Different areas of the brain develop and mature in different stages and at varying paces. A series of “critical periods” or “windows of opportunity” occur during the first years when the brain is most flexible.

At birth, each brain cell (neuron) counts about 2,500 connections (synapses) with other brain cells. This number grows to a peak of about 15,000 synapses per neuron two to three years later. After that, by the principle of “use it or lose it,” the less useful connections begin to weaken or disappear while the more useful ones are reinforced by experience.

Although the order and duration of the critical periods are influenced by many biological and environmental factors, there is no longer any doubt that the first years are decisive for the construction of the brain. In particular, the critical period for learning the basis for math and logic is between ages one to five, while the critical period for language development begins at birth.

Missing the appropriate stimulations when the windows of opportunity are open doesn’t mean that the children will never learn the corresponding skills, but that they will need more time and effort to develop them later.



Image: The Pig – Number 3 / ChildUp.com