Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Education and Diet: Getting Ready For School

As school starts back we are all thinking about what we can do to support kids and their learning. Education is about learning; learning is about being able to put information into your brain that you can later access and use. So, it makes sense to ensure brain health. Two of the most important things about brain health are hydration and diet. Hydration because our brain is made up of mostly water and it take water for our brains to properly work and access things like memory and problem-solving. Diet because the foods we eat either has nutrients and minerals which feed our bodies or not and the food simply keeps us from being hungry. 


Back in the day people were told it is best to drink eight eight ounce glasses of water a day. This worked mainly because the average woman in the US weighed 120 pounds. So, on averaged it worked. Now, that Americans come in all shapes and sizes the recommendation has changed.

  • Drink half your body weight in ounces each day.
  • Drink this in water and add other drinks too.

 Though there is a school of thought which says you can get your ounces from other sources such as juices, sports drinks, or vitamin water. It is my opinion you should drink these above your water intake. The exception for me is coconut water. Though there is no clear scientific evidence that coconut water is good for hydration. However, I personally saw how my mother's drinking of coconut water effected her hydration while on chemotherapy. Without it she was in and out of the hospital with low hydration getting intravenous fluid. Drinking coconut water she was at home and well hydrated. 


Did you know it is possible to eat everyday and still be starving depending on what you eat.

Most processed food (boxed, bagged, microwaveable) has been processed to remove the nutrients. Food scientist have worked to create synthetic nutrients to replace those lost from the food. However, it is not really known how well the body processes these pseudo-nutrients. Therefore, no one is really sure that these products are good for our bodies. Whole locally grown food is still the best way to eat. I recommend your local farmers market, it is where you can not only know where your food came from but also you can talk to the people who grew it.  

My two favorite grocery stores:

  • Aldi's
  • Trader Joe's
These two chains are owned by the same family. I will say they are not extremely fancy nor do they carry a lot. But, what they do carry is generally healthy, organic foods which are healthier to eat. When I realized Aldi's carried juice boxes which were 100% juice with no sugar added. I was excited. They also sell organic bananas. However, they only sell produce in season, you will not find some things you are looking for. Which means you will have to shop other places for somethings. I can also say these stores are very economical. I can usually buy almost 1/3-2/3 more groceries at these stores verses a larger chain.

If you want to buy whole foods which are better for you I suggest you check them out. 

As I did some quick internet research I found several foods which support brain health. They included:

  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Rosemary
  • Blueberries
  • Avocados
  • Egg Yolks
  • Turmeric
I found this great article by Dr. Axe called 15 Foods to Boost Focus and Memory The article not only tells you what the foods are, but why they boos brain health and then give a recipe for each food. This school year  you can help your children and yourself by boosting the mount of these foods in your diet. Try giving your children avocado toast with boiled eggs on top for breakfast. Or smoked salmon on cucumber slices with salt, pepper, and lemon juice as a dressing. Get creative! Eating these foods should help.

So, this school year help your children boost their focus and memory keep them hydrated and well fed. This is the foundation  of getting and keeping your kids doing well in school.

Believe in Parenting

Monday, July 30, 2018

Play the Textbook of Early Childhood

As a professional trainer  of other early educators one of my duties has been to train others on the importance of three things. 

  1. The Classroom Environment
  2. Observation--Techniques and Recording 
  3. Play
Of these three things the most difficult for educators and parents to accept as valuable is the play. It is because we see plat as entertainment something to do to amuse ourselves in order to pass the time. Whether it is words with friends, candy crush, cards, or board games we see play as an extra curricular activity. Yet in Early Childhood Education(ECE)  nothing could be further from the truth.

The classroom environment is in fact the textbooks of the ECE classroom. Play is a child's study and observation, the metric of measurement of what is being learned. Learning in early childhood is a series of observation, processing, asking questions in a series of ever growing cycles. Play is a child's way of practicing, processing, and understanding the things they are learning about the world. Here is an example.

When I was a graduate student I observed in the three year old room. During center time (a time when children are divided into smaller groups and play either alone or with others depending on the activity.). I was observing Abby. Abby opted to go into the housekeeping area. When she got there Jimmy was at the stove pretending to make bacon and eggs. She dressed in heels, a dress, a boa, a big floppy hat, and sunglasses. She told Jimmy I am going out and will see you later. She went to the snack area and ate, went to talk with the teacher, sat down and drew a picture, then went over to watch a couple of children playing in the block area. She then approached the housekeeping area with a very loudly said, "Honey, I'm home." After more than 20 years I still love this story. It shows exactly what I am talking about. Abby showed her understanding of her Mom leaving the house and coming home. She probably still wondered where her Mom went when she left the house. But, she  took the things she understood about her Mom getting ready and leaving the house, along with coming home. She created her own aspect of running errands and then using the statement her Mom used when she returned home as she entered the  center again. I later told her Mom the story and she laughed saying that is exactly how she does it, at home , she never leaves the house without her heels because being 4'7" meant she needed the extra height to navigate easier in the world.

In this time of play Abby took the time to explore what it meant to leave the house and run errands.  She took what she had observed her Mom doing and acted it out in order to understand more about the world around her. Her teacher asked her an open ended question to help her dig a little deeper into her explorations. "Does your Mom ever bring things home when she runs errands?" Anna thought for a moment and said, "groceries". But, the look on her face suggested she had more thinking to do. The early childhood classroom is set up to help children to continue the process of thought.

One of the things I find most interesting in this process is listening to children as they play especially as they play alone. Because they often think out loud. Their biology has not yet progressed to the point that thought is internal, they literally think out loud. Teachers move around the room listening to children's "thought-speak" and ask ope-ended questions to get kids to think more and deeper about their observations. This is why play is so important for young children. It is not just about entertainment for them. It is about using an environment they can manipulate and control to work through their observations of the world around them. Allowing them to build the foundation upon which all of their other learning is based upon. Learning about themselves, what they are able to do. Learning about what Dad does when he cooks. What Mom does when she runs errands. What Grandpa does out in the shed with his tools. How to walk a line, jump, throw, make friends, put their coats on by themselves and the many other things a child needs to know how to do in order to develop into a fully functioning person. So, the next time you hear a parent say I love the center, but all they do is play all day. Please understand and share your knowledge that it is exactly what young children need!

Believe in Parenting