Play and Development in the Early Years

Why are the Early Years important? 

Between the ages of 2 and 6 children’s brains are going through a period of rapid growth.These Early Years are the single most important time to for children to develop and learn about the world.

The Science

Neuroplasticity refers to functional and structural changes in the brain that are brought about by training and experience. (Johnstan et al 2009). At birth each neuron has 7500 connections. these  increase rapidly in the first two years of life until the synaptic connections are double that of an adult brain. During the early years Neuroplasticity allows children to  maintain the skills that are most important and relevant to them and prune other ones away (apotosis)  (Mundkhur 2005).

Research demonstrates that intensive early intervention can alter positively the cognitive and developmental outcomes of young infants (Yoshinaga-Itano, 2001). Learning Language is a skill innate and unique to human beings. The critical period for language learning is between the ages of 2-6. This is why early intervention is so important.

What can I do in the Early Years to support my child?

We know children are dynamic learners. They develop their ability to listen, understand and talk from the events and experiences that are going on around them . The best way to teach our young ones new ideas, concepts and words is through experience and more specifically Play!

Who says?

Many studies have demonstrated the superior learning and motivation arising from playful, as opposed to instructional, approaches to learning in children. Pretend play supports children’s early development of symbolic representational skills, including those of literacy, more powerfully than direct instruction. (Cambridge researcher David Whitebread 2013)

Positive, nurturing and creative relationships are essential for healthy child development. Children need the company of knowledgeable, mature and emotionally balanced adults who fully understand their developmental need. Thats where you come in!

see our post on play – Special Time

References

  • Johnston MV, Ishida A, Ishida WN, Matsushita HB, Nishimura A, Tsuji M. (2009) Plasticity and injury in the developing brain. Brain Development 31:1–10.
  • Mundkur, N. (2005) Neuroplasticity in children The Indian Journal of Pediatrics Volume 72, Issue 10, pp 855-85
  • Yoshinaga-Itano, C. Coulter, D. Thomson, V. (2001) Developmental outcomes of children with hearing loss born in Colorado hospitals with and without universal newborn hearing screening programs. Semin Neonatol. Dec;6(6):521-9.

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