Thursday, May 10, 2018

Early Learning Newborn Goals

Since we moved when I was 37 weeks pregnant (crazy market where we live, not exactly ideal timing), I had to spend most of my third pregnancy packing instead of nesting.  Now that we have been in the new house for a week (and baby is scheduled to come in a week, if he doesn't show up before), I have finally been able to nest!

His nursery is set up (although he won't be sleeping there for a while, the board books are unpacked and his bassinet is next to my bed.  My amazing husband to take a break from unpacking to build me a crawling track for the baby.  I am so excited for Baby Boy to have a safe environment for tummy time, especially with two dogs that are not always all that self aware.
I printed and laminated infant stimulation cards from Doman Mom to line the sides.  We also have a baby mirror and pre-made infant stimulation cards we'll use for tummy time.

Newborn Goals:
Newborns are a ton of work and each one is different, so I am not going to delude myself into thinking I can perfectly plan out all our early learning activities ahead of time.  However, I can set some goals.

  • Face to Face interaction - with two parents and a doting big brother, as well as lots of extended family, this one should be easy.  He'll have no shortage of people wanting to talk to him and read to him.
  • Tummy Time - On family members' chests, in the crawling track and on the floor.  I'm going to try my best to avoid baby holding devices and get him on the ground whenever possible.  Doesn't mean I'll be good at it or that he will cooperate.
  • Very LOOSE Infant Stimulation Program (as outlined in How Smart Is Your Baby) -  the full program is much too rigorous for me to commit to.  However, I will try to stimulate some of his reflexes and provide the movement experience.
  • Visual Stimulation - baby can't learn to read until he can see really well, so I want to make sure he has visual stimulation to look at, hence the cards and mirrors. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

EL Reading for Parents: Bright from the Start

Recently I posted my Maternity Reading List.  I've been making my way through and trying to write short little reviews.  The next on the list was Bright from the Start by Jill Stamm.


This was another book I really enjoyed.  There was a lot of science and research behind the information, which is always encouraging, especially in a family of science nerds.  I also really liked how the author focuses on practical tips for what the parent should actually DO with the information.  She gives ideas for very manageable games to play and activities to do with babies and young children that take advantage of the developmental research.  It is very reader friendly and un-intimidating. 


Some Take Home Messages:
Notes: most of the information I have read other places, but the scientific evidence to back them up is reassuring, as well as the practical applications.

  • Face to face, direct interaction with babies is critical
  • No screen, audio or toy can replicate the benefits of directly interacting with caregivers
  • Focused attention, strong bonding moments and development of communication encompass all early learning

Thursday, March 8, 2018

EL Reading for Parents: How Smart is Your Baby

Recently I posted my Maternity Reading List.  One of the books I included, even though I had already read a few years ago was How Smart Is Your Baby? by Glenn and Janet Doman.  To be fair, I did not reread it cover to cover, but reread all of the introductory chapters and those pertaining to the first couple of stages of development.  As the baby develops, I'll go back and reread the next appropriate chapters.

I really like that this book has a lot of research behind it.  I have many online friends who have used some of the Doman methods with their kids with wonderful success.  I also attribute a lot of Doman's philosophies to how I was able to get Xander to learn to read at such a young age, as well as a lot of his other learning.  I am excited to start applying some of the research and philosophies to teaching the new little one, once he arrives.

However, I will also say that this book is INTENSE.  A full Doman program requires a lot of work, some of which I'm not super comfortable doing with a newborn several times a day.  I do not intend to do EVERYTHING suggested, nor as often as suggested.

That being said, there is a lot of valuable information in the book and I am grateful for the resource.  I actually bookmarked three sections that I want my husband to read before baby, also.  We will apply a lot of the strategies as long as we find they are working for baby and for us.

Some Take Home Messages:
  • Mothers are the best nurturers and teachers for newborns (makes sense, who could possibly care more that mom and dad?)
  • Babies/children want to learn and just need the right experiences and environment to make it happen
  • Learning should be enjoyable for both parent and baby

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

EL Reading For Parents: The Whole-Brain Child

Recently I posted my Maternity Reading List.  While I am still excited to get through the whole list, life and exhaustion have slowed me down a little (that's ok, I'll have lots of late night reading time when I'm feeding a baby).  The next one I read was The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.


This book focuses more on the emotional development of kids.  Each chapter focuses on one aspect of how the brain develops and how that impacts behavior and emotions.  It has tips on how to respond to different types of situations to help get the kid through it.  Then at the end of the chapter there is a section that you use to teach your kids about the concept and a section on how to integrate the knowledge into your own life.

All in all, I thought it was a good book and could see how it could be very useful.  However, having a psychology degree and being a parent already, I felt like a lot of the information I either knew already or felt kind of like common knowledge.  I did find myself wanting to share concepts and ideas with my husband, since he has not parented before and is a bit more stoic when it comes to the emotions department.


Some Take Home Messages:
  • Children have developing brains, and sometimes truly are unable to regulate their emotions and behaviors
  • Handle the emotions first/in the moment and then come back with logic and reason afterwards
  • Help children name their emotions to make them seem more manageable
  • When children are hyper-focusing on one thing that is bringing them down, help them visualize all the parts of their days/lives that contribute to their "self"

Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year's Reading Challenge

So I'll admit, I have a book buying problem.  I've been collecting books, particularly non-fiction books, since before Xander was born.  Garage sales, book fairs and book orders mean I can stretch my money, plus he always asks for books for his birthday and Christmas.  That means we have a lot of them.  
When Xander was a toddler, we did a 1500 book challenge, where we read 1500 unique books in one year.  I enjoyed the challenge, and knowing that he was being exposed to a huge number of words.  Now that our library has grown up a little, I decided to do an updated challenge with him.

A while back I posted about how our books are organized and how we use Libib to catalogue them online.  With the website, I printed an Excel Spreadsheet of all of our books and printed one very long list.  The goal is for him to read all of the books he owns in 2018.  (He has roughly 1100 books logged).  This challenge includes both board books he'll read to his future sibling, as well as his chapter books (which should provide more of a challenge to the timeframe).  I excluded his encyclopedias, though.


I put his list on a clipboard and included a little box for him to check them off as he goes.  I think finding the books on the list will be good practice with alphabetical order.  He can also highlight them if he wants.

I'm looking forward to the challenge and seeing if he accomplishes it!  I'll let you know what happens!




Monday, December 11, 2017

EL Reading For Parents: Brain Rules for Baby

Recently I posted my Maternity Reading List.  The first book I read from the list was Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina.  I have to say, it was one of my favorite parenting books (granted, I'm not posting about the ones I really didn't like).

All of the advice and information in the book is research based (definitely appeases the science teacher part of me).  The author gave practical tips, while still realizing that parents are human and need to balance brain development and regular life.  Topics ranged from pregnancy, to family relationships to raising happy, moral children.

Some Take Home Messages:
Notes: almost all of these are things I have read other places, but the scientific evidence to back them up is reassuring.

  • Face to face interaction with babies is the most valuable
  • Talk to your baby as much as possible
  • Praise effort, not intelligence
  • Model and teach empathy & emotions
  • Discipline consistently but with explanations


Friday, December 8, 2017

DIY Baby Teether

As I announced a few weeks ago, I'm currently expected our second little early learner.  I am so excited and have been busy planning all out fun activities!  Since my best friend is also expecting, we decided to have a girls night and make a baby craft.

This is what we came up with.  They're natural wood and silicone teethers.  The two round ones I plan on just giving to the baby either at home or in a stroller.  The two long ones I plan on hanging from a baby gym so the baby can practice reaching and grasping.  The black, white and red one I figured would be good to start with, for visual stimulation.


We ended up ordering quite a bit between us, but I made four things, she made five and we have lots left over to make more.  I figure, on a per item basis, it wasn't too expensive and it was a fun evening.

We got this kit, which came with a very handy little box.  It's where we stored all the extra beads and string when we were done.  We also got some hexagonal silicone beads and round silicone beads to augment the set.  I was glad we did.  Below are pictures of everything we have left after both of us finished our projects.



Stringing them was simple, although having a big needled helped tremendously.  We made sure to knot the string tightly, and secured it with some nontoxic clear nail polish.  The beads all all big enough, they shouldn't pose too much of a choking hazard, even if they were to break free.

I'd love to hear any ideas you have for DIY baby projects!  I still have 6 months to fill!

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