We do a lot of fun preschool activities around here. But you will never believe what our favorite toddler past time is! I won’t tease you. I hate suspense, too. My toddler’s favorite brain boosting activity is stomping around with boxes on her feet.
We encourage her to clomp through the house wearing small Amazon boxes instead of shoes. Why? First of all, it improves gross motor coordination. Second, anything that forces little minds to think about lateral movement, or indeed, to do anything differently, forces the two hemispheres of the toddler brain to work together, creating more neural pathways. And lastly, she loves doing it! The giggles that ring through the house are priceless.
Where do we get these crazy ideas? While I was incubating my Rainbow Baby, I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to encourage healthy brain development in my newest little one. But I also knew I needed a plan. I anticipated being too tired to think much about it after the baby was born. And I was right.
After reading lots of reviews I settled on a well respected and highly recommended book, Slow and Steady Get Me Ready, The How-To Book That Grows With Your Child, by June R. Oberlander. It is comprehensive, but simple. It has 260 activities, one for each week, from birth to age five. The activities do not need any special equipment. Plus this book is affordable. It makes a terrific baby gift!
Then I took extra measures to put my plan into execution: I assigned my responsible, very nurturing middle school student a block of time each week to work through the suggestions with her baby sister. My Sunshine Doll is an excellent teacher. Her now two year old sister looks forward to “Baby Brain” class more than anything else else in her routine.
If our toddler really loves an activity, the rest of the family joins in and we repeat it. We have picked up bits and pieces that we work into our daily habits. We sniff at all sorts of cooking ingredients, we stack spools on strings and straws (plenty of those from sewing class), and we add new things to our water table as we collect them: sponge, shells, dinosaurs, lids that her toddler brain takes a liking to.
|Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready
By June R. Oberlander / Xulon Press
I think the colorful, flashy baby and parenting magazines and pamphlets you are loaded down with as expecting moms and dads do a disservice. There is a tremendous fear factor for new parents and the baby product industry capitalizes on those anxieties. They tell us everything we are NOT to do, and very little of what to do. The industry makes us feel as if we need tons of specialized baby equipment and chairs. In reality, baby is best served spending her time on the floor. They encourage us to spend money on our babies instead of TIME.
Babies get very little from our money. Only big baby industry gets much from those resources. Babies benefit immeasurably from our devoted time and energy. And time and attention cannot be sold. So the full color brochures are non-existent and the paid writers and bloggers do not have much motivation for sharing the message. There is really good information out there on brain development, but it is having a difficult time getting from the researchers to the ordinary parents that need to use it!
I kinda knew better as a 28 year old lawyer, first time mom, than to fall prey to baby product mania advertising. But wish I had known the WHY behind the importance of tummy time or why the traditions of folk songs and nursery rhymes are so good for speech development. I would like to have opened a brochure with suggestions for music listening with babies or read an article on the benefits of reading aloud or rolling a ball back and forth. The what will happen organically when parents know the why.
Now as a forty something, old lady, third time mama, years of my own personal secondary research have taught me many of the whys. And so I type away, lecture away, and general annoy anyone who is willing to listen (a few who aren’t) on the best things to do for brain stewardship – making the most out of what God already gave our little ones. Now, back to stomping in boxes for our toddler brain.
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