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Early Childhood Brain Development Essay

1658 words - 7 pages

Over the last several years, various neurological and psychological studies have shown that the period from birth to the age of five lies a window of opportunity for social, emotional and cognitive growth of which will not be replicated in later stages of development. In the articles: The Science of Early Childhood Development Closing the Gap Between What We Know and What We Do and Newsweek article, Your Child’s Brain, neurologist provide data that early brain development, ages birth to five will shape the rest of a child’s life. . Focusing on early childhood brain development is a crucial element to building a better society.
While genes do play a large role in early development, ...view middle of the document...

” (Shonkoff, 2007) During this rapid growth period if the neurons are utilized they will connect to other neurons, incorporating themselves into the orbit of the brain, when not utilized, they perish. Early childhood experiences determine which neurons are used, as a computer being programed, determines a child's cognitive, social, emotional and language growth. The interactions early in life with parents and family members will have a huge effect on the brains growth.
After years of research, scientists now know a significant factor in early childhood brain development is the “serve and return,” connections children have with family members, especially parents and other people in their lives. “Serve and return” is when a child reaches out for interaction, through babbling, facial expressions or body language. In return, the parent or family member then repeats the interaction or responds to the child. If “serve and return” goes unreciprocated or done in a negative way, it will have a damaging effect on early learning and behavior. Since the brain is more adaptable to diverse environments and interactions early in life it is important that a child’s experiences are positive as the brain becomes older, it becomes limited to take over functions that are more sophisticated and is less able to adapt to unforeseen challenges.
Environmental factors such as income levels, parent involvement, community services and education can either build or break down parent's chances to accommodate their children with constructive environments and create a strong role model for their children to follow. The Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project evaluated 3,001 very diverse children and families in 17 different areas. Half the families received Early Head Start Services the other half was a control group who could utilize alternate services in the community. Early Head Start is a community program that offers families a wide range of center based, home based or a mixture of services for children and their families. Early Head Start has had a profound positive effect on children and families. The Early Head Start children generated considerably results on standardized tests in cognitive, language and social-emotional areas than the control group. The Early Head Start parents also had positive outcomes; they were more involved in their children's education, more connected to their children and used other forms of punishment than spanking than control group parents. On a personal note, I personally feel Early Head Start is a remarkable program. My daughter received these services starting at around three months old. My daughter has Cerebral Palsy and Autism, the neurologist told her father and I that she would never walk and have many learning difficulties. We did not know anything about disabilities, we were terrified. We were directed to Arizona Early Intervention program and not only did they provide all kinds of therapies to my daughter...

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