Empowering You to Parent with the Brain in Mind
Parents are the first and most influential teachers in a child's life... 85% of the human brain develops in the first three years of life so we want to help you with tips and tools to make every day count and help you maximize your child’s potential.
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We hope these Simple Ideas With Profound Impact will make the difference in your child's life.
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If you’re looking for a great first book for a newborn then look no further than Look, Look! Babies are born with limited vision thus you want to expose them to books with clear, high-contrast images to stimulate and develop their vision.
Name of Book:
Summary of Book:
Look, Look! Children run, fish swim, stars shine . . . all for baby’s eyes to see. This sturdy board book, full of high-contrast black-and-white cut-paper art perfect for staring at, is just the thing for the eyes of the youngest babies. A few words in curving red type on each spread describe the scenes – a car races, a cat stretches, flowers bloom – and extend the book’s age appeal so that it will be fascinating to older babies, too. Striking and stylish, Look Look! is the ideal first board book for babies just beginning to look and learn. Peter Linenthal is an illustrator who has taught art in elementary schools for twenty years. (Summary courtesy of goodreads.com)
Recommended Age Range:
Newborn – 3 months. Note this is a younger age range than is listed by Barnes & Noble. They list the range as 3 months – 3 years. We find this book to be ideal right from birth due to it’s large black & white images and large print in red. We find that older babies & toddlers may have moved on from the simplicity of this book.
Why We Like It:
This book checks off all of our priorities for ideal books for very young babies.
As a reminder, we recommend books that fit the following criteria for newborn – 3 month olds: At this stage the most important thing is to have books with bright, big, contrasting pictures or shapes. They should be simple, only one picture per page, and the picture should have few details. The written information is not as important. Short duration is key here, so the book should have no words, one word, a couplet, or a phrase per page so you can flip through it fast. At this age the visual stimulation is more important than the auditory information.
Given that your priority in the first three months of life is visual stimulation, the large and interesting black & white photos in Look, Look! are ideal. There are limited words on a page and the ideas are very simple which makes it easy to read quickly. The board book also makes it easy to flip through quickly and also stands up to young babies who may be more interested in chewing on the book ;-).
This is also a great book to use for tummy time as the images catch a babies attention and provide a good distraction for baby and encourage baby to lift their head during tummy time as they get older and gain strength.
This is definitely one we think should be in every baby’s library from the start!
What should you look for when purchasing books for your kids? Let’s break it down by age.
Newborn to 3 months:
At this stage the most important thing is to have books with bright, big, contrasting pictures or shapes. They should be simple, only one picture per page, and the picture should have few details. The written information is not as important. Short duration is key here, so the book should have no words, one word, a couplet, or a phrase per page so you can flip through it fast. At this age the visual stimulation is more important than the auditory information.
Example of a good book for this age level: Look, Look!
3 to 6 months:
Continue with bright, contrasting pictures but now the picture can be more detailed. The written information now is important to begin developing understanding. Here, begin with books that have one phrase per page and as the baby grows you can read books that have one to two very short sentences per page. Books that rhyme and have a nice rhythm to the language are good. The duration should be kept very short so you want to flip through the book fast enough to keep your child’s attention. Later on in this stage or early in the next stage, books with harder and thicker pages are good so that it is easier for your child to turn the pages on her own as you read the book.
Examples of good books for this age level: Flip a Face – Colors
6 months to 1 year:
Information content should increase and even more details in the pictures. Up to 2 or 3 short sentences per page. Of course, if your child loves to have stories read you probably can read books that have more sentences on a page. Here, the type of pictures are important because the more details there are in the pictures, the more things your child has to look at as you read the book and the more likely you will keep her attention as you read. Books about animals, babies, clothing, toys, transportation, etc. are good. Peek-a-boo type of books are fun at this stage.
1 year to 2 years:
More information and more detailed pictures. Pictures can be smaller and have more things on a page for the child to look at. Even more so at this stage than the previous one, the more things a child has to look at, the more details, the more likely you will be able to keep her attention as you read all of the information on a page. You can now have books with a paragraph or two. Pop up books are fun! Books that teach body parts, colors, opposites, shapes, space and such. Books that give children information in a concise and simple manner. As you read to your child pay attention to what types of books she shows more interest in and foster that interest. Begin to introduce books that come from a series. Your child will enjoy seeing the same characters in different stories.
Examples of good books for this age level: Duck and Goose
2 years and up:
Keep increasing the amount of information. Books can become more and more sophisticated in terms of the information they contain and have many paragraphs on a page as child’s attention span increases. Books that come from a series have more sophisticated stories. Books that talk about feelings, that help with toilet training, and that teach life lessons are good. Books about nature, cultures. or any other subject that interests you and your child. By now you will have a good idea of the types of books your child enjoys.
Examples of good books for this age level: Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
The important thing to keep in mind is to keep the reading sessions frequent and short when dealing with a young baby and, although the duration increases as the baby grows, you always want to stop reading when you see your child beginning to lose interest or even before so the next time you offer to read a book your child will be happy to read!
In our previous scientific blog, “Where There Is a Need, There Is a Facility”, we talked about the importance of this third law of brain development. It’s an important law to pay attention to so as not to delay or interfere with the development of motor function in our children. It’s ultra simple. Take away the need for children to use motor functions and we deny them the opportunity to develop those functions.
Here are some easy to understand examples – if we carry a child all the time we deny the child the opportunity to learn to move, if we (or others) speak for the child we deny the child the opportunity to speak, if we always open things, button buttons, tie shoes etc. we deny the child the opportunity to learn to use his hands. Seems pretty obvious, right? Yet, you’d be amazed how many times we parents do things that deny our children the opportunity to develop just because we are not paying attention to our actions! So, first, be aware. Be mindful! The more opportunity (need) we give to a child, the better.
Today, I want to shine a spotlight on a function that this law applies to that is not so obvious, reading. That’s right, reading! Let’s look at why it’s important, how to create the need for your child to learn to read, and how to make sure she becomes a successful and happy reader!
We start with the fact that reading is a neurological function. That’s right. Reading is an ability that all human beings have the potential to develop because we all have a human brain. Along with understanding, speaking, and writing it is an aspect of our language ability, the sophisticated ability that we human beings developed in order to share our thoughts and experiences with each other.
In a pre-Stone Age culture, hunting and foraging for food are the most important survival skills that children need to develop. Most of the truly pre-Stone Age cultures in the world (sadly, there are not many left) have no abstract thinking and, therefore, no abstract language. Knowledge and tradition is transmitted orally from one generation to the next.
In our culture, the ability to read is the most important survival skill. It is not possible to be completely independent if one cannot read and those who read poorly face many problems as a result. For our children, the consequences of not learning to read are just as devastating as not learning to hunt and forage would be for a pre-Stone Age child.
So, how do you provide your child with the need to learn to read? How do you make learning to read fun? What are the first steps to make sure your child continues to be an enthusiastic learner and a good reader? In a future post we will give you specific step by step instruction on teaching a child to read. Here we just want you to begin creating the need and the love for reading. This is, in fact, the most important step! Here are some tips on how you can begin to introduce reading to your child without pressure.
- Read to your child starting from birth. Read to your child regularly. Read to your child frequently. Remember to keep the duration short.
- Read to your child with enthusiasm. Your enthusiasm when reading to your child is the beginning of them wanting to learn to read.
- Make sure you provide your child with lots of opportunity to develop good brain organization. A well developed and well organized brain is the first key to successful learning, especially learning how to read. For more information on how to develop a well organized brain see our free email course and previous blog post on Kickstarting Mobility.
- Provide your child with plenty of opportunity to converse. Ask her questions that are interesting. Ask not to “test” her, but to encourage her curiosity and to let her know that you care about her opinions and her feelings. Answer her questions no matter how simple or how sophisticated they are.
- Show her how enthusiastic YOU are to learn new things. Make learning together part of your “together” activities!
- Write little notes using big print in red ink and give them to your child. You can place the notes on their toys, in a snack box, by her meals, on her bed, and so on. Write one word per card. Keep the notes simple. For example, you can write the following words, one per card – LOVE, YOU, ROCK, SMILE. Read the word to your child. Do it frequently and she will begin to recognize the word and will become interested in learning other words. You will be creating/developing her need to read. As she learns the words LOVE and YOU you can combine them into couplets – LOVE YOU. Later you can teach MOM, DAD, SISTER and then combine them to form MOM LOVES YOU, DAD LOVES YOU, SISTER LOVES YOU, and so on.
- Read her favorite books over and over again. She will most likely memorize them and will begin to pretend that she is reading them. That’s wonderful! Compliment her when she does this and let her recite the book to you whenever she wishes.
Why is encouraging reading from an early age important? Because learning to understand written language is no different than learning to understand spoken language. It is a matter of opportunity. Little children want to do everything that their parents can do and reading is no different.
Again, when it comes to learning to read as well as all other learning, there should be no pressure and no testing! This experience should be just plain enthusiasm, celebration, and fun. I can not stress this enough! If your child learns to read and loves it, he or she will be an enthusiastic reader for life. In contrast, if your child feels pressured or judged when learning he or she will learn just to please you or “the teacher”, and he or she will only read when asked or forced to do so.
So, creating a need must not equal pressure. It means to demonstrate to your child just how much fun it is to understand written language in much the same way that they understand spoken language. It is an avenue to more growth and freedom for your child. Then get ready for the pure joy that comes with that. It is so much fun to see a young child realizing that he or she can read. First a word, then a couplet, a sentence and finally a paragraph! Begin by reading to your child and stay tuned for what follows!