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Creating Connections for a Lifetime of Learning



Did you know that 90% of your child's brain develops before the age of 5? That's incredible! Many believe that a child only really starts learning when they start school but this is NOT true. In fact, the opportunities a child has to develop brain connections from birth to 5 will hugely impact how they do in school in later years.


When a child is under 5 years old, thousands of brain connections are made every second of every day - more than at any other point in their lives. Those brain connections are what help us to learn, move, communicate, read, remember, and everything else we can think of that we do every day! With that in mind, we can clearly understand that helping our child develop and make brain connections before the age of 5 is very important. But the weight of that responsibility may overwhelm you as a parent. So let's see how we can help you think creatively and be involved in your child's development with more purpose.


The absolute most important thing you can do as a parent is to be actively pursuing a healthy relationship with your child (even from the time they are in the womb - or if you adopt, from the time they first become part of your family). A baby can hear (although muffled) what is going on around them even in the womb and their experiences can begin to develop brain connections even before they are born. Amazingly when my daughter was born, the very first night in hospital, she heard her daddy's snoring and turned her head towards the sound like it was something familiar. Amazing!

A healthy relationship means you are purposeful to spend time with that person, communicate with them, show them affection, and take an interest in who they are. Babies and children are no different. And they change daily as they develop at such a quick pace. As parents, we should be engaging our children, talking to them, showing them love and caring for their needs as best we can. These are awesome ways to help their brains start to develop!




Another way you can help your child create brain connections is by providing opportunities to explore the world around them with all their senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste)! The more opportunities they engage in, the more their brain will make connections that will set them up for success later in life. This is one of the reasons a child who hears 2 different languages from birth in the home can easily be bilingual from a very early age. Here are a few activity ideas that help a child make brain connections and can be done in everyday life:

- READ. The more you read to your child from birth (or womb), the more their vocabulary and language will develop and prepare them for success in reading.

- TALK. Even if we appear strange to those around us, talking to a baby/todder and explaining what you are doing or communicating is important: "do you want some food?" "can I change your nappy?" "did you sleep well?" "I love you so much!".... You can even introduce sign language in the early years to teach your child to communicate back with you. "Baby talk" and repeating sounds your baby makes also helps a baby develop sound recognition (phonological awareness) that will help them build reading skills when they are older.

- PLAY GAMES. So many games to choose from! Peek-a-boo, rolling around the floor, blowing bubbles, rolling a ball back and forth, crawling through an obstacle course, having a dance party, throwing balls, banging on pots and pans, putting things in containers, playing Hide and Seek or dress up, etc...

- SENSORY PLAY. I honestly did not understand the importance of sensory play in developing brain connections until recently (and my children are now older than 5). Allow your child to make a mess (yes! even at meal times) - provide them with a variety of different things to explore, play with (and even taste): rice, salt, pasta, playdough, water, beans, oats, corn kernels, flour, shredded paper, sand, fingerpainting, etc. Help them explore different COLOURS, TEXTURES, SIZES, FLAVOURS, SOUNDS, SMELLS, and more!

- EXPLORE THE WORLD. Go on fun trips together to parks, friends' homes, on walks or drives, the beach, etc. Talk about what you see or hear, let them touch the grass/dirt/sand/water, pet the dog or cat, taste different food, etc. The more they are exposed to, the more they will create connections that will help them develop and learn about the world around them.


So much more could be said about what you can do to help your child's brain have a good start to development. What I want to be most clear is that these things can happen in everyday life with some purposefulness. You DON'T need to be a teacher or early childhood development expert. You just need to care and do your best with what you have to encourage exploration. You don't have to have all the latest toys or a house full of sensory play items.


Please remember these 2 very important things if nothing else: 1) It is not an accident that you are the parent of your child. Every family will look different and that is beautiful. 2) Every child develops differently and at different "speeds." Try your best to not compare your child with others but instead encourage their own unique strengths and help them where they are weak.


If you want to read more you can take a look at the following blog posts that I found helpful:



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