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Guiding Young Children Through Frustration, Not Around It

Posted by on 9:45 pm in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

Guiding Young Children Through Frustration, Not Around It

Young children have intense emotions, both happy and sad.  I read that preschool age children laugh 100 times a day!  Their feelings can also turn on a dime, and one of the hardest emotions for parents to witness is frustration.  It’s so tempting to just fix it for them and be done, but deep down we know that is more for our benefit than theirs.  We want even our youngest children to have the ability to overcome a bit of frustration and anger without us jumping in to save them. Here Are 3 Things We Can Do: 1. Try to give your children just...

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Problem Solving Skills for Preschoolers

Posted by on 2:00 am in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

Problem Solving Skills for Preschoolers

When is the best time for parents and teachers to begin helping young children learn problem solving skills to use with their own day to day issues?  I hope that we can all agree how great it would feel to send our children into the world knowing that they can identify and solve large and small problems themselves because they had years of practice under our care.  This is one of those skills that will benefit a child for a lifetime. Elementary school age children are definitely ready for democratic family and class meetings to raise personal...

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A Grandmother Is the Keeper of the Ancestry Cloth

Posted by on 6:51 pm in Big Picture For Parents | 0 comments

A Grandmother Is the Keeper of the Ancestry Cloth

The night before my youngest grandson’s simple preschool graduation, I read a horribly mean post online mocking the mastery of preschool activities like block building, dress up and eating snack in order to get a diploma that they can’t even read.  She obviously thought her put down was really funny, but it punched my gut.  It hurt me. Why, though? I struggled over it for some time.  I know she was “just kidding,” so what exactly was hurting MY feelings?  I’m not even the parent she was calling out…...

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Parents: Simplify and See What Matters

Posted by on 9:20 pm in Big Picture For Parents | 0 comments

Parents: Simplify and See What Matters

This is NOT “3 Easy Steps for Better Discipline” or “25 Amazing Sensory Activities to Do While Cooking Dinner.”  This is intended to be Parenting Inspiration.  The Big Picture for Parenthood is sometimes forgotten in our day to day. Now I am not saying parenting is easy.  It is difficult, arduous, and complicated.  Children are extremely complicated as well, AND they are always changing. They are moving targets of energy, ability, and emotion on any given day.  Parenting is work.  How we look at this lifelong work...

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Positive Reinforcement: The Parenting Sweet Spot

Posted by on 7:25 pm in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

Positive Reinforcement: The Parenting Sweet Spot

I always called it Positive Reinforcement when I was learning to parent and teach.  I caught children when they were “doing good” and diverted or ignored unwanted behavior instead of pointing it out or punishing. It has taken me years of experiences to fully understand why rewarding children by saying, “Good job!” all the time boils down to sugar-coated control. But it is controlling behavior just the same.  Alfie Kohn, among others, has shamed me (just kidding Dr. Kohn) into seeing that I was more invested in getting...

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Conflict Resolution Has Many Faces

Posted by on 7:27 pm in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

Conflict Resolution Has Many Faces

I feel like I went to the conflict resolution Twilight Zone and back.  I just finished reading an article asking the provocative question, “Is Yelling the New Spanking?”  My immediate thought was, “Heck yes, yelling leaves scars on the heart.”  I didn’t really think there could be much discussion about it.  Wrong. Reading the number of angry comments from adults who are tired of being judged for spanking or yelling at their children when they misbehave or don’t listen took me by surprise.  They proudly...

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3 Steps To Sweeten Parent-Teacher Communication

Posted by on 8:58 pm in Ingredients for Learning | 0 comments

3 Steps To Sweeten Parent-Teacher Communication

Studies are showing an interesting trend in communication with parents and teachers of preschool age children over the last few years. Parents have greater awareness than ever that “kindergarten readiness” has changed and gotten harder over time.  In many places, kindergarten children  in the past were asked to merely “walk through the door” in September.  Now they are expected to “walk through the door” counting beyond 20, writing their names,  knowing all of their colors and letters, and reading at least...

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Raising Confident Children Takes Confidence

Posted by on 7:36 pm in Big Picture For Parents | 0 comments

Raising Confident Children Takes Confidence

It takes confidence to raise a confident child.  Sometimes parents can see a brief glimpse of their child in the future.  In a split second we can see someone in a small body with more confidence than ourselves;  a stronger, more capable and compassionate person than we could ever hope to be.  Sometimes parents wonder how much we really contribute to the inevitable development of a child.  We cherish and care for our children, but they are given their own paths to follow.  That can be a comfort, but it leaves us wondering where to put our...

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You Are Your Child’s Favorite Toy

Posted by on 1:54 am in Early Child Development | 0 comments

You Are Your Child’s Favorite Toy

Parenting is not for the undecided.  Raising children requires parents to take a stand…on everything.  Beginning with pregnancy right through great-grandparenting, I suppose.  For instance, there continues to be a lot of chatter surrounding screen time for young children these days, and there are no shortage of strong opinions.  Opinions are better when they are informed, of course.  I think almost everyone agrees that even “educational” screen time for young children can be over done, but I wonder how many of us really know...

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Autistic Classmates Offer Beautiful Lessons

Posted by on 11:15 pm in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

Autistic Classmates Offer Beautiful Lessons

Recent headlines about the dramatic increase in the diagnosis of autism in the U.S. got my attention right away as a teacher.  The autistic diagnosis ratio has changed from 1 in 88 two years ago, to 1 out of every 68 American children (and their families) in 2014.  This made me immediately think that the chances of having one autistic child in every classroom or two was quite good. The Gift of Social Capital Ways to accommodate every child’s needs is what good teaching is all about.  Children who are on the autistic spectrum and placed...

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5 Reasons Block Building Matters

Posted by on 4:18 pm in Products I Love | 0 comments

5 Reasons Block Building Matters

“Creativity is connecting things.”  Steve Jobs Quite simply, building with blocks is the ultimate science investigation: trial, error, adjust, repeat.  Even better than that, the mental, social, and physical growth that occurs with building is much more fun than work!  5 Great Tips and Benefits for Block Building Tip 1:  Get down on the floor and build with your child.  Demonstrate strategies and challenge each other.   Builds motor skills. Tip 2:  Combine block play with stories and props.  Get out the toy cars, animals and people.  Builds...

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Rethinking Parenting Is Hard!

Posted by on 8:24 pm in Big Picture For Parents | 0 comments

Rethinking Parenting Is Hard!

Our many approaches to parenting are based on something deep down.  Words come to us from the times and places and people that molded us.  As we often lament, “There is no instruction book for parents.”  True, but even if we took one home to read, most of us would still parent the way we were parented without even realizing it.  It takes great strength and almost super human desire to change our instinctual and almost sacred parenting styles. There are Parenting Myths out there that are rarely, if ever questioned.  Even if science...

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What Extraordinary Teachers Do Best

Posted by on 7:36 pm in Ingredients for Learning | 0 comments

What Extraordinary Teachers Do Best

I hope you have all experienced an extraordinary teacher.  If you have, I doubt that you remember much of what they taught you intellectually.  What stays with  you forever, is how they made you feel.  Extraordinary teachers make school about connecting with the children in their care.   This value come before test scores.   The funny thing is, when they prioritize creating respectful relationships,  these teachers get something amazing in return:  children who cooperate, work hard, and best of all…love to learn. Good Teachers are well...

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Parents: Your Cell Phone or Your Child

Posted by on 10:05 pm in Guest Authors | 0 comments

Parents:  Your Cell Phone or Your Child

Stop and think before you chronically answer your cell phone again while parenting.  This matters to children. P.Donohue Shortridge shares her thoughts… Download (PDF, 122KB)    ...

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Creativity Is Currency

Posted by on 6:18 pm in Ingredients for Learning | 0 comments

Creativity Is Currency

I’m really not going to spend time bashing standardized testing.  No one loves it, but for some reason, we can’t figure out another way to measure if kids learn their facts.  What confuses me, is if everyone is so darn unhappy about this testing, why can’t we just get a little creative and come up with a fantastic new plan? Oh yeah, we can’t get creative, because it was kind of squashed out of us while we were in school preparing for the standardized tests.  Furthermore, the people in charge of making the testing rules...

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Great News! Montessori Can’t Be Bought (or Made)

Posted by on 5:56 pm in Ingredients for Learning | 0 comments

Great News!  Montessori Can’t Be Bought (or Made)

Children I know have actually received a big box of shiny pink Sandpaper Letters for Christmas. (Ho ho ho).  I also know a boy who got a Binomial Cube from his grandmother for his second birthday.  When you are smitten with the Montessori approach, it is so easy (and certainly understandable) to get caught up in acquiring all the gorgeous and purposeful Montessori materials.   You may even believe that there is actually some magical educational benefit of a Pink Tower or the Bead Stair. Parents want to lovingly recreate what they have read...

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The School That Dares To Look In the Mirror

Posted by on 10:28 am in Early Child Development | 0 comments

The School That Dares To Look In the Mirror

It’s easy to “maintain.”  It’s easy to look in the Rule Book and do what’s always been done.  That’s what so many schools do.  They maintain methods, traditions, and continuity.  Quite frankly, the institution of school strongly resists change.  Huge reforms from on high are often looming, and when changes are slowly made after emotional political debate, it only happens because they have been mandated. Beginning With Common Ground Children’s Garden Montessori School in Denver is nearly 10 years deep...

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Natural Play Spaces That Empower a Child

Posted by on 9:08 pm in Children and Nature | 0 comments

Natural Play Spaces That Empower a Child

Whether you are at home or at a school, go ahead and look out your window.  You might see a neatly groomed grassy backyard with a shade tree, or a state of the art commercial climber complete with shredded rubber mulch.  I know some of you see a cracked concrete play surface on a busy street fenced by chain link fences, and others see a neglected vacant lot or open field.  Me?  I live on a steep mountain side with a big field and small stream below.  It’s a bit of a trek for young children to get down there on their own–not to...

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A Seed Is Sleepy

Posted by on 6:14 pm in Begin With a Book | 0 comments

A Seed Is Sleepy

“A seed is inventive.  To find a place to grow, a seed might leap from its pod, or cling to a child’s shoestring, or tumble through a bear’s belly.  A seed hopes to land where there is plenty of sunlight, soil, and water.” My View A Seed Is Sleepy, written by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long, is a treasure of mine that never stops giving.  This book is a celebration of the variety and wonder of seeds that is brimming with so many possibilities for children’s brains and hearts.  I find it is...

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3 Nurturing Lessons to Learn From Winter

Posted by on 11:10 pm in Children and Nature | 0 comments

3 Nurturing Lessons to Learn From Winter

I don’t think I have ever heard the words, “I wish winter would never end!”  Especially in the month of February.  Well, I take that back.  If I am with one of my eternally positive and energetic friends who goes on about winter camping with their children, drinking hot cocoa after their cardio snow-shoveling session, or other nonsense, then I might hear that phrase.  Where I live in Colorado, we usually get our last snow in May, so I guess I have plenty of time left to reflect on winter… But let’s be honest. ...

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Nature As a Teacher? Of Course!

Posted by on 7:01 pm in Children and Nature | 0 comments

Nature As a Teacher?   Of Course!

Let’s see…IF a connection to nature is important for our children, do you think like I do that we can couch most, if not all learning in the palm of the natural world?   In my next several posts, I want to explore that question because it gets me riled up!   Through natural experiences and materials, I think it is not only possible, it is a magnificent alternative to the plastic and uniform lessons well meaning parents and schools work so hard to create. In fact, how could any of us possibly believe that we could improve on the...

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5 Ways To Help Children Feel Safe

Posted by on 8:02 pm in Early Child Development | 0 comments

5 Ways To Help Children Feel Safe

If you took an introductory psychology or child development class, you might remember learning about Abraham Maslow and his suggestion that all people have a Hierarchy of Needs.  Before advancing to a higher level of actualization, the level before it should be satisfied.  It makes perfect sense that before you can concentrate on love and relationships you must have food, sleep and shelter checked off of your list of needs.  Before you can concentrate on learning, you must feel safe and protected. It is becoming more and more common that we...

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It’s About the Child, Not the Method

Posted by on 11:33 pm in Big Picture For Parents | 0 comments

It’s About the Child, Not the Method

What I’m thinking about right now, is how we sometimes commit so strongly to a particular educational or parenting approach, that we just assume our children will thrive in it.  Emotions and opinions run so deeply when we personally stake our claim in one philosophy over the other.  I do not think that I can agree that there is one educational philosophy that is best for every young child. Once you begin to compare and contrast methods, you quickly find that every one of them is framed with similar words:  child-centered, experiential,...

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Negotiating With Six Year Old Children

Posted by on 10:13 pm in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

Negotiating With Six Year Old Children

Negotiating with children is an ongoing process, and it goes through many stages.  Many of us are seriously taken off guard when our six year old suddenly develops the ability to plead their case with logic and find loopholes in all of our arguments.  All of a sudden, they have transformed from the “Drama Queens of Preschool” to “Lawyers Extraordinaire!”  On the one hand, we are very pleased to see intelligent arguments take the place of meltdowns, and want to encourage this newly found tactic.  After all, negotiation...

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Is Kindergarten Becoming Too Academic?

Posted by on 5:44 pm in Early Child Development | 0 comments

Is Kindergarten Becoming Too Academic?

I think I can hear the loud shouting at the computer screens as I type my words… In one ear I hear, “They are still babies!  Let them play.  They should be painting and singing and digging.  Why do we have to rush everything?” In my other ear I hear, “A kindergartner needs more than play.  Prepare respectful and interesting fuel for their brains.  Why wait to learn the ‘good stuff’ that they crave?” In her wisdom, Maria Montessori taught us ways to share big and important ideas in ways that young...

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Tegu: Great Toy, Great Purpose

Posted by on 12:23 am in Products I Love | 0 comments

Tegu:  Great Toy, Great Purpose

The blocks arrived in a rather small unassuming box.   Thin wooden slats of different lengths for the most part, quietly claiming to be magnetic.  Nothing out of the ordinary. I have to admit that I felt a little let down when I thought about what I had paid for the small box, and really did not think children would get very excited over this new box of blocks.  After all, the simplicity of it all, in a sophisticated color palate was something not usually seen on toy store shelves or in the blaring advertisements associated with small...

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The Parenting Forest

Posted by on 10:37 pm in Big Picture For Parents | 0 comments

The Parenting Forest

There are times for all of us, when we feel like our Parenting Cup is dried up and empty.  We don’t have much kindness or energy left.  I think it often happens after the Holidays when we’ve given our all to make our extended family, old friends, neighbors, co-workers, and charities feel genuinely appreciated.  Our children are at the top of that list, and after weeks of “too much everything”, it’s still always a bit surprising to feel that dark or empty feeling creep into January.  Lots of us need a boost of...

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How Praise Can Diminish Children

Posted by on 5:10 pm in Ingredients for Learning | 0 comments

How Praise Can Diminish Children

I would never ever tell a parent to stop praising their child, BUT what if I told you that liberal praise that is vague and insincere will probably end up harming our children in surprising ways?   Rather than building confidence with praise, we actually teach children to be  afraid to take on challenge, be afraid to disappoint, be afraid to fail, and be afraid to commit.  Not only that, overpraising a child can lead to a depressed and confused adult.  So while I would never say all praise is wrong, if we begin making some intentional...

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Great Toys Should Teach Great Things

Posted by on 8:13 pm in Products I Love | 1 comment

Great Toys Should Teach Great Things

Once upon a time, I was the new teacher in a small school.  My sweet kindergartners and I were still getting acquainted and getting over our Back To School jitters in early September.  One day, I shared with the children that I was very excited that I was going to meet my brand new grandson over the weekend. The next morning, the quietest, tiniest “peanut” of a girl in our group got out of her car with her mother.  She presented me with an unwrapped gift for the new baby.  It was a simple wooden grasping toy that she had played...

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The Serious Reasons for Play

Posted by on 10:28 pm in Early Child Development | 0 comments

The Serious Reasons for Play

Play is the child’s arena.  Little children effortlessly tumble and careen from one burst of delicious activity to the next.  If we had an ounce of good sense, in the presence of The Masters of Play, we would close our grownup mouths and look to our children for guidance.  We would revere and protect their process. Instead, we dismiss play as our culture takes away recess, signs them up for T-ball or art classes, and tells them to quit running around and put away their toys. Play is not something you should do only when your work is...

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Children in Nature: Why It Matters

Posted by on 9:25 pm in Guest Authors | 0 comments

Children in Nature: Why It Matters

I’m delighted to welcome P.Donohue Shortridge as a contributing author to Bird’s Eye View.  Donohue shares both inspiration and hard truths with school staff members, parent groups and individual families across the nation. In a hurried culture, Donahue asks adults to preserve and protect what childhoods everywhere need. In today’s article, she reminds us of the wild places in nature that children are naturally drawn to for spiritual wonder and intellectual growth.  What better place to experience science and beauty than in...

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The Quiltmaker’s Gift

Posted by on 1:59 pm in Begin With a Book | 0 comments

The Quiltmaker’s Gift

“A generous quiltmaker, with magic in her fingers, sews the most beautiful quilts in the world; then gives them away.” My View I rarely break my own rule about reading books that are “beautifully simple” to young children.  My exception to this rule is Jeff Brumbeau’s The Quiltmaker’s Gift .  It is a colorful feast for the eyes and layers of honey for the heart that I cannot resist reading and rereading to kindergarten aged children.  Especially in the month of November before the holidays.  The tale of...

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Can You Surrender During the Holidays?

Posted by on 3:11 am in Big Picture For Parents | 0 comments

Can You Surrender During the Holidays?

Holiday pressures seem to get worse every year.  I saw the images of perfect trees, perfect meals, perfect gifts, perfect parties, and perfect families dancing across the television during the week of Halloween this year.   The bar is higher than ever, but we know we can create the best and most perfect holiday ever for our loved ones if we get started now, right?  There’s just one little problem… The Problem Children aren’t really on board with our agendas.  That’s true every day of the year, but during the days...

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Blueprint For Learning

Posted by on 4:43 pm in Ingredients for Learning | 0 comments

Blueprint For Learning

Children learn difficult things without adult help.  No one teaches them to walk or talk, for instance.  They even eventually get around to reading and writing with a little help.  Is it necessary to help young children learn–and should we try?  Yes of course, but we need to understand what kind of help young children need from us.  Hint:  We mainly need to get out of their way… Brain research shows that there are very specific conditions that build better brains in young children.  We are talking about the frontal lobe of the...

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Sleep Solutions: It’s Not So Simple When You’re Tired

Posted by on 8:19 pm in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

Sleep Solutions:  It’s Not So Simple When You’re Tired

You survived the first year of parenthood on an average of only 5.1 hours of sleep per night with your infant and thought it would be better by now.  Did you get enough good rest last night?  I already know the answer to that. That’s why you’re here.  Puffy eyes, clenching your jaw to hold in yawns, and shuffling around in your slippers.  Already waiting for The Nap Time to come.  Wishing so badly that you could just curl up for one more half an hour?  Sorry.  Nope.  Not an option.  It would be one thing if the bedtime nightmare...

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How To Grow a Reader

Posted by on 9:08 am in Ingredients for Learning | 0 comments

How To Grow a Reader

I talked to a mother of a delightful four year old girl last summer.  We were sitting on a bench in town chatting as her daughter was gathering pieces of tree bark from the ground and offering us some as “steak.”  My friend told me, “My daughter is four and doesn’t even know the ABC song!  She can only count to eight on her best day and doesn’t recognize any letters.  I’ve stopped going on Facebook because I hate all the bragging mothers who live through their kids achievements.”  I wasn’t...

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There’s Always Something, Right?

Posted by on 9:34 am in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

There’s Always Something, Right?

With the environment and daily routines in order, many behavior issues are suddenly resolved.  With independence built into the day, calm and success begin to overcome stress and frustration.  However, there’s always something, right?  Think of your toughest behavior problem…bedtime, whining, tattling, helplessness, not eating, tantrums, getting dressed, picking up toys, fighting with siblings, sneakiness, listening the first time, separation anxiety.  Go ahead—-fill in the blank!  Regardless of the problem, the most...

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The Evolution of Social Development In Young Children

Posted by on 8:59 pm in Social Skills and Positive Guidance | 0 comments

The Evolution of Social Development In Young Children

I have found that one of the greatest pleasures and challenges of meeting the needs of children, is that they are continually changing.  It’s hard to keep up, and when you have one of those very magical moments when you get it just right, you’d better immediately start looking down the road for What’s Coming Next! I remember never getting it just right at breakfast time.  My son would gobble his food down and look at me for more, so I would fix more the next day, and the next until I thought I’d gotten it just right. ...

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Tap Into Your Child’s Need For Order

Posted by on 9:59 am in Ingredients for Learning | 0 comments

Tap Into Your Child’s Need For Order

Brain research shows that cognitive development in children requires some very specific conditions be in place for optimal learning to occur.   Angeline Lillard, Steven Hughes and Eric Jensen, to name three, agree that a recipe that includes order in the child’s environment is both effective and necessary. As adults, we should work hard to help children feel both physically and emotionally safe and secure.  Relationships  should always be kind and positive of course, but this includes not only caregivers, but siblings and classmates. ...

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Behold: The Three Year Old Brain

Posted by on 9:10 pm in Early Child Development | 0 comments

Behold: The Three Year Old Brain

Brain 101 Now we know every baby is born with a different number of neurons.  That’s genetics.  Nature.  Beyond our control.  It’s probably a very good thing that no one hands us a piece of paper with a “neuron count” on it along with a birth certificate because it would surely shape our expectations.  We understand and expect that all children are capable of great learning even though we know technically, none of us are created equally in the brain department. What we are most interested in as caregivers, is that...

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