Friday, November 19, 2010

Bike Riding (Physical Excellence Friday)

"Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving."   
-Albert Einstein
One of Hunter's favorite things.

And who can blame him?

Mom really loves it when he bike rides, too. Not only is it a great aerobic and general mobility activity, it is wonderful for vestibular (balance) stimulation and is also a cross-pattern activity, using both the left and right sides to peddle and steer simultaneously, strengthening the corpus callosum and general brain function.

Plus? It is just plain, good old-fashioned fun.

Physical Excellence Friday

"Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest my substance." 

Job 30:22

Hunter is 5 years, 8 months old

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Little Man (No Comment)

"I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD..." 
Jeremiah 5:5
Hunter is 5 years, 8 months old

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brachiation Joy (Physical Excellence Friday)

Hunter loves brachiating.

Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.

He could do this all day.

Too bad right now he can only do it at the park. But we're working on that, hopefully by Christmas, we will finally have one (a brachiation ladder) in our house again.

Because it's not only a really, really good upper body exercise. The cross pattern motion is good for your brain, too.

Physical Excellence Friday

"Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant..." 
2 Samuel 2:7
Hunter is 5 years, 7 months old

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No Comment: I Love You

"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children" 
Ephesians 5:1
Hunter is 5 years, 8 months old

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Principles of Teaching Tiny Children

Glenn Doman proposes that you can teach a tiny child absolutely anything.

But how?

Most people would argue that a one-year-old is, by default, unteachable. A three year old, in the same manner, should not be taught, it is argued, for in order to do there would be a need to apply undue pressure.

But Glenn Doman begs to differ. He believes that the younger the child, the easier they are to teach. Scientifically speaking, he is right. The brain absorbs information at far greater ease and far greater speed at the tiniest of ages. The ability to absorb raw facts is, in fact, an inverse function of age. 

And as science is continuing to show, babies and tiny children not only absorb those great many facts, but they put them together in surprising and fascinating ways to form deductions, draw conclusions, and discover by experimentation the rules that govern them.

So how is it that you can teach a very tiny child?

Whether you want to teach your tiny child how to play the violin, speak Japanese, learn sign language, read, understand math, appreciate the arts or sciences, swim, do gymnastics, or whatever else you would like to teach him, these are Glenn Doman's principles for the teaching of tiny children:

1. Teach joyfully
You must approach the game of learning with the same abandonment and enthusiasm you would approach the game of patty cake or peek a boo. All children are drawn to joyousness. Your attitude towards a subject determines his. Never approach your teaching with soberness and seriousness. Learning is the greatest game you will play with your child: keep it as such. Present learning as a privilege he has earned: never, never as a chore.

2. Teach clearly
When we talk to tiny children, we naturally talk to them in a loud, clear voice. Teach your tiny child in such a voice and make your materials large and clear. Present the information in an honest, factual, and straightforward way. If you give a tiny child the facts, he will discover the rules that govern them.

3. Teach quickly
You must teach your tiny child quickly and briefly. He has much to do and can't stay in one place long. You must be content to teach him for only a few seconds at a time. That is all it takes. Present him with a set of information, and then come back to it later. When you teach in many ten- and fifteen-second sessions, you can accomplish more than you ever imagined possible.

4. Always leave him hungry for more
You must always, always, always stop before your child wants you to stop. Always stop before he wants to stop. Be sensitive to your child's attention and mood, and leave him hungry for more, every time, without fail.

5. Teach only at the best times
The key to teaching your tiny child is to only do so at the best possible times. Never try and teach him in a distracting, chaotic environment. Never try and teach him at a time when he is hungry, tired, or out of sorts. Never try and teach him when you are out of sorts. You must be ever-discerning of your child's temperament and mood and be willing to put your teaching away for the morning or day if needed.

6. Teach with consistency
If you are to be successful in teaching you must teach with consistently. If you child is to remain interested you must keep the ball rolling. Starting and stopping constantly will cause him to lose interest because he will believe the information you are bringing out again is old hat. Organize yourself to teach in such a way as to be able to remain consistent in your endeavors.

7. Teach new information
You will be surprised at how quickly your tiny child learns new information. Don't go over the same information over and over again when he already knows it. You must be keen to sense when he knows something, and regularly give him that which is fresh and new. 

8. Teach as a gift
We have come to equate teaching and testing as two sides of the same coin. You must forget this notion if you are to be successful in teaching your tiny child. Teaching is the process of giving information, as you would give a gift. Testing is asking for it back. Never test your child. It is essentially disrespectful and he will sense that you don't trust that he knows the information. If he learns that your teaching always has strings attached, he will push you and your teaching away. Learning is a gift, the most precious one you can give your child. Always remember that.

And lastly, Glenn Doman's fail-safe law is this:

If you're not having a great time and your child's not having a great time, stop. You are doing something wrong.

"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:" 
Isaiah 28:9-10 
If you would like to learn more from the source, please see Doman's How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence 

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Unconventional List of Baby Supplies

My nephew, Jordan, at three months old,
gazing at a contrast board

Do you know what was the first baby thing I went out and bought when I found out I was pregnant?

Two large pieces of white foam board and a half dozen pieces of black poster board.

If you're a Doman parent you know exactly what I'm talking about.

If you're not I will just leave it as an inside joke for the moment. (hint: it has to do with the above picture)

Fast forward almost two months later, and I have finally finished scanning through my copy of How Smart is Your Baby? [the answer: very] I now have a shopping list of things to buy, make, or collect in preparation for baby's arrival.

The aforementioned Doman book is all about creating the ideal growth and development environment for your baby that helps them instead of hinders them. It is about intentional infant parenting practices, that recognize how to brain grows and caters to those ways on purpose rather than letting it happen by chance.

So, as such, my list of "baby supplies" includes strange things like black and white patterns for visual stimulation, a homemade crawling track, which is an ideal environment for tummy time and newborn mobility, a flashlight for developing pupil constrictions, and a wooden dowel for enforcing and growing the grasp reflex.

But, hey, what's wrong with a little unconventional?

So, my "nesting instinct" is filling my home with things like black, white, and brightly-colored poster board, large pictures, sound-making objects such as a xylophone and a triangle, grasping objects, fabrics of various textures, and flashlights.

I'm also working on making (some of) my own baby equipment. Instead of an exersaucer, bouncy seat, jumper, swing, play yard, walker, bassinette, and all the multiple other things that we contrive to contain babies in their pre-walking stage, we are going to simply have a (homemade) crawling track. And a floor. Much cheaper, and much better for baby's development. We might also have a sling for when the baby is being held.

For the bed, baby will most likely sleep with us (or sleep in the crawling track next to us) for the first couple months. Then I am thinking about devising some sort of Montessori floor bed with a mini brachiation ladder over it, for when the baby is a bit older, like we had here. Again, a little unconventional. But that's ok.

I'm actually really excited. About the new possibilities. The new understanding. The new adventure.

So, here's to the unconventional. 

Which just may be the new normal in 50 years.

"For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."

Proverbs 2:6

Baby #2 is 11 weeks, 1 day gestation

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our Adventures with Baby Sign Language

Hunter at 14 months, signing "please" and "ball" while simultaneous verbalizing "ball"

I look back and our journey with baby sign language with great fondness and appreciation.

It was long before we heard about Doman, or many of the other early learning topics I now am familiar with, but it nonetheless found its way into our lives in an unexpected way and I now can't imagine how his early toddlerhood would have been without it.

Before Hunter was born and during his early infancy, I had never heard of the concept as this was back in 2005 and in the very beginning of the "trend". When Hunter was four months old, with my mom's prompting I ordered the book Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk from a catalog.

How thrilled I was for the exciting possibilities!

At five months I started teaching him some sign language. I don't remember how many signs I tried to teach him in the beginning, but at seven months I was ecstatic when he finally reproduced his first sign:

Thereafter, he discovered the power of this type of communication and began using the sign "more" for pretty much everything. It seemed like the sign evolved to mean "I want" more than its actual definition.

Perhaps because of the versatility of this sign, he didn't mimic any more signs for what seemed like an eternity. Until finally, at eleven months old, he had some sort of signing breakthrough.

Within a month, he learned to sign "all done," "eat," "drink," "hot," "up," (his was slightly different) and "night night."

At twelve months he learned the ever-popular "please," followed by "hair brush", "phone", "toothbrush," and "hat".

By thirteen and fourteen months he learned "down," "come," "thank you," "water," "book," and "bath," followed by "milk," "dog," "ball," "outside," and "Cheerios" (which he made up - would pinch his thumb and forefinger together).

And then, it seemed like just as soon as our signing adventure had begun, it was over.

At fifteen months he began talking a great deal - within that month he learned to say almost two dozen words, whereas before he could only say a handful. He still used sign language, and that month picked up the new signs of "yes", "car", and, some things I never got a chance to get a picture of - "no", "hair", "listen", "headphones", and "iPod" (yes, he made up the sign for iPod too - it involved him sticking his forefinger and thumb in both ears as if he were putting in earbuds).

Then, the next month, he started really talking. In fact, even to a mother who had religiously written down every single possible milestone since he was born, from "first visit to the mall" to "first bandaid" to, well, pretty much everything, he had me beaten. He was learning to say new words at a rate that even I couldn't keep up with, and things just set off from there.

And that was about it.

For a long time he continued to often use his signs along with the spoken words, as you can see in the above video of him signing and saying "ball" and "please". In fact, certain signs, such as please, stuck with him until he was probably two and a half - he would always rub his stomach while saying "please"! But from that point on, he didn't really learn any new signs, simply because he could pretty much say everything verbally, and preferred communicating that way. And in spite of my intention to keep them in our life (as sort of a foreign language experience), they ended up falling by the wayside and fading into the past.

I was definitely surprised, and a little bit saddened, when it ended so soon. I had so many signs that I wanted to teach him, and it was all so much fun! But the experience definitely enriched our lives, and as I said, I couldn't imagine his early toddlerhood without it.

Giving him the tools to communicate without whining was so incredibly priceless. He could say if he wanted up or down, if he was thirsty, if he was tired, if he wanted to go outside, even talk to me about what he saw or wanted, such as a ball or the dog. It's so hard to imagine how this period of life would have gone without him having these tools, and thankfully I don't have to.

And even though it was hard to see it go, it served its purpose, and that's what counts.

Looking beyond the temporary benefits of tools of communication, another thing I am thankful for is the benefit it served him for the rest of his lifetime. As this study showed,

Results of the study revealed that 24-month-old babies using baby sign language were on average talking more like 27- or 28-month-olds, representing more than a three-month advantage over the non-signers. The babies using baby sign language were also putting together significantly longer sentences. In addition, 36-month-old signers on average were talking like 47-month-olds, putting them almost a full year ahead of their average age mates. At 8 years, those who had used sign language as babies scored an average of 12 points higher in IQ on the WISC-III than their non-signing peers.

That is another reason I look so fondly on it, as it was one of our first "early learning" endeavors. And I know that even just in that short time period, it gave him a boost for the rest of his life.

It was definitely a fun adventure.

It didn't always go as expected. It ended a lot sooner than I thought it would. He started talking a lot earlier than I was prepared for. He surprised me by making up his own signs, or by his funny interpretations of the signs I taught him. He never did sign a lot of words I taught him for months, such as "mom" or "help." He even did something I never anticipated, and started signing in two- and three-word sentences, such as "drink water please".

But all in all, isn't that how all parenting tends to go? Not exactly how we expected?

I'm very thankful to have had this wonderful chance to learn together with my baby. And I can't wait to start with the next one!

"And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand..." 
Exodus 13:9

What about you? What was your experience with baby signs?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Paradigms in Education

Fascinating highlights from Sir Ken Robinson's talk when he was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal by the Royal Society of Arts in London last year.

I love all of his talks and the way he thinks.

The full one-hour talk can be viewed here.
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me." 
Psalm 138:7

Monday, November 1, 2010

Doman Quote of the Month: The Land of Knowledge

"At this moment there is a world - a world of great beauty, of great truth, an enchanting, beguiling, thrilling, bewitching, and enriching world of facts - out there in fact land. It is a land of great riches. There are riches for the soul, there are riches for the spirit, there are riches for science. It is a land beyond imagining, but strangely it is very uncrowded. It is crowded only in spots. There are lots of artists looking at great paintings, and there are lots of musicians listening to orchestras, and there are lots of scientists looking at space shuttles, and there are lots of doctors looking at hearts, and there are lots of mathematicians looking at numbers, but very, very few people are seeing it all... They're a group called "Genius"... True geniuses have always been few in number and immensely curious about everything."
Glenn Doman
How to Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge