Lighting up young brains
Save the Children | Published 2016 | Jerome Finnegan, with support from Kayte Lawton
How parents, carers and nurseries support children’s brain development in the first five years
From birth to age two the brain goes through a period of rapid development and growth
During the first two years of life the brain displays a remarkable capacity to absorb information and adapt to its surroundings.
A fully-grown adult brain has an estimated 86 billion neurons, the majority of which are already formed in the womb (Herculano-Houzel 2009, Goswami 2015).
By age one, the size of a child’s brain is already 72% of adult volume on average and by age two it has grown to 83% of an adult’s volume on average (Knickmeyer et. al. 2008).
At age two, the connections that are being formed in a child’s brain are happening about twice as fast as in an adult’s brain (Stiles & Jernigan 2010).
Between age three to five the brain starts to process information in more efficient and complex ways
From age three, a child’s brain begins a phase called ‘synaptic pruning’. This is a period in a child’s life where the brain becomes more efficient and more complex through refining the networks that were formed during the first two years.
At age three a child’s brain is estimated to be about twice as active as an adult’s brain (Brotherson 2009).
At age five a child’s brain uses almost twice as much energy as an adult’s brain to support brain development (Kuzawa et al 2013)
On average, a child’s vocabulary expands from 55 words at 16 months, to 225 words at 23 months to 573 words at 30 months (Goswami 2015)Return