Baby Brain Connection
Parenting for Early Childhood Literacy
Early Brain Development
Harvard Center for Developing Child Videos
The video series, Three Core Concepts in Early Development from the Harvard Center for the Developing Child and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child describe how advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains. Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation.
Experiences Build Brain Architecture (1.57 min)
The basic architecture of the brain is constructed through a process that begins early in life and continues into adulthood. Simpler circuits come first and more complex brain circuits build on them later. Genes provide the basic blueprint, but experiences influence how or whether genes are expressed.Together, they shape the quality of brain architecture and establish either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the learning, health, and behavior that follow. Plasticity, or the ability for the brain to reorganize and adapt,is greatest in the first years of life and decreases with age.
Serve & Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry (1.43 min)
One of the most essential experiences in shaping the architecture of the developing brain is "serve and return"interaction between children and significant adults in their lives. Young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling, facial expressions, and gestures; and adults respond with the same kind of vocalizing and gesturing back at them. This back-and-forth process is fundamental to the wiring of the brain, especially in the earliest years.
Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development (1.52 min)
Learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy development. While moderate, short-lived stress responses in the body can promote growth, toxic stress is the strong, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system in the absence of protective adult support. Without caring adults to buffer children, the unrelenting stress caused by extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.
More about Brain Development (1.54 min)
Dr. Dorothy Strickland, Professor of Education, Rutgers University, talks about how the brain develops and how it affects the development of literacy skills. Everything a parent does builds on what the brain is capable of doing. She describes the importance of impacting what happens later and the importance of interactions, which make a difference.
Science of Early Childhood Development (3.58 min)
This video from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University features Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Harvard Medical School addresses basic concepts of early childhood development, established over decades of neuroscience and behavioral research, which help illustrate why child development—particularly from birth to 5 years—is a foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society.
Infant Brain Development - The Critical Intervention Point (6:40 min)
"Intervening Early: Neuroscience and Social/Emotional Development on Brain Circuitry" Dr. Jill Stamm explains how the hard science of wiring the brain, and resulting cognitive processes, can be translated into user-friendly information and practical strategies to influence children’s future capacity to earn. The brain is a developing organ. A child is born with 25% of his brain wired. The brain wiring is 75% complete by age 1; and by 3 years, 90% has been formed.