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BLOG: You have the power to build your children's brains


Parents are the key architects of their children's brains.

What do I mean? 

When you talk and interact with your child in a loving, responsive way, you build neural connections in your child’s brain that they’ll use to think and learn for the rest of their life. 

To understand why talk and interaction are so important, it’s helpful to know how a young child’s brain develops. A baby’s brain is unfinished at birth. In fact, 85 percent of the physical brain develops in the first three years. During this time, billions of connections are created, building a complex circuitry that becomes your child’s foundation for learning. There is no other time in life when brain growth is so rapid.

What’s driving these connections? Genes and early experiences. 

Yes, genes are part of the story, but not all of it. While a child’s genetic makeup is fixed at birth, their early experiences are completely malleable. As a parent, you have a tremendous amount of influence to create rich, positive experiences to support your child’s foundational brain development.

It’s true, children’s brains are like sponges that absorb everything going on around them. What they soak in builds connections in their brains. When you say a word, your child’s brain hears it and fires a connection for that word.  The more you talk and interact, the stronger these connections become.

At the TMW Center we like to say, “Children aren’t born smart, they’re made smart. They’re made smart by their parents talking and interacting with them.” Your child’s intelligence depends on the early experiences you create for them. When you fill your child’s early years with rich talk and interaction, you build their brain and shape their future.

Beth Suskind is chief creative officer at TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health, a program of The University of Chicago.


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