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The Developing Brain

The human brain mediates our movements, our senses, our thinking, feeling and behaving. The amazing, complex neural systems in our brain, which determine who we become, are shaped early.

In utero and during the first four years of life, a child's rapidly developing brain organizes to reflect the child's environment. This is because neurons, neural systems, and the brain change in a "use-dependent" way. Physical connections between neurons — synaptic connections — increase and strengthen through repetition, or wither through disuse. It follows, therefore, that each brain adapts uniquely to the unique set of stimuli and experiences of each child's world. Early life experiences, therefore, determine how genetic potential is expressed, or not.

As the brain organizes, the lower more regulatory systems develop first. During the first years of life, the higher parts of the brain become organized and more functionally capable. Brain growth and development is profoundly "front loaded" such that by age four, a child's brain is 90% adult size! This time of great opportunity is a biological gift. In a nurturing environment, a child can grow to achieve the full potential pre-ordained by underlying genetics. We promote this by fostering conditions of optimal development.

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