Stress-free environments - Promoting healthy brain development

Many educators have realised the need to create nurturing and stress-free environments for children and for adults. Recent brain research tells us that experiences children have or don’t have will affect the way their brain develops, and helps to justify and support these realisations. 
As Shore explains: ‘Early care and nurture have a decisive, long lasting impact on the way people develop, their ability to learn and their capacity to regulate their own emotions’ (Shore, 1997, p.27).
What is a nurturing environment?
A nurturing environment for children is one that nurtures:
  • trust
  • individuality
  • imitation
  • learning potential
  • adults.

Nurturing trust

Children learn best in the context of important relationships. One of the most important factors influencing healthy brain development is the relationship with key adults in the environment (Shore, 1997). A strong and secure attachment to a nurturing adult is seen to have a protective function against adverse effects of stress and trauma in later life. Perry (1995) suggests that sustained stress, trauma, or emotional neglect early in life can affect brain functions such as empathy, the ability to regulate emotions, and attachment. When an infant or young child sits on your knee for a story, the nerves in her brain begin to ‘fire’, forging pathways and making connections to areas of the brain associated with language, thinking, emotions, and feelings of self-worth and trust. This amazing process takes place with every loving experience the infant and young child has, shaping the child’s future development. Read more...

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