Unlocking the brain’s full potential, Sr. Sánchez, 2016, Ilustración Digital

Unlocking the brain’s full potential

March 16, 2016  |  Education

Listening to classical music, speaking to your baby before they’re born, doing meditation, yoga, infant swimming lessons, giving your baby massages, playing with them, taking them to Chinese classes, etc. The world of early stimulation or attention starts in the prenatal phase. According to experts, from then up until 6 or 7 years of age, is when children’s brains are at their most pliant, and neural pathways are still open, permitting the child to learn better and faster. The objective here is to stimulate the brain to help them create neuronal connections. The more the better.

Glenn Doman, the father of early brain stimulation, who at the end of the fifties founded the Institutes for the Development of Human Potential in Philadelphia in the US, began working with neurologist Temple Fay with children with brain injuries, developing the parts of their brains responsible for motor and intellectual skills. They worked mainly with children with cerebral paralysis, and, seeing the progress they made with them, decided to apply their knowledge to all children with a view to strengthening their learning capacity.

The method developed by Doman and Fay was centered on maximizing a child’s capacities and potential during the first stage of infancy. The method was based on the repetition of a range of activities several times a day, divided into programs focused on reading, intelligence, music, mathematics, writing, physical excellence, and a second language.

Manual for parents and educators

How can you stimulate children’s brains at an early age? Experts say that you have to respect the response time of each child, choose a quiet moment to play with them, and avoid times when they are tired, and ensure that you don’t overload them with tasks and stimulation. Moreover, they suggest you choose play objects that feel nice, sound nice, and taste nice, accompanied by songs, words, and smiles, because emotions play in your favor and it’s important that both parents and children enjoy the time their time together.

Experts recommend taking advantage of quiet moments like bathtime to give children a massage, or use travel time in the car to listen to music, show them age-appropriate books, with different colors, materials, smells and textures, tell them stories before they sleep and establish routines to eat, sleep, and play, that help them give the activities some structure and know what you can expect of the child at any given time.

As a result, children who receive early stimulation grow in several different ways:

Psychosocial development. In the prenatal phase, the brain matures and can undertake basic functions. By stimulating a child’s brain it’s possible to promote the development and maturity of the central nervous system, and enable interaction with people in their environment.

Emotional development. This refers to the development of behaviors that mark the child’s character. Expert Grace and Baucum (2009) categorize behaviors as “easy” (children who are good natured and predictable), difficult (children that are often irritable and unpredictable), and “slow to respond” (children who always ill-tempered and not sensitive to attention).

Cognitive development. This refers to the different structures of information processing in each stage of personal development. Jean Piaget explains that such structures are not fixed, but rather they become increasingly enriched and more and more complex in different stages of our lives, from infancy to adulthood.

Social development. This is where the child’s environment starts to play a role, as well as the people that surround him or her. The child learns to build a relationship with adults, is capable of learning from them. Family values, affection, and the rules of society will permit the child, little by little, to control his or her behavior, express feelings, and be an independent person in their own right.