Workshop What’s happening in the early days

Objectives 

  • Increase understanding of how a baby’s brain develops and how parents can help.
  • Understand the role and critical importance of the early first attachment relationship.

Process

Watch The first three years last forever DVD (Brainwave Trust), and discuss it in pairs.

Ask the pairs:

  • What are you doing now with pēpi that’s good for their brain development?

Pairs can then share their ideas with the group. Write up a list and add any key activities that are missing.

Select one idea and ‘unpack’ the brain activity associated with it. Use the 5 senses as a guide. For example, when talking and listening kanohi ki te kanohi (face-to-face) with pēpi:

  • pēpi links sounds with vision by seeing a mouth and hearing its sounds
  • pēpi is close to their parent and can smell and touch them
  • pēpi is being held gently and senses comfort and warmth, safety and security.

Through this activity, connections are forming in and between the sight, sound, vision, touch and smell areas in the brain, and especially in the emotional areas where connections are forming about relationships.

If pēpi is comforted and soothed when upset, they learn to trust the world and the people in it. This builds a base from which all other relationships will grow.

Repeat the process for other activities that the participants suggest. Highlight the power of ‘care moments’ between babies and their whānau to build secure attachment.



Resources

  • SKIP Whakatipu booklets: ‘Te hinengaro māharo’ sections

Home visiting pages

Videos

Try watching these videos. They may help you and the participants to learn more about early brain development and attachment:

  • The first years last foreverOpens in new window. This classic footage hosted on YouTube features many American child development experts, including Dr Bruce Perry and Dr Daniel Siegel. Although it looks dated, the information is as relevant today as when it was filmed in 1997. It once more confirms the critical role that whānau play in children’s early years and in setting them up for a positive future (32 min).
  • Baby’s first 1000 daysOpens in new window. This blog on Storypark’s ‘Mat time’ features Nathan Mikaere-Wallis sharing how important the crucial dyad (one-on-one) relationship is for infants — now and into their future (8 min 41 sec).