The brain is a fascinating organ with many different parts that work together to do the essential work of human life. Scientific research has proven that right after a child is born, the learning and mental development begins, The first three years of a child’s life is essential to brain and neural development. These years are the ideal time for receiving education before kindergarten, which is after major brain development occurs.
The early childhood brain is forming and refining a complex network of connections through synaptogenesis, pruning and myelination. These are a lot of words you may not understand, so let’s break it down in more understandable explanations:
Synaptogenesis is the process of creating synapses, or connections, between cells, called neurons. These neurons communicate by sending electrical signals. The networks between signals determine everything that happens in the brain. Synaptic Overproduction is the rapid synapse formation of the brain when forming connections are biologically driven. Childhood experiences also promote synapse formation. This happens so quickly that pruning must take place.
Pruning is a key process that shapes the brains of young children. The pruning process refines the connections happening through Synaptic Overproduction through experience. The brain actually prunes away the connections being made that are non-essential and keeps those that are stronger and more complex. Over time, the brain eliminates and then keeps what it needs. Interesting to know, an infant’s brain hears the sounds from all languages, but those that are more frequently used grow stronger. This is why most adults have trouble distinguishing sounds that are not in our language.
Myelination continues during early childhood and is the major cause of the increase in a child’s brain size. In the first four years of life, the brain increases to 80% of its adult weight of 2.6 – 3.3 pounds. While the brain is forming a coating or sheath of fatty substances known as myelin on the axon of a neuron, it is providing a smooth flow of neural impulses throughout which allow for information to be integrated across the many spatially segregated brain regions. Connecting pathways is required for the successful development of cognitive, motor and sensory functions.
You don’t need to be a medical expert to observe in your child the miracle of human development, but it is interesting to have some insight into what is happening within that little one’s head. Stimulating brain growth and development is important in ensuring your child grows emotionally, physically and developmentally in the proper timeline. The more you know, the more your child can grow!