Your child's brain contains over 100 billion neurons at birth. Think of neurons as call centers that carry messages to and from the brain via the complex and complicated nervous system. Synapses, which are the connections made from one brain cell to another, occur by the trillions even before your child is born! Research states that at birth, 2 500 synapses per neuron are made. That's like 2,500,000,000,000 or 2.5
with 11 zeros transmissions. That number only keeps growing through childhood. By age 2 or 3 the number
of synapses per neuron is 15,000! Here's the fascinating piece. Our brain eliminates the connections that are not used. They are thrown away in favour of efficiency, which is all part of brain development. But, here is the exciting part. According to a study by the authors of From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development, we can decrease the number of tossed connections through stimulation, exposure and interaction. We can actually increase the number of synapses, and influence them to grow and become stronger. Stronger synapses become permanent. During early childhood we have the capability to "wire" the brain. We can build a strong foundation or a weak one.
As educators this knowledge needs to be transferred into the classroom. What a responsibility! We have the opportunity to wire your child's brain for future success and learning through stimulation, exposure and interaction. Exposure to language through teaching, story-telling, conversation, reading, and rhymes. Exposure to numbers and counting, plus other early math skills. Exposure to science concepts through experimentation and hands-on learning. Fostering and developing creativity through the arts. Singing and dancing in music. Building social skills, learning respect and tolerance, understanding emotions. All of these strong, supportive and loving interactions cause synapses to grow and connections to become stronger. Without these learning opportunities the brain makes few connections.
Teachers need to understand and acknowledge that we play a very important role in your child's wiring. The goal is to keep those synapses growing and to continue to develop strong connections. Through this, we see a child that grows to become curious, empathetic, intelligent, and emotionally healthy!
Interested in giving your child the advantage of having personal attention in a small class? Give us a call.
(Shonkoff. J.P., & Phillips, D.A. (Eds.) (2000). From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development National Academies' Press.
Shore, R. (1997). Rethinking the Brain: New Insights into Early Development. New Yorrk NY: Familes and Work Institute, pp. 16-17