Children are born with brains that are full of neurons, and brains that thrive on experiences. Human brains have the incredible ability to shape and reshape themselves as we grow, but this process is far more dynamic in early childhood.
A child’s brain develops as they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the world around them. Each of these explorations is providing stimuli that leads to the development of healthy brain architecture. Each experience causes neurons to fire, and neural pathways to form.
For this reason, engaging children in sensory rich environments, and sensory play, is an important factor in developing healthy brains. A child immersed in a rich environment has more opportunities for neural pathways to form. Furthermore, providing opportunities for multiple parts of a child’s sensory system to be activated facilitates the development of one cohesive sensory system that works together.
The reality of brain development is incredibly complex. And sensory rich environments are just one piece of the story, among many. Because sensory rich environments provide early learners with benefits, we are exploring mixtures in the Creative Kids Museum this season.
If you visit the Creative Kids Museum between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., you will find a program exploring different types of mixtures and mixing. In these programs, young learners will be invited to engage their senses in different ways. One day we might be mixing different ingredients into paint, to change how it functions, looks and feels. Another day, we might be getting messy, using our hands to make our own sculpting dough. These are just two of the experiences you can find in the Creative Kids Museum.
Hands-on exploration, like mixing dough with your hands, is especially exciting because it facilitates higher level thinking skills that are necessary for learning. Research shows that these types of explorations build skills in early learner’s ability to making distinctions, recognize relationships, organize systems, and take multiple perspectives. Using one’s sense of touch also helps children connect abstract ideas to concrete experiences.
Exploring through the senses helps deepen learning, and plays an important role in developing healthy brain architecture in young learners. We hope to see you in the Creative Kids Museum at 10:30 a.m., where we can mix, smell, stir and create Mixtures together.
Facts for Life, Fourth Edition. CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND EARLY LEARNING
Ounce of Prevention Fund and ZERO TO THREE, 2000, Starting Smart: how early experiences affect brain development.
ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Brain Development. 2016
Schiller, P. BRAIN DEVELOPMENT EXCHANGE NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010. Early brain development research review and update. https://www.childcareexchange.com/library/5019626.pdf