This is a continuation of the article Brain Development in Early Childhood, where I consider how breast milk promotes brain development in infants. And today you will learn about interrelation between mastering language and early brain development in children.
Within the last 20 years, scientists were more and more convinced that language acquisition (not only mother tongue but a foreign language as well) in early childhood has a great impact on overall brain development and function.
Before Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development made a revolution in psychology in 1950s, it was believed that babies were passive creatures, mere less thinkers than grown-ups, and learned almost nothing from their environment.
Though general education practices started changing, but children still began to be taught only at a certain age and in spite of Paget’s and his colleagues’ theories, it was believed that babies are not able to learn until they are a bit older.
Nevertheless, studies now show that not only genetics influences the development of a person’s intellectual abilities, but also the intense early brain stimulation that helps neural pathways be created.
The more neural pathways are created, the more increased the potential is for acquiring and storing information.
According to Martha and William Sears (“How Baby Brains Grow“), the brain is growing more intensively throughout babyhood; when a child is 1 year of age, his brain volume will double compared to its mass at birth and it will be 60% of its final adult size.
It is the main basis for mentality that determines so many things:
– how a child will succeed in school;
– how a drown-up will adjust to the new circumstances;
– how a person will assimilate new information all over his active life.
But this phenomenon applies not only to people. Extremely early brain stimuli are decisive for many forms of life. For example, dogs are trained to be super dogs as newborn puppies. A trainer is tickling their footpads while they are in a supine position. Tickling and lying in a supine position stimulate creation of additional neural pathways.
The more convincing evidence is that the lack of early language development leads to highly limited brain functions.
When children have little interaction with society (or so called “raised-by-wolves” children), as grown-ups they suffer from extremely insufficient speech abilities and have serious developmental disorders.
This fact shows that children deprived of intensive native language development, are never able to master neither their mother tongue nor simplest abstract thinking, i.e. mathematics, logical thinking, etc.
One cannot judge someone’s success in life only by his intellect; it’s worth just looking at non-abstainers or persons taking antidepressants. A child whose brain was intellectually developed benefits particularly in life; he is able to succeed in learning and achieve his wonderful goals. Intellect opens doors to success in education and in professional achievements. But when a child is not only intellectually developed but is emotionally full and stable as well, he is a winner in his life. Many parents benefit when they understand how brain development is important, and they spend their time and effort to stimulate development of their child’s growing brain. Recently teaching not yet speaking babies sign language has become very popular. And it has some advantages. Development of finger muscles is directly connected with language development. And simple signing helps children communicate with parents and tell about their needs and desires. As well as it reduces disappointment and aggression in babies. Moreover, scientific studies provide evidence that, children exposed to sign language learning, score higher on certain language tests at school.
Another popular trend is prenatal development. Studies show that children whose brain was stimulated before birth, are able to quickly master many visual, language and motor skills. In addition, data show that the brain of such children is better developed and their intellectual level is very high, they are more gifted and adjusted.
The only person who has proved this was physiotherapist Glen Doman. He was stimulating the brains of developmentally-disabled, so called “vegetable” and brain-damaged children that were judged “impossible” by traditional medicine and educators. The process was long but worth-while. As a result, all children graduated his institute saved, gifted, and healthy. Glen Doman’s programs on teaching early reading, writing, mathematics and more, evidence that the frequency, intensity and duration of brain stimulation should be increased.