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Brains Are Built Not Born | The Importance of Early Childhood Learning & Development

Did you know 90% of a child’s brain develops by age 5? 

Decades of neuroscience and behavioural research have helped illustrate why the first five years of our life are critical in the development of our brain. 

Here at Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres, we recognise the importance of early childhood education, and how relationships, experiences and the environment all impact children’s brain development during those crucial first few years. 

Let’s take a look into children’s brain development – why it matters, how the brain evolves during childhood and the importance of early childhood learning centres like ours in supporting the process. 

The Importance Of Brain Development In Early Childhood 

Most children in Australia enter school aged 4 or 5, giving them anywhere from 1,500 to 2000 days from birth before they start Kindergarten. That’s a copious amount of time for learning long before their very first day in school! 

While the brain cells are formed before birth, the connections and wiring that forms the architecture happens during infancy and early childhood. And how that wiring is created, either as a strong or weak foundation, depends on a child’s interaction with the world around them. 

During these first years, brain development will form a basis for all future learning and development to follow. Children need the correct level of stimulation to work from to kick-start the learning process, with everyday experiences shaping their brains. 

Importantly, brain development in early childhood is critical towards securing a happy, healthy future. 

What Happens To Brain Development In Early Years?  

To understand neurological and brain development in early years, we must appreciate precisely how the brain operates. 

Scientists have long since discovered that each human experience forms a neural connection in the brain. Every connection or ‘communication’ forms a synapse, of which scientists estimate over 1 million synapses per second. That’s trillions in just an hour. Imagine how many synapses occur before a child turns 5! 

These synapses form a network, which then influences everything from that point onwards, whether it’s a child’s intellectual capacity, problem-solving ability, or understanding of language. 

The brain develops during the first twelve months as follows: 

  • The sensory synapses that form vision and hearing peak in just 4 months 
  • Neural connections for language peak at around 9 months 
  • Higher cognitive function emerges at around 1 year 

The brain’s capacity is at its most flexible early in life to accommodate a wide range of environments and interactions. The ability to change then decreases as we age. 

Did you know that by the first year, the parts of the brain that differentiate sound are becoming specialised to the language to which a baby is exposed? At the same time, the brain is already starting to lose the ability to recognise different sounds found in other languages. 

We did say already how fascinating a topic this is! 

Experiences Build Brain Architecture 

The brain relies on experiences. Those which occur during our early years are built into our bodies and brains – for better or worse – with lifelong consequences for learning behaviour and health. 

A child’s experiences during the early years have a lasting impact on the architecture of the brain. Genes provide the basic blueprint, but experiences shape the process that determines whether a child’s brain will give a strong or weak foundation for all future learning behaviour and health.  

Through this process, neurons form strong circuits and connections for emotions, motor skills, behavioural control, logic, language and memory. With repeated use, these circuits become more efficient and connect to other brain areas more rapidly. While they originated in one area, the circuits are interconnected. You can’t have one type of skill without the others to support it. It’s a bit like building a house, where everything is connected and only possible based on the original foundations.  

‘Serve And Return Interactions Shape Brain Circuitry 

The interactive influences of genes and experience shape the developing brain. Harvard University research shows a major ingredient in the brain’s developmental process is the relationship between children and their parents and other caregivers in their family or community. 

Families often ask us what sort of learning takes place in the younger years before children can talk. The answer is interactions. Young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling, facial expressions, and gestures, and adults respond with the same kind of vocalising and gesturing back at them. The brain’s architecture relies on this ‘serve and return’ process to form strong trusting relationships and learn positive behaviours. 

How An Early Learning Centre Supports Brain Development? 

As we can see from the information presented, children need collective experiences to learn and develop their brains into a strong foundation, setting them up for a happy and healthy life.  

One way to ensure young children have those experiences is to enrol them in an early learning centre with an education program that provides learning opportunities, interaction with others, and nurture in a safe environment that supports healthy outcomes. 

At Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres, we make ourselves aware of children’s needs and interests and ask how we can extend on these observations. By doing so, we implement experiences that foster the domains of development and challenge and encourage problem-solving, trial, error, and inquiry, which are all key skills of the brain. 

For example, a child may express an interest in the life cycle of a chicken. Our Educator will create a question to explore the observed interest led by the child. By implementing resources into the learning environment, the child can explore the topic at hand, accessing different developmental areas – language, emotion and visuals – and how the child uses these domains in their experiences will depend on their age and stage of development. From these encounters, more questions may arise to encourage the child to challenge their knowledge and thinking. 

WE NO LONGER DO EDUCATION FOR LIFE PROGRAM – HOWEVER ARE IN THE MIDST OF UPDATING THIS PAGE WITH THE RELEVANT INFORMATION ABOUT OUR CURRICULUM AND PRACTISE.  

Learn more about our Kids Club ‘Education for Life’ program

Conclusion 

Health in the early years lays the groundwork for a lifetime of vitality. The early years are defining, early learning experiences that begin at birth and continue through school can make all the difference. 

Early childhood education plays a major role in children’s brain development. Those who participate in a high-quality early childhood learning program in a safe, healthy and child-friendly environment with nutritional meals included have better adult health. 

A balanced approach to emotional, social, cognitive, and language development will best prepare children for success in school and later in the workplace and community.  

Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres provide consistent and child-led learning experiences which encourage children to extend upon their emotional and social capacities through small group teaching experiences, play-based programs and self-help skills. 

We strive to provide high-quality learning reflected in our child-led learning approach and educational curriculum. 

If you would like to know more about how our early learning centres support brain development in early years, arrange a visit and chat with our team! 

Contact us

If you want to learn more, call Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres or book a tour now of your closest Kids Club Early Learning Centre, click here to view your closest Centre.

As the leading provider of early childhood care in Australia we always put your child first. We are committed to 7 National Quality Standards. 

Reference:

Harvard University
https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/brain-architecture/