From peek-a-boo to story-time These all help build the brains of growing children.
Parents, caregivers and other important people in the child’s life are doing this together every day.
People like nursery staff, health-visitors, grandparents and family friends.
Everyone can provide the materials children need for a strong brain. Just like building a house, building a brain, is an active process that starts in our earliest years from the ground up.
This lays the foundations for future learning and growth.
Our earliest years of life are a time of incredible opportunity to build strong brain foundations.
During our early years, a child’s brain circuits are particularly sensitive, and seemingly small actions
can make a big difference.
From our earliest months of life to around three years old, children’s brains go through a period of intense growth.
During this period, there’s a peak in the development of what we call synapses, the connections in the brain.
Over time, connections used more often are strengthened, and those that are used less are pruned away.
So, only those most suited to children’s environment and experiences remain, providing the foundations for future
relationships, learning and health.
Later, experiences in adolescence build on this foundation by connecting areas of the brain that handle more complex skills like making and keeping friendships,
and these areas continue to develop as we learn and grow.
Brain-building starts in our earliest years and continues throughout our lives, so if we don’t have the experiences we need when we’re very young, or worse, experience abuse, neglect or other stressful events like losing our home, this could weaken our brain’s foundation.
Without a strong foundation or people around to support us, we’re more likely to experience difficulties later on, and this can affect our physical and mental health.
It’s never too late to support strong brain development.
Having negative experiences early on doesn’t set a child on a fixed path. There are always opportunities that we can all take up to strengthen a child’s brain, things like
positive experiences and interaction and most importantly, through supportive relationships.
It is harder to strengthen our brain architecture as we get older or if we start with a shaky foundation, but brain-building continues throughout or lives, so there’s always something you can do.
It’s never too early or too late to start building strong brains, and by making sure that all children have the experiences they need to build strong brains and support when they experience periods of stress, we can help every child to thrive.