Children’s brains grow rapidly, forming as many as 250,000 neurons per minute. Around the age of 11, the brain will start “pruning,” which is the process of keeping connections that are useful and eliminating those that are not.
At about this age, the formation of new neurons slows down, and the brain starts economizing for the long life ahead. If a connection is useful, it becomes permanent; if it’s not, it’s simply eliminated. As much as one-third of connections may be lost due to brain pruning. For this reason, it is important for children this age to be active in school, sports, music, hobbies, and social relationships. They are literally hard wiring their brains for the remainder of their lives, so we want them to be wired for accomplishment, not for lying on the couch and watching TV.
Once the brain pruning is complete, the brain loses some of its capabilities. For example, by 13 the language centers are completely developed so learning a new language after that becomes harder (but not impossible).
For more information about other developments of the brain as your child grows, click here to see your options.