Happy new year to you all! So it’s January, the time for fresh starts and new beginnings… or as it is in our household, the time to just do the same stuff over and over ?
It’s been a couple of week since my last blog and that’s mainly due to the chaos of Christmas and as joyful as it is and especially for little ones it’s also pretty exhausting! I imagine we’re all feeling a bit overindulged and exhausted. Although I already miss the hub of Christmas and the amazing time spent with friends and family. I too realise I quite like the mundane routines of everyday life.
Thinking about routines and how so many of us are creatures of habit started me thinking about how our youngest ones also do love a routine!
The Same Again Please!
I don’t know about you and yours but my daughter absolutely loves doing the same things in the same way … over and over and over .. she’s always been a creature of habit but at almost 5 now she still hasn’t grown out of the need to often do things in the same way at the same time and constantly seems to create new well worn repeated habits and pattens of behaviour.
Most recently this involves her most latest obsession- making houses for her babies! This involves den building all around the house and outdoors, using every possible item available to her. Thus ensues the piles of blankets, bags, baby doll props, cushions, moving of furniture and finding secret spaces and so forth to create such elaborate homesteads for her favourite dollies!
Interestingly she has also managed to recruit her fellow little explorers in such mega structures and I’ve often walked into the living room to find four or five separate constructions, with each child in their own little den with an array of objects and resources piled on top of them. This happens frequently and as I panic at the ever increasing mess and feel slightly claustrophobic. Thus also reminding me why I love to operate 80% of little explorers outdoors ?! I actually stop and take a moment to think about what is going on…….
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat…..
So …. 90% of a child’s brain development happens before the age of 5! Wow I hear you say … and also that is quite overwhelmingly scary. The influence we have on their brains is huge and the responsibility of that is rightfully daunting. I am so intrigued by the brain development and I will be dedicating a lot of my blog posts to this amazing neuroscience in the future.
However with regard to these repeated play sequences what is most fascinating is that what is happening during these processes is their brains are actually mapping out new pathways and laying down the hardwiring. Repeated patterns of behaviour and play like this actually hardwire the child’s brain. So why we may all be tearing our hair out at their incessant need to do it again, and again … and again what is actually happening is the brain is developing and securing new synapses.
Play it again Sam!
Recently some very clever science people have also determined that it takes 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done through play in which case it only takes between 10-20! (Dr Karyn Purvis). The reaction OMG comes to mind and I bet these clever scientists were exposed to a great deal of play when younger to come up with such wonderful information!
This is astounding when you think of it and it also makes me wonder why our children are not playing more in schools …. but that’s a blog topic for a different time ?.
This is also why all the great theorists of child development so heavily talk about play as being the key to early childhood brain development. Piaget (1936) talks about how children construct knowledge by exploring and manipulating the world around them. This is literally the definition of play !
So whilst our children might be driving us nuts by doing the same things over and over .. they are actually using their highly honed skills to create new pathways in their brains. So let’s all celebrate the mundane madness of routines and whilst they may drive us crazy we can relish in the fact that they are actually establishing super brains!
With this in mind next time I’ll be talking more on this subject and how it links to ‘Schemas’ my all time favourite topic for kids … oh and although it may sound scary or in some way medical it literally means ‘patterns of play!’ So don’t be alarmed 🙂 x thanks for listening !