Early childhood is important because 90% of the brain develops before age 5, and it is during this time that Brain Architecture is built.
What is Brain Architecture?
Brain Architecture is the foundation and framework off which the rest of your brain is built. Everything a child experiences with his/her 5 senses during early childhood creates billions of connections in the brain. Around age 7, these neural connections become permanent; this set of permanent neural connections and their configuration/structure is called Brain Architecture. After age 7, all new neural connections are built off a person's Brain Architecture.
Why is Brain Architecture important?
All future learning, behavior, and health are determined by a person's Brain Architecture. A few examples of things determined by Brain Architecture are IQ, heart disease, drug addiction, schizophrenia, and violence. Who you are, your life's trajectory, and your capacities, skills, and ability to understand, process, and react to information, is based on your Brain Architecture.
What role does DNA / genetics play in Brain Architecture and a person's life?
A person's DNA (genetics) is an expansive set of possible outcomes. Early childhood experiences determine which of those possible outcomes become reality and the impact that each outcome has on the rest. DNA acts as a blueprint for Brain Architecture, but the construction and quality of Brain Architecture is based on experiences in early childhood. Having good genetics does NOT mean that a person will have good Brain Architecture. Early childhood experiences build and determine Brain Architecture.
DNA determines potential outcomes. Brain Architecture determines actual outcomes.
What experiences in early childhood build Brain Architecture?
Everything a child experiences with his/her 5 senses during the first few years of life create connections in the brain. Around age 3, the brain beings to prune (eliminate) the connections that are not frequently used in order to make other connections more efficient. However, the brain still continues to create new connections throughout the entirety of early childhood. Around age 7, these connections become permanent and are called Brain Architecture.
How do you build strong Brain Architecture?
The simple answer is: Positive loving experiences create positive outcomes. Negative or lacking experiences create negative outcomes.
Strong Brain Architecture depends on three main things:
Emotional bonding between a child and his/her primary caregiver(s)
Serve & Return communication between a child and his/her primary caregiver(s)
Positive experiences that correlate to each stage of the child’s brain development also referred to as Sensitive Periods
What are stages of brain development / Sensitive Periods?
The brain doesn’t develop equally all at the same time. Growth and development are focused on specific parts of the brain at different times. These are called “stages of development” or “sensitive periods”.
What causes poor Brain Architecture?
Poor Brain Architecture is caused by Toxic Stress, Neglect, and/or Chronic Under-Stimulation.
What is Toxic Stress?
“Toxic Stress can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity - such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship - without adequate adult support.” - Harvard University Center on the Developing Child
What is chronic under-stimulation?
Chronic under-stimulation occurs when caregivers exhibit an ongoing, diminished level of child-focused attention that fails to support a young child’s need for cognitive, language, social, and emotional engagement and a diminished level of developmental enrichment. - Harvard University Center on the Developing Child
What is Neglect?
Neglect is the ongoing disruption or significant absence of caregiver responsiveness. It is significant, ongoing absence of serve and return interaction, often associated with failure to provide for basic needs. - Harvard University Center on the Developing Child
What happens when a person has poor Brain Architecture?
Poor Brain Architecture increases the risk of negative outcomes and can result in abnormal physical and brain development. For more info, visit our page on Neglect
What is Early Childhood Development (ECD)?
Early Childhood Development (ECD) refers to the experiences a child has between ages 0-7 years old. These experiences create Brain Architecture and lay the foundation for the child’s future physical, mental, and emotional health and development. Early Childhood Development programs are designed to supplement or reinforce positive experiences children have in the first 7 years of life.
What does the OCI Early Childhood Development (ECD) program consist of?
An "educational material" refers to any 3-d physical object(s) that is used by the child to learn a concept or develop a skill.
What are OCI educational materials?
OCI's educational materials and curriculum are based on new science on brain development and growth in early childhood. Our educational materials are designed and chosen by experts to provide targeted stimulation and learning opportunities that correlate to specific stages of brain development / Sensitive Periods.
Why are educational materials important?
During early childhood, the brain creates connections based on the child’s interaction with his/her environment. These connections establish the child’s Brain Architecture off which all future learning is built. Educational materials help the child’s brain build these connections and enable teachers to introduce abstract concepts like math and reading in a concrete way.
Orion Children International is a non-profit corporation that operates exclusively for educational and charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. EIN: 47-2026853 Orion Children International provides high-quality development, education, and nutrition programs to all orphaned children and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or disability in its programs and activities.