Tips for Parents

What Types of Activities Support Brain Development in My Child?

By Susan Magsamen, SVP Early Learning

Doesn't it seem as if there's a new report about a study of the human brain just about every day? It's a "no-brainer" that the field of neuroscience – the scientific study of the nervous system, including the brain and spine – is growing fast. At only three pounds, the brain is a complex and fascinating organ, and is the control center of many of our behaviors as humans! So how can we provide our children the best support for their brain development? What types of activities can contribute to their intellectual growth?

Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do with and for your children that can improve both their physical and mental health while supporting brain development. One recent study found that there was a positive relationship between the volume of the hippocampus (a part of the brain critical for memory as well as emotion and stress regulation) and having supportive, nurturing parents. That's right, something that may seem simple and natural to most of us – being a loving, caring parent – can have positive effects on brain development!

In addition to emotional support, other early experiences have also been found to boost children's brain development. Another study found that 9- and 10-year-old children who were physically fit tended to do better on memory tests than their peers who were less fit. These results suggest that "exercising your brain" may have a double meaning!

Finally, language has also been found to have a striking impact on kids’ verbal skills. It may seem intuitive, but research has shown strong evidence that children who are engaged through conversations, reading, and other interactions have more advanced linguistic skills than kids who experience less verbal engagement. So when it comes to raising a brainy babe, science seems to support what we, as parents, have known all along. It is likely you are already on the right track to providing optimal support for your child's brain development!

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