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Study shows first 8 years most important in children

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TYLER (KYTX) - The foundation for your child's success is determined in the first 8 years of their life. That's according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

"It's important to know that 80% of your child's brain is formed by the age of 3. So, before the child even gets into school or into a daycare, usually that brain is pretty well set."

Janice Younger is a licensed counselor for St. Paul's Medical Clinic and meets with children daily. She says there's a reason why 8 is such an important age in determining a child's success.

"That's about the time the brain kind of begins to shut down. It's kind of laid down pretty much the language, the skills, the math, the music, all of that is laid down by that time. So, third grade is a good time to test children."

In order for your children to perform well, Younger says you have to instill safety and structure in their lives at a very young age.

"When you have a chaotic mind and brain, you don't think in an orderly way."

 She says this is something you can teach your children in very simple ways.

"If you just take your laundry and put it in a big bag and stick it in your room on the floor, that's not orderly. So, we fold the clothes and then we put them away."

Marell Sells has an eight-year-old daughter. She says taking an active role in her life has made all the difference in school.

"Make sure you help them in their homework every night. Make sure you help them read. We read 20, 15, 30 minutes per night sometimes. And, make sure they know what they're doing in class. Just don't give them the homework and say do it because it's homework. Actually help them."

Younger says actively helping your children succeed in life is the best thing parents can do.

"They're their children's first and most important teachers."

Sleeping and eating habits should be part of the structure in children's lives. Younger says you should teach your children that fruits and vegetables make them smarter and so does a good night's rest. Elementary school children need a solid 10 hours in order for their brains to develop at night.

Younger says social skills are also very important. Teach your children the importance of relationships and empathy for others.

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