Friday, November 18, 2011

One of the reasons for creating, The Brain Development Series was due to my desire help parents learn what is best for the developing brain of their children. It is often confusing for caring parents to sort out which skills to encourage and support. It is my desire for parents to easily understand all that brain research clearly shows is most advantageous for learning and long lasting impact.
With this desire, I am pleased to share a guest blog from Marcia Hall. In this story she shares her perspective from her professional role... and her emotions from her role as a loving mother. 
Is That Child Smarter Than Mine?

I have been a Certified Professional Nanny for almost 15 years, working with children and families from birth into their teen years.  I have studied children’s brain development both in the classroom, through books, and during lots of personal experience.  I know that the bond babies make with mom or dad in those first few months are vital to the neurological connections that are being made in their brains.  As children get older, the connections also are made through many stimuli like touch, feel, taste, sight and sound.  I understand that a toddler’s brain will develop best through real experiences.  They should be learning balance, coordination, speech, spatial dexterity and social skills.  Learning the ABC’s, numbers, shapes and the rest will come but do not need to be pushed at this stage.  In fact stressing a child out (and yourself) to learn these lessons earlier and earlier could have negative effects to the development process.  The energy being used to memorizing these skills could go instead to the improvement of age appropriate activities.

All this I know from my training, however, I am also a mom.  A few weeks ago my almost 3 year old daughter had a play date with a child 5 months younger.  During play time the other child began to sing her ABC’s.  She got every letter right!!  Not only that, she went on to count to 20 without missing any numbers.  My daughter says “1, 2, 17” and her idea of ABC’s are “A, B, Q, X.”  Suddenly my mommy jealously kicked in.  For a moment all understanding of how the brain works and what is age appropriate flew out the window, and I found myself wondering if my daughter was not as smart.  Would that mean she would not do well in school and then not get into a good college Then would she not get a good job and be HAPPY!

Okay, maybe I did not consciously think all this in that instant, but my emotions went around these issues.  My head started spinning with worry.  I know the reality that even if this child was showing signs of greater intelligence by saying her ABC's at 2 years old that does not mean my daughter will not do well in school.  Happiness does not come from your intelligence or your job. 

But the issue goes even deeper because I know that being able to recite ABC’s and count to 20 at the age of two, does not equal great intelligence. It means that this other child has had experiences in different areas than my child. Perhaps she is an auditory learner and simply caught on to the “ABC song" or her mother has worked very hard training her daughter to count to say numerals in order. 

Whatever the case is my story is not unique.  There is a natural instinct in parents to want their child to excel at academics and to compare them to other children.  It’s hard for parents to resist this temptation and choose instead to see their child’s strengths.  If it is difficult for a mom like me who has been extensively trained and witnessed many children grow healthy and bright who did not know their ABC’s at 2, how much more difficult is it for parents that do not know these things.  Therefore it is understandable why it is so common for parents to push their children to learn things they do not need to be pushed to learn. 

I was able to quickly regain my rational thinking and genuinely praised the child for sharing what she knows.  I did not run home and try to force my daughter to learn to say the alphabet.  I choose instead to find the things she is really good at, like using her imagination and playing well with others. Remembering that EVERY child has skills and talents that they can do well is important.  It is our honor as parents and caregivers to find those strengths and nurture them. 

Guest post by Marcia Hall owner of Strong Roots Family Coaching 

Since 1996, Marcia Hall has been working with children and families. Marcia is an ACPI Certified Coach for Families.  In 2011 she was named the International Nanny Associations NANNY OF THE YEAR.  Marcia is also graduated from the English Nanny and Governess School and is an INA Credentialed Nanny.  

Marcia launched Strong Roots Family Coaching because she believes that all children are born with great potential. She's passionate about empowering parents to find the best ways to nurture, support and encourage their children as they build a deeper connection.

Marcia teaches to families in her community and around the country through workshops, one on one coaching and through her writing.  She writes weekly for a blog called YOUR Parenting Questions as well as many other websites and blogs.  Her first book Parenting Responsively co-written with 11 other ACPI Parent Coaches came out this summer. 
Marcia and her husband Scott, reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with their 2 year old daughter Nadia, whom they adopted days after birth.

Strong Root’s Web Site
BLOG – YOUR Parenting Questions


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