April 2017 - Experience-based brain development May 09 2017

By the time most children are five-years-old they have gone from being wholly dependent on a caregiver to being physically adept individuals with a good understanding of their native language, culture and ways of being and doing. It is no surprise, then, that the brain--which starts out at birth at 25% of the weight of the adult brain--reaches over 90% of the adult brain weight by age five.

As children navigate their social, emotional, physical and cognitive worlds, their experiences contribute to their astonishing brain development. In effect, children are like scientists testing hypotheses, and sometimes lots of “tests” are required. Whether a social encounter, a cognitive concept, or physical feat, practicing and perfecting skills requires time and practice. Viewing children as scientists with a wide world to explore informs the ways we guide and support them on their learning journey.

In the first video, listen as biologist Dr. Joel D. Levine, from The University of Toronto, briefly introduces experience-based brain development. In the second video, a mother patiently gives her child time to dress himself. Notice how she allows him to practice skills and how she uses a variety of ways to supports his learning and autonomy.