Nebraska Children: Baby Brains Webinar

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Presentation about the science behind early childhood brain development and how educators, parents and policy makers in Nebraska can ensure that every child gets off to the best possible start in life.

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  • MK to introduce
  • Discuss what it is that you do, and your philosophy of school readiness:Importance of community-based family support to ensure children enter school ready to be successful.Whole child. School readiness begins at birth with healthy development and nurturing relationships, not at kindergarten boot camp with flashcards and worksheets
  • The purpose of Sixpence is the help promote children’s opportunities to experience positive environments that provide for their healthy growth and development during their earliest years, supporting parents as a child’s first and most important teacher, to ensure their success in school and later in life.Sixpence is a unique public-private partnership funded with $40 million from the state and $20 million from the private sector to create the Early Learning Endowment Fund. The earnings are used for locally-matched grants to school districts and their community partners to provide home-based or center-based services for infants and toddlers who are most at risk of school failure, which has been calculated to include as many as 40% of Nebraska’s infants and toddlers.
  • Building upon the successes of the 11 original grantees, recent legislation has offered additional funding and we’ve been able to expand services, and additional technical assistance, to now include 25 grantees, serving almost 700 infants, toddlers, and their families across the state. Sixpence funds also support technical assistance and a robust evaluation. Some evaluation data will be shared later in this presentation.
  • Robust evaluation of program, child, and parenting outcomesSignificant gains inVocabulary and Social-emotional skills which have been shown to be predictive of school successA key finding shows that the longer they are in the program, the better outcomes achieved.
  • So now that you understand a bit about Sixpence, I want to focus on today’s content. Research indicates that the most critical period of brain development is birth to age three and the quality of their early experiences and environments are significant for preparing them for future success. Today I will discuss how early experiences influence brain development, the effects of adverse childhood experiences and how we can prevent and mitigate toxic stress, including Sixpence (or really any high quality early intervention) as a strategy.
  • The brain changes and grows more within the first 3 years of life than it ever will again, laying the architecture for all future learning. At birth, the brain is 25% the volume of an adult brain. After only 1 year, the volume has increased to 70% and by 3 years, the child’s brain is at 85% the volume it will ever reach as an adult.But it’s not just the size of the brain that is undergoing such rapid development….
  • During the first 5 years of life, 700 neural connections are being formed every second. Each of those connections form a circuit of neurons, that electrical impulses travel – creating the roadwork that brainwaves will travel on for the rest of the child’s life. The circuits that are used over and over will get stronger, and those that aren’t used will fall into disrepair and eventually fade away. When those neural circuits are strong and robust, children are better able to acquire and master the skills they’ll need to thrive in school and in life. According to neuroscientists, the strength and resiliency of these connections depends on the quality of children’s early learning experiences.
  • These neural connections happen sequentially, building on more fundamental functions first, then graduating to more advanced functions. During a baby’s first few months of life, the bulk of connections being built relate to sensory functions such as vision and hearing. At this stage, our Sixpence educators will often work with parents and babies on visual acuity exercises and experimenting with sound and touch to help solidify these neural pathways. Through the first 3 months, the neural connections involving vision and the interpretation of images are being formed, and at 5 months babies can see in 3 dimension for the first time. By the time the baby reaches 4 or 5 months, we’re seeing peak neural connections in the area of language. This is when you’ll see a lot of cooing and babbling, and it’s important for parents and caregivers to interact, encouraging the baby to mimic their sounds. After 6-8 months, we start to see those first language skills- recognizing verbal labels for an object, which plays a role in knowledge retrieval and memory and is critical for the higher executive and cognitive functions to come. As the child nears his first birthday, the higher cognitive functions begin to form in the brain – the child’s self-awareness develops and is able to follow one-step instructions, showing preferences more, and is learning to coordinate physical action with their developing sensory system. Between 18-36 months – speech production. It is at this time in a child’s life that we’ll start hearing more words, sentences and mimicking of the language they hear. Between 2-5 years – analyzing a string of symbols. These are pre-reading skills, the ability to read social cues, and the understanding that symbols represent words, and that letters represent sounds. Also executive functioning: working memory (capacity to plan and follow through,) inhibitory control (ability to adjust and manage positive and negative emotions,) and cognitive or mental flexibility (focus attention on, engage in, & persist at tasks.) EF predicts academic success better than IQ, socioeconomic background, or math/literacy knowledge and the effect is cumulative.
  • So the timeline of neural development in the first years looks something like this – with motor and language skills constantly developing, sensory skills wrapping up earlier, and emotional development and math and logic continuing further.It’s important to understand that these skills don’t develop independent of one another. They are interrelated and depend on the solid neural foundation pathways in which to build upon. So when young children experience childhood experiences, it effects their developing brain and future development and learning.
  • This video highlights that problem. You may have already seen this, but it’s quick and worth repeating.Many short videos and info sheets on the executive functioning, toxic stress and brain development are available on Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child website.
  • And not all stress is bad. When young children are protected by supportive, healthy, attached relationships with their parents and caregivers, they learn to cope with everyday challenges. Stress hormones block the neurotransmitters in the brain, and when children experience traumatic or prolonged stress (such as these) it can become “toxic” and affects the child’s developing brain. They’re physiological unable to learn more advanced skills and can become delayed. We’ve seen the effects in children who are in a constant state of heightened arousal…they’re hyper-reactive to stimuli, in a continual “fight or flight” mode. This can help to explain the ever increasing rates of ADHD diagnoses. When we understand that the “symptoms” of ADHD are actually skill deficits, and can examine a child’s adverse early experiences, we can make better informed, comprehensive intervention plans
  • Exposure to adverse childhood experiences can have a cumulative toll on physical and mental health, as seen here in this graph. Children who have more risk factors for toxic stress are far more likely to exhibit a developmental delay. When you consider that risk factors are usually clustered– a family with addiction is more likely to have neglect, mental illness and overall instability – it becomes even more worrisome. This is why Sixpence seeks to serve children with the most number of risk factors at the earliest age, ideally prenatally. Last year, 62% of Sixpence families had 3 or more risk factors.
  • The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood exposure to traumatic stressors and later-life health and well-beingThe greater the number of adverse experiences in early childhood, the greater the likelihood of health-relatedproblems later in life, such as alcoholism, depression, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • So not only do ACEs and TS affect the developing child, but we are all affected by….Ineffective learning environments caused by problem behaviors such as inabilities to stay on task, control emotions, and retain information- those executive functioning skills. ….Lower workforce viability due to lack of those underdeveloped executive functioning skills often cited by employers who can’t seem to find workers with the kind of mental flexibility and impulse control required for the job.
  • So since we know the toll it takes on us all, what can we do about it?Without adequate supports to help them recover, children who have been exposed to trauma may develop coping mechanisms and behaviors that interfere with academic success and impair social-emotional development. However, communities can support families to help prevent these negative consequences by providing a network of supports to help all members of the families to overcome traumatic experiences.Science shows that providing stable, responsive, nurturing supportive relationships in the earliest years of life can prevent or eve reverse the damaging effects of adverse childhood experiences with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior, and health. Therefore, protecting the establishment and continuation of healthy parent/caregiver-child attachments, especially in the first few years, should be our highest priority.
  • Recognizing and responding to children and adults who have experienced toxic stress and ACEs at the earliest moment will allow more effective and cost effective interventions. So we must encourage community and state leaders to focus on early prevention of problems. A penny saved is truly a penny earned. For every dollar spent on prevention, seven dollars are saved on more expensive interventions later down. It is far more cost effective to ensure young children are developing properly from birth than to try to battle mental health issues and executive function problems later in life. This includes good prenatal care and nutrition, which can benefit a baby’s brain development so she has the strongest start possible.
  • If you’re a parent, grand parent, or caregiver – or an aunt, uncle or friend of anyone with children (particularly of children at risk of toxic stress), understanding the neurological development of young children can help you model healthy interactions that strengthen those neural connections.5 r’s Comforting and soothing babies in stress to get their brain circuitry used to performing stress recovery Sensory activities/toys to develop vision and touch, like black and white toys and working with different textures Serve and return interactions for children first experimenting with communication- talk to babies and toddlers about everything… what you’re doing, what they’re seeing and hearing- Hart & Risley research Reading to children every day to encourage language and nurture a love to learn in children Singing to children and narrating what you’re doing, to help develop language and cognitive skills Play and interaction Peekabo and object permanence activities, like putting an object inside a box and asking where it is, to encourage those higher thinking functions. Social interactions and verbal exchanges between a child and their parent/caregiver are linked to language, cognitive, and social-emotional development, all of which are linked to school success.
  • If you’re a parent, grand parent, or caregiver – or an aunt, uncle or friend of anyone with children (particularly of children at risk of toxic stress), understanding the neurological development of young children can help you model healthy interactions that strengthen those neural connections.5 r’s Comforting and soothing babies in stress to get their brain circuitry used to performing stress recovery Sensory activities/toys to develop vision and touch, like black and white toys and working with different textures Serve and return interactions for children first experimenting with communication- talk to babies and toddlers about everything… what you’re doing, what they’re seeing and hearing- Hart & Risley research Reading to children every day to encourage language and nurture a love to learn in children Singing to children and narrating what you’re doing, to help develop language and cognitive skills Play and interaction Peekabo and object permanence activities, like putting an object inside a box and asking where it is, to encourage those higher thinking functions. Social interactions and verbal exchanges between a child and their parent/caregiver are linked to language, cognitive, and social-emotional development, all of which are linked to school success.
  • Building on the old addage of “it takes a village to raise a child,” each of us are an integral member of that village which holds the power to change a child’s lifeCircle of Security Rooted in Relationships
  • Building on the old addage of “it takes a village to raise a child,” each of us are an integral member of that village which holds the power to change a child’s lifeCircle of Security Rooted in Relationships
  • You can view other success stories and learn more about Sixpence as well as visit these websites for more information on the topics discussed
  • We’ll take questions that have been typed in.This webinar will be archived and will be linked from Sixpence’s website and NCFF’s blog. Feel free to contact Amy directly as well.
  • Nebraska Children: Baby Brains Webinar

    1. 1. Baby Brains How Healthy Brain Development in the First Years Lays the Foundation for All Future Learning
    2. 2. Meet Amy • Associate Vice President of Early Childhood Programs at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation • Administers grants and provides technical assistance for the statewide Sixpence Early Learning program • Works with 25 grant communities in Nebraska, serving nearly 700 children • History with Nebraska Department of Education focusing on kindergarten readiness
    3. 3. High-quality early childhood & parent education that: • Meets the unique developmental needs of very young children • Supports parents as their child’s first and most important teacher The difference is: SingASongOfSixpence.org • Public-private funding partnership • High-quality educators, curricula and environments • Intentional family engagement and education • Outcome accountability through ongoing measurement
    4. 4. Sixpence Children’s Outcomes Vast majority of children met or exceeded individual child outcomes with significant gains in vocabulary and social-emotional skills 86% 95% 96% Language/Vocabulary Social-Emotional Cognition 97% 85% 78% Fine Motor Literacy Mathematics
    5. 5. Sixpence Parent Outcomes 100% 96% 88% Received consistent prenatal care (compared to 75% statewide) Were using proper car seats 94% 97% Had established a medical home Had their children immunized Brought children to wellchild checkups SIGNIFICANT GAINS In building relationships, promoting learning and supporting confidence in their children.
    6. 6. Sixpence Program Outcomes CENTER-BASED PROGRAMS scored in the highest range on the Infant/Toddler Environmental Rating Scale-Revised (ITERS-R) or the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) FAMILY ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMS scored 4.55 out of 5 on Parent-Child Engagement and 4.15 out of 5 on Home Visit Instruction on the Home Visit Rating Scales-A (HoVRS-A).
    7. 7. Today’s presentation • Early experiences influence brain development • Effects of adverse childhood experiences • Preventing & mitigating toxic stress • What can we do?
    8. 8. Source: Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
    9. 9. Source: Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
    10. 10. (in years) Source: Parenting
    11. 11. Source: Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
    12. 12. Significant adversity impairs brain development Source: Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
    13. 13. Adverse Childhood Experiences: Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ACE Study (2012)
    14. 14. Adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress affect us all. • Ineffective learning environments • Lower high-school graduation rate • More unintended pregnancies • Higher crime rate • More spent on public assistance programs, special education and health care • Lower workforce viability • Less robust economy
    15. 15. What can we do about it?
    16. 16. Healthy brain development • Relationships • Respect • Repetition • Routines • Responsive Interactions MOST IMPORTANT: Being a constant presence to provide security so the child feels safe to explore and grow. Source: Zero To Three
    17. 17. Supporting parents as first and most important teachers Informal supports • • • • Family Friends Neighbors Babysitters Formal supports • • • • • Proactive home visitation High-quality early childhood education Parenting classes Community-based socialization opportunities Access to health services, including mental health
    18. 18. Rooted in Relationships Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) Circle of Security
    19. 19. Resources • First Five Nebraska • Center for Children, Families and the Law • NET State of Education in Nebraska • Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University • National Association for the Education of Young Children • Zero to Three National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families • Center for Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning (CSEFEL) • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    20. 20. Questions? Amy Bornemeier, Associate Vice President of Early Childhood Programs abornemeier@nebraskachildren.org www.SingASongOfSixpence.org www.NebraskaChildren.org www.facebook.com/NebraskaChildren Twitter: @NE_Children

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