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"Investing in literacy, especially for families and youth at risk, is an effective crime prevention strategy. Early prevention strategies, that include literacy, can help reduce the risk factors such as poverty, unemployment, and isolation that can lead to crime."

MCL Factsheet

The Effect of Early Experiences on Brain Development

The development of children’s brains depends on many factors including the emotional, intellectual, nutritional and medical support that their families provide for them.

Research shows that interactions with other people and objects are vital for children’s brains to grow and develop, especially during the first three years when trillions of connections between brains cells are made. The ability to understand language, solve problems and get along with people is influenced by experiences as infants and young children. Those who are rarely spoken with, who have few books and toys and who have limited opportunities to explore their environment lack stimulation for optimal brain development.

The Centre’s family literacy programs, among others, start working with children and their families at birth to help parents and caregivers provide the early interactions critical for brain growth and development. All parents are encouraged to talk, sing and read with their children. These actions stimulate children’s understanding and use of language, and language proficiency is the foundation for developing literacy skills.

Family literacy programs also provide participants with the opportunity to interact with other children and adults in a positive environment. Group interaction allows children to learn to cooperate with others, to cope with frustration, to resolve conflicts in appropriate ways and to develop self-confidence. The more confident they are, the more willing children are to try new challenges, be resilient in the face of difficulties and gain the experiences required for healthy brain development.

Family literacy activities, which all families can do, are positive, language and literacy based interactions that occur naturally between young children and their parents and caregivers. Family literacy programs are offered to families who may need extra encouragement and support to provide stimulating interactions that facilitate the development of children’s brains and, with that, their language and literacy skills.



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