New op ed by Senator, Doctor and friend Bill Frist, who is on the
@2SmallToFail leadership council. Worth a read. http://goo.gl/zBpI6H
Just as a healthy diet and physical activity help toddlers grow, reading and talking to them helps their brains develop and build language skills that form the foundation for learning the rest of their lives. / Getty Images
As a surgeon, I understand the exigency of a window of opportunity. In cardiac transplant, procurement of a donor heart starts a strict four-hour window until that heart needs to be beating in the chest of the accepting patient — a patient who is almost always a plane ride away.
Neuroscience research has revealed a similarly crucial window of opportunity. Between birth and 5 years old, 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs, and at a lightning-fast pace. Every sight, smell, sound and sensation makes an impact. Long before most children step foot into a classroom, neurons are building networks, cognition is exploding, language is developing, and the foundations are being laid for a lifetime of learning.
Outside of that five-year window, you lose opportunities you may never get back. Children who don’t develop sufficient language skills in those first years are up to six times more likely to experience reading problems in school. When children fall behind in reading, every other aspect of education suffers.