How you can help your child's brain development

There is increasing evidence that a young child?s environment plays an important part in brain development. Providing a child with appropriate developmental activities and experiences can lead to an increase in brain cell connections. By so doing, the child is not only using existing brain cells but these increased connections can actually reshape the brain and enhance the brain's power to learn and remember new material.

Here is a short checklist to serve as a reminder of what parents can do for their child's brain development.

*Provide opportunities for your child to explore and gather information both in your home and outside the home.

*Give your child many opportunities to develop new skills, such as sorting, putting things in order, comparing, and discovering relationships, such as cause and effect.

*If your child doesn't know how to get started on a new task, you can provide some guided rehearsal, but have him become actively involved as soon as possible. He will learn better as an active participant than as an observer.

*Don't push if your child's behavior indicates that a task is too difficult. Back off to a simpler task at which your child can experience success.

*Avoid disapproval, mockery, or teasing if your child makes a mistake.

*Talk to your child in simple language to explain new words and concepts.

*Give praise and encouragement for good effort and celebrate new accomplishments.