Baby Brilliance - Part 2
By Charles Horowitz, Education Lead, Woodland Pre-Schools
Synaptic Pruning and Serve and Return Interactions
According to research by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, approximately 1 million new neural connections are formed in a young child’s brain every second. Synapses, also described as connections formed between neurons in the brain, are proliferating at an incredible rate, particularly between the ages of 0-3 and begin to decelerate as children age. When children learn, either new connections are formed or the strength of their existing connections change. Neural pathway strength is therefore reflected by the quality of input or care received, which can influence how children think, learn, manage feelings, and build relationships with others as they grow older. As children mature, unused or inactive connections are removed through a process called pruning, which the brain utilizes as a tool to further specialize and prioritize in the interest of optimization.
Parents and caregivers can maximize this opportune learning window for development by simply getting to know their children better through play, meaningful interactions, and responsive caregiving. It can be as simple as responding to a babble, a giggle, or a cry with appropriate eye contact, words, a smile and a hug. It can also be as fun as inviting your child to explore a new sensory experience, engaging in role-play, or taking turns playing a game together. These types of back-and-forth engagements are commonly referred to as serve and return interactions and will support a strong foundation for all future learning to occur. The chart below, published in a journal by Zero To Three, an organization that aims to transform the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools, and responsive policies, outlines various tips that parents and caregivers can use to help their babies think and develop a strong neural foundation upon which all future learning can occur.
Additional resources to explore:
Netflix Spotlight: The Beginning of Life: The Series - https://www.netflix.com/hk-en/title/80107990
Podcast Spotlight: The Brain Architects - https://open.spotify.com/show/6JVqAbxDr7FJ3qKz7Y8jxd