EARLY BRAIN DEVELOPMENT – 12 TO 18 MONTHS
With the exception of sight, most of the critical periods of human brain development are open during this stage. At no other time in a person’s life is the brain more receptive and responsive to its environment. During this time and over the next two years, many of the neurological foundations that govern a lifetime of skills and potential will be determined. In other words, how a child learns and processes information for the rest of his/her life is going to be determined.
“Wow, you might say, this puts a tremendous burden on me. I’m no teacher or scientist. I want to do the best for my child, but I’m not sure I’m capable.” I say to you that virtually every parent is capable, and it takes very little of your time to enhance your child’s intellectual development.
As human beings, we instinctively know what to do to advance intelligence and have down through the ages. Parents have interacted with their baby with love, praise, play, conversation, and song as far back as we know. Today, with all of our science and educational research, we know these things are still basic. However, over the last 3 decades, we have learned many simple things that we can work into our everyday life that will enhance the child’s intellectual development.
Remember that it is very important to provide a positive learning environment because children develop their brain through experiences. Bad negative experiences can badly damage a child’s learning ability.
Below are a few tips to enhance your child’s intellectual development.
- Enhance the child’s language development by being a chatty, always explaining mom/caregiver. Talk, talk, talk, and then talk some more. “This is your red ball. This is your yellow duck. We’re going to wear our red dress and red socks today. You will look so pretty.” Not only will your child learn to identify things but will learn colors as naturally as she learns to talk.
- Provide appropriate, simple picture books. I prefer books that have a simple picture and a word description (picture of cat with word “cat” in big letters).
- Many parents are aware of the importance of language development, but are not as aware of the importance of math during this critical period. When bathing your child, you can count the fingers on his hand. “Let’s count our fingers. We have 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on this hand and … on this hand.” You can count the toys in his play area. “Let’s pick up our toys. We have one yellow duck, blue bear makes two, and black cat makes three.” Young children can develop math skills as naturally as they can the language skills.
- Have fun with a variety of music, games (peek-a-boo, roll a ball back and forth), and rhythms. These fun things can develop so many things like language, vocabulary, math, music, attention span, spatial/visual skills, and social/emotional skills. The greatest gift is the bonding between adult and child. This has a tremendous impact on a child’s learning.
- Allow your child to explore his surroundings. Do not keep your child penned-up in a swing or playpen all the time. It is important that he has time by himself to explore. Corner off a larger safe area for her. Put together an “everyday junk box” of items to feel, poke, and squeeze. You might have measuring cups of different sizes, pans, spoons, cups, tissue paper, egg cartons, shoe box, and favorite toys.
- Around 18 months, a child may get anxious and clinging about being separated from parents and caregivers. This behavior is normal. If possible, minimize separations and stick to consistent routines.
Donna D. Blevins, Founder of Be Smart Kids
Be Smart Kids is a system of 30-minute weekly lesson plans for children, ages 1-6, that enhances the intellectual development of children. (See research)