BuddingScholars > Infants > Infant activities
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Your infant is growing. She spends more and more time on experiencing the world and learning. Her neurons are making connections forming complex and strong associations.
During this time, what kinds of infant activities can you introduce that will assist in your baby's brain development? Is it possible to make a difference at all? Are babies just "born with it?"
There are many arguments and points of view when it comes to the question of Nature vs. Nurture.
Here's my take on it.
No one can deny the importance of nature, what the babies are born with. The genetics. As such, some will excel at academics, some at sports, some at art, etc... Everyone has different strengths.
At the same time, no one can deny the importance of nurture either. Though there is a little more room for debate here, people can end up being quite different depending on their background and experiences. You are the sum of your genetics and experiences.
A real life example of severe neglect
WARNING: The content below is not the prettiest picture, so only read on if you're not easily upset.
A while ago, I saw on TV a real life case study of a neglected child. She grew up trapped in a room with no human interaction. She was tied to the potty most of the time since she was a baby and was "raised" in her own filth.
Her meals were slid under the door and spend her days and nights alone in the room. She had never stepped outside that room. The only evidence of the outside world was the small window through which she could only see the sky.
She was kept a secret to such a degree that none of the neighbours even knew of her existence.
Needless to say, this is an extreme example and is a very sad case indeed. To my recollection, the parents were criminally charged and the child was taken away to be taken care of in clinics with therapists and then in foster homes.
The effects of neglect
When this little girl was taken away from her parents, she didn't know any language. It goes without saying that she didn't have any other knowledge or skills. This effect of the parental neglect was only the tip of the iceberg.
The therapists and the doctors initially thought that they could teach her all the things that a person that age could and should do without much trouble. But they later found that she was actually unable to learn language among many other skills and concepts.
I think in the end, they concluded that she had missed the critical years of learning window for her brain to form the necessary and crucial connection pathways that are necessary and foundational to higher thinking and learning.
In addition, when examined more closely, her brain size was noticeably smaller, due to the years of isolation and under-stimulation.
See this more recent article on child neglect and its effects from St.Petersburg Times at tampabay.com. This article is much more graphic in its detail of the case. Please be advised that it may be quite upsetting.
The Good news
There's good news?
Yes. The good news is that this is an extreme case as mentioned earlier.
When you give your infant stimulation and interact with her, you're giving her what she needs to develop properly.
The good news is that infant activities are not hard to think of. What do you like to do during the day? What do you do on a regular basis? If you can involve your child by just bringing her along or talking to her through daily events, either directly or narratively (e.g., "Mommy's now getting the milk.") that alone will have tremendous benefits.
If you're looking for specific things to do, there are literally millions of things you could do to help your child's brain develop.
Instead, keep this one rule in mind. It works for me and I think it'll help to put your mind at ease when thinking about infant activities.
Let your baby experience the world through all of her senses.
The purpose of this page wasn't to scare you, but to make you realize that infant activities isn't a complicated science. Yes, neglect has its price, but if you're reading this page, the chances are that you're nowhere close to being a neglectful parent. Don't be overwhelmed with wondering what kinds of activities you should do with your child.
It's not a school. You're not running a school. You're a parent.
Engage your child by letting them explore. Let them experience the world. Show them and introduce them to different things and different ways of experiencing things.
If they want to touch arranged flower, yucky mud, or that sticky jam, let them. Dirty clothes and hands can be reclaimed with simple soap and water. Missed opportunities can't.
While you're at it, why don't you renew your sense of wonder and participate with her? It'll be good for you too.
"education at play"
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