In Parts 1 and 2 of this #fitMOMents 4-part series, I’ve mentioned how I have used a fun and playful way to incorporate Kairo’s learning into my Glam Workout.
I have also promised to share more information on the BrainBoosters Early Childhood Education program, which we have been using with Kairo since birth. BrainBoosters is one of our valued and respected MOMentsbydjzinhle FRIENDS. For links to their website and social media accounts, kindly visit our FRIENDS section.
In my last post “Value Your Relationships“, I have introduced you to Lynda Smith, who will be a Regular Contributor on MOMentsbydjzinhle.com
Lynda will be sharing valuable information on Early Childhood Development as well as giving us insight into the methodology of the BrainBoosters program.
I trust that you will enjoy the information shared by Linda as much as we have enjoyed experiencing the BrainBoosters program with Kairo.
The First 1000 Day’s of Your Child’s Life by Lynda Smith
The research done internationally and locally is indicating that the first 1000 days of life is a critical building block that impacts the rest of a child’s life. The 1000 days is made up from conception to the end of a child’s second birthday. (270 + 365+ 365= 1000)
The parents are the most important influencers in this stage of life. Are you aware of how important your role is during this phase?
In this blog series we hope to share some facts with you, mainly about the stimulation of the brain, but will add in a few facts as well about nutrition and ensuring a stress free environment for the long term health of your child.
The Role of the Parent
Ensuring a healthy incubator for your baby during pregnancy is the role a mother plays. Eating correctly, not drinking or smoking and getting enough rest are key factors for success. Have regular visits for check-ups to ensure your health is monitored.
Once the baby is born life changes and both Mom and Dad can be involved in caring for the new baby. The best option, where possible, is to breast feed for as long as possible. Sleep, feeding and nappy changes become the rhythm of life for the first few weeks until you are able to settle into a routine. Use every opportunity to talk to your child. Sing, rock and walk with your baby and use every nappy change and bath time as a chance to engage and massage your baby.
Baby brains are ready to learn and absorb written words and their meaning, sounds and facts naturally through fun and play, however refrain from testing your baby. Give your baby information and ask nothing in return. They learn fast and love it if parents read, sing, play games and talk to them. Babies need a lot of repetition for brain connections to become permanent. To develop, they need to practice small and large muscles and different areas of their brains.
The BrainBoosters program gives parents the tools to play and have fun with their young children while helping them to develop their innate potential and become ready for school and life, which in turn makes them more likely to succeed.
How The Brain Develops
According to a Science Based Framework for Early Childhood Policy (Harvard University), early experiences determine whether a child’s developing brain provides a strong or weak foundation for all future learning, behaviour and health. Source: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/reports_and_working_papers/policy_framework
• A new-born baby has 100 billion brain cells at birth. This is the same amount as an adult.
• After four months gestation, the unborn baby has twice as many brain cells than he will have at birth. There is an active process of brain development on-going in the brain during foetal development.
• From birth the baby’s brain starts to form new connections between brain cells that will allow the brain cells to talk/communicate with each other. This forms the basis of adult brain function.
• Different parts of the brain sub-serve different functions, i.e. the vision is registered and analysed in the back of the brain. These different brain areas develop at different times in a child’s life. These periods are called “windows of opportunity for brain development”.
• The baby’s brain develops through his senses. This means that his brain will develop under the influence of what he sees, hears, feels etc. Although brain development is genetic and programmed, the success of the development is largely influenced by the environment. This is why it is critical to provide a stimulus-rich environment to the child for optimal brain development.
• Repetition is necessary to make brain connections permanent. Children generally love the same story or book read to them over and over again. Playing with, or reading to your child will build your relationship as well as fostering a love for learning.
• A child needs love, care, safety, good nutrition and health to create the optimal environment to develop optimally. Add to these basic building blocks the availability of a stimulus-rich environment and that child’s growing brain will thrive.
• In the first two years of life there is a window of opportunity as the brain absorbs information through the senses, language and higher cognitive development.
The BrainBoosters products have been developed to help you engage naturally with your baby during this very important development stage.
Crawling is a very important stage in your baby’s development. It strengthens every part of her body: her back, neck, shoulders, arms and legs, as well as all the little muscles in the hands and eyes. Crawling develops body strength and fitness, and promotes the development of both the right and left hand sides of the brain. Do not rush your baby to move from one milestone to another too quickly. It won’t make her any cleverer. Babies who do not crawl may develop gaps in their learning later on which could affect their performance in the classroom and may require some form of therapy
Learning to stand up and walk is an enormous challenge because your child is pushing up against the downward forces of gravity. To master standing and walking she will stand up and fall down again repeatedly until she gains control of her body and learns to balance. To begin with, she will cruise around holding onto the furniture, eventually letting go and walking on her own. She will walk a few steps and fall down, and then stand up and do it again. This will teach her determination and as she learns to navigate around successfully she will become more confident in her ability and will then try more difficult movements.
Talking To Your Child
From birth a baby picks up words and sounds and their meanings, but cannot say them because their voice box sits higher to make drinking possible. If you want your baby to learn a second language without any effort – now is the time. Babies under a year can absorb any language, storing all the sounds and patterns easily and effortlessly, creating a blueprint in the brain. If exposed to only one language that will be the dominant language, but if exposed to two, three or more languages, a child will be able to speak them all.
If you want your baby to learn more than one language, one person should speak a particular language to your child only, such as granny speaking English and daddy speaking Sesotho. If this happens before your child turns three then the chances are that he will be able to speak more than one language fluently. You can learn a second language at any age but it is much easier the younger you are.
Reading To Your Child
It is easy to introduce written words and their meaning. Words such as colour, shape and numbers, which are the foundation of all future learning especially mathematics. These concepts are all around you and as soon as a baby grasps them, his world starts to make sense. Everything in your surrounding has a colour, shape and are in quantities.
These concepts are introduced on their own in the BrainBoosters books. First show the word and then their meaning. E.g. show the word ‘red’ and then a full page covered in red. Words appear on separate pages to the pictures in the BrainBoosters books in order to isolate the word so that your child ‘reads’ it instead of relying on the picture to prompt him. Words and sentences appear in black on a yellow background because they stand out better. Even cricketers wear yellow glasses when fielding because this makes the ball stand out.
To learn colours we show ten colours simultaneously the one after the other in our books. Babies have to see colour in relation to other colours to see the difference. Even Charles Darwin in 1888 said he struggled to teach his children colours. Colour, shape and numbers are not tangible and difficult to teach. If we change the method to introduce these concepts, babies can easily learn 10 colours. Knowing colours is necessary for sorting which is part of mathematics.
We introduce shapes in the same manner. Show ten shapes simultaneously the one after the other. Show shapes all in the same colour and size. Babies have to see shapes in relation to other shapes to see the differences. The same way babies can easily learn and distinguish between a giraffe’s ‘long neck’ and an elephant’s ‘trunk’, they can see the difference between a ‘hexagon’ and a ‘pentagon’. Shapes are an important pre-reading skill. It does not make sense to teach babies the alphabet but babies can easily learn to distinguish between shapes and this will help them to distinguish between a ‘b’ and a ‘d’ or a ‘6’ and a ‘9’.
Numbers 0 – 10 should be introduced simultaneously the one after the other, showing DOTS and not different coloured objects or using body parts such as fingers and toes to introduce counting. Counting body parts or using objects such as 1 car, 2 balloons, and 3 books is already ‘applied knowledge’ and is confusing to young children.
What should the baby be focusing on? The colour, the object or the quantities of the object? Babies don’t know to look at the quantities of an object if it is presented with different objects in different colours. When you use the same colour ‘dots’ increasing as you count for example, babies see addition in action. When you count backwards, taking away dots, they see subtraction in action. When you show no dots, babies grasp zero instantly.
Babies should be introduced to numbers in this way before the age of two. The ‘window of opportunity’ is closed to learn numbers through the” dots” method after age two. A different approach is necessary after the age of two. BrainBoosters uses a unique counting demonstration with black discs for children older than two.
Watching a moving mobile above her cot is exercising your baby’s eyes for reading. As the objects on the mobile move so do your baby’s eyes. When she is sitting in a pram, be sure to attach toys to the crossbar of the pram for her to reach out and touch, or hang them from the hood of the pram for her to look at. Don’t forget that nature has so much visual appeal for a baby – lie her under a tree and she will be fascinated. The stronger her visual system the easier it will be to read. Watching television doesn’t strengthen the eyes in the same way. Children can only build their vocabulary if they hear new words. Read to him even if you think your child won’t understand. Whatever words he sees right from birth, gets photographed and stored by his brain for use later on.
The BrainBoosters bath books have 5 words and their meaning in each book. Read the books in a different order each day because babies can easily memorise the order of the words. Place your baby on your lap. Fold the book back on its spine so that you can see only one page at a time. Say each word as you flip through the book quite quickly. Use the same words as you talk to your baby every day. E.g. “Let’s put on your white nappy.”
Young children recognise the signs for local shops from a very early age. The first time they see one of these signs their brain takes a ’photograph’ of it and links it to what you say. Thereafter, every time the same sign is seen, the brain remembers the colour and shape of the logo and the letters, and your child can ‘read it’. It works the same way with words in books too. Letters of the alphabet are made up of various shapes and lines. Learning to recognise shape is a good foundation for letters and numbers and will help her to become a better reader.
The BrainBoosters books are designed to show you how to introduce new vocabulary to your child. One book shows a concept in isolation such as ‘white’. The next book puts the concept in context such as ‘The girl is wearing a white vest. Read the books with one word on a page in a different order each day because children can easily memorise the order of the words.
Playing With Your Child
Most children love to learn but hate to be tested. Don’t spoil your relationship with your child by constantly asking him “What is this?” or “What is that?” Rather say something like this: “Let’s play with the ball that’s blue”. If he brings you the red ball, don’t tell him he is wrong, rather say: “This ball is red, let’s go and find the ball that is blue”.
In the first year of life, play starts slowly. To begin with, a baby’s eyes will follow you around the room and he will watch his mobile above his cot. Then he will start to bat objects he sees, with his arms and hands. After that he will try to grasp things, eventually being able to hold a rattle or his bottle by himself. Then he starts to bang objects together to make sounds, such as a pot and a lid. He likes to put objects into other objects such as a ball into a pot. Taking things out and putting things in is a lot of fun. Emptying kitchen cupboards of pots, pans and plastic containers is so exciting and he will love any toys that have buttons he can press such as a toy phone which makes sounds. Play games such as hiding cards with written words and their meaning on the back (colour, shape and numbers) in your surroundings. Say the words when you find them and show the meaning.
Now that your child is sitting, standing up and starting to walk he is able to play very differently to when he was a baby. He will love to push things around such as a chair, a trolley or a walker with building blocks in it. He is starting to get really interested in toys that react when he pushes or turns a knob. Hitting things with a toy hammer, pushing vehicles on wheels, throwing balls and crawling under or over things is very exciting. He has realised that he can make things happen, however, when he is with other children he is not yet ready to play with them. He plays on his own, or next to them. You may find he gets upset if another child takes the toy he is playing with. This is normal. Play games by hiding cards with written words and their meaning on the back (colour, shape and numbers.) in your surroundings. Say the words when you find them and show the meaning.
The BrainBoosters program consists of 10 modules for each age group and each module has a parenting and child development theme. The program is for children from birth to six years of age. We have also brought a rich language base in through the Story Boxes. You can start this program at any stage. Go to our website: http://www.brainboosters.co.za/programs/parenting for more information and on how to place your order. – Lynda Smith
We are very grateful for Lynda’s contributions and are also very exited to share Kairo’s ongoing development on the BrainBoosters program with you.
In the next installment of #fitMOMents (Part 4), I will introduce to you Dr. Ruth Greeff who has a PH.D. in Nutrition and who has been instrumental in my weightloss journey. I will also give you an update on my health and weightloss goals and share some very exciting news that could be the beginning of your own success and your very own health and weightloss journey.
Life is Love