Pre-School Development And Child Brain Stimulation
The Guardian yesterday reported on research that showed Child Brain Stimulation to be a critical factor in the development of the cortex in later life. As I read this, I envisaged scores of parents of preschool children worrying about whether they were giving their little one sufficient stimulation to enable their brains to develop fully. This is on top of all the other things that parents are expected to worry about these days. So I thought I’d take a look at the report in more detail and see what practical advice can be gleaned from it- what does this do to help make parenting easier or better?
What the research is telling us is that around the age of 4 (they used this age in comparison with 8 year olds, but there’s nothing especially magical about the year between 4 and 5) children are laying down the foundations of learning, skills, memory, knowledge etc. It’s not a new finding that young children are sponges when it comes to learning new things and the report doesn’t go into details about the types of stimulation that children most benefit from.
But the good news is that parents don’t really need to worry (at least not any more than they already do) about their pre-school children’s activities. Children gain stimulation through almost everything they do and everyone they interact with. Providing them with different experiences is something most parents do as a matter of course and from the research it doesn’t seem to matter whether that’s taking them round the shops and talking to them about what you’re buying or playing an educational game with them. It’s all about balance – and we’re back to my favourite mantra of giving children a blanced play diet. We’ve got lots of great toys in the Good Toy Guide and all of them will stimulate the child in some way, but it doesn’t have to be all toy-based: talking to children about their day, what’s going on around them is important but so is letting them play on their own and experiment with trial and error learning “What happens if I do….” playing with friends stimulates their brain in other ways and all of this can happen with or without educational toys and books. So rather than feeling bad and adding ‘brain stimulation’ to your to do list, make sure your child has a selection of play options and then relax and let your preschoolers play -join in sometimes too and enjoy watching your children thrive.
Tags: child development, parenting, Play Advice, play diet
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer