When should we start stimulating children's brains?

When should we start stimulating children's brains?
This organ begins to be built after 16 days of gestation
Recommended age 0 to +13 years

Scientific studies have shown that good early stimulation produces profound changes in the brain that help improve learning processes. In this sense, families have the fundamental role of providing our children with adequate resources and experiences.

Environmental stimuli are essential to enhance this "muscle"

The brain is plastic (that is, it has the ability to adapt, learn and overcome the limitations of the environment) throughout the life cycle, but it is less and less as the age progresses. Although we know that the human brain begins its construction after 16 days of gestation and that it already absorbs information about its surroundings, childhood and childhood are the stages that will mark the most significant period in the formation of the human being, since that in them all the foundations are laid for later learning.

From birth, the brain already needs a stimulating environment that is also enhanced by the care and responsibility of adults, being the fundamental parents to determine, to a large extent, the ability to learn from children.

Care and experiences that have direct effects on the structure and function of the brain

Scientific studies show that early childhood (from birth to 6 years) and childhood (from 6 to 12 years) are crucial stages that require care and essential early experiences that allow building in the child's brain solid pillars for adequate future teaching:

NUTRITION.  Children's brains require a balanced diet to fulfill essential brain functions and protect themselves from oxidative stress. Malnutrition in early childhood causes:
  • Difficulties in cognitive development (affects attention, memory and motor development), decreasing learning capacity.
  • Behavior problems
  • Difficulties to socialize.
DREAM.  Children should sleep at the times indicated for their age, since sleep plays a prominent role in learning:
  • It allows the consolidation and consolidation of the lessons learned during the day (REM phase).
  • It helps maintain sustained levels of attention during the day and favors a good mood.
PHYSICAL EXERCISE.  Children should exercise regularly, especially aerobic exercise, as it has numerous benefits for learning:
  • Improves cognitive performance as it produces changes in the structure and functionality of your brain that facilitates learning.
  • Preserve mental abilities during aging, since practicing physical exercise in childhood and youth has cumulative effects.
LEARNING STYLE  Children need to interact and experiment directly with the environment around them, since the first areas to consolidate the nervous system are those related to movement and perceptions:
  • Motor experiences (sustain, walk, run, throw ...) and sensory (see, touch, suck ...) are essential for brain development in the first years of life and will be the basis of the rest of cognitive and emotional learning; Therefore, children should be allowed to touch, explore and move to learn about the world from a young age.
  • The beginning of the child's earlier learning should be made directly in contact with nature and with the learning objects. Up to 12 years old children have a very specific thought and learn through perceptions, emotions and sensations.
CURIOSITY.  Emotions have a prominent role when storing information in memory. Scientific studies have shown that when children are curious to learn something, the acquisition of new knowledge activates the brain bases of pleasure and learning is better consolidated. To favor the curiosity of children we can:
  • Change daily routines from time to time, do something you do not expect or use something different to do a usual task. For example, tell him that there has been a blackout and that he has to look for an alternative source of light at home such as a flashlight or candles.
  • Organize surprise activities, such as learning to use a map looking for breakfast cookies through one (adapted to the child's age).
  • Provide experiences and excursions where you can be a first-hand observer. For example, if you are studying the types of leaves, find them yourself in the park.
  • Answer the questions you have and leave some issues open for him to continue investigating himself.
GAME.  Children should have a leisure time every day to play. The game allows you to learn spontaneously while having fun, free yourself from the pressure of daily life and your brain rests:
  • The game is motivating in itself, which favors states of maximum attention and memory allowing active learning.
  • It allows you to use situations of daily life as opportunities to implement new cognitive skills. For example, if you are learning to count, you can use the time of purchase to ask for 3 bottles of beans.
  • It helps to consolidate what has been learned through repetition.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES.  The use of new technologies (television, tablet, consoles, computer) by children has positive effects when used in a moderate way (for example, 15-20 minutes a day), since they optimize the activation of brain areas They are responsible for attention, memory, planning, reasoning, decision making or emotional self-regulation.

However, its excessive use negatively affects these processes, especially attention, since the use of these devices requires a very short and changing attention focus against sustained attention, which is what is required for the processes of memory and learning

RULES AND HABITS.  Children should have rules and routines from an early age; It allows them to know how they have to act at all times and learn to anticipate activities and consequences, thus facilitating their learning:
  • The rules should be brief, clear and adapted to the child's age.
  • They must be associated with clear and systematic consequences: rewards or loss of privileges.
  • The internalization of norms and habits predicts a better adaptation to formal teaching contexts such as nursery school and school.
AFFECTED.  The emotional bond from birth allows the child to adapt to the environment, regulate their frustration, trust themselves and seek autonomy, which are essential factors for learning:
  • It is essential to positively reinforce children in the face of any small achievement they make in order to increase confidence in their own abilities to motivate them towards learning.
  • Overprotection must be avoided. Overprotected children rely heavily on parents, which means they do not develop problem solving strategies or emotional regulation strategies in the face of failure and frustration.
  • It is also important to know the limitations of children of their own age and not demand more from what they can do.

LEARNING BY REMARK.  During the first years of life, most of the learning takes place by observation, so that adults have to act as a model of cognitive, social and emotional skills.

RELATIONS WITH THE EQUAL.  Interpersonal relationships are part of the central axis of child development, especially the interaction with peers, which allows the acquisition of valuable learning:
  • The interaction with peers in the game favors the acceptance and internalization of rules, as well as the ability to communicate and negotiate.
  • The resolution of group activities favors learning. Having to explain the group's own ideas, they are elaborated and mentally represented in a more complex and profound way, thus favoring their understanding and consolidation. They also benefit from the explanations of the other children.
  • Therefore, it is very important that children learn to socialize from an early age. We must favor outdoor recreational activities such as going to the park and attending camps or workshops where children interact with other children their age.