COLLEGE STATION — New studies show that there is a direct correlation between stimulus and early brain development in children, says Dr. Dorothy James, a family life specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
“The human brain isn’t finished at birth,” James explains. “Few of its 100 billion neurons are connected. As the child experiences life and makes attachments to parents and others, the connections among the neurons form.”
These connections are reinforced by use to become permanent connections in the brain. If not used enough, the connections are eliminated.
Stimulation is critical, James says, and one of the most important things a care giver can do is read to a child.
“Reading to a child can begin as early as 6 months when people help a child label objects, like kitty, doggy or ball.”
Reading with a child also helps children’s language development. It helps children learn to form words and understand the relationship between words and objects. “Reading with children helps them learn to form sentences,” James says.
In fact, the very act of sitting with a child can boost his self esteem. “A child see’s that he is important because someone is taking time to be with him.”
Reading with a child is also beneficial for the care giver, James says.
“A parent learns the child’s temperament. The child asks questions, and it gives the care giver a chance to see receptiveness and inquisitiveness in the child.”
Reading will open up the world to children. Travel, fantasy, history, humor, adventure and mystery can be a part of a child’s life forever. For these reasons, James recommends that parents follow the recommended ages on book covers.
“It’s a parent’s involvement that is the key to early learning. They provide the educational experience, but they have to make sure that he’s ready. Don’t push him and reading can be a lifetime love.”