Our brain is made up of approximately 100 billion neurons which are greatly malleable and adaptable to life. Experiments have shown that neurons have an almost unlimited potential for growth and development and that we presently use only about 10–15 percent of our brain’s capacity. Compared to all the galaxies in the universe, our brain is the most complex structure known to man. It is obvious: we are walking cosmic potential.
When a child is born, his or her brain is only about 20 percent complete. During the first three years of life the developing brain establishes a basic neural platform for identity. And contrary to our common belief, this crucial development is not pre-programmed by our genes. Rather, it is highly affected by environmental factors. Science has fundamentally revised our understanding of the DNA in the last few decades. Let me explain this through an analogy:
Think of an architectural plan which is drawn with great complexity and perfection. No matter how elaborate the plan, a plan alone will not build a structure. Carrying out of the design requires good building materials and the right environmental factors. There is nothing automatic in this process. The DNA offers an idea, a pattern, a mere possibility. The genius in our genes still needs to be self-actualized!
Consider this study: A cat had one healthy eye sewn shut at birth. When the eye was opened a few weeks later it was permanently blind. Vision was the purpose and potential. The genes for this purpose were healthy and available. However, those genes needed to be activated through experience. Without such early activation genetic possibilities were not manifested.
In his book Ability Development from Age Zero Shinichi Suzuki describes that Mozart would have been tone deaf if he had never heard music as a child. His DNA offered the possibility for musicality, but the actual experiences with music were required for his neurons to structurally lay out this high level of talent. The stimulation of this neurological adaptation has to take place during crucial windows in early development, and it cannot be repeated at a later time.
Animal experiments have shown this scientific fact, repeatedly. Young animals with the same genetic endowment develop completely different looking neurons and brain structures. If positive and stimulating experiences are not obtained early in life, the potential for development goes unused and is eventually partially or entirely lost, as stated by brain anatomist Dr. Marian Diamond in her fascinating book, ‘Magic Trees of the Mind’: “It’s use it or loose it right from the start.”
“Our basic understanding of human infancy has changed dramatically,” says leading neuropsychologists, Dr. Alan Schore. The adaptability of very young brains to their environment is amazingly powerful. These profound inner processes of learning are taking place long before accomplishments can be measured or even seen. Mind maps, talents, and abilities are established at a rapid pace.
It is estimated that 95 percent of everything we ever learn has been learned between birth and 7 years of age. This is not just intellectual knowledge about words, numbers and colors, within that crucial span of time, the child learns a way of being. Today, we hold the keys to understanding how talent, genius, and identity are created. Not in schools, but in the unconscious cycles of early childhood. Childhood is the doorway through which our highest intelligence and even our spiritual nature can connect itself to our human form.
It must be noted that learning in early childhood cannot be achieved with a good outcome through stringent adult control. It is not a mental process. This form of learning is a powerful neurological adaptation, which flourishes best in an enriched and joyful environment. As adults we are charged with a big responsibility to be instrumental in shaping the brains of our little ones.
What are the environmental building blocks that we offer to their innate natural genius? Are we igniting their vast unseen creative potential and self-esteem? Or, rather are we rushing and stressing them to perform in a superficial world, made up of too many Do’s and Don’ts, drowned by too much “entertainment,” so as to numb the spirit of the child with the use of TV and computer screens? Do we understand that the bond that we allow to be created with our children is the greatest gift of empowerment that we can give them? Are we able to validate and acknowledge children, beyond our expectations, for who they are?
Although this knowledge may seem challenging, I believe there is good news in this new understanding. The first, being that every child has a vast genial potential, and secondly, as we awaken their natural genius in the early stages, we can change our culture for the better, by raising self-actualized and happy children. Imagine a more peaceful world of tomorrow through the enlightened parenting of today. Powerful.
Tremendous talent will emerge from our children as we shift our focus from pressured performance and competition to inspired teaching in rich environmental settings. While teaching our children, we must always look for and believe in what is yet unseen. Remember that Einstein was not validated as a genius by his school teachers and university professors! Identity is complex, dynamic, and highly individual. It cannot be measured and compared in its “psycho-embryonic stages” (Dr. Maria Montessori). A child’s vital identity begins at birth and will expand naturally. How it expands is up to us. Today, we have the knowledge to free our children from cultural programming and allow their dynamic selves to unfold in freedom. I invite you to believe in, validate and free the cosmic potential and individual genius in your child.
You can learn more about children and their brain development by subscribing to Hannah’s newsletter at TenderGenius.com, where you can also learn more about her classes and services.
Image by TheJCB