How Brain Development Influences Holistic Development in Children

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  • 0:04 Holistic Development
  • 0:43 Neurons
  • 1:13 Developmental Skills
  • 2:52 Learning Environments
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

What can you do as a pre-K teacher to stimulate brain development in young children? This lesson will help you understand the importance of developing the whole child and provide you with some suggested activities for doing just that.

Holistic Development

Your Pre-K school is conducting a mini-workshop to help parents prepare their children for school. The teachers are responsible for creating a presentation that enables parents to understand the importance of holistic development.

Holistic development is a way of activating the entire brain as students acquire new information. The goal is to provide young children with experiences that allow them to develop both hemispheres of their brain. Holistic development activities support four main areas:

  1. Cognitive
  2. Language
  3. Physical
  4. Social-Emotional

During this lesson, take note of what you can utilize when helping your fellow educators and parents realize the vitality of holistic development in the early years.


Stimulation experienced through the five senses encourages a child's brain to develop and make connections. Neurons, or cells that carry and transmit impulses, in a child's brain actually grow!

Therefore, more experiences = more neural connections

Using the holistic approach, you can reach each section of a child's brain, allowing these neurons to multiply through various experiences.

Let's take a look at what skills are related to each main area of development. The image provided shares a brief overview of information for each area.

Main Areas of Holistic Development

Developmental Skills


Cognitive development refers to a child's overall intelligence, or how he or she continues to learn and process new information. It requires a mastery of skills and progress in all four domains. A child's brain grows to 80% of its adult size by age three. By age five, 90% of a child's brain has already developed, allowing him or her to more efficiently and quickly retain information.


When given the right opportunities, children, particularly those from birth to age 5, rapidly develop language skills. That's why it's so important to expose children to language on a daily basis, which allows the brain to develop connections related to speech.


Children also need experiences that help them develop the social-emotional parts of the brain, including those related to positive relationships. Beginning at birth, they should feel safe and trust their parents, which can help to build a strong foundation for future attachments as they gain confidence.

Young children also need encouragement and support when it comes to controlling and expressing emotions. For example, there's a reason why we call them the ''Terrible Twos''. As a child's brain develops, he or she may be overwhelmed with emotions and may need assistance in taking charge of those emotions. Healthy social-emotional development allows a child to be more readily available to learn and make connections in all other developmental areas.


Finally, energy and physical activity promote the neural connections required for overall development. Exercise and movement increase blood flow to the brain, providing it with the energy it needs to acquire new information. Early experiences where children learn through their senses can help them understand the world around them. New concepts can be digested as students learn through applicable concrete activities.

Learning Environments

Learning environments, both at home and at school, play a vital role in holistic development. As mentioned, most of a child's brain development occurs even before he or she enters Kindergarten. This is why it is crucial to provide a rich learning environment that fosters the development of the whole child.

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