Childhood is all about growing, exploring, and becoming the person that you’re going to be. As babies and kids grow, everything gets bigger, more specialized, and continues to form the building blocks for the next phase of life. One of the most complex parts of a growing body is the brain. It can be complex to try to wrap our minds about what’s going on inside the heads of our little ones. At Stretch-N-Grow, we love to study the special ways kids grow and turn that knowledge into fun ways to make growing FUN! Understanding the facts of development, and the fun ways to help nourish their minds, is a great way to invest in the future while bonding today!
Fun Facts about Brain Development:
*The brain develops in stages related to age.
*Babies are born with 100 BILLION neurons!
**By age 1, a baby’s brain is 50% the size it will be when fully grown.
*One of the best ways to help a kid from ages 2-4 to support brain development is encouraging role playing and imagination.
*By age 5, a kid’s brain is 90% the size it will be when they’re an adult.
*The frontal lobe, which is responsible for voluntary movement, expressive language, and certain higher functions, is developed between ages 9-11.
*The prefrontal cortex – responsible for helping make decisions – is not fully developed until someone reaches their twenties.
So, what are some of Stretch-n-Grow’s favorite ways of supporting twenty years of growth?
Healthy snacks: We love a good, nutrient-packed snack! Good brain foods include yogurt, eggs, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Whether it’s a delicious parfait packed with their favorite fruits, a tasty omelet for breakfast, or even kid-friendly lettuce wraps, there can be creative ways to get even the pickiest of eaters to try these powerful foods.
Music: Jamming out to tunes, taking up an instrument, and playing new music on the radio can engage the mind at any age. Processing complex rhythms, learning to clap to a beat, and making up a song can help the brain learn to process exciting new things. Research even shows exposing children to music can improve math skills later in school. Did you know Stretch-n-Grow offers a Music Stars program to engage little brains this way?
Walks Outside: Making it a habit to take walks can help light the family’s mind up – literally! Brain scans done on people after 20 minutes of sitting versus 20 minutes of walking show higher degrees of brain activity after 20 minutes of walking. It increases oxygen, reduces stress, and feeds the imagination for kids.
The brain is such a cool organ, and it is important as it grows to nourish it, challenge it, and engage it. Whether that’s a healthy snack, a fun Stretch-n-Grow class for music or exercise, or even just a family walk on an evening with good weather, these fun and easy ways to nourish the brain prove that just because it’s a complicated organ doesn’t mean taking care of it has to be!
By: Bethany Verrett