One-year olds are eager and curious learners. Brain development during this year lays the foundation for all of their future learning.
Ones naturally love activities that activate their brain development: touching, looking, tasting, talking, listening, moving, and playing—these are some of the best activities for building strong brains.
Watch your one-year old as they play. It may not seem that they are up to much, but as he looks, listens, talks, and thinks, connections between brain cells are being formed in his brain. These pathways support: hand-eye coordination, vision, hearing, language, and movement.
Every new brain connection is built upon the one before it. Even simple back and forth conversations with your One can help build the structure of your One’s brain!
You don’t need special gadgets or toys to stimulate your child’s brain development. The very best learning happens during everyday interactions, experiences, and play.
In fact, play is a laboratory for brain development. Play is how children experiment and make sense of the world. They think, create, problem solve, master new skills, and build confidence.
Children are natural experts when it comes to play. But it can be hard for adults to follow a child’s lead. The best learning happens when children are allowed to take the lead.
Try these brain boosting games with your One:
Sharing Treasures: Take a bucket with you while you walk outside and help your child discover rocks, leaves, branches, and other treasures. When you return from the walk, talk to your child about the treasures. You can paste the treasures on some paper and hang them on the wall for everyone in the family to appreciate.
In and Out: Encourage logic skills by providing equipment for your child to practice putting small materials into larger containers. For example, you and your child can have fun stacking smaller cups into bigger cups, or dropping spoons into a large jar or small blocks into a box, dumping them out, and starting all over again.
We’re Having a Ball! Boost physical control skills by playing active games. Use a simple wastebasket and ball to play basketball. Then, you can use that same ball to play bowling, rolling it into plastic drink bottles.
What about educational shows and apps?
Watching a screen doesn’t give children the kind of active, real life interactions and experiences that help their young brains develop. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children 2 and younger.
Research has taught us that a child’s social, language, and cognitive thinking skills, as well as physical abilities are all linked together and coordinated in the brain. Your engagement, interaction, and play with your child is the best way to build their beautiful brain.
This article appeared in the January 2021 issue of Oregon Family Magazine.