Prime time for learning occur throughout the early years of a child’s life. Brain development occurs in “waves” with new areas of the brain responding to stimulation and experience at different times. Neurobiologists now know that windows of learning occur for emotional, visual, and motor development during the first two years.
Stimulating the emotional development of the brain comes easy for most parents. Warm, responsive, intimate relationships with primary caregivers create “construction sites” in the developing brain that buzz with activity and create synaptic connections at an amazing rate. Snuggling, holding, and loving your toddler all help develop his or her brain.
5 Ways to Stimulate your infant and toddler’s developing brain visually, motorically, and musically:
1. Learn the finger plays and songs at Mommy and Me and teach your child your favorites from home. Shared, repeated musical and rhythmic experiences are great brain “food.” (Phonological awareness)
2. Offer things to each of your child’s hands– not only the right or the left one. This motor movement enhances connection between areas of the brain and increases coordination. It also stimulates brain connections for both sides of the brain.
3. March, hop, crawl, slink, creep, strut, or wiggle to get from here to there. It will be more fun and will send all kinds of stimulation messages to the developing brain.
4. Read stories to your child, visually tracking the words and pointing out the pictures. Both stimulate visual acuity and increase perception skills. Our favorite rhyming books are “Good Night Moon” and “Brown Bear.”
5. Give your child choices. Emotional health for toddlers comes from positive experiences with control and autonomy. Let them have it!
Windows of learning come and go- a part of the natural cycle of growing and developing. Don’t miss the opportunity to create connections and enjoy quality interactions with your child while the windows of learning are present.