Experience Shapes the Brain

The brain’s development, especially in early life, is molded by:

Bad experiences:
Poor nutrition, neglect, bleak surroundings, disrespect and lovelessness

Good experiences:
Nurture, love, a language and experience-rich environment, encouragement and practice in being fair and being kind

Adults make the difference. Growth toward successful adulthood requires services that are:

  • early
  • excellent
  • individualized
  • intensive
  • continuous

Parents, educators, communities, cities, places of worship, government, ordinary people – we all need to be mindful of the special requirements of children, especially disadvantaged children, and become more effective advocates for them. Too often parents and children are left at the back of the bus.

The Family Place and Jubilee JumpStart are examples of interventions and advocacy on behalf of children and their families. There are many others and there should be more!

Understanding the Youngest Minds

Featured

Human Neuronal Development Between Birth (left) and Age 2 (right)

I became convinced of the vital importance of early childhood when I was a 21 year old medical student. An instructor in my neuroanatomy class lent me a set of microscope slides that after 60 years still blow me away.

I’ve reproduced two of them here. They are from exactly the same part of the brain, but taken at two different ages: birth and two years of age.

These are NOT diagrams or schematics. They are magnified photos of actual brain tissues. The tissue preparation shows the fibers that serve to connect nerve cells to one another and thereby transmit information.
Continue reading