Pathways to Wellness

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Critical periods

Research shows that there are critical periods – windows of opportunity – during which time a baby's brain is particularly sensitive to certain kinds of environmental influence.  There is, for example, a critical period for language learning.  If a baby is not exposed to language during this time, either because they cannot hear or because they are not spoken to, they will have difficulty learning language.  The window of opportunity doesn't close shut, but it narrows. 

This is true for both first and second language learning.  Up until the age of 7 years, children easily learn a second language.  That makes it possible for English-speaking children to easily learn a second language in French Immersion programs.  From 7 years on, it gets more and more difficult to learn a second language as many adults can attest to!


Hearing is essential to learning language.  The earlier a hearing problem is discovered, the easier it is to correct the problem. That is why all babies born at Whitehorse General Hospital have their hearing checked out by specially trained nurses within the first 12 hours.  You can learn more about the newborn hearing screening program, and what you can do to help your child learn language by looking at the brochure developed by Whitehorse General Hospital.  

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