Tuesday, October 27, 2009

brain insights: what every parent should know

I came across braininsights on LinkedIn and I was immediately hooked. This is something every parent should know about and practice.

Deborah McNelis is the creator/owner of braininsights, a presenter, and a brain development specialist. Her training comes from her degrees in Early Childhood Education and Adult Education and her experiences as a preschool and kindergarten teacher, an instructor for an Early Childhood Associate degree program, a brain development specialist, and coordinating a family literacy program. So basically, when it comes to brain development, she knows what she's talking about!

Her product consists of packs of cards, bound together on a ring, that offer activities to do with your child geared to his/her particular stage of life with an explanation of how these activities aid in brain development. Choose from Love Your Baby: Making Connections in the First Year, Fun While I'm One, More To Do While I'm Two, Play with Me While I'm Three and Let's Learn More While I'm Four (Help Me Thrive While I'm Five will be out soon!)

My daughter, Ava, turned two on Sunday so I tried some of these activities with her: Squeezing water out of squirt bottles into the bathtub (uses hands, muscles and brain connections to prepare for writing and drawing), creating an obstacle course for her to crawl through (gets her thinking through challenges to figure out solutions) and hiding objects in a box and letting her tell me which are missing (builds new brain connections and helps organize them). They sound so simple! But I don't seem to have time in a busy day to remember these fun little games so having the card deck in front of me is so helpful. Every time I have a few minutes to spare, I grab the deck and flip to a page and get her involved. She loves every minute! You can even do some of them while grocery shopping or doing the laundry; they help make the most mundane chores a fun, interactive learning experience.

Here, some more brain development tips from McNelis: Ninety percent of your child’s brain develops primarily from experiences in the first five years. Isn’t it wonderful to know that you can have the most valuable impact on brain growth through loving interaction and play?

The following is information your child wants you know and use everyday:

Provide different (safe) things for me to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. I learn a lot when I get to use all of my senses.
~ Learning happens when playing with real things. Television, videos and workbooks do not provide the best way for my brain to learn

I need to know you consistently are there for me when I am frustrated, scared, sad, excited, etc.
~ My brain is not developed enough to control my emotions. Giving me comfort when I need it will help reduce the stress and insecurity that is not good for my brain.

Develop daily routines for my meals, naps, bath, and bedtime.
~ If my life is too chaotic it is very confusing. Knowing what is going to happen next is comforting And helps organize my brain.

When I am in an active mood just have fun with me. Do piggy back rides, roll around on the bed, tickle me, crawl after me on the floor, dance to music, etc.
~ Physical play increases oxygen to my brain. It also improves the connections to my muscles for developing increased skills.

Talk to me, read to me, sing, do nursery rhymes, tell me stories. Have “conversations” directly with me even before I can talk.
~ My brain makes connections through repeated experiences. You are my favorite “toy”!

Check out McNelis' blog, braininsights.blogspot.com for regular updates.

Monday, October 26, 2009

clip tip

Trying to find a way to cart your kid's sippy cups, playground toys, change of clothes and snacks while balancing your Starbuck's latte and talking on your cellphone can be challenging. Time to get Baggino's Duo Clip ($4.50) and give your hands a break. The two tiny straps hook onto your stroller bar, allowing you to keep gear, toys and other necessities neat and organized. You can clip toys and snack traps right onto the hooks or clip on a basket to store them all in. The best part is that they won't snap and break like some of the plastic versions (believe me--I've bought my share of those!) Duo Clip comes in pink or blue. Get one at http://www.baggino.com/ and be hands-free (well, except for your latte!)