forget the power of the simple, everyday experiences that we provide our children and their impact. So lets strip it right back. Walking outside bare foot, climbing a tree, playing with the hose, cutting sandwiches or play dough into shapes, naming the colours of the things we can see outside, baking, listening to your child, having meaningful conversations with them and involving them in your everyday rhythm is so, so beneficial for your little loves and their overall development.
- Physical activity
Did you know that it is well researched and documented that exercise and physical activity is not only beneficial for our kids physically but is also super important for healthy brain development? There have been links between physical activity and exercise and overall improvement with mathematical skills, attention span, self-control and some aspects of memory.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to get our younger babes outside and literally running everywhere! Next time you see your child jumping off the chair, asking you to see how fast they can run for the millionth time or just being super energetic and crazy in general, you can take solace in the fact that all of this movement is doing wonders for their physical and cognitive development, plus hopefully burning some energy ready for a restful nights sleep!
One of our basic human needs is connection, love and belonging and this need is met through developing meaningful and reciprocal relationships with others. As you probably have already clued onto already, the most important relationship for our young, growing children is the parent/child relationship.
“Children learn when they actively engage with people, when they explore the world around them and when their social and emotional world is safe, secure and positive” (Nagel, M, 2012).
Children literally learn about the world by exploring it and by being an active participant. Our babies and young children learn socially acceptable behaviour, how to make friends and deal with conflict or stress from our interactions with others and the strategies we model as adults. They also learn patience and self-control by waiting for their turn on the swing at the park or while you prepare their snack as they are telling you that they will almost definitely starve if it’s not ready in the next second.
So give yourself a pat on the back Mama and remember..
Next time you feel like you’re too busy or tired or just really don’t feel like setting up an awe inspiring, Pinterest worthy activity, take comfort in the knowledge that you probably have already done some pretty amazing things for your child’s development today without even knowing it.
We all want the absolute best for our little darlings and at the end of the day we just want to make sure that they are happy and healthy and that we have done our best for them. I truly hope you found some valuable insight from this blog, especially given the current climate with so much uncertainty in the world, where we are possibly spending more time with our kids day in and day out than ever before as well as being responsible for so much more than we could have ever imagined!
Please like, comment and share to get the word out there that sometimes less truly can be best.