The brain does not like to be bored and children will let you know that!! Summer is an opportunity for LOTS of family fun! The warm weather brings the chance to enjoy lots of learning opportunities outdoors. Even though we are in tough economic times, there are many ways to enjoy fun and cost free time together.

Up In The Air
Provide a blown up balloon for me to play with. Have me bat it in into the air and try to keep it from touching the ground.
----- My brain is developing the ability to better coordinate my visual skills with my advancing movement abilities.

Listening Walk
Take me on a “listening walk”. While we are out walking have me listen for and talk about all the sounds I hear. Ask, “Do you hear a bird, a car horn, the wind,” etc. After the walk have me draw a picture about what I heard.
----- My brain needs to learn to focus on specific sounds while other sounds are screened out. This helps me focus and will help me to hear the sounds in words when I learn to read.

Follow the Path
Using a piece of chalk outdoors, make a path of dots for me to follow. Ask me to step on the dots and suggest different ways for me to move; hopping, jumping and so on!
----- Movement activities help get more oxygen to my brain. My brain uses over 20% of my body’s nutrients and oxygen.

Ball of Fun
When outside, create a game of accuracy by having me toss a small ball into bowls or paper cups at various distances. Help me count the number of times I get the ball in the cup or bowl. Count in English then count in Spanish.
------ At this age I can count, but my mind does not understand the amounts that go with these numbers. My brain will start understanding what numbers mean when I have practice counting real objects.

Enjoy a wonderful summer helping your child’s brain develop while having lots of fun!

Adapted From: Play With Me While I’m Three and Let’s Learn More While I’m Four, by Deborah McNelis found at
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Looking for Child Care with Brain Development in Mind

The need for quality child care is frequently discussed and written about recently. (Thankfully!) However, why quality care is so important is not always fully understood. Knowledge of early brain development provides the answers. The following information can help parents ensure the care their child receives is quality care.

First as a caring parent, it is extremely important that you understand that 90% of your child's brain develops before kindergarten. It is the experiences your child has that primarily influences how the brain is wired. It has been found that child care professionals with higher levels of education often have more knowledge of overall child development. You need to ask about the education and training of the providers.

Relationships are critical to brain development. Loving interaction is what wires the brain best. Due to this, it is essential to look for child care that provides high numbers of teachers to the number of children. This allows the child care professional the time to provide the caring interaction and nurturing a child needs throughout the day. In addition, the brain does not like chaos. If the caregiver is responsible for too many children this may create too much stress for a child.

Children are born ready to learn and explore. Children's developing brains need fun, hands-on experiences. Learning is best when all of the senses are used through exploration of real objects. A child care setting needs to recognize and provide this type of environment for optimal learning.

Research has shown programs that consider the parents as partners in the child's development are the most effective. It is important that you feel welcome and included as a part of your child’s care and development.

Regular routines, a safe and healthy environment, nutrition, and sleep are all very important to the child's brain development as well. These are additional areas of inquiry as you look for quality care.

You are going to feel so much better about where you leave your child while at work, when you know the loving, fun, safe, and interactive care your precious child's brain needs is provided!
Photo by Anissa Thompson
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