– Until recently, new parents was told that infants should grow at their own pace and not be challenged to do things they are not yet ready for. This bizarre assumption can be traced back to the beginning of the last century, when specialists were still convinced that genetic factors determine who we are and that children’s development is not related to their environment and experience. It was then even assumed that early stimulation is detrimental and that children’s development should happen “naturally.”
– Contrary to those former beliefs, and according to Audrey van der Meer, a professor of neuropsychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, recent research has shown that neurons in a young brain increase fast in both numbers and specialization – forming up to a thousand new connections per second – as babies learn new abilities and become more mobile. Van der Meer thinks any newborn needs to be challenged and stimulated. A very good example to understand why it matters, very early: all four-month-old babies of the world are able to distinguish between the sounds of any language; but eight months later, they have already lost practically forever this fabulous ability.
Portrait of Marcelle Roulin by Vincent Van Gogh (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – Wikipedia)