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WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY FOR CHILDREN'S BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

 

Our brains analyze and process information with an efficiency far beyond the world’s fastest computer.  The human brain is different from a computer in that it is always changing.  A computer can wear out with time, but your brain gets better.  The brain is constantly growing and developing as long as you use it.  If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Our brains have many different areas to control actions and thoughts.  Brains develop and mature during different stages of life.  Windows of opportunity are optimum periods for specific areas of development.  These are the times when learning in specific areas can develop at an incredible rate.

 

window of oppportunity

 

What is going on in the brain when windows of opportunity are open? The brain is choosing to sustain certain kinds of connections, and at the same time deciding not to maintain connections of other areas.

There are times when specific kinds of learning must take place for your child to develop to the fullest. Windows are open at birth for sensory connections: (sight, hearing, touching), for basic motor skills, for developing attachments, and for learning language. These windows close at different times.  The window for sight, for example, closes early.  At first, your baby does not see much detail, cannot focus both eyes on a single object, cannot coordinate eyes and hands, and does not have any distance judgment.   By the time a child reaches their first birthday, they have developed most of their visual skills.

It is very important that babies have proper eye examinations to determine if there are any concerns.  Visual problems must be taken care of as quickly as possible in order for the brain to develop the necessary skills at the optimum time forbrain connections to be made. Children who do not have the opportunity to see objects with details and varied textures, colors, patterns, and other attributes may have difficulty learning to read because they may have trouble visually with the details of letters:  a ‘b’ looks just like a ‘d’, a ‘c’ looks just like an ‘o’, and so on.  Making the most of these optimum learning times, the windows of opportunity, helps put children on the right track for learning.

These windows are only effective if there are effective environmental stimuli which the child can interact with.  This means, to stimulate more language comprehension, you need to talk a lot with your child, especially during the language window.  Or to help the child be more coordinated or active later in life, you should encourage him or her to run and play games, especially during the window to develop gross muscle coordination.  To help your child become multilingual, you could teach him or her a new language during the language window.

If you don’t catch an all-important learning window, does that mean that you can just give up hope that your child will ever be a world-famous musician or physicist?  Not necessarily. Remember that most of these windows just make it easier for a child to learn a certain ability.  If you miss a window, it doesn’t mean that your kids can’t learn a new skill, it just means that it will take more effort.  

 

For more information on children's grow and development, try our online childcare classes:

Basic Child Development

Child Development Theory

Cognitive Development

Creative Development

Physical Development

Speech and Language Red Flags