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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.

Our goal is to help you raise smart, capable, and compassionate children.

We hope these Simple Ideas With Profound Impact will make the difference in your child's life.

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Who we Are

We are a team of two sets of parents that combines extensive expertise in child brain development and “in the trenches” practical experience. For over 40 years, Charles & Conceição Solis have guided parents all over the world, while Juliana and Jack have built upon their teaching while they raise kids of their own.

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Make the first three years count!

Sign up to take advantage of a free email course that will introduce you to simple ideas that will have a profound impact on your child’s development and maximize your child’s potential.

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A Free Email Course

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Parenting With the Brain in Mind

By Charles Solis | April 9, 2018

Welcome to the BrainFit Kids blog. We’re so happy that you found us. If you’re a new parent, congratulations on landing the most important job in the world! Our goal at BrainFit Kids is to help you raise children who are smart, capable, and compassionate. Children who have self-confidence, are not afraid to try new…

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What to Expect from BFK

By Charles Solis | April 10, 2018

We are super excited about the launch of our new website and free email course. BrainFit Kids is a labor of love. It is the culmination of two lifetimes of research, learning, and experience; combined with the passionate application of that knowledge by two very dedicated parents. It has taken several years of hard work…

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Teaching Compassion

By Conceição Solis | June 25, 2020 | Comments Off on Teaching Compassion

Racism and intolerance are very much in the news here in the United States and around the world. People are discussing lots of ideas about how to address this deep-rooted problem and that’s a good thing. New rules of engagement, new laws are surely needed. However, we’ve already tried to change racism and intolerance by changing laws. Obviously, it’s not enough. 

In the long run, societal change is always most effective when it begins at the most basic level of society, the family, and then move to more complex levels of society. This is known as the principle of subsidiarity. We parents are our children’s first and most influential teachers. Each of us, individually, must look in the mirror and examine our attitudes and behaviors; and, most importantly, what we are teaching our children. This issue is too important to leave in the hands of teachers, sociologists, and politicians. 

BrainFit Kids is uniquely positioned to help with this shift because of our dual focus on human dignity and brain development. BrainFit Kids’ vision is “a world where all children are valued, capable, and compassionate.” This has been our vision from the very beginning.

Let’s take a look at that vision – what it means and how achieving it can diminish or eliminate problems related to racism and intolerance in the future. 

  • Valued: When we say children are valued we mean that they are valued simply for being a part of the human family. When we value a child for being a part of the human family we automatically love them unconditionally. When children are valued, each child’s uniqueness is celebrated with love and respect. Valuing a child affects not only the child but also the parent. That dynamic begins at conception and continues throughout life as any grandparent can tell you. 
  • Capable: Most people understand what we mean by capable. The dictionary defines it as “able to achieve efficiently whatever one has to do; competent.” At BrainFit Kids, our goal is for each child to reach their intellectual, physical, and social potential whatever that potential might be. We all want this for our children. Since intellectual, physical, and social ability is the result of brain development it is axiomatic that a high level of brain development will result in a high level of ability.
  • Compassionate: This aspect of our vision surprises a lot of people. We include it because we firmly believe that being capable is simply not enough. The world is filled with highly capable people who lack empathy and compassion. It’s been that way throughout history, For us, the vision of the world we want to see must include more than simply a high level of intellectual, physical, and social ability.

Raising a compassionate child begins at birth. In order for a child to have the ability to become compassionate the part of the brain responsible for empathy must be developed and “wired” correctly. This typically happens early in life. When a baby is held and caressed often, when you respond to the baby’s cries in a timely manner, when you and your baby share a mutual gaze, you are developing the parts of the brain responsible for empathy. You are working on the foundation for compassion. An abused or neglected child often develops a brain that is compromised in its ability to feel empathy. Without empathy, there cannot be compassion. Unfortunately, many children experience neglect and abuse every day. This happens at all levels of society but is particularly true amongst the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. It is important that we recognize this problem and address it for the good of the children and our society. 

As I sit here thinking about all of the protests and the pain related to racism, I can not help but think of the children we work with and a related, but broader, issue. The roots of racism might be different from the roots of discrimination based on ethnicity or disability but they have several points in common – disrespect for, intolerance of, and ignorance about someone who is different from you. Racists do not like, accept, or even understand differences. 

Having spent my adult life working with children of all levels of functional ability I have seen up close the value they all bring to my life, the lives of their families, and their value to society. When our daughter, Juliana, was a little girl she spent a great deal of time with us while we were working with families and their children. Throughout her childhood, she was surrounded by children of varying levels of ability – blind children, immobile children, children with learning difficulties, hyperactive children, children who could not speak, children who had convulsions, etc. Juliana began almost every morning with the same two questions. First – who is coming today? Second – can they see, walk, talk? She wanted to know because the answer would determine how she would be able to play that day. However, for her it made no real difference. To Juliana it was quite simple – some children could see, some could not; some children could walk, some could not, some children could talk, some could not. She was no better or no less a person than they, simply because she could do more. 

I wish I could say that we did all of this by design. We didn’t. But how incredibly lucky Juliana was because she was forever and irrevocably enriched by her experiences playing with those kids. She learned about patience, tolerance, dedication, service, success, failure, and compassion. Most importantly, she learned about the dignity and worth of human life and through those experiences, she became a better person. All children have that same potential.

Many parents are now asking how can I teach my child to respect, accept, and love people for who they truly are? How can I talk about racism with my children? How can I teach my children to embrace and celebrate the differences in everyone, no matter the color of their skin, ethnicity, religion, level of ability, etc.? 

Here are some thoughts.

  • Begin by giving your child the opportunity to develop a well-organized brain.
  • Read our blog post on teaching the universal values of empathy and compassion.
  • Teach with your actions! 
  • Teach compassion by showing empathy for others who are hurt or suffering. 
  • Read books about differences that are developmentally appropriate. 
  • Have age-appropriate conversations. Keep it simple and positive. Be honest. Leave room for your child to ask questions. 

Most importantly, remember that children are not born racist or prejudiced or afraid of others who are different from them. That is something they learn from the environment around them. You can help break the cycle. It’s really not that difficult. 

One last thing… a little exercise in decreasing stress if you will… take a few minutes to sit quietly with your eyes closed and imagine a world in which all children are valued, capable, and compassionate… it’s a beautiful thing!

Resources:

Some great books: You can order books online or pick them up at a local bookstore.

9 year old, Rylei created a children’s/teen’s bookstore featuring books centered around brown characters. You can also follow her @thebrownbookcase! Some other accounts worth following to diversify your child’s bookshelf are @booksofmelanin and @blackbabybooks

Watch:

Take the time to watch the conversation held by PBS Kids for Parents about talking to children authentically about race and racism. 

Free Consultations, Printables, and Live Streams!

By Charles Solis | May 7, 2020 | Comments Off on Free Consultations, Printables, and Live Streams!

We just completed our second week of our Facebook Live streams!

In addition to the great content we discussed, here are the printables from those sessions:

As a reminder we are offering free online parent coaching through BrainFit Kids and consultations through the Reach Family Institute for parents who have specific questions or concerns about a child with developmental challenges 

Click “Book Now” on our Facebook Pages:

More details on the live streams and free appointments below.

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BrainFit Kids Live Show – Two times per week for 15 minutes we will be streaming on Facebook Live. The focus will be on well-developing children from birth to six years of age, with the occasional detour talking about older kids and teens. Here’s some of what you can expect to learn

  • The three basic, non-negotiable laws that govern brain development 
  • The three fundamental, universal principles that guide brain development 
  • How to easily apply those laws and principles in everyday life
  • Simple, practical, developmental activities to do with your children at home
  • Tips on homeschooling – How to teaching anything with the brain in mind for maximum success 

Free Online Coaching – We will set aside time each day to provide free coaching sessions for parents who have specific questions about their child’s development. More details to come.

Membership Coaching Program – A comprehensive program of education and guidance to empower you to Parent with the Brain in Mind. More details to come.

Children with Developmental Challenges 

REACH Family Institute LIVE Show – Two times per week for 15 minutes, tentatively Tuesday and Thursday, we will be streaming live on Facebook. The focus will be on children, teens, and young adults with developmental challenges. Here’s some of what you can expect to learn

  • The three basic, non-negotiable laws that govern brain development 
  • The three fundamental, universal principles that guide brain development 
  • How to easily apply those laws and principles in everyday life
  • Simple, practical, developmental activities to do with your children at home
  • Tips for successfully working with your child at home
  • Tips for successfully teaching your child at home 

Free Online Consultations – We will set aside time each day to provide free thirty-minute consultations for parents who have specific questions or concerns about a child with developmental challenges with or without a specific diagnosis – autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, developmental delay, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, etc.

More details to come.

Discounted Home Program – Parents who have children with developmental challenges already deal with a lot of stress. The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has only added to that. If that’s you or someone you know, we want to help. Starting today and until July 31st of this year, we are offering online Initial Evaluation and Programming appointments for our Home Program at a 30% discount for all new families who are struggling financially due to the current crisis. Getting an appointment is simple – families simply write to us at admin@reachfamilyinstitute.org to request an appointment and explain their circumstances. No family will be refused. 

Support for Parents & Children: Coping with COVID-19 Part 2

By Charles Solis | April 22, 2020 | Comments Off on Support for Parents & Children: Coping with COVID-19 Part 2

Hopefully, you are all safe and healthy after these first few weeks of the COVID-19 crisis. In my last post, I gave some general guidelines for decreasing the chances of becoming infected, bolstering the immune system to fight infection, and dealing with the fears and emotions that are quite naturally a part of any crisis of this magnitude. I hope that those suggestions have been helpful.

We are four full weeks into a widespread government shutdown here in the United States. It is estimated that more than one-third of the world’s population is under some form of restriction ranging from mandatory geographic quarantines to non-mandatory recommendations to stay at home, close certain businesses, and ban public events and gatherings. A little more than a month ago we were doing business as usual! Now life is anything but usual! That’s an awful lot of change for a lot of people in a very short span of time.

So, what are we to do with that?

Stop the World!, I Want to Get Off
I am probably dating myself but here goes… With all of the craziness lately, I keep thinking back to a wonderful musical that packed the theaters in London and Broadway in the early 1960s. That musical was “Stop the World!, I Want to Get Off”. The title captures the sentiments that I imagine many of you are feeling.

Basically, the story follows the life of a character named Littlechap from birth to old age. Never satisfied with his lot in life he is constantly searching for something better. Every time he runs into difficulty he shouts ‘Stop the World!’ and turns to speak to the audience. Late in life, he realizes that all of his searchings were pointless because he already had everything he ever wanted. 

One of the classic songs from the musical is “Just Once in a Lifetime”. The lyrics are eerily appropriate for this moment we are living, and offer a glimmer of hope. Here is just the first stanza. 

Just once in a lifetime
There’s one special moment
One wonderful moment
When fate takes your hand
And this is the moment
My once in a lifetime
When I can explore
A new and exciting land

Hidden in that wonderful song is the clue to Part 2 of Coping with COVID-19. The million-dollar question is how can you seize the hidden opportunities in this crisis and come out the other end better than before? 

A Golden Opportunity

Most of you, like us, are sheltered at home for the foreseeable future… with the kids!!!  Heaven knows how long that is going to last… a few more weeks, months… into next year? It already seems like it’s been forever but in terms of getting back to some semblance of normality, it could be just beginning!

So, one really important question to ask is what is that going to look like? I assume you already took steps to mitigate the risks posed by the coronavirus. The question now is how to handle you and your children being home together for what could be anywhere from a few weeks to many months? What the heck are you supposed to do with them all day?! How do you juggle working from home, homeschooling, childcare, meal preparation, house cleaning, etc., etc., etc. 

Take a deep breath… Read those lyrics again… slowly… let the words roll off your tongue… let them sink in…

Believe it or not, this crisis contains within it a golden opportunity for you and your children. As the song says, it may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity, one special moment, one wonderful moment, when fate takes your hand…

Here’s a shortlist of some of the opportunities we see for you and your children.

  • An opportunity to spend serious quality time together as a family.
  • An opportunity to eat meals together. 
  • An opportunity to reclaim your role as your child’s first and most influential teacher.
  • An opportunity to focus on well rounded global development.
  • An opportunity to learn based on interests rather than a standard curriculum.

Most importantly, you have an opportunity to focus on developing the most important tool that every human being has to navigate through life… the human brain.

And the best part is that it’s not complicated. You and your children have everything to gain! You will all come out the other end of this crisis brilliant not broken if you seize the opportunity!

Uniquely Positioned To Help

Experience in Person and Online

For over 40 years, my wife Conceição and I have taught parents about the extraordinary human brain and guided them as they develop and educate their children at home. We’ve done this with parents of every social class, of every race, ethnicity, and religion, on every continent on the planet with the exception of Antarctica. We’ve done this with parents whose children range across the entire spectrum of functional ability from virtually no ability (due to severe brain injury) to exceptional ability. In between those two extremes are children with virtually every known developmental diagnosis – autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, developmental delay, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, etc… the list is long.

That’s nearly a century of experience… with all kinds of parents… with all kinds of kids… from all kinds of cultures and circumstances! There isn’t much we haven’t seen! 

In addition to that, we also have extensive experience in teaching families online. Ten years ago several families from Perth, Australia brought their children to us in southern Oregon. After their initial appointment, in order to try to save them the trauma of more thirty-six hour trips in each direction, plus the travel expenses, we decided to give online teaching a try. Since those early days the technology has come a long way and today it is almost second nature to teach online. Just three weeks ago we spent 24 hours online teaching a family from Lithuania!

Philosophy

Our entire approach to the development of children is different from the mainstream. Three incredibly important differences stand out. 

Children are children first. Children are not their labels. Some children have medical labels or diagnoses, some have popular labels or put-downs. The point is that the label does not define the child. Billy is not a dyslexic child. He is a child with dyslexia. Children are children first. The label really doesn’t matter. Here’s how that plays out for us. Our focus is first and foremost on ability. Everything else is secondary. We ask a simple question. What can Billy do? Then we ask another simple question. How can we help Billy do that better or do more? 

Focus on the brain. Our primary focus is on the human brain. It’s our obsession. It consumes our every waking hour. Why? Because all ability is the direct result of brain development and function. Poor brain development and function equal less ability. Better brain development and function equal better ability. It’s a good thing to have better ability, more ability. It makes life a lot easier. The obvious corollary to this is that optimum brain development and function are prerequisites to the achievement of one’s potential. It’s really not complicated. We should all be striving to achieve our potential. The brain is the key. 

Family-Centered. Throughout our careers, the family has always been at the center of our work. Why? It’s actually pretty simple. We’re really results-driven so we always try to do what works best. We ask ourselves what should we do to produce the best results in the fastest time. It turns out that the human family is tailor-made for achieving success with child brain development. There is no better or more dynamic learning team than the family. Parents are their child’s first and most influential teachers. Parents know their children better than anyone. Parents love their children more than anyone. Those things give parents amazing power! All they need is knowledge and guidance. We keep parents at the center of our work because it works! 

Parenting With The Brain In Mind

As our way of contributing to the global effort to deal with the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, we are opening up our toolbox and sharing our four decades of knowledge and experience with you, simple ideas that have a profound impact on brain development and therefore everything about your child’s life. Below are some of the first steps we are taking to support families throughout the world. To make this easy to understand I am dividing it into well-developing children and children with developmental challenges. 

Well Developing Children

BrainFit Kids Live Show – Two times per week for 15 minutes we will be streaming on Facebook Live. The focus will be on well-developing children from birth to six years of age, with the occasional detour talking about older kids and teens. Here’s some of what you can expect to learn

  • The three basic, non-negotiable laws that govern brain development 
  • The three fundamental, universal principles that guide brain development 
  • How to easily apply those laws and principles in everyday life
  • Simple, practical, developmental activities to do with your children at home
  • Tips on homeschooling – How to teaching anything with the brain in mind for maximum success 

Free Online Coaching – We will set aside time each day to provide free coaching sessions for parents who have specific questions about their child’s development. More details to come.

Membership Coaching Program – A comprehensive program of education and guidance to empower you to Parent with the Brain in Mind. More details to come.

Children with Developmental Challenges 

REACH Family Institute LIVE Show – Two times per week for 15 minutes, tentatively Tuesday and Thursday, we will be streaming live on Facebook. The focus will be on children, teens, and young adults with developmental challenges. Here’s some of what you can expect to learn

  • The three basic, non-negotiable laws that govern brain development 
  • The three fundamental, universal principles that guide brain development 
  • How to easily apply those laws and principles in everyday life
  • Simple, practical, developmental activities to do with your children at home
  • Tips for successfully working with your child at home
  • Tips for successfully teaching your child at home 

Free Online Consultations – We will set aside time each day to provide free thirty-minute consultations for parents who have specific questions or concerns about a child with developmental challenges with or without a specific diagnosis – autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, developmental delay, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, etc.

More details to come.

Discounted Home Program – Parents who have children with developmental challenges already deal with a lot of stress. The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has only added to that. If that’s you or someone you know, we want to help. Starting today and until July 31st of this year, we are offering online Initial Evaluation and Programming appointments for our Home Program at a 30% discount for all new families who are struggling financially due to the current crisis. Getting an appointment is simple – families simply write to us at admin@reachfamilyinstitute.org to request an appointment and explain their circumstances. No family will be refused. 

We sincerely hope our efforts will be of service to many, many families around the world who need help at this time. We are all in this together. Wishing all of you robust health in this challenging time. Be well!

Now that you have gotten this far I have a little treat for you. Anthony Newley co-wrote the music and lyrics for Stop the World! I Want to Get Off. He was also one of the greatest artists to ever grace the stage in musical theater. He performed the part of Littlechap nearly a thousand times in London and on Broadway! He is said to have been a major influence on the early career of David Bowie. You deserve a break today. Take four minutes and watch a master at work performing the final song of the musical. This film clip is grainy but it nonetheless captures his brilliance beautifully… Anthony Newley as Littlechap singing “What Kind of Fool Am I?” on the 1969 TV show Hollywood Palace.