Diving right into the science behind Early Brain Development

Worry not, my two readers, today we’re getting right to the point.
When we first started researching early childhood development, we came across this study from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. Look at how amazing this visual is, it was the spark we needed at the start of our Dardasha journey:
Science of Early Brain Development
This graph shows us that our young brains develop in a series of sequential and overlapping stages through the rapid formation of neural connections, key to our long and winding developmental journey:
  • Sensory Pathways (vision and hearing): These connections start forming before birth and continue to develop quickly during our first year of life.
  • Language: The window for optimal language development opens shortly after birth and peaks within the first few years.
  • Higher Cognitive Functions: These functions, which include reasoning, problem-solving, and abstract thinking, develop later but build on the foundation set by sensory and language experiences.
Here’s an excerpt from the study: The basic architecture of the brain is constructed through an ongoing process that begins before birth and continues into adulthood. Early experiences affect the quality of that architecture by establishing either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the learning, health and behavior that follow.” (emphasis mine)

What does this tell us? 
  • A newborn’s experience in just their first year of life is captured through neural connections for vision, hearing and language
  • The brain builds from the bottom up, starting with a focus on basic skills, and then more complex skills built on top. Our brain is shaped by these early experiences.
  • Language is a key milestone for later development.
Considering each of the unique circumstances I talked about in my last post, my key takeaway is this:  Not to underestimate my children’s inherent ability to absorb everything around them, no matter how young.

On Language
Language development sits at the center of this graph’s timeline, sandwiched between the overlapping sensory and cognitive windows, beginning right after birth and peaking around the first three years. This represents a critical window when the brain is soaking up linguistic input. During these years, our children are not passive recipients of language and communication but active participants in absorbing and making sense of the words and messages they hear.

A Strong Foundation
When our children are exposed to a rich language environment filled with talking, reading, singing, and interactive play, their neural connections solidify and expand. This foundation is crucial for later language proficiency and cognitive abilities.

Communication is Key
Research has consistently shown that early language exposure significantly impacts vocabulary size. Vocabulary isn’t just about the number of words a child knows but the depth and complexity of their language skills, which supports better communication and literacy skills as they get older.
Language and expression as a window towards better socially and emotionally adjusted children cannot be emphasized enough. When my son can formulate his thoughts and express them in a way I can understand, it positions me to help them better.

This study sums up perfectly why at Dardasha, we started with our First Words collection emphasizing focus and understanding of the world around them in Arabic through:
  • Simple and eye-catching design.
  • The use of realistic images.
  • One image and word per page.
  • Quality board books that encourage a child to hold and play with them.
So when parents ask us when they should start with their children, we tell them from day 1. It doesn’t matter if day 1 is when they’re born, or years later, it’s never too early or too late to start.

Simple exposure to our mother tongue does so much more than we realize. This concept even inspired our name and slogan:
دردشة.. تبدأ بكلمة
Dardasha sparks conversation.

How We Do It is Simple The beauty of all this is that it alleviates the self-imposed burden to ‘teach’ our children Arabic. Language development, like every other developmental milestone, is a part of their journey and identity, if we create an environment around them that normalizes it to the degree that we can.

Unburdened by the pressure, all we can do is create an ecosystem that lifts them up and connects them deeper to their language and heritage without them even realizing it.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you for reading.
- Nabih  

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.