Boost Your Baby's Brain
One of Metro United Way’s Community Aspirations is that all children in our community arrive at kindergarten prepared to learn. And we know that during the first couple years of a child’s life, their brain is growing and learning at a rate much faster than any other time; in fact, by the time a child is only three-years-old, their brain has already reached 90% of its adult size!
It is important to make the most of this remarkable growth. Anything the child experiences, such as new tastes or sounds, can shape brain development. This makes the role of parents and caregivers critical to the child’s brain development in these early years.
There are many ways families can be engaged and positively influence the brain development of their child:
- Foster an early passion for books. Choose books with large and colorful pictures that will keep the baby’s attention. Make noises, such as mimicking animals, while reading together. Research shows that having books in the home improves students’ reading achievement, and children who have solid reading skills tend to perform better overall. Unfortunately, 32% of third graders in our community cannot read at grade level.
- Play games that involve hands, like patty-cake or peekaboo. These sequential games are great for babies. This can also be done along with songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” In this case the motions will help the child integrate sounds with movements and enhance the learning of language patterns.
- Once the little one is on the move, it is important to set up a safe environment for crawling. This will foster spatial learning and concepts like under and over.
- Perhaps most importantly, encourage children to play and explore. By doing this they will develop socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually. Supporting children in this way is the first step in preparing them for kindergarten.
One way to help is to track a child’s development and promote learning during this time by enrolling in our Ages & Stages Questionnaires program, which identifies a child’s strengths and provides activities to help them as they continue to learn. By doing simple and fun activities with children and filling out the ASQ, parents and caregivers are able to monitor their child’s early development and make sure they’re on track. The questionnaires make it easy to understand this critical time in a child’s development.
By helping our youngest children grow now, we’re preparing them to be successful in school and life!