You’ve probably heard the phrase “kids are like sponges” when it comes to early learning. It’s true, and new scientific research makes it clear that a child’s brain develops in very important ways during the first 3 years of life. Exercising your baby’s brain in these early years is like strength-training for the mind. By talking, reading and singing, you’re helping to build connections in the brain that will affect your child’s life forever. What you do today can result in a larger vocabulary, more developed social and emotional skills and even a more successful financial future for your child.
By the age of 5, your child’s brain will have grown to 90% of its adult size. But even earlier than that, by age 3, it’s already reached 82% of its size.
This proves that the earliest days, months and years of your child’s life matter so much when it comes to early experiences that shape brain growth and development.
Your child is born with the ability to learn and absorb your words faster than you can imagine.
By the time your child is 3 years old, he or she should know or recognize about 1,000 words. This important milestone doesn’t happen on its own, though. It needs your efforts, but luckily they are simple. Having lots of conversations with your child, sharing songs and reading regularly will set him or her on a path for success. Children who learn fewer words by age 3 suffer with poorer vocabularies and are behind when they start school, often never catching up.
School success starts from the moment your baby is born.
The most important education your child will ever receive takes place right at home – with you. You don’t need a lesson plan or fancy toys, just plenty of words, songs and love. Even if you do not read well, just making up stories based on pictures in a book or magazine are still very beneficial to your child.
Think your newborn is too young for books? Think again.
Babies who are read and talked to early often develop better vocabularies and wind up doing better in school. Sure, they may not know what you’re saying, but their brains are physically growing with every word you say. Pick up colorful books regularly at the local library and make it a habit to read together every day for at least 30 minutes. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a solid 30 minutes; setting aside 10 minutes in the middle of the day, 10 minutes before nap time and 10 minutes before bed works great, and may be more realistic for your schedule.
“Use it or lose it.”
Trillions of brain-cell connections, called neural synapses, form in your baby’s brain during the first few years of life. Synapses that do not “connect” in your child’s brain through early experiences, interactions and stimulation are unfortunately lost, and they don’t come back.
Twenty questions a day.
As kids grow up, they often have lots of questions. But don’t wait until they’re “old enough” for the question games to begin – start asking your little one varied questions throughout the day starting now. “What color are daddy’s socks?” “Do you see the red car driving next to us?” “What would you like for dinner tonight?” Aim for twenty questions a day to help keep your baby engaged and start building a strong vocabulary.
Your words are worth $1 million.
Talking, reading and singing set your child up for a significantly more successful future. Your child’s increased vocabulary means he or she will be less likely to drop out of school later, and that equates to earning $1 million more dollars in lifetime income.