Your Child’s Brain and Healthy DevelopmentGrandfather And Grandson Playing With Toys On Floor At Home

The first three years of life are a period of incredible growth in all areas of a baby’s development – especially the brain. By age 3, 85% of the brain

has been developed by developing trillions of connections (synapses) between billions of brain cells. March 10 – 16 is Brain Awareness Week. With a focus on the healthy growth young children and supporting the relationships that help their brains develop, we want to take this time to celebrate the wonderful gift of our brain and in particular, early brain development!

At CDI, in all areas of supporting children, parents and families, we focus on the 3’Rs of early development: Relationships, Regulation and Resilience.

Relationships – Consistent, sensitive parents and caregivers who understand that children need safe, supportive and loving relationships provide the context for learning to love and loving to learn. Through these relationships, children learn that they matter and that others are vital to their existence. The capacity to experience sensations and emotions and then bring thoughts to evaluate and plan develops through these consistent relationships.

Check out this great video about how children’s brains develop through relationships:

Regulation – When a parent/caregiver responds to their child’s needs with meaningful attention, they are helping their child learn how to recognize feelings, needs and desires. Millions of these serve and return experiences helps the child’s brain to develop the capacity to recognize emotions and needs, what to do to regulate and act on the constant input of sensory, emotional and social stimuli occurring throughout the day. When the child is back in a calm state, he/she is ready to learn and explore their world!

What is Serve & Return?

Resilience – Not surprisingly, sometimes parents and caregivers miss the mark and don’t respond to the child in the right way. However, parents will be relieved to know that this is exactly what the brain expects! These misses offer the parent opportunities to recover and realign their intentions with the child to restore calm alert attention. Working through disappointment and frustration helps to build resilience in both parent and child.

At CDI, we also bring nature into the learning environment to provide opportunities for excitement and wonder that prime the brain for active and lasting learning. Interacting with the sensations of nature including sounds, smells and touch stimulate multiple areas in the brain that integrate complex systems. Nature offers many problem solving activities such as how to make a sand castle stand, how seeds are planted in dirt, and what makes them grow. These types of activities require focus (calm alert attention) and imagination. By learning about the natural environment, children expand their vocabulary, math skills, planning and creativity.

Our mission is to help every child reach their full potential by supporting the relationships and environments that shape early development. We know that when we invest in high quality care giving and early education experiences, children’s relationships and their environments will be equipped with the knowledge and tools to focus on what every child needs to learn and thrive.

Join us in this work by sharing this knowledge with a parent or caregiver you know and partnering with CDI to provide children what they children need to succeed!

 Joan Maltese, PhD

CDI Executive Director