Childhood is key. The brain makes the most connections among its cells before your child turns 10. This is also the time when he learns language best. When you use rich language with your young child, you are improving his future vocabulary.
The brain builds itself based on repetitive sensory experiences. The language portion of the brain is enhanced greatly by interaction with others because the brain can then connect words with objects and experiences.
Movement gets the brain going. An active body makes for an active brain, so make learning a hands-on affair.
Stress disables learning. Cortisol, a hormone that kills off connections in the learning and memory parts of the brain, is produced during trauma. While you can't (and shouldn't) protect your child from all stressors, a close relationship with you and other caring adults will help her learn to cope and to feel good about herself.
Music boosts learning. Singing, listening to, and playing music improves spatial orientation and mathematical thinking. Plus, rhyming builds language skills.