Early Years: the Most Significant Developmental Period
Why Do Early Years Matter?
Because the early years are the most significant developmental period for physical, physiological, and cognitive growth.
Physical & Physiological Development
The period of most rapid brain growth happens from birth to age 6, both in terms of physical growth, myelination, neuroplasticity, cognition, creativity and adaptation.
- At birth, the average baby's brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain
- It doubles in size in the first year.
- Brain reaches 50% of adult size by age 3.
- By age 4, the brain is about 8/10 of a size of an adult's brain.
- By age 5, the brain is 90% the adult's size – nearly fully grown.
But it’s the ‘synapses’ - the connections between these cells that really make the brain work. As the neurons mature, more and more synapses are made. For example, at birth, the number of synapses per neuron is 2,500; but by the age of two or three, it's a staggering 15,000 per neuron.
Since in the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second, growing brain possess infinite possibilities to absorb, encode, and adapt to any culture or tradition! We must thus seize the golden age opportunity of the absorbent mind and help our children to grow to their fullest potential!
Children are Born Creative Geniuses
Confirms the study where Dr. Land and Dr. Jarman tested 1,600 children between the age of 4 and 5 years. The results were: "98% of them scored at genius level!"
98% was an astonishingly high number, so they started testing the same group of children as they grew up.
● By grade school, only 30% of the children were considered creative geniuses.
● By high school, it was only 12%.
They conducted the same test on a group of adults.
● Less than 2% of the adults tested in studies were creative geniuses.
Studies have shown that we are all born divergent creative thinkers. But something smothers our ingenuity and creativity as time ticks by.
"Babies and children are geniuses until they turn seven, followed by a systematic decline. After puberty, we fall off the map," explains Dr. Kuhl, a renowned researcher in the field of language acquisition, particularly in infants and young children.
Language has a critical period for learning:
➡️ the horizontal axis shows the age,
⬆️ the vertical axis indicates a skill for language acquisition.
Dr. Kuhl talks about the 'celestial openness' of a child's mind when infants have a remarkable capacity to encode any spoken language sounds and patterns during their first year of life when exposed to face-to-face human interaction. Dr. Maria Montessori referred to it as The Absorbent Mind.
On the other hand, adults are culture-bound listeners. We can discern the sound of our native language but not those of the foreign.
So, when do babies become language-bound-listeners?
Before Their 1st 🎂Birthday!
In her TED Talk titled "The Linguistic Genius of Babies,"Dr. Kuhl highlights the importance of early exposure to language and social interaction for language development. She demonstrates how infants are born as "citizens of the world" with the ability to discriminate and produce sounds from all languages if exposed to face-to-face interaction in the language learning process. However, around ten months of age, infants shift towards becoming "culture-bound" listeners and start focusing on the sounds specific to their native language.
Multiple research studies support the finding that infants have a remarkable ability to perceive and learn the sounds of any language during their first year of life. This ability to perceive the full range of phonetic sounds from different languages is often referred to as "universal phonetic sensitivity."
But, here is the catch!
Thus, with repeated exposure and ongoing language interactions, infants gradually and seemingly effortlessly develop their language skills and start producing meaningful words and sentences.
Now, let me share a 😆 hilarious story from my own parenting journey!
Language Acquisition Summary
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... more than at any other time in life!
The brain is our command center and a newborn baby has all of the brain cells (neurons) they’ll have for the rest of their life. But it’s the connections between these cells that really make the brain work.
The early childhood years are crucial for making these connections and that is why Dr. Montessori described the period from birth till age six as an Absorbent Mind!
Join Now, if you're a busy parent who wants to make the most of this precious time of the Absorbent Mind with your child but you're struggling to figure out exactly what to do.
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Who is Dr. Maria
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google founders)
- Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder)
- Julia Child (Celebrity chef & author)
- George Clooney (Academy award-winning actor, director, producer, humanitarian, United nations messenger of peace)
- Erik Erikson (the Danish-German-American psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on human social development, coining the phrase “identity crisis.” Erik found Montessori ideas so compelling that he studied them as an adult, acquiring a Montessori teaching certificate but never teaching in a classroom.)