Your young child learns rapidly like the speed of light — from ages birth to three—producing 700 new neural connections every second! You can help him/her reach their potential as this developing brain growth is influenced by many factors, including a child’s relationships, experiences and environment— so the most important factor in boosting your baby’s brainpower is you! The human brain begins developing very early in prenatal life (just three weeks after conception), but in many ways, brain development is a lifelong project. That is because the same events that shape the brain during development are also responsible for storing information, including new skills and memories, throughout everyone’s life. The major difference between brain development in a child versus an adult is a matter of degree: the brain is far more flexible in early life than later in life. This has both a positive and a negative side. On the positive side, it means that young children’s brains are more open to learning and enriching influences. On the negative side, it also means that young children’s brains are more susceptible to developmental problems if they are brought up in a way that does not nurture or support them. Here are 6 ways you can help make sure you do your part to enhance your child’s brain development: Tip 1: TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS With advice flying at new parents from every direction from the internet, magazines, blogs and well-meaning friends and relatives, it can be hard to sort out useful information from fads. The good news is that what you feel is right for you and your baby usually is! Of course, you should read all you can and consulting with others is fine, but make sure you listen to your own inner voice. Sometimes the best parenting advice is “follow your heart and do what works for your family.” Tip 2: CUDDLE AND HOLD YOUR CHILD Most parents love snuggling with their babies but may feel like at a certain age kids may not need as much cuddling. Not so! Hugging is SO beneficial for not just kids, but humans in general. Several research studies confirm that cuddling your children is not only pleasurable for both of you, but can result in happier, healthier, more curious kids with bigger, more-developed brains! Tip 3: SING Your child doesn’t care if you can or can’t carry a tune, the important thing is singing to him. You can make up your own words and tunes or sing ones from your childhood or the radio, you can sing about what you’re doing, where you are going today —just sing! You’ll have fun, she’ll love it and you are helping the young brain grow. Tip 4: MOVEMENT AND PLAY Play, be silly and move with your baby! Movement activities support young children’s development in all areas, including social-emotional skills like self-confidence and cooperation. The brain loves exercise and movement, so this type of stimulation is crucial as children need to move to learn! Tip 5: HELP YOUR CHILD LEARN ANOTHER LANGUAGE Surprised? There is nothing more complicated than learning an additional language, and babies’ brains are pre-programmed to absorb other languages in addition to their mother tongue. Exposing them to foreign languages in a consistent and fun manner when they are very young sets them up for a lifetime of learning, providing them the roots and foundation they need to expand their brains. Even if you don’t know additional languages, singing to them in other tongues helps! For example, the Multi-Music programme in Helen Doron Kindergartens offers songs in SIX languages. Tip 6: POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT You’ve reached the last way to influence your baby’s brain development…well done! You are doing a great job and so is your child. We all seek approval, and your baby is no different. Focus on what he is doing right and praise him, and he will do more of the same. This admiration of her development is a basis that will set the stage for a lifetime. Keep up the good work!