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Brain Growth and Development

A peek at the early stages of brain development and how early childhood education encourages brain growth, memory and language development in babies and young preschool children.

At birth, a baby’s brain already has 100,000,000,000 cells.  This is about the same number of stars in the Milky Way.  Unlike the rest of a new baby’s body, the brain is not complete at birth.  In order to start working, the cells need to communicate with each other.  As a baby starts to experience life, connections are made between cells – the more connections there are, the more the brain can do.

A baby’s brain develops so fast that by age two a child who is developing normally has the same number of connections as an adult.  By age three, a child has TWICE as many brain connections as an adult.

Early milestones in brain growth:

4 months: The infant’s brain responds to every sound produced in all the languages of the world.

8 to 9 months: Babies can form specific memories from their experiences, such as how to push a ball to make it roll.

10 months: Babies can now distinguish and even produce the sounds of their own language (such as “da-da”) and no longer pay attention to the sounds of language that are foreign.

12 months: Babies whose parents say, for example, “Lookeee at the doggiee,” will go to the appropriate picture of a dog in a picture book more often than those babies who are talked to in normal, flatter voices.

12 to 18 months: Babies can keep in memory something that has been hidden and find it again, even if it has been completely covered up.  They can also hold memory sequences of simple activities, such as winding up a Jack-in-the-box until the figure pops up.

24 months: Preschool children now have clear pictures in mind of people who are dear to them, and they get upset when separated from these people (even their peers).

30 months:  Preschool children can hold in mind a whole sequence of spatial maps and know where things are in their environment.

36 months:  A preschool child can now hold two different emotions in their minds at the same time, such as being sad that they spilled ice cream on their clothes but glad that there are at a birthday party.

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