Toddler Experiences, The Brain And Behavior
Your toddler has been given many gifts – his mommy’s smile, his daddy’s eyes, his grandmother’s calm disposition. He’s also been given a genetic blueprint that sets the basic foundation for his intellectual, physical and emotional development. These blueprints, however, are just that – the basic design for development. In order to maximize the potential of these plans, toddlers require input from their environment; and what your toddler needs most is an environment that provides ongoing, rich, varied and stimulating experiences.
Research conducted in the past decade tells us that a child’s environment plays a vital role in the formation of the structure of his brain. The brain starts out as a flexible organ whose various regions process a wide range of different information. In the adult brain, for example, language is specialized in the left hemisphere; a toddler’s brain, however, has not yet reached that level of specialization and has the tendency to process language in both hemispheres. The experiences of the first few years of life are what alter the brain’s structure; through experience, your toddler’s brain gradually develops into a highly organized adult brain that devotes distinct areas to specialized tasks.
The neural structures created as a result of early experiences have huge impact on your toddler’s intellectual abilities. The more early opportunities he has to learn, the more information he can take in throughout his lifetime. The good news for parents is that these early opportunities don’t have to be anything heroic. They are common, enjoyable everyday experiences such as conversation, observation, song, dance and play. These things may seem small, mundane or even downright repetitious, but it is clear that, over time, they make the difference in the future function of your toddler’s brain.