“What do we think of when we think of education?
The schools. Why don’t we instruct parents scientifically about how to educate their children? The earlier we start stimulating the brain the better. Why don’t we motivate and instruct parents, grandparents and others around the child? Can we conceive of any programme more important?” -Dr Luis Machado, Minister for the Development of Human Intelligence in Venezuela
2 Sensory Pathways
To create the learning pathways vital to your child’s future, he/she will need a rich diet of sensory experiences.
It is through these sensory experiences only you can provide that brain growth is stimulated and neurons (brain cells) establish more links with each other.
The alternative is that many cells die because they do not receive the stimulus for growth.
There exists a window of opportunity when your child is ready to develop in specific areas. It is at these crucial times that sensory stimulation provided by the experiences you give will have the greatest impact on his/her development. The windows of opportunity for sight and motor skills close early in life. They are opportunities that should not be missed because they will not come again.
Being a parent can seem a daunting proposition especially when ‘well-meaning’ friends and family tell you “it doesn’t get any easier.” A lot of what you do instinctively will help your baby grow and develop and our children still develop regardless of our input, be it negative or positive. Obviously we would want our influence to be a positive one.
Most of us when given a baby to hold for the first time will ‘rock’ back and fro. This instinctive act on our part actually helps the baby’s brain grow. It stimulates what is known as the vestibular system.
Give your baby regular periodic vestibular stimulation like rocking and he/she will gain weight faster, develop vision and hearing earlier and develop distinct sleep cycles at a younger age.
Would you like me to repeat that last sentence!
When you consider we only use about 4% of our brains the more we can help our children at this crucial period the greater the future implications for learning and life.
If your child appears unable to hear you properly it is probable he/she will develop speech problems. If the problem is not identified early on it is likely he/she will not be able to speak properly. This needn’t happen if he/she receives regular hearing tests.
One of the most common conditions is known as ‘glue ear’ and if it is not treated can lead to a dramatic loss of hearing with accompanying learning difficulties. If a child can speak fluently they will eventually write fluently. The ability to speak fluently is therefore one of the most important gifts you can give to a child. If you spoke three languages in your house your infant would learn to speak them all. How long would it take us?
The ability to speak fluently is absolutely crucial to your child’s future success.
Start talking to your baby from birth. Although he/she won’t be able to answer he/she will be able to hear. The more speech he/she hears the better able he/she will be able to reproduce it later.
When you talk to your baby look into his/her eyes. You may then find yourself ‘taking turns’ with baby – she waves her arms, you talk; he waves his arms to get you to talk more and so on. Once baby is taking turns to ‘talk’ turn it into a game. When baby makes a sound imitate it in a singing voice and make more entertaining movements for the baby – shake your head, throw your arms up, your baby will make more sounds to keep you play acting to amuse him/her
We are looking specifically at how your child develops in his/her first crucial months.
This is the time when you will assume the responsibility for your child’s development. We shall look at distinct periods of growth:
Birth to 1 ½ months
1 ½ to 3 ½ months
3 ½ to 5 ½ months
These represent windows of opportunity for:
Social & Emotional Development
In other articles we shall also examine:
The distinct characteristics of your baby during a specific period of growth;
What you can do to assist that development.
Why the most important time of a child’s development is before they start school.
So whether you intend to home-school your child or not you are your child’s first and most important teacher.
Before retirement Phil Rowlands was a primary school headteacher in the UK for 27 years. He has a deep interest in brain-based-research particularly with regard to how it impacts on children’s learning and is the author of several learning programs including the multi-sensory early years math program, “Ensure Your Child Succeeds At Math”