Music supports all areas of young children’s development. Two areas are social-emotional and physical (motor) skills. Music is often shared with other people in singing, dancing, and playing instruments together. Music is a social experience that offers infants and toddlers many opportunities to:
Early Brain Development and Health
The early years of a child’s life are very important. One of the main reasons is how fast the brain grows. Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life.
How well a brain develops depends on many factors in addition to genes, such as:
Children depend on parents, family members, and other caregivers to develop the skills to become independent and lead healthy and successful lives. How the brain grows is strongly affected by the child’s experiences. Children grow and learn best in a safe environment where they are protected from neglect and from extreme or chronic stress with plenty of opportunities to play and explore.
Children learn best when parents and other caregivers take turns when talking and playing, and build on their child’s skills and interests. Nurturing a child by understanding their needs and responding sensitively helps to protect children’s brains from stress. Speaking with children and exposing them to books, stories, and songs helps strengthen children’s language and communication.
Exposure to stress and trauma can have long-term negative consequences for the child’s brain, whereas talking, reading, and playing can stimulate brain growth. Ensuring that parents and other caregivers have the resources and skills to a provide safe, stable, nurturing, and stimulating care is critical.
Tracking children’s development and making sure they reach developmental milestones and ensuring children receive any intervention when needed. To learn and grow appropriately, a baby’s brain has to be healthy and protected.
Vaccinations can help protect against infections. During pregnancy, the brain can be affected by infectious diseases, exposure to toxins or when pregnant mothers experience stress, trauma, or mental health conditions. Regular health care during pregnancy can help prevent complications. Newborn screenings can detect conditions that are potentially dangerous.
Healthy brain growth depends on the right care and nutrition. Because children’s brains are still growing, they are especially vulnerable to traumatic injuries, infections, or toxins. Childhood vaccines can also help protect children.
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) work with children with various disorders from mild articulation delays to more complex disorders such as autism, Down Syndrome, hearing impairment, motor speech disorders, and other developmental delays.
Things to do to Support Your Child’s Brain Development
What is harmful? Harsh voices or hearing “no” all day. Not being picked up when crying or listened to when upset. Frequent caregiver turnover, unpredictability. Caregivers who are too tired or overwhelmed by responsibilities. Drugs, guns or lots of strangers in the environment. Lack of toys, over-use of TV. No attention paid to healthy eating.
Positive early experiences are critical for our children’s brain development. It has been proven by at research centers all over the country. Attention to every stage of a child’s development is urgent! The care that infants get has dramatic and long-term effects on how children develop and learn, on how they cope with stress, and on how they react to the world around them. Science tells us that the right kind of experiences in their early years can actually help our children’s brains grow. That can affect how they continue to learn later in life.
Babies have neural pathways and connections that allow information to travel through the brain. The pathways that are developed in your child’s first three years act like road maps to later learning. Both nature and nurture play a role, but the child’s environment can actually change the way the brain works.
What You Should Know:
Good early childcare experiences expand your infants and children’s capacity to grow
Holding, cuddling and talking actually affect how your infant and child’s brain grows
Loving and supportive child care “programs” the brain to handle stress and control emotions
The first years of life are the foundation for future experiences for infants and children.
Reading to and singing with your baby and child every day is a simple and effective way to help brain development.