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Ways to Improve Brain Development for Toddlers

One of the most amazing things I have learned about early childhood brain development is the first years are the most important. Early infancy through the first few years of life the brain is the most flexible and prepared to learn. That is why it is so much easier for young children to learn foreign languages. Vital brain connections are being strengthened and made permanent by experiences a young child learns. Early experiences have profound effects on the formation of brain synapses.

In our home, we get creative. Toys can get boring for young kiddos, fast. We find ways to make toys out of household goods. Pillows become an obstacle course, spoons and lids musical instruments, and water and measuring cups a delightful sensory experience. My daughter loves feeling rocks, leaves, and dirt. There are so many fun ways to teach children about the world. It is endless!

The beautiful thing is it is not difficult to help a child learn effectively. Many of the most impactful ways of guiding a child to learn are things that can be done every day without effort. Mindfulness is all it takes. Here is a list of ten ways to help the brain grow in a child’s first three years.

1. Read as much as you can to your child. Any reading helps, whether it is your favorite novel or a children’s book.
2. Allow your child to experience “free play”, where your she can taste, touch, feel, smell and see various objects. This helps your child experience sensory and motor exploration which aids brain growth.
3. Interaction with people and objects is one of the best tools for brain development.
4. Music! All kinds of music stimulate the mind and is enjoyable to babies and toddlers.
5. Touch is a powerful experience that literally sends signals to the brain to grow. Allow your child to touch various textures, shapes, and sizes in objects.
6. Integrate as much communication and conversation into your child’s life as possible.
7. Stable relationships in the home give the child the peace and freedom to focus on learning.
8. Safe and healthy environments are the best areas for free play and new learning experiences. This reduces the stress of the child and parent while the child is learning.
9. Calm and predictable caregivers assure the child during times of new or risky learning (like the first time going down the slide at the park!).
10. Most importantly, make learning a joyful experience! When learning is fun, it is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding gifts you can give your little one. Try not to stress about making everything right or doing things by the book. Learning is a continuous, spontaneous process.

(I learned about these concepts from the Child Development Journal, Growing Child, 18 Month Journal Article.)

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  • Reply Heather Leigh @ Adifferent kind of woman

    Thanks so much for this!! 🙂

    October 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm
  • Reply Kate Frenkel

    Great post! I try to do all 10 points as often as I can, but not as much as I want! Sometimes I feel guilty because I don’t read a lot to my baby or don’t spend a lot of floor time with her… Thanks for sharing your experience and motivate 🙂

    October 23, 2013 at 12:31 am
    • Reply Tiffany Cutcliff

      Oh no don’t feel guilty! That wasn’t my intention! I am sure you do an amazing job doing what you are doing with your kiddo. My goal was to just say how many of the things that help our babes are things we already do with them. 🙂 thank you for your comment!

      October 23, 2013 at 12:38 am
  • Reply Sarah Sandifer

    I love each of these, but #10 especially sticks out to me. I think that is so important! These days, parents seem to feel so much pressure to have their kids at a certain level by whatever grade level that they lose the fun of learning. I’ve heard of people who discipline little ones (3-4 years old) over flash cards, getting wrong answers, etc. That’s not the purpose at this age! It’s just to have fun and instill a love of learning, which can happen in as easy ways as just driving and pointing out colors, letters, or shapes. Thanks for this!

    October 23, 2013 at 2:22 am
  • Reply Nicole

    Great thoughts, girl! It is my goal to read at least a little bit each day to my 7 month little dude. There are definitely days we miss, but I love having that goal to aim for. I sure would love to have money to hire a chinese nanny to come into our home though. My husband and I met while we were working for at a summer camp for orphans in China and someday we might live there for a while. Wouldn’t it be awesome for our little guy to speak Chinese already?!?!

    I’m stopping by your blog today via your sponsorship/button on Elah Tree. Happy Wednesday, friend!


    October 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm
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