I attended a webinar this past weekend called The Making of the Mind by Dr. Roy Paget. Dr. Paget is a neuroscientist who has been studying the brain, in particular, the brains of Birth-5 year olds for many years. It was a great webinar and Dr. Paget confirmed what most parents have known for years but have somehow forgotten.
Scientifically, Dr. Paget’s main points were that babies are absolute sponges and that they soak up everything they hear, feel, touch, taste and see. They are able to soak up all of this raw data because babies have about 749 trillion more connections going on in their brain than we adults do. Mind-boggling isn’t it?
So, according to this neuroscientist, the time in life where we will learn the most and where our brain will be the most receptive is from Birth – 5. In some way shape or form I think that we have all known this and that is why parents buy the Baby Einstein videos and the Teach You Baby to Read kits and all of the other stuff out there that tells us how to make our babies smarter.
I think it is time that we listened to science. In this case, to Dr. Paget, who has made a career out of studying the brain. At the webinar we received a lot of information from Dr. Paget about early learning. He talked about the importance of life skills such as empathy, focus, self-control and other related skills. He spoke about a child’s emotional quotient and how by the age of three about 80% of a child’s brain is developed. It was an interesting and informative webinar and I was happy that I was a part of it.
BUT – the most interesting part of the webinar was when Dr. Paget listed his
Five Steps To Enrichment for children. There was no mention of videos, or flash cards or anything high tech. What his Five Steps To Enrichment included are all of the ideas that have been going on for years and have been somehow pushed into the background.
Dr. Paget’s Five Steps to Enrichment
1. Read aloud to you child – before they are born, when they are babies, and continue to read and read and read to them all through their childhood.
2. Let them explore the world around them. Don’t force them to play with any particular toy, just let them decide what interests them. Remember that the educational value of a toy is determined by what the child does with it.
3. Let them play outdoors and get plenty of exercise. Our brain takes up 30% of our blood. Exercise increases blood flow and thus the brain benefits.
4. Encourage their imagination. Let them tell you stories, let them dress up and pretend to be someone or something else, allow them to dream, allow them time to just “be”.
5. Keep them happy and let them have fun.
It really is so simple. You don’t need to buy anything, or invest in expensive programs or take your child to every museum or sign them up for every activity. All you have to do is be there for them and let them explore the world around them.
So…relax, listen to your inner wisdom (it is backed up by scientific research) let your children play and watch them grow in ways that you and they can only imagine.