Early Brain Development
The brain is the only incomplete body organ at birth. Within the brain are millions of nerve cells (neurons) that connect to each other by synapses ??“ the wiring of the brain. After birth, brain development consists of wiring and rewiring the connections between neurons. Early experiences, being positive or negative have an effect on the formation of synapses. The brain will lose connections that are not frequently used but retain connections that are used regularly. During early childhood the brain retains its plasticity. From early infancy to early childhood these connections are made permanent. Within the first three years we see the most rapid changes, as everything experienced is new. At this time the brain is most flexible and prepared to learn. The senses help an infant to build connections if done consistently, if not maintained these connections die. Factors that can effect brain development include:
??? Environmentally deprived facilities ??“ children will experience fewer sounds, colours, pictures, interactions.
??? Abuse/neglect ??“ children may rarely be touched or spoken to. They may have little opportunity to explore and experiment.
??? Childhood trauma ??“ the childs brain may remain stuck in their reaction to the trauma.
There are 10 things that a child needs in order to help the brain grow:
3. Stable relationships.
4. Safe, healthy environment.
5. Self esteem.
6. Quality care.
There is a four year period of potential growth, this time being from conception to around the 3rd birthday. There is a need for many experiences in order to master skills. Maria Montessori (1953) called this time the ???Absorbent Mind??™ (la mente del bambino). She concluded what most scientists are discovering today.