Nature vs nurture, in regard to what may influence a child more, has been a topic of great debate for many, many years. Historically, many believed that nature was more important in shaping who we become, whilst others believed that children were ‘blank slates’ and parents could therefore ‘mould’ their child’s development.
This is a topic that has always fascinated me….. I am an identical twin so my sister and I have the same genes! Even so; we are very much our own personalities. My career is in Education and I live on a farm in Scotland; my sister is a lawyer, living in London.
As a parent, are we completely responsible for our child’s personality? Does what we do with them during their early years have much effect on it?
Most experts now acknowledge that both nature and nurture influence who we become. The environment in which our children grow up will therefore have an impact on how their genetic tendencies develop. For example, a child may have an innate musical ability, but the genes alone will not make them musically talented; a child will have to practice this skill from an early age.
Knowing that nurture does play a part in our children’s development brings us to an important fact; we know for certain that 90% of brain development happens by the age of 5. During a child’s pre-school years, their brain will develop more rapidly than at any other point in their life. Providing young children with enriching learning experiences through play, will have a direct influence on how their brain develops. This brain development will have a life-long impact on the child’s ability to learn. This is why what and how children learn through play during the early years is so important.
My sister and I now have our own children. Genetically, they are half siblings. Will their different environments lead to very different outcomes? Only time will tell but one thing is for sure, whilst genetics (nature) will play a part, what we can both do is provide our children with an environment which gives them the skills and tools to become successful lifelong learners.
Professor Angelica Ronald ‘How do nature and nurture affect my child’s development?’
Arizona PBS ‘Early childhood brain development has lifelong impact’
Dr. Anshu Sethi (Paediatrician) ‘What is the Impact of Nature and Nurture on Child Development’.