"I have a brain teaser for you! Why is it that we have more knowledge than ever before about what is best for a child's brain development .... and yet these are not the experiences of so many young children?
“85% of the brain physically develops in the first 5 years of life. This development primarily is dependent on healthy and positive experiences to create optimal brain function, overall success, well being and happiness in life.”
Advances in science continually provide new research to demonstrate what growing brains need most. This information is very exciting and extremely valuable. Previous to technical advances, scientists were not able to study active brains. Early brain development was based on behavioral studies and theories. This scientific evidence has been available for over 25 years and should be making a remarkable difference for all children. However, this is not yet the case. It is still a minority of adults that are aware of the basics of early brain development and the extraordinary opportunity we have.
Additionally, economists are working to create this awareness. There are numerous reports that demonstrate how a focus on early brain development is exceedingly cost beneficial. The EconomicBenefits of Investing in Early Learning clearly explains these benefits. Developing a healthy brain during the early years and preventing problems makes much more sense than paying for the consequences later.
“…the experiences of infancy and early childhood literally provide the organizing framework for the expression of children’s intelligence, emotions, and personalities. When those experiences are primarily negative, children may develop emotional, behavioral, and learning problems that persist throughout their lifetime, especially in the absence of targeted interventions. … Children do not just ‘get over it’.” As they attempt to cope, as their brains adapt to the negative environments, their true emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and social potential may be diminished.”
~ (Perry, Pollard, Blakely, Baker & Vigilante, 1995; as cited in Child Welfare InformationGateway (2001) Understanding the effects of maltreatment on early brain development, p.3)
Another point that makes all of this extremely perplexing is that we have easy access to more information than ever before. Through the internet, and social networking there is an abundant amount of professionals, organizations, businesses, initiatives, and programs sharing information on all that research demonstrates is best for young children. This is provided through journals, websites, blogs, webinars, e-books, etc. There is no end to a wealth of knowledge and support for everyone that cares about young children.
So …How can we get EVERYONE to understand the importance and the impact of the early years? We know what children need most for optimal development, but too frequently children are experiencing just the opposite. Too many children are not getting the healthy foods they need for their brain to function, are pushed toward academics too early, are living in harsh or chaotic environments and/or over scheduled lives, have little exposure to nature, lack physical activity opportunities, babies spend great amounts of time in carriers and experience less touch, and toddlers are spending time with screens instead of playing with real objects and learning in the way the brain develops best.
The wonderful news is that there are numerous and dedicated individuals, organizations and agencies working and sharing to create the critical understanding that children need safe, predictable, nurturing relationships, healthy environments and nutrition. They also promote, how children need opportunities to play, move, experience nature and learn through exploring. I am extremely anxious for this to be common knowledge... but even more importantly... common practice!!
We can no longer simply wait for the critical understanding of early brain development to become common knowledge…. We need to MAKE it happen NOW!!
All of us who care about children are coming together to create, a world of difference! We simply need to continue to share information in a variety of ways until early brain development becomes common knowledge and implemented for ALL children!
“If we truly want to create a world of difference for children, it will happen through a common vision, shared knowledge, and dedicated hearts coming together with an intense desire to make change actually happen!”
When we all participate, it can happen! … And it is extremely easy. You can choose in what way sharing works best for you, your life, and your interests!
The children are counting on us! You will be a part of making this incredibly needed difference for the children in your own life and for children everywhere!
THE CHILDREN THANK YOU!!!
“The world will be a far better place when every adult realizes the opportunity we have within each child, honors the brilliance each individual child brings and respects the knowledge children so want understood, and then prioritizes infancy and early childhood as the time to make the most positive impact."