Being a preschool teacher, the articles discussing early brain development are very relevant to my every day job. Pat Wolfe’s article Early Brain Development was useful in that it offers specific advice to early childhood educators and parents.
Wolfe describes the ‘sensitive periods’ of brain development when the brain is most susceptible to growth. The best way to aid development in these sensitive periods, is by providing stimulus, the more a child is exposed to things such as language, the more they will develop in the early years. On the flipside of that, if a child’s brain is not stimulated during those sensitive periods, normal development does not occur. For example, if a child is not exposed to language before age 10, because of deafness or other factors, they will be less likely to develop language at all.
I appreciated that Wolfe takes time to talk about the specific needs of children at this age. Over stimulus, such as enriched environments, extra academic help, language tapes, etc. has no effect on brain development. All children need is a normal environment with lots of adult interactions. Children will thrive given an environment where they can explore and make connections on their own.