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Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail editor@khaasbaat.com. Be sure to include school name, grade and age.
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THERE’S MORE TO THOSE TINY FINGERS
By Teesta Sullivan

BRAIN DEVELOPMENT IN INFANTS

Infants tend to bring out the gushiness genes in adults. Have you ever heard yourself say, “How cute … look at those tiny fingers…?” What is even more remarkable than the newborns perfect little toes is what is going on in the brain from birth to age 3.

A baby is born with all the brain cells or neurons they will ever have; however, these neurons lack connections or “wiring” between each other. The brain’s primary task for its first three years is to make and reinforce connections between its neurons. These connections are created when impulses are sent and received between neurons.

Every experience a child is exposed to causes these neuron connections to develop. You can think of them as branches to a tree; the more stimulation a child receives, the more branches her “trees” will have.



Teesta Sullivan
Brain growth is a dynamic, constantly changing process that can be speeded through visual, auditory and tactile stimulation. This is the reason it is so crucial that we expose our children to as many experiences as possible from infancy so they may have a strong foundation to build upon later.

During a child’s early years, latent learning occurs that we are often not even aware of. For instance, to learn people’s names, we must first recognize that different individuals have different faces. In order to speak, we must first hear the distinctive sounds of a language.

Recent brain research has shown us that this neural growth begins to slow down as children reach the age of 5 and stops completely by age 10.

Obviously, we continue to learn throughout our lifetimes; however, after 10, the neural connections that have not been used in our brains begin to literally disintegrate.

School readiness programs and several brain development groups support the belief that following the 10 guidelines from Parents Action for Children (formerly known as I Am Your Child Foundation) can help raise children who are not only confident strong learners, but healthy and happy children as well:

Be warm, loving, and responsive;
Respond to the child’s cues and clues;
Talk, read and sing to your child;
Establish routines and rituals;
Encourage safe exploration and play;
Make TV watching selective;
Use discipline as an opportunity to teach;
Recognize that each child is unique;
Choose quality child care and stay involved;
Take care of yourself.

Care giving that is warm and responsive not only comforts an infant but plays a vital role in development as well. Researchers who examine the life histories of adults who have been successful despite challenging backgrounds have found that these individuals tended to have at least one supportive, stable relationship with an adult figure from their early childhood.

As parents we need to realize that even small interactions with our children can have lasting consequences. The next time you gaze upon a newborn, think not only how cute they are, but also of the awesome potential that awaits untapped in his brain.

Teesta Sullivan has a JD, a MSH and B.A. in Psychology. She is the area developer for FasTracKids and also president of Legendary Beginnings Inc., an authorized licensee of FasTracKids. She can be reached at (813) 792-0077.


Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail editor@khaasbaat.com. Be sure to include school name, grade and age.


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