The Science of parenting

Brain development and tamariki wellbeing

There’s heaps of evidence that a loving, caring and stimulating environment grows great brains, and great people. In 2014 UNICEF brought together 16 neuroscientists to discuss the influence of early experience on brain development and function. It wasn’t just a talkfest – these discussions led to three key findings:

  1. The relationship between genes and environment is closer than we ever imagined. Genes predict our brain development but it is experience that sculpts it. The more experiences and opportunities our brain gets to grow, the better. In other words – the environment kids grow up in really matters
  2. The brain is complex – it develops overtime and is connected to every part our bodies. Different regions of the brain have distinct roles, and they don’t all develop at once. Our experiences shape how our brains develop.
  3. Early experiences matter. While brain development can continue through life, it occurs most quickly before birth and through early childhood. In the first years of life neurons in our brains form new connections at the astounding rate of 700-1000 per second – a pace that is not repeated again.

Interested in learning a little more about early brain development and some strategies for parenting young children?

Listen to Nathan Mikaere Wallis talk about early brain development on National Radio’s Nine to Noon.

AKO - ages and stages

Knowing what to expect is a big part of parenting. Sometimes we expect too much for our tamariki's age and stage, and sometimes too little. 

Parent Help have some great guidelines on what children go through at various stages.

Brainwave Trust - Ages and Stages