At birth, all of your baby’s organs—the heart, lungs, kidneys— are fully developed, but just smaller than an adult’s organs.
All except one …… your baby’s brain.
When your child uses one of his / her senses…
…a connection or path is made in the brain.
In the first year of life, your baby’s brain will be more active than at any other time of life, as billions of neurons fire and fuse connections for learning. The more sensory experiences you provide your baby, the more connections are made. When you light that one little candle on your baby’s first birthday cake, he/she will have already learned 50% of all lifelong learning!
Throughout childhood, when sensory-rich experiences are repeated over and over again, the connections in the brain become stronger. These connections shape the way your child thinks, feels, behaves, and learns.
The Big Picture About Brains
It takes about twenty-five years for your child’s brain to fully grow and develop. Scientists tell us that there are times when certain parts of the brain can learn new information more easily than at other times. These windows of opportunity open and then close during the first few years of life. Other windows may remain open longer, but learning is easier at certain times. Scientists call these SENSITIVE or CRITICAL periods.
For example, the first five years are the prime time for learning language. This does not mean that children will learn all there is to know about language by age five, but the brain absorbs language more readily during this Critical Period. Some things are just easier to learn at certain times than at others.
Human development progresses through fairly predictable stages, one stage building upon the successful completion of the prior stage. When a child’s natural development is interrupted or compromised, the following stages will also be compromised.
The following pages provide research-based outlines of various areas of development. Remember, that each child is unique in his/her acquisition of skills, so trust your child’s readiness for moving through these stages. If you notice your child lags in developing age-appropriate skills, discuss your concerns with your pediatrician or other trusted health professional.