Parents and teachers are often being bombarded with many different interpretations on brain development studies.
Recent media is full of news about the importance of early stimulations to get children to have a good head start in in life. Many entrepreneurs also have jumped on to this wagon offering various gadgets or educational systems to churn babies into the smartest ones yet.
How then do we decide which is important for healthy brain development?
Understanding Brain Development
“Our brains shape and reshape themselves in ways that depend on what we use them for throughout our lives.” Lally, R. J. (2007).
The amazing human brain is part of the central nervous system. This complex organ plays the role in controlling many bodily functions, including voluntary (walking or speaking) and involuntary activities (breathing or blinking).
The basic brain structure is built through an on-going process that begins within a week of conception and continues into adulthood.
The Brain Architecture
Different parts of the brain control different kinds of functions.
As it develops, the quality of brain architecture establishes a sturdy or weak foundation for learning and behaviour. Research studies have proven that the processes that govern brain development are shaped by experiences.
How Experiential Learning Benefits Brain Development
Naturally, we want our children to excel in life. To do so, we need to provide them with many positive social and learning opportunities. The synapses will associate with these experiences and become permanent.
Educators need to be mindful when providing cognitively challenging activities for the children. These activities have to empower the children by allowing them to lead the discussion or project, and to share their views. Scientifically speaking, this simulation triggers the neurons to release chemical messages which establish new synapses. Moreover, they form stronger connections within an existing network.
As such, the early years (0 – 3 years old) are a time when a great amount of connections need to continually be made.
- A Feast for the Senses
In the early years, sensorial activities such as dough play and water play are important since stimulation is vital during growth spurts.
Since experiences excites neural circuits, developmentally appropriate challenging experiences will shape the children’s brain circuitry. For example, constructing a 3D sculpture with open-ended, loose materials such as:
- buttons and rings
- different types of paper
After all, the more stimulating the experiences, the more circuitry is built for enhanced learning in the future.
- Revisit learning experiences
Based on the brain operating on the “use it or lose it” rule, it is important for children to revisit previous topics and to practice their newly acquired skills in order to work towards mastery.
- Spruce up the learning environment
Striking colours and cluttered walls can be overwhelming and over stimulating, making the space a source of irritation and confusion for young children.
As such, a visually stimulating environment can enhance curiosity, attentiveness and concentration. Create a conducive space using pastel colour tones, with natural light and minimal wall charts.
- Avoid under and over stimulation
Although being active is the key to enhance development, ensure that the children have time to reflect and relax. Having too many choices for activities can overwhelm the children, and discourage them from exploring.
Similarly, restricting their movements or confining them in a space with limited opportunities hinders their curiosity to explore their surroundings.
All in all, these findings all prove one thing – happy children are also learning children.
The Kiddiwinkie Difference
Hear more from Ms Nancy Lee-Wong about the benefits of experiential play in our parenting seminar, exclusively at our Cactus campus. Register here
Learn more about Kiddiwinkie’s inquiry-based approach and find out how our students play an active role in their learning. Schedule a school tour with us today!