The child's brain is developing through repeating actions, laughing and imagining things.

The amazing brain

The sections about brain development called ‘Te hinengaro mīharo’ run through all the Whakatipu booklets.

‘Hinengaro’ translates as mind, thought, intellect, consciousness and awareness. ‘Mīharo’ means ‘amazing’ or ‘marvellous’. In other words, these sections are about the amazing brain.

We hear a lot about brain development in the first 3 years of a child’s life and how it’s the period of the most rapid brain growth.

In Te Māhuri 1, pages 8 and 9, we’re told that a 3-year-old’s brain is nearly 80 percent the size of an adult’s brain. That’s already pretty amazing considering how small a 3-year-old’s body is compared with an adult’s.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What do you think makes the child’s brain so big?

Ask whānau to think about some of the things our tamariki have learned by this age. They’ve learned how to walk, run, jump, climb, talk and sing. Many know how to use a remote control, an iPad and a smartphone.

  • What else has your tamaiti learned?

Repetition repetition repetition

All of this learning has happened by doing things over and over again. Each time something is repeated, a fatty coating called myelin is being produced in the brain. Myelin wraps around the neurons, creating a protective insulation that ensures messages are sent efficiently from neuron to neuron.

The myelin coating around the many, many neurons are part of why the brain is increasing in size.

Imagine that

At this age, our tamaiti is better able to imagine things. They can visualise or see things in their mind due to the new connections in the vision centres of their brain. That’s why we see an increase in their creativity and imaginative play.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What have you noticed about your child’s imagination?
  • Can you think why there might be pluses and minuses associated with this new ability?
  • What might they be?

Our brain likes a giggle

There’s an interesting fact on page 9 about laughing. It reminds us that laughing is good for all of us – not just kids.

Endorphins, known as the brain’s ‘feel good’ chemicals, are released when we laugh, especially when we laugh with friends and family.

What have you laughed about with your tamaiti lately?

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