What do young children need most in preschool?

  

  There is a burgeoning over-emphasis on learning academics at the youngest of ages. Both parents and preschools accept the myth of academic success begins with early learning (perhaps a recent memory of parents who may still be paying off student loans) 

But what do very young children really need to learn? Neuroscience gives us answers. Self regulation, socialization, empathy, creative play and curiosity about the world are important underpinnings to future learning. Numbers and letters are largely irrelevant factors to success in academics according to most early childhood research. The brain develops first through exploration of the sensory world. Touching, feeling, moving are primary modes of learning. Language development happens most rigorously through self experience, talking about what the small child is experiencing, seeing, feeling. This is done largely though play. “Play,” noted Jean Piaget, the seminal early childhood expert, “is child’s work.” 

Armed with a solid sense of self, social interest, self regulation, creative curiosity,  and a zest for learning about the world are the tools that best equip a small child to move forward successfully in the elementary school world. 

Read more about this:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/24/how-twisted-early-childhood-education-has-become-from-a-child-development-expert/

Unrecognized PTSD in Parents

It’s true. I see it often. Parents come in to my office to set up testing for their child. I ask them about the developmental history. We discuss the birth and then I see it. Eyes go wide open. Rapid blinking. Tears well up. Faces go pale. Throat constricts. Bodies go rigid.  This is not an emotional response to describing the meaningful event in their life. This is post traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD. 

Giving birth to a child is preceded by great anticipation and excitement but when something goes wrong, be it by prematurity, labor issues, birth trauma, or a newborn ending up in the NICU for a myriad of reasons, parents often go into a traumatic paralysis. Outwardly they may function as highly competent but later, after the crisis, a pattern of over-reactivity, middle of the night panic, flashbacks and seemingly out of the blue crying spells can persist. This is not postpartum depression, as it can last for years. It has been largely unrecognized that parents of babies who fight for the lives endure the type of stress that turns into PTSD. 

WHAT TO DO?

1. Seek help. There are therapists who specialize in PTSD. While there are few who specialize in PTSD parents of children because this syndrome has been largely unrecognized, a clinician with training in PTSD who is flexible can adapt. There are mind-body clinicians in sensorimotor psychotherapy which can be helpful. 

2. Advocate for yourself. Do not allow yourself to be patronized or placed in a generic category of female with depression. Explain the issue. Learn more. You will need to educate the therapist. 

3. Use your community for support and resources. Find a group who have similar children (there are groups for everything). Hearing about others’ experienced will help quell the middle of night panic or the over-reactivity of your body based emotional responses. 

4. Self care: you may not remember this but when your baby was in crisis (or continues to be in crisis), you may not have taken adequate care of yourself. While you can’t go back in time, you can do it now. Massage, acupuncture, long walks outside or an active sport, or involvement in a passion that you love boost oxytocin and endorphins, which will aid in being super defense against those negative moments. 

For more info, read on:

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8485332

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8485332

Why aren’t the kids playing? 

  
Kids don’t play anymore. It’s no secret that playing has been replaced by longer hours of homework and passive screen time. Do we have to sacrifice the previous years of childhood in order to maintain a high level of academic success? 

Here is what we know now. And if we know it, why aren’t kids in the US playing more? 

Read on: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/10/07/if-we-know-play-based-learning-works-why-dont-we-do-it/

Wired and Tired!

  Parents often ask me if I am against screen time for kids. The answer of course is balance. Too much of anything, whether it’s sugar or iPad games will produce a cranky or dysregulated kid. 

Here’s more:

Wired and Tired! That’s what kids are these days! And it’s not just kids. 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201103/wired-and-tired-electronics-and-sleep-disturbance-in-children