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  MOTHERHOOD

LEARNING BEGINS AT BIRTH

A new baby gives not only the greatest feeling of love and comfort to the parents, but arouses ambitious projects in their minds and hearts for providing not only the best that they can give, but to expect the best from them as well.In all this dreamy thinking how many parents actually sit and plan and formalise steps and stages for assisting their child’s learning abilities and more so concentrate fully on their intellectual and emotional needs? Not only has it been scientifically proven, but life experiences and success stories prove that learning begins at birth- so an early start assists the natural development to reach its actual potential granted by God.

The first years of life are crucial to a child’s lifelong growth and development. Brain research has proven that most of the brain’s actual physical growth occurs during the first two years of life, when vital neural connections are made in response to the child’s environment. Stimulation and interactions are essential to the development of these connections. Brain research has also shown that nurturing in the earliest years is crucial for emotional and social, as well as intellectual development. A mind opening table is shown below to help you understand certain myths and facts about brain development.                                                                                      

Old Thinking             

New Thinking

How a brain develops depends on the genes you are born with.

How a brain develops hinges on a complex interplay between the genes you are born with and the experiences you have.

The experiences you have before age 3 have a limited impact on later development.

Early experiences have a decisive impact on the architecture of the brain, and on the nature and extent of adult capacities.

A secure relationship with a primary caregiver creates a favorable context for early development and learning.

Early interactions don’t just create a context; they directly affect the brain’s development.

Brain development is linear; the brain’s capacity to learn and change grows steadily as an infant progresses toward adulthood.

Brain development is nonlinear; there are prime times for acquiring different kinds of knowledge and skills.

A toddler’s brain is much less active than the brain of a college student.

By the time children reach age 3, their brains are twice as active as those of adults.

Source: Rethinking the Brain

Realizing the importance of learning at birth, some tips for early learning can be:

  • Focusing on language education through story-telling, reading aloud, repeating rhymes and songs and breaking down letter recognition.

  • Emphasizing play and the joy of learning.

  • Giving importance to motor skills (physical movement), sensory perception (development of the five senses ). Social, self-regulation, gender identity, behavior with peers and others, friendships, awareness of diverse backgrounds…all these need attention.

  • Reading to children and letting them see parents reading are strong reinforcers.

  • Reducing vocabulary which is authoritative and controlling ‘Don't do that, stop that, quit it; be quiet and our most favorite NO!

  • Giving challenging opportunities for children to handle, for example, small blocks and round balls for newborns to grasp and practical life activities for toddlers in a safe manner, with child sized apparatus, for example, pouring water from a small jug into glasses.

While there is a great deal of flexibility in brain development (people continue to learn and change throughout life) there is no doubt that the earliest years are those of greatest growth and also most susceptible to influence by external factors.

It is also important to note that whatever the mother feels throughout her pregrancy is transmitted onto her baby, whether its stress and depression, fatigue from unnecessary household chores, loud voices and music, cigarette smoke and other harmful chemical odours like paint and burning fuel,uncomfortable bedding and seating arrangements,extremities of hot and cold weather inside the home…the list can go on, but we have to comprehend that a mother-to-be feels all these things and hence passes the negative or positive reactions unconsciuosly to the baby. It certainly does not mean that we can totally  eliminate these factors, but the key is to handle thoughts and actions “consciuosly” and release the negativities out of the system by visualising the baby-to-be or the newly born getting disturbed by the mothers irritants. Future mothers should realise that their moods and thoughts,fears and anxities,will transmit to the developing brain because its source of life is you. So putting it simply, if your life is unhappy-your baby will not be too happy either.

"It's never too soon or too late for learning", a philosophy that is attitudinal; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviors.Hence start planning and realising the actual intellectual and emotional needs of the child instead of just relying on toys and playstations, report cards and the general trends of formal education. The first years of life do not dictate what a child will become, but they do lay the foundation for his or her educational—and life—success.

Many things can wait.
The child cannot.
Now is the time
His bones are being formed,
His blood is being made,
His mind is being developed.
To him, we cannot say tomorrow.
His name is today.
~ Gabriella Mistral, Nobel Laureate

 

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