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Building Better Pathways: How to Encourage Thinking and Learning Skills in Your Child

The neurons (or brain cells) in your child’s brain resemble a tiny tree. Each time they take in a new bit of information about their world a new branch on the tree is created. These branches connect to each other in a vast network we refer to as neural pathways. Just like the trees in the forest that get fed the most grow stronger, the neural pathways that get used the most will grow stronger. The great thing is that kids don’t even have to think about developing and strengthening neural pathways, this happens naturally as they explore and learn about the world around them.

Of course, as parents we want to help our child’s development as much as we can. And, there are easy things you can do to help encourage the growth and stamina of these connections. Here are a few things we suggest to help them on this pathway of brain development.

Sensory Activities

Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell all help to make some of the very first connections which actually help to build the pathways that control movement, vision, and language development. Silly putty, playdough and this easy homemade cloud dough recipe are all excellent way to encourage sensory play.

Providing a Language-Rich Environment

The more words and ideas your child is exposed to the more neural pathways he/she will develop. One of the many benefits to reading to your child is to help immerse them in language. Having a variety of books available including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and picture books will provide them with a strong basis of linguistic concepts.

Exploring the World

Finding ways to provide your child with new experiences will help their little brain grow. This does not require taking a trip around the world, simply visiting a new park or museum can help them connect with their world in a new way.

Playing Pretend

Aside from being plain fun, imaginative play give’s your child the ability to practice things that they may not be able to in real life. This role-playing experiment is a safe setting for them to problem solve, as well. Role play also encourages language building as they think about and usually repeat words they have heard their grown-up counterparts say. So don’t shy away from that next tea party. Role play is a huge brain builder.

Getting Social

Learning the rules of play by spending time with peers will help your child make those social connections that will build their future relationship skills. The easiest way to help your child build new friendships is to schedule playdates. Get the social ball rolling by providing games and activities for the children that will help them connect with each other.

The teachers at Tender Years Development Centers understand that children develop skills the same way builders build a house. They start with the foundation. What gets built on that foundation at different stages of development determines what the house looks like and how to get from room to room. Our ACE curriculum helps to ensure a well-rounded foundation by focusing on all aspects of a child’s development. In addition, our curriculum is designed around the specific educational and developmental needs of our local communities and school districts.