Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Our Littlest Learners

According to neuroscientists, the human brain contains about 86 billion neurons. Most of these are produced during pregnancy, when the brain creates close to 250,000 brain cells every minute! Many others develop during the first year of life, when so much critical growth takes place. It goes without saying that a newborn baby arrives with a pretty impressive toolbox to begin his or her job of learning!

We are wired to care for and nurture our babies, but sometimes it requires more awareness and training to become sensitive to our children’s cues about stimulation and learning. They tend to explore, naturally and voraciously, almost from the time they’re born, seeking out the proper stimulation that will provide them with what they want and need to know. They may be restricted at first to visual exploration, but quickly move on to more tactile and auditory experiences to feed that natural desire to learn all they can about their environment.

When considering how to approach this amazing journey with your baby, just remember that simple things are best. There’s no real need for fancy toys or programs. You are your baby’s favorite plaything! Your voice is the one they long to hear because it reminds them of the familiar sounds they heard in the womb. Reading exposes them to more unusual words than they will encounter through conversation (one-sided as it may be for a while). Singing soothes them and helps to create a safe space in which to soak up the world. Repetition of words, phrases, melodies, and actions is critical to learning; it is essential for imprinting information and strengthening neural connections. Almost anything you do with your baby is fuel for growth. They know they’ve got a job to do, and you are their first, and best, teacher.

Guest post by Bridget W. 

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