BRAIN FACT: The Brain Does Not Like Chaos

The brain does not like chaos. It feels more comfortable when it knows what to expect.

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BRAIN FACT: Smiling Attracts the Attention of the Brain

A smiling face sparks the attention of the brain much more quickly than a non expressive face.

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BRAIN FACT: The Brain Needs Fiber and Protein Along With Carbs

Brains need to ensure fiber and protein is eaten along with carbs.  This combination makes it easier for children to pay attention and control behavior.

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BRAIN FACT: A Brain Develops Best Having Fun, Interesting, and Loving Experiences

A developing brain will adapt to whatever happens repeatedly in the environment. For a brain to develop optimally,  a child needs to have fun, interesting, loving experiences throughout the day.

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GIVEAWAY GRAND PRIZE WINNER!

Congratulations to our Grand Prize Winner, Heather M. for winning the entire Brain Development Series!!

Also Congratulations go to:

Thursday's Winner Elizabeth W.

And

Friday's Winner Char G.

They each win a braininsights activity packet of their choice!

Congratulations to all of the Brain Awareness Week Winners!!

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BRAIN FACT: Interesting Activities Create Measurable Changes in the Brain

If an activity is seen as not important or irrelevant nothing changes in the brain. But if an activity is seen as interesting or valuable, measurable change in the brain occurs.

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BRAIN FACT: Challenging Activities Lead to Increased Brain Connectivity

Activities with challenge and complexity lead to increased brain connectivity~ The brain does not like to be bored

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BRAIN FACT: Little Control or Infulence Creates Stress in the Brain

Stress is created in the brain with a real or felt perception that there is little control or influence in your life.

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BRAIN FACT: Majority of Calories Goes to the Growing Brain in the First Two Years

From birth to age two about 67% of calories are used to nourish the growing brain.


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GUEST BLOG: Nutrition and the brain

Hello, Happy Brain Awareness Week!

As a Speech Language Pathologist, Educator, Parent and owner of Early Insights, I am thrilled to be doing collaborative work with braininsights. Due to my deep commitment to provide information on healthy brains, it is great to have the opportunity to share a guest blog. My desire is to help parents know how to ensure they are doing all they can for their own brains as well as for their children. When we take care of ourselves we are better able to take care of our children. Both adults and children are going to function optimally when understanding and implementing knowledge of the impact nutrition has on the brain.

braininsights provides education to parents on the importance of brain development for babies...The Healthy Foundations Program of Early Insights is committed to helping educate those babies who have grown into young children (and their families)...on the importance of brain health. braininsights and Early Insights share a passion for supporting parents, babies and families on this journey.

Taking care of your brain now (whether you are a new parent, grandparent, child or teen) will pay off in later years. This is pretty much a guarantee. What we eat now, along with our overall lifestyle (i.e., stressed out or cool as a cucumber, or somewhere in between) will affect our health in the years to come. Your baby deserves YOU to follow a brain health protocol too! Children pick up on our habits, what we do is imprinted on their brain...You know the saying "actions speak louder than words"...well, it's true. If you're a good role model for your child, s/he too, will learn to take good care of her/his brain.

Wishing you all healthy choices and positive thoughts. Thanks for this guest blog opportunity. Here are some brain healthy thoughts:

Nourish Your Brain with a Healthy Diet ...

Like any high-performance machine, the brain needs top quality fuel.
A few brain healthy tips shared by the brain team:

1. Your brain needs a well-balanced, low cholesterol, low saturated (animal fat) diet.

2. Timing is significant in nutrition. Research supports the importance of a good breakfast...for everyone, not only children.

3. Protein and unsaturated fat is especially important for developing brains.

4. Fish, a rich source of protein and "healthy" fat is often referred to as the brain vitamin, otherwise known as Essential Fatty Acids (Omega Fatty Acids).

5. Your brain needs vitamins and minerals; they come from your diet.

6. Eating a natural rainbow each day, comprised of fruits and vegetables provides important antioxidants (which will help keep you healthy and help ward off colds and getting sick)

7. Research suggests antioxidant vitamins E and C protect the brain.

8. Avoid excess food. Reducing calories can help slow age-related brain changes.

9. Get out into nature...it does a brain good!

10. Studies suggest that sleep is essential for the maintenance of proper immune function, and it also serves as a mental "down time" during which neurons can repair themselves and memories can be organized into long-term storage.
As a general rule, good nutrition for the body, is good nutrition for the brain.

With positive, healthy and happy thoughts,

Lauren
 
 
Lauren Zimet, M.S.,CCC/SLP, N.D.T. Certified, is a recognized expert in speech language pathology, specializing with medically involved children with oral motor/ feeding and communication issues, as well as neurotypical children supporting healthy development and enhancing self esteem. She is the founder of Healthy Foundations, an Atlanta based education program geared for infants and children of all abilities. Healthy Foundations facilitates brain health awareness and all that relates to caring for a healthy brain and body. Lauren has been published in a variety of publications: Parenting Magazine, Advance Magazine for Audiologists and Speech Pathologists, and contributed to The LCP Solution by Dr. Jacqueline Stordy and The Late Talker, by Dr. Marilyn Agin. She holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland in Communications and a M.S. in Speech Language Pathology from Nova Southeastern University, FL. Lauren is thrilled to be collaborating with braininsights on promoting brain health awareness for babies, children and adults. Please visit http://www.earlyinsights.com/ for more information.

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BRAIN FACT: Self-Perception Develops By 12-18 Months

A child has already developed a perception of self and their environment by 12 -18 months based on the relationship they have with their primary caregivers.

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BRAIN FACT: 1,000 Trillion Brain Connections May Be Developed By 6 Months

By the time a baby is 6 months old the brain may have developed 1,000 trillion brain connections through experiences in their environment.

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Wednesday's Give Away Winner!

Congratulations to kray@xxxxx.org, Wednesday's winner of a brain development activity packet!

You still have time to enter to win the daily giveaway and the grand prize of the entire Brain Development Series.  

There are six ways to enter:

1. Subscribe to Early Childhood Brain Insights via Email. You can do this by entering your email address on the right sidebar or here. You must confirm your subscription with the Feedburner email sent to your own inbox.

2.  Leave a comment at the end of the post with something you found interesting in an Early Childhood Brain Insights post and which packet you would prefer.

3. Blog about this giveaway with a link back to Early Childhood Brain InsightsLeave the URL of your blog post in the comment below for this option and which packet you would prefer.

4. Subscribe to the free monthly braininsights newsletter here.

5. Become a fan of Brain Insights Activity Packets on Facebook. Leave your Facebook ID/Name in the comments section below and which packet you would prefer.

6. Follow @braininsights on Twitter and Tweet the following: 
Win Brain Development Activity Packets from @braininsights here: http://www.braininsights.blogspot.com. 
Enter your Twitter ID and which packet you would prefer in the comments section below if you choose this option.

For more information click here
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PLAY, LAUGHTER, OUTDOORS AND HEALTHY BRAINS…. SOME OF MY FAVORITE THINGS!

What a combination this is! I love opportunities to play, to be outdoors, and what is better than laughing?  (The only thing missing from this list of favorites for me is chocolate covered strawberries!)

Play is the way the brain learns best. When a child is using several senses, exploring, paying attention, and is trying things out in different ways, brain cells are changing and the child is learning.  The child needs to participate… not watch. The brain also needs trial and error and a lot of repetition in fun and interesting ways. All of this is provided through play.

Play also provides the opportunity to learn to get along with other people. When children play with parents or other children a lot is learned about how relationships work. In addition, playing with others can lead to laughter.

Laughter is wonderful for the brain.  Play and laughter activates the care and thinking areas of the brain. Laughing lightens our mood through reducing the level of stress hormones affecting our brains.  It provides a physical and emotional release. Laughter can also lead to creating closer connections with other people. Laughter is also contagious so we can share this beneficial brain activity with others when we are laughing. Just watch the clip from a previous blog and see if it makes you laugh.

Physical play additionally provides many benefits to the brain. It first of all increases the amount of oxygen to the brain. Research also indicates that safe rough and tumble play can positively influence the activity in the thinking part of the brain. Numerous studies show that providing physical activity during the school day is correlated with improved academic performance.

If play takes place outdoors there are even more advantages. As I posted yesterday, natural environments have a very positive effect on the brain.  Ironically as I am writing this blog, I received information about an article in, The Sun Chronicle entitled, Go where education’s free.

In the article, when presenting the benefits of playing outdoors, TheChildren & Nature Network is quoted as saying, “Children learn by doing. Unstructured time in a natural setting invites a child to explore, to play and to create.”

One of my recent favorite books on play is, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown, M.D.

Your brain will love learning more about the benefits of play.

To get easy play ideas to have right in your pocket you can go to www.braininsightsonline.com

Because as I repeatedly say, brain development isn’t complicated. What young children want all adults to know is, their brain learns best through loving interaction and play!

So, have fun, get outdoors, play, and laugh together!

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BRAIN FACT: Language Is Not Developed Through TV or DVDs

Brain connections for language are developed through direct interaction with caregivers not through television and videos.

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GIVE AWAY WINNERS!

Congratulations to Monday's Winner

oconno3@xxxxx.com

And Congratulations to Tuesday's Winner

Jessica B.

They will be receiving the braininsights activity packet of their choice and are also entered into the Grand Prize Giveaway of the entire Brain Development Series.

More details on how to enter hereEnter Today and you could be a Winner!!
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Your Brain Needs Nature

I just returned from a wonderful trip This trip provided the opportunity to conduct a presentation on brain development with fabulous people working on the promoting the optimal development of children's brains.

The trip also gave me a chance to spend time in beautiful natural surroundings. My brain loved it!

Are you aware there is a national movement to, “leave no child inside”?  With increasing research the benefits of nature on the brain is being revealed. Not only does science show us the benefits but it is also creating awareness of the detrimental impacts a lack of nature plays. 

Brains are constantly in an anticipation and prediction mode due to the priority of safety. So the brain is primarily focusing attention on the environment and the people in it for safety and trust.  When we are in a busy environment filled with a lot going on and several things for the brain to monitor, notice, and keep track of at the same time it requires a lot of attention.  This takes a lot of brain energy and effort. This results in difficulty with memory and less self-control.

When we are in natural surroundings the brain can relax a bit since there is not as much coming at us at a fast pace that requires our attention.  Natural settings allow the brain to actually replenish itself.
Just think about the relaxation CD’s you might listen to. They usually include sounds of nature, such as birds, a babbling brook, or the sounds of waves. They do not include sounds of traffic, sirens, or a noisy crowed room of people arguing.

Research is demonstrating that even seeing a grassy area or trees outside a window can have a positive impact on the brain. One study found children in classrooms with natural sunlight coming in the windows or skylight scored better in reading and math than children in rooms without natural light. And, several studies have shown that children with attention-deficit-disorder are able to focus better and are less likely to have behavioral problems when spending time in natural settings.

If we really want to have a positive influence on brains, I feel it is critically important to include information on the impact playing outdoors and time spent in nature has on the brain. Fortunately, there is much to be shared on this topic.  For further information you can read more about the studies I mentioned in a very informative article from the Boston Globe entitled, How the city hurts your brain… And what you can do about it.

Additionally you can go to the Children and Nature website for a wealth of information. Through this site you can also get involved with creating greater awareness of this critical need.

And finally, Richard Louv is the author of, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Following is a paragraph from this extremely valuable book.
“Nature-deficit disorder describes the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illness.  The disorder can be detected in individuals, families, and communities. Nature deficit can even change human behavior in cities, which could ultimately affect their design, since long-standing studies show a relationship between the absence, or inaccessibility, of parks and open space with high crime rates, depression, and other urban maladies. “
We need to ensure our children have the opportunity to spend time playing outdoors. This additional post also shares the importance of play and laughter.  There is a definite need to focus on children playing outdoors. The National Wild Life Federation is involved with an effort to promote a “green hour” for children and the NFL is promoting “Play 60”   

For a brain focused  play activity ideas to have available to use throughout your busy day visit  www.braininsightsonline.com

Find time to enjoy a nature break for your brain or play with your child. You will feel refreshed!

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March Newsletter: 5 Myths of Brain Development

Check out the March issue of the braininsights newsletter here.  This month is a mega issue focusing on Brain Awareness Week and 5 Myths of Brain Development.

View past newsletters or sign up to have the free newsletter delivered to your inbox here. And this week when you sign up for the newsletter you will be entered to win a brain development activity packet!

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BRAIN FACT: Love and Exploration Is As Important As Food

Loving interaction with people and exploration of objects is as necessary to a child's brain development as food
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The Effects of Poverty and the Brain

I will had the wonderful opportunity to create awareness at the Poverty, Stress and the Brain Conference about the possible effects of poverty on the brain. I wanted to share with you a little about what was discussed.
 

As I’ve said many times before, brain research has demonstrated the enormous importance of the early years in determining a person's future success in learning and in life.  It is now known that a child’s brain continues to develop long after birth. The term “brain development” means more than just intelligence building. It means the actual structural changes that take place in the brain.

The experiences a child has in the early years activate the actual physical connections between brain cells that make the brain grow—in other words, the brain's "wiring." We now understand that school readiness is based on this brain wiring, 90% of which takes place before age 5. This wiring develops best when a child is exposed to a variety of positive experiences, such as hearing rich language, having opportunities to develop relationships with caring people, and learning through exploration.

However, negative experiences such as inadequate nutrition, substance abuse, maternal depression, exposure to environmental toxins, high levels of stress, trauma and abuse, lack of time to play in green spaces, sleep deprivation, and poor quality daily care affect a disproportionate number of children in low-income families.  While children in any economic status are vulnerable to these risk factors, children in poverty may often experience several negative factors simultaneously. 

Continual exposure to stress, limited stimulation, poor nutrition, little predictability, and lack of nurturing relationships all lead to types of brain wiring that can contribute to emotional and learning problems. Our brains physically adapt very early to cope with the environment to which we are exposed, sometimes with harmful results. Because poverty can impede opportunity for children and is a primary contributor to many of these negative risk factors, poverty directly effects brain development.

We need to create a broader awareness of the effect that poverty can have on children and ensure that everyone understands how to make a positive impact using this knowledge. We must also make sure everyone knows how dangerous it is for us to ignore this information. All children should be given the opportunity to be successful and have a well-developed brain no matter what income level they are born into. 

Next week, I will post more information about the Harlem Children’s Zone. This is a very effective program that is fighting the effects of poverty through understanding the importance of providing quality and comprehensive programs to children starting at birth. 

If you know of a program that is fighting poverty and is making a positive impact on the brains of children, please share it with others by leaving a comment below. 

We ALL benefit from ALL children with healthy brains!

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Daily Brain Development Activity Packet Giveaway! Enter Now

To celebrate Brain Awareness Week, each day I will be giving away one braininsights brain development activity packet of the winner’s choice.  At the end of the week, I will also give away the entire Brain Development Series to one lucky winner!

The beautiful and unique braininsights brain development activity packets each hold 40 activity ideas created for you and your child, with one packet for each year from birth through five. Each activity includes a scientific research based explanation of how your child's brain benefits from the interaction. The information is provided in everyday language and is written from your child's point of view.

There are six ways to enter the giveaway, you may enter all six times.  All entries will be included in the daily and end of the week giveaway.

1. Subscribe to Early Childhood Brain Insights via Email. You can do this by entering your email address on the right sidebar or here. You must confirm your subscription with the Feedburner email sent to your own inbox.

2.  Leave a comment at the end of the post with something you found interesting in an Early Childhood Brain Insights post and which packet you would prefer.

3. Blog about this giveaway with a link back to Early Childhood Brain InsightsLeave the URL of your blog post in the comment below for this option and which packet you would prefer.

4. Subscribe to the free monthly braininsights newsletter here.

5. Become a fan of Brain Insights Activity Packets on Facebook. Leave your Facebook ID/Name in the comments section below and which packet you would prefer.

6. Follow @braininsights on Twitter and Tweet the following: 
Win Brain Development Activity Packets from @braininsights here: http://www.braininsights.blogspot.com. 
Enter your Twitter ID and which packet you would prefer in the comments section below if you choose this option.

Contest Details: Contest ends on 3/21/2010 at 11:59 pm CST. United States residents only. Valid method of contact is required. All entries without a way to contact the winner will be disqualified. Winning email notification must be responded to within 24 hours or that winner will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be selected. Winner will be selected with the random integer generator at random.org. Winner’s first name will be posted here at Early Childhood Brain Insights. All questions should be directed to deb@braininsightsonline.com.

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BRAIN FACT: The Brain Grows 90% By Age 5

The brain physically grows to 90% of its adult size by age 5. The brain connections that create this growth are primarily based on the experiences a child has in these early years.

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What Is Better Than Healthy, Happy, Smart, Creative, and Loved Children?

There are not many things most people can think of that are better than this. And, the exciting thing is we know what contributes to making much of this possible for our children.

Due to scientific research we have a wealth of knowledge about what positively impacts optimal brain development. Implementing this knowledge leads to emotionally and cognitively healthy children.  The sad thing is, this is (for some unknown reason) still not common knowledge.

March 15 – 21st is Brain Awareness Week…! Through a week dedicated to creating awareness we can all contribute to developing an understanding of the impact we can all have!

A child’s brain continues to develop long after birth. The term “brain development” refers to more than how smart a child is. It is the actual growth that takes place in the brain. The experiences a child has in the first few years creates the connections between brain cells and develops the foundation for relationships and learning throughout life.

Nutrition, sleep, regular routines, physical activity, play, and repeated positive experiences with caring adults, strengthens the connections to create the growth of a brain. This makes the brain healthy, ready to get along with others, and eager for more learning.

However, constant exposure to stress, limited stimulation, poor nutrition and lack of a nurturing relationship all create a brain being “wired” in a way that leads to emotional and learning problems. Growing brains adapt to the environment they are exposed to.  A brain will adapt to a negative environment just as easily as it will adapt to a positive environment

Understanding this makes us aware that adults in a child’s life can have a long-lasting impact.
Following are a few points to focus on and share.

Warm Responsive Care
        Children’s primary need is to know they are loved. This is only learned through consistent nurturing interactions with primary caregivers.

Talk
        The brain makes connections for learning language only from what a child hears. A child needs to hear lots of language throughout the day. Language is learned through direct interaction, not from a television or video.

Safe, Healthy Environment
        A variety of nutritious foods, a lead free and safe environment for a child to explore contributes to a well developed brain. A brain requires little stress and routines to feel safe and relaxed. Sleep and rest are also necessary to a healthy brain.

Play
        Play is the way the brain learns about the world. Lots of interaction and exploration help the brain form connections that make later learning easier. Play outdoors additionally impacts brain development in healthy ways.

What a child’s brains need most is adults that understand development. Parents and medical professionals that are aware and well educated on brain development can provide all that a growing brain needs most. Early childhood educators also play a vital role in partnering with a parent to share in implementing this valuable knowledge. Through working together we can ensure all children receive the experiences that will most positively impact long lasting brain connections.

        ~ We ALL benefit when ALL children have well developed brains! ~

Throughout this important week we can all work together to FINALLY make this common knowledge!!!

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Prepare to Celebrate and Benefit! ~ Brain Awareness Week March 15-21

Next week is designated as Brain Awareness Week. This gives you a chance to learn more, celebrate the week, and to create broader awareness! Through out the week there will be a daily:
  • Blog Posting on brain topics
  • New Fun Brain Facts
  • Giveaways
  • Family activity ideas on the braininsights website
Check back on Monday and through out the week to take part in Brain Awareness Week or subscribe here so you don't miss any of Brain Awareness Week!

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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Today is the birthday of the beloved children's author Dr. Seuss and NEA's Read Across America.  On Friday I told you about reading activities, events, and the importance of reading in brain development here.  For more information Parenting.com has a great article with ideas of how to introduce a baby to reading and great activities to do while reading.  Check it out here.

So don't forget to break out your favorite Dr. Seuss book today and everyday and read to the child in your life. 

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