Recent research findings have shown that both hemispheres of the brain communicate through the corpus callosum, working together to perform a wide variety of tasks. Holistic brain development is the activation of the whole brain. Both hemispheres of the brain have to be connected through an array of stimulating and meaningful activities.
This is because the different brain regions are each associated with a particular set of abilities or behaviours which can be connected to different regions at different times in a hierarchical order, enabling the brain to carry out complex behaviours. Therefore, it’s important to use a multitude of purposeful activities to activate different brain regions.
What are the key ingredients needed for a child’s brain development? Why are they important?
At Happy Train, we created a unique H.E.A.R.T framework that include the key elements for a healthy brain development.
The core foundation for whole brain activation is Happiness. Parents’ love is most important in helping their infants learn about the world around them. John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth had long documented the studies on early attachment since the early 1960s. They demonstrated the importance of the presence of a caregiver when an infant is exploring his or her surroundings.
The warm and secure relationship between a young child and the parent plays an important role in positive brain development. Hence, parents sit in class with their children to facilitate learning and build stronger bonding.
When the heart closes, the head stops learning.
Handmade training materials let babies make sense of the world around them in a safe and fun way. Motor-sensory activities should be provided to help children solve problems and learn new concepts. Children make sense of the world around them using real objects and things they come across daily. They need to connect to the real world they live in, by internalizing their own experiences.
The brain is actively stimulated when the activity presented is new, challenging or emotional.
Activities need to be designed to hold the interest of children’s curious minds and are set to improve their concentration skills. The tempo of every class is well-paced to ensure that children are not stressed by speed, and yet at the same time, they would not be bored with any particular activity.
In order to develop the brain holistically, we must activate the right hemisphere and thereafter connect it to the left hemisphere of the children’s brains.
Children learn to communicate their feelings and needs from a young age, thus minimising frustrations and misunderstandings. When they learn various expressions and situations of daily situations through role-play games, they can learn to clearly express themselves. At the same time, when they learn to read other people’s expressions, they have a better awareness of social relationships. These will all lead to better emotional intelligence.
With love, good experiences, strong relationships and exciting activities, children then can make full use of all the techniques that are imparted to them. With the array of activities that will captivate the child’s attention throughout the lesson time, they will begin to gain better concentration.
Skills such as photographic memory, perfect pitch and high-speed calculation are skills that children pick up throughout the course of our programme. They learn to focus & complete each task independently after few tries.
Memory games in the Happy Train programme help children to gain the abilities to recognise and recall objects, pictures or information. These skills will benefit children in critical thinking techniques when they begin to learn classification and analysis. Without the ability to recognise and recall information accurately, we are unable to analyse any data presented to us.
What can I do to nurture holistic brain development?
Show affection to your children. Emotional well-being and social competence provide a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities. They are the bricks and mortar of brain architecture.
Engage your children in multi-sensory activities as the five senses are most sensitive in the early years.
Let them smell different types of spices commonly used in cooking and describe the scents to them. Let them touch different types of materials and compare the differences and similarities. Let your children hear various genres of classical music with different musical instruments to stimulate their auditory sense. Mozart music has been recommended as his compositions contain a wide range of frequencies.
Motor skill exercises are also very important for brain development.
These can be fine motor skills such as learning to open and close different container types or learning to use pincer grips to pick up small objects like beans. Gross motor skills like crawling through obstacles allow children to learn how to use and control their limbs. This will lead to spatial awareness skills.
These questions were answered by Ms. Jaqueline Neo, Co-founder and Principal, Happy Train.
A shorter version of this was first published in The New Age Parents Enrichment and Preschool Resource Guide.
Happy Train offers holistic brain-training programme for children aged 3 months to 6 years old. The curriculum is designed to motivate the learner’s aspiration of achievement, and to enrich children’s growing minds through a variety of games, guided play and hands-on activities.
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