“The best things in life are free”

So you’re approaching your son/daughters birthday, you’ve spent hours in the mall trying to find the perfect gift.  Paid an arm and a leg, only to find that when they get through the wrapping paper, they’ve ditched the toy to play with the box. That’s because for most toddlers, it’s about the experiences and interactions generated not what’s most hip in the toy market.

And so, the aha moments begin…. When you realise, like I have, that the best things in life really are free. 

From birth to the age of five, a child’s brain develops more than at any other time in life with early brain development having a lasting impact on a child’s ability to learn and navigate the environment they find themselves in. By age three, a child’s brain continues to group to about 80% of adult size. During this time, the quality of a child’s experiences, be it positive or negative will help shape how their brain develops and ultimately how they view the world around them in years to come.

When a child first enters the world, touch is the first sensory modality to switch on and is often referred to as the mother of all senses. Interesting when you consider the fact that when a baby of Pacific decent is born, he or she will most likely have a room full of visitors during its first few days of life.  Traditionally when held, the blessings of elder’s, family members and siblings are whispered in his or her ear.  He or she is cradled in the kaliloa (mothers, fathers, guardians arms) where the transfer of wisdom takes place. While this has had cultural significance for thousands of years, science proves that it also effects brain development. While everything seems new, an infant learns to navigate the world around them through the repetitive use of these senses and when we repeat, repeat, repeat.

There are a lot of age-related milestones, but here are some take home tips on things you can do to help your child develop

Talk to your babies

Talking really does matter, and it starts as soon as they’re born. Your child will pick up more words and a different language through your repetitive interactions.

Invite your child to participate

Whether it’s mowing the lawns, watering the garden, singing or having an interactive conversation with others over breakfast, children need back and forth interaction to develop well, and everyday experiences offer that. 

Play is learning

Playing outside or even jumping in puddles helps create memories but also develops your child’s co-ordination.

Invest in quality time

Where you are attentive to the cues given off by your child.  This costs next to nothing but can make a real difference in the lives of your children, and yourself. 

Proving the statement true – the best things in life “really” are free.

Dr Seini Taufa, Research Lead for Moana Research and Brainwave Facilitator,
and proud Aunty to many nieces and nephews .

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