Monday, December 27, 2010

Step 5 - Smart Talk -- Brain-Building Opportunities

I hope you are discovering that Parent Smart does not mean "parent hard". In fact, new brain research suggests that a stress-free environment is conducive to positive brain growth. Also when you enjoy being with your children it leads to talk and play, both of which are necessary for maturation of the left and right hemisphere. So smart parenting should easily fit into what you are already doing with your child every day.  Below I have added some suggestions for brain building opportunities that can become part of your everyday routines -- I call them Brain-Opps

v  Dressing in the morning and undressing before bed or bath with infants and toddlers
Ø  name the clothes items, their colors, and function –
§  e.g., "your red shirt with the big black zipper - it zips up to keep you warm"
Ø   name the body part as the child dresses as well as the left and right side
§  e.g., “Your left sleeve goes on your left arm”
v  Mealtime provides a wonderful time for Brain-Opp conversations of all sorts:
Ø  While setting the table together name the utensils and work on left and right of the plate
Ø  Foods can be described by their color, their texture, their type of food etc.
§  e.g. “The red beets are vegetables but the red cherries are sweet fruit – can you think of another food that you like that is red?”
Ø  For older children, evening meals are perfect for discussing events of the day or planning for the next day
§  e.g. “Tomorrow is Friday – do you have a spelling test tomorrow as usual? Should we practice the words one more time before you go to bed tonight?”
v  House work  provides great language and Human Mirror System Brain-Opps:
Ø  Toddlers love to imitate dusting, vacuuming (with a push toy), and helping to put clean dishes away (especially pots and pans in lower cupboards they can reach)
Ø  Washing dishes can be great fun for a preschooler who likes to get their hands wet and work on concepts like float and sink, wash and rinse, whirling water as it rushes down the drain as well as naming shapes and sizes of plates, bowls, cups and glasses
Ø  Cleaning drawers  and sorting laundry provide a great opportunities to demonstrate sorting
Ø  While you work on email in the evening your school-age child can practice cursive writing, or typing on a computer
Ø  During meal preparation, especially before dinner – your child can imitate your work-habits and schedule by sitting with you in the kitchen and do homework
v  Bath time provides an opportunity for water play and singing bath songs
Ø  Children love bath toys that float – boats, rubber duckies, etc. – children enjoy blowing them like “wind”, seeing what happens when they fill with water and “sink”, and of course, splashing.
Ø  Bath songs like “Rubber Duckie” and “Rub-a-dub-dub three men in a tub” were made for bath time
v  And, of course one of the best Brain-Opp times is when you are settling your child down for bed:
Ø  Reading nursery rhymes or stories in a quiet bedroom helps a child settle down and prepare to sleep – but these stories also allow the brain of a young child to build finely tuned maps in the’ speech sound box’ because the lack of background noise provides a nice clear signal for brain organization.
Ø  Reading or talking quietly with your child before bed, especially if it is a consistent routine, provides a sense of security for your child and anticipation of a regular bedtime reduces arguments about going to bed.
Ø  When you sit next to a child on a bed with your arm around the child’s shoulder and a book held in front of both of you,  the child is getting the clearest speech signal possible – your mouth to the child’s ear, arm length away. This provides an optimal speech signal for building attention and memory skills that will help your child throughout school

 Step 5 - Use Brain Opps to turn everyday routines into brain building activities

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