Understanding Brain Development in Early Childhood

Natasha Young

_programs for ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities & More at west coast centre for learning

The early stages of childhood are very important for brain development. They lay the foundation for future learning abilities, including reading, writing, and talking. Scientific studies have revealed that the brain, during its first few years, is incredibly receptive, acting like a sponge that absorbs information. For example, a child might connect the music of a lullaby with comfort, or think of playing outside when the hear the wind blowing the leaves. These early experiences are crucial as the brain learns to categorize and retain information that shapes cognitive development. Knowing this, let’s take a quick look into brain development in the first 5 years of life.

Growth from 0-5

In the first two years, a baby’s brain development goes through amazing growth, reaching about 80% of its adult size by age 2! This period of growth is vital for developing sensory pathways like touch, hearing, and vision. All of  which are crucial for cognitive and social skills later on in life. Interestingly, enhanced sensory experiences during these years can significantly influence the brain’s structure and function, laying a solid foundation for future learning. This highlights the importance of exposing children to as much as possible in the first few years.

Between the ages of 2 and 3, a notable increase in language ability occurs. By 3, children may know between 400-900 words, and understand more words than they can speak. Additionally, between these years, both fine and gross motor skills improve dramatically. Children learn how to do things like jump, or clomp up and go down a slide. They may also be able to hold a pencil crayon easily and use scissors to cut paper. Moreover, this time also marks the beginning of more sophisticated emotional regulation, as most children learn to manage emotions and develop social skills for their interactions.

From ages 3 to 5, the prefrontal cortex continues to grow which enhances a child’s ability to plan, focus, and control impulses. This period is characterized by significant leaps in memory, attention, and the capacity for abstract thinking, enabling more complex problem-solving skills and better understanding of concepts like time and quantity. Children start to remember and sing parts of songs themselves, can count more easily, and are able to focus on tasks for longer.

The diverse brain

Not all children’s brains are the same, and for some, their brain development is very different. Understanding the ways in which children with different neurological conditions perceive and interact with the world is crucial. For instance, a child with autism might find particular textures or sounds overwhelmingly intense, affecting their focus and learning. Similarly, those with ADHD may experience challenges in sustaining attention on tasks, leading to difficulties in following multi-step instructions. Children with dyslexia often encounter obstacles with reading, where letters and words may not visually organize in a way that makes sense immediately. Each of these examples highlights the importance of tailored educational strategies that accommodate these diverse learning needs, emphasizing the adaptive and supportive role educators and caregivers must play to foster effective learning environments.

At West Coast Centre for Learning, we have programs that are tailored for children with diverse brains and unique needs. It is our desire to see every child reach their full potential and our programs reflect that. Please see the list below of programs that can help your children soar.

Children’s Programs – CLICK HERE

Teen and Young Adult Programs – CLICK HERE