Continued from Part I
Research has proved that compared to the brains of other species, the human brain is more primed to respond to experience and the environment. Bradd Shore of Emory University emphasizes, in a book on cognition and culture that compared to other species, humans are born with remarkably undeveloped brains - " a curious state of affairs for the brainiest of the primates." Among primates, only the human brain enters the world in such an unfinished state. In humans a great amount of brain development takes place outside the womb, in direct relationship with the external environment.
But experience does not begin at birth. Ultrasound recordings show that the neurons that develop in uterus begin driving an infant's limbs as early as at seven weeks of gestation. Myron A. Hofer of Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, concludes that a key function of early fetal activity is to aid the process of constructing the brain, so that from the very start, experience can act on the brain's development.
Recent research on early brain development and school readiness suggest following broad guidelines for the care of young children:
1. Ensure health, safety and good nutrition. Breast-feed if possible, make sure your child has regular check-ups, and timely immunizations, safety-proof the places where your children play. Whenever traveling use car seats.
2. Develop a warm and a caring relationship with your children. Show them that you care deeply. Help them feel safe and secure.
3. Respond to your each child's clues and cues. Hold them; play with them in a way that lets you follow their lead. Pull back when they seem to have enough stimulation.
4. Recognize that each child is unique. Please remember that from birth each child has a different temperament and every child grows at his/her own pace.
5. Have positive expectations about what children can do and hold onto the belief that every child can succeed.
6. Talk, read and sing to your children. Surround them with language. Maintain an ongoing conversation of what they are doing. Provide reading and writing materials that may include crayons and paper, books, magazines and toys.
7. Encourage a safe exploration and play - Give your children opportunities to move around and explore and play. Be prepared to step in if they are at risk of hurting themselves or others. Allow them to explore relationships. Arrange for your children to play with other children. Help them to solve conflicts on their own.
8. Use discipline to teach. Talk to your children about what they seem to be feeling and teach them words to describe those feelings. Make it clear that you may not like her/his behavior but you love her/him. Explain the rules and consequences.
9. Establish routines. Create routines and rituals for special times like mealtime, naptime and bedtime. Try to be predictable so that your children can count on you.
10. Become involved in childcare and preschool. From time to time especially during transitions, spend time with your children.
11. Limit television. Make sure that your children are watching programs that will teach them things you want them to learn.
12. Take care of yourself. You can best care for your young Children when you are cared for as well.