Your child and neuroscience

Illustration of a growing tree
General Birth to 18 years

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, particularly the brain—its structure, its development and how it affects the way we behave, think and learn. Thanks to research in this area, we now know a lot more about what goes on inside our children’s heads.

Here are some of the facts we’ve learned:

  • Most of the brain’s development—between 85 per cent and 90 per cent—happens in the first five years of a child’s life. This is when the foundations are laid for learning, behaviour, thinking, communication, emotional and social skills.
  • Not only does the human brain develop most of its neurons during the first five years, this is also the time when our brains are at their most receptive. In fact, absorbing new information is critical to the formation of active neural pathways.
  • Neuroscientists have found that around 20 per cent of our development is the result of genetics (nature) and 80 per cent the result of environmental factors (nurture).
  • The brain develops through use. It relies on experiences for growth and development.
  • Brain development depends on a positive environment—good nutrition, health, nourishment and stimulating parenting. Parents play a vital role in providing these essentials.
  • Children learn by being engaged and by doing, watching and copying.
  • While the brain does not actually grow much in adolescence, it does undergo a massive reorganisation between the ages of 12 and 25. During this time, there is a unique window of opportunity for the neurons in our brains to develop stronger, richer connections.

A growing brain is like a growing plant: it thrives on attention, warmth, good nutrition and care. So every moment you spend playing, talking, listening and interacting with your child is helping them learn and grow into confident, well-balanced adults—and we have got the neuroscience to prove it!

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