The importance of the early years

The importance of the early years in a child’s life and the development of the brain during these years was the topic of an interesting seminar I recently attended by Nathan Mikaere Wallis. When we are born we have 15% of our brain and by the time we are 4 we have 90%. The things we experience during these early years will set the foundation for later development. He talked about some interesting aspects of those early years.
For the first 6 months the focus is on building relationships. The baby is relates to those closest to them building attachment. Nathan Mikaere Wallis says that to ignore attachment at the expense of physical development does the opposite. Trying to force children to weight-bear before they are ready has the opposite effect. It’s like the gardener tugging at the new shoots to speed up the crop.
From 6 to 24 months the mid brain or movement brain develops. The social or emotional development is important as is freedom of movement which in turn supports learning. He talked about baby traps limiting movement and therefore limiting learning such things as jolly jumper, play pen, stroller, car seats, highchairs, slings, safety sleepers. A baby on the floor exercises 100 muscles needed for walking, but in a jolly jumper only exercises 8 muscles. The next 12 months sees the emotional development of the child.
If we recognise the importance of these years as a future foundation do we also recognise the importance of providing the best learning and development experiences and the impact of choosing the best pre- school environment.

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