Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hip, Hip Hooray for Newborns!

Baby Steps

"O, I have ta'en too little care of this! Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, That thou mayst shake the superflux to them, And show the heavens more just." Shakespeare's King Lear Act 3, scene 4

Daddy, Papa, Father, daughter, playing, early childhood education, hugs,
Papa Green Bean
 with his daughter, Anna, enjoying a beautiful day

We all feel a need to shake off our indulgences and give to the needy, especially in times of introspection and enlightenment. Human beings are artful in their ability to look back regretfully and spend great volumes of time and energy on trying to make things right. We all know that it is easier to get it right from the beginning, if possible. This blog is inspired to help parents and childcare providers get it right with children right from the start.

Thomas McInerny, President - American Academy of Pediatrics, states it well: "To optimize the health and well-being of our society, we must recognize that children's physical and mental health be addressed from the beginning...  we need to invest in our young people so that they can be productive, healthy, responsible adults capable of leading this country 20 years from now". 

Education Begins at Birth (or before)
  • Embryonal  - this is the developmental period before birth when the child is a 'fetus'
  • Newborn - the first 28 days after birth
  • Infant - one to twelve months (before the child walks the child is called a "baby")
  • Toddler - one to three years 
  • Preschooler - three to five years
Organized schooling begins at age five. It would seem unambiguous, that the child who has not been in a stimulating learning environment from the beginning of life will be at a serious disadvantage on day one in Kindergarten.  

Exploration: "The act of searching, for the purpose of discovering information"

toddler, freedom, exploration, green bean, curious
A toddler explores a very interesting environment (while having a tasty snack!)
Babies are born wanting to explore. There is a major hinderance to this vital urge, and guess what it is? Correct,  they can't walk or crawl, or even turn around by themselves! So, they keenly observe and listen to everything within sight. What can adults do about this? Yes! move the newborn around so they can observe the activity in the immediate environment. There should be lively conversation (the baby is watching your lips move in conjunction to the words he/she hears), laughter, singing, dancing, hugging, kissing... life! The child can be taken everywhere the adults go, for example, outside to the park for a picnic to experience nature's glory (blue sky, green grass, birds singing, dogs barking), grocery shopping, bike rides, visiting  friends, etc. 

Little Bean Observation

I witnessed a mother, with good intentions, stifling her son this past weekend (I would have given her my card, but they are still being designed). My wife (Jen) and I were out for a long walk and we were resting in a beautiful park on a large lake. The infant must have been about nine months as he was able to crawl and pull himself up. Unfortunately, every time he crawled off the blanket (heading towards the picnic table, stroller, inner tube), almost onto the grass, the mother scooped up the child and plopped him back down in the middle of the blanket (and stuck a pacifier back into his mouth, which the boy kept spitting out. I'll address this in another blog). 

This is a simple, but very important, example of what not to do with a child. After sitting for his entire life, and having just learned to crawl, he desperately wants to EXPLORE with his own free will and at his own pace (within reasonable safety, naturally). Observing your child crawl through grass getting dirt in his hands, discovering twigs, on his way to reaching his destination (inner tube) takes a relaxed, confident parent. After bouncing on the tube, the boy may decide to continue his adventure, and crawl to a tree and feel the texture of bark while, perhaps, observing an ant busy on work of its own...

Papa Green Bean's thought of the day: it's easier to do the right things for your child than the wrong things. It all begins with ultimate respect for your child. 

Watch Dr.T. Berry Brazelton's 95th birthday message here (2 minutes) in support of babies.

Until next time,

Empower cheerful, confident, curious children, 

Papa Green Bean