Early Literacy-Infant Brain Development

Infant Brain Development

Hi everyone, I hope you're all out enjoying this beautiful day here in Rochester!  We have the windows open in the youth office at the Rochester Hills Public Library, and we're enjoying the nice breeze and abundant sunshine!  

I'm Wendy, the Early Childhood Specialist here at the library, I deal in all things early literacy and specialize in the 0-5 yrs crowd.  I'm going to start off my blog with some information on brain development and then move on to early literacy from there, feel free to comment with any questions or topics you'd like me to cover concerning early childhood development and/or early literacy.  I will also try to highlight some of the fun happenings at the library for our tiniest patrons!

Bottle or breast?  Stay at home, daycare, or nanny?  Cloth or disposable?  Pacifier or no pacifier?  Co-sleep or sleep in his own room?  Potty train now or wait until she shows interest?  Flash cards or free play?  Academic based, played based, Montessori, Waldorf, public, private, or homeschool?  New parents are faced with so many choices, not to mention well-meaning "advice" from friends, family, and strangers about raising a child that it can seem like quite a daunting task in today's world!  Many parents spend hours worrying about these decisions...

I'd like to take some of that weight off of your shoulders and let you know that you are already (probably unknowingly) preparing your young child to be successful!  

Infants are born learning and what they learn is up to the adults in their life.  You are your child’s teacher from the day they are born, you know your child better than anyone and are in the best position to help your child develop and succeed!  The brain is most flexible, or “plastic”, early in life, every child is born with 100 billion neurons (brain cells), mostly unconnected.  The connections between neurons, called synapses, are created by the sensory experiences children have-hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting stimulate the growth of these connections.  These first few years are a window for fast brain growth-this is the time for you to seize the opportunity and offer many new sensory experiences.

In addition, it is critical to the development of the brain that your child has sufficient attention, someone to bond with and constant communication.  Maximizing your child's brain development is as easy as ABC:

A. Attention-the ability to pay attention comes online during the second half of the first year, infants learn to pay attention by being paid attention to, you need to pay attention to your child’s needs and offer experiences that allow your child to build their ability to pay attention

B. Bonding-the single most important thing you can give your child is the opportunity to bond with at least one consistent and predictable caregiver, your child needs to form a close attachment between themselves and the caregiver

C. Communication-talking with and reading to your child is the most productive, inexpensive and easiest thing you can do to improve a their future cognitive skills and abilities (the number of words a child hears in their first year has a direct effect on how the brain is wired, the more words a child hears the higher their later testable IQ will be).

The best (and easiest) way to capture all of these things is to spend some time each day reading with your child.  Books offer a total sensory experience for young children-hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and even tasting the book!  Reading also helps build your child's attention span, form loving bonds between you and your child, and gives you both a chance to communicate.  

I hope some of you are feeling relieved to find out that maximizing your child's brain development is as easy as offering many differing experiences while loving, caring for, and talking to him/her!

Next up: The Five Practices of Early Literacy

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cheryl Junker May 02, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Thanks for sharing! Brings back so many memories of laying on your softbean bag chairs in the Midfle school section reading everything from Nate The Great to Cam Janson with my preschooler. We called those our 'mommy days' and my daughter and I would lay and read for hours! I am so thankful to have such a wonderful library and staff! You guys are so special! Thank you!
Wendy May 06, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Thank you for your kind words Cheryl! We're lucky to serve such a wonderful community here in Rochester, makes our jobs that much more enjoyable!


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