Be social. Encourage play with other children.

Bornlearning5 (133x200)Okay, we just made it through an election and good or bad, it is over. The whole election business brought up all kinds of issues about society, employment, jobs and personal rights. A lot of us felt powerless to make any real change for the good no matter what we did.

Well right now, we are taking a stand! A stand to do good for our families and our country! And we are going to do this by (drum roll please) PLAYING!!!

It has been said that play is the work of children. It has even been labeled a "right of children to play" by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights! Play is an important part of a child's growth and healthy brain development. Play supports the growth of basic social skills like learning how to act, learning what to do in different social situations and how other people may feel.  Play helps bodies and brains grow up to be healthy and strong. (Remember our last conversation? The more positive experiences a child has the more connections a brain makes. The more brain connections there are, the better the brain works!).

The war on play

I believe we are in a constant battle for time and resources. We are working full time, swing shifts, taking care of aging parents. We might feel it is not safe for our kids to play outside, we may not trust neighbors or those people at the park. We may be trying to run a household with three little kids under 5 with the expectation that what kids needed to learn in Kindergarten is now expected to be known by 3 years of age.

united-way-lock-up_uwbfco_noweb (200x190)We want to spend time with our children but they sort of become accessories in our lives: We carry them around with us everywhere, we get them where they need to go, find things for them to do and we keep them busy so we can get things done and our kids can become faster, better, stronger! We respond to heavily marketed messages that good parents need to provide learning games for all ages so we provide hand held devices, phones apps, cars with game systems, tablets, pads… Time is not stopping and we don't have time for play! But the truth is, our kids need to experience safe, child-driven, unstructured, age level interactions with people and objects (otherwise known as playing with family, friends and toys).

So what is play anyway?

Play is actually pretty hard to define (but you know it when you see it!) and there are many different kinds of play.  The kind of play I am talking about is child-driven- free-exploratory play with no ulterior motive except to experience. This kind of play requires free time and other kids. This type of play is not made to take time away from structured activities and the other wonderful enhancement programs we provide for our children. This type of play needs to be given back to our children for better balanced and less stressful lives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics wrote a clinical report called "The importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds". In it, they list a wide variety of benefits when kids play with other kids and caring adults.  Here are the highlights:

  • Play allows children to use their creatively. This develops their imaginations, big and little muscle movements, cognitive and emotional strength which means they can be better problem solvers. This could mean less arguing, fighting and meltdowns-I said could.
  • Play is important for healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Think Peek-a-Boo.
  • Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles. For example, I am a momma who is not afraid of the monster under the bed and can chase it away!
  • Play helps children develop new skills that lead to building confidence and the emotional flexibility they will need to face future challenges. Like looking for and keeping a job, or doing something no one else in their world has done before like go to college.
  • Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to work through problems and learn to stand up for themselves. Kind of makes you think some of your co-workers could have used more play as kids!
  • Child driven play allows children to practice decision making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue. It may start as a superhero or princess but they can fine tune it later…..
  • Child driven play in groups is helpful in development creativity, leadership and group skills
  • Play builds active healthy bodies. It has been suggested that encouraging unstructured play increase physical activity levels in children which could in turn lower obesity rates! Grandma was right "Go outside and play!"

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/119/1/182.full.pdf

I admit, I take this play business seriously, but we are talking about the future people! Literally, children are future people! (Come on, admit it that was a nice little word play!)

The holiday issue of MOM Magazine is here

Check out the latest issue of MOM Magazine with Cover MOM, Rosa Fernandez. Plus our annual Holiday Gift Guide, Gingerbread recipes and tips for sticking to your New Year's resolutions (spoiler alert: don't make any).

Click on the image below or here to view the full issue.

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Check out the latest issue featuring Cover MOM: Amanda Pomeroy

The October/November issue is here featuring Cover MOM: Amanda Pomeroy.

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TRI Oct Nov 2016 Cover

United Way’s Birth 2 Five

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Seven Simple Actions # 2: Pay Attention!

These days, there is a lot of research going on in the area of baby brain development and Nerd-moms like me tend to get pretty excited about it! I want to read about it and talk about it with anyone within a few feet of me. With that said, I will try to contain my enthusiasm and attempt to briefly hit some highlights of the amazing developing brain.  As a side note, I would like to apologize up front to all the researchers who put countless hours and detail into their life's work to have them summed up like this, by me.

A baby's brain is a lot like building a house. (There are a lot of houses being built in the Tri-cities, so hopefully creating an image won't be too hard).
One of the first steps in building a house is having a foundation. The brain is the foundation for a baby. This foundation is built based on what we get from our parents and what we experience.  Sadly, there is not much we can do about the genes we inherit but there is a ton of stuff we can do to create positive experiences.
The science people at Harvard (yes, only the best for our children) talk about developing brains in a use it or lose it kind of way. When something is positive and repeated over time, a baby's brain makes a strong connection. The stronger the connections are, the easier it can connect all the different areas of the brain.  When all the areas of the brain are connected, they can start to move faster.  This means movement, vision, hearing, behavioral control, emotions, and memory are all able to be attached to each other. When it comes to brain connections, the more the better. Let's go back to the building a house analogy: These connections are the wooden frame of the house. The frame is the structure for which the rest of the house is built.
The good news is we don't have to buy or pay anyone to help build our baby's brain connections. There are no flashcards to keep track of, no sticker charts, it will not run out of batteries, and you don't need a tech degree to operate it. The even better news is you don't have to add anything to your already full day. In fact, you are already doing it and you don't even know it. The only thing you need to do is…Pay Attention!
Serve and return
Babies do a lot more communicating then crying. In fact they are continually trying to get you to socialize with them. Researchers call that a 'serve'. Every gurgle, babble, smile, coo is designed to get you involved in that baby's world. They need this positive interaction with us just as much as proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and clean diapers! When we respond to the baby, this is called a 'return'. The baby serves and we return. Responding in an attentive and affectionate way, rewards the baby by them knowing this is a safe and loving place AND this is how more and better connections in the brain get made.
Here are some simple ways to Pay Attention in a meaningful way to your baby:
Use that sing-song happy voice. It's called Parent-ees and research shows that it is a big boost to make brain connections. Sing-talk to them about everything; sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches. Remember you are fascinating to your child!
Pick up a baby after she wakes up from sleeping or a nap. Greet them with a big smile and exaggerated facial expressions. Sing a good morning song, welcome that baby while becoming awake.
• Talk to him in his car seat when running errands throughout the day,. Talk about where you are going and what you are going to do. If you catch his eye in a mirror smile back and say hello.
• Use diaper changes to pay attention to your infant. You can tickle a belly, recite itsy bitsy spider while running your fingers up the tummy to the top of her head, talk about sights and smells ("Who made a stinky poopy? You did!!!")
• Gaze into those beautiful baby eyes and smile when giving a bottle or breast feeding the baby. Sure, it is a little harder to eat when you crack a smile, but it is so worth it!  Hum a soothing tune.
• When cooking or cleaning, have your infant sit in a highchair and start talking, provide the baby with lids, spoons, containers for baby to reach for, bang, and put in their mouth. Use a dish towel to play peek-a-boo. Chat away to them about everything you are doing. When your baby makes sounds back, acknowledge like you would in a typical conversation with a friend, "Oh is that right?" "Tell me more."
Pruning
What happens if the baby keeps serving and we don't return? Let's leave it to the researchers to find out exactly what happens- don't try this at home! The "Still Face" experiment videotaped babies and dads spending some one-on-one time together talking, making faces and noises, playing basic games, positive interaction stuff, it was beautiful. Then the researchers had the dads look away for a little while and when they turned around they were not to interact but to keep an emotionless blank stare. (I know, right?!) At first, the babies were all about picking up where they left off: doing all the stuff that was a big hit a moment ago. The dad's did not react or respond. After about 30 seconds, the babies start to realize something is different, they stop the fun attempts and try to figure out what to do to get back to that place of love! Within 3 minutes, this previously happy joy- seeking soul shows distress, cries, and even tries to get away. The baby tries a number of tricks to get Dad to pay attention to them, but finally gives up trying to 'serve'. The baby gives up-after only 3 minutes! As grown-ups, we can use words like helpless and hopeless but to babies the sad message they get is that no one cares.  To watch the video, click here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6czxW4R9w2g
Here is the bad-sad news, when babies 'serve' and don't get 'returned' those brain connections that were building actually stop building.  The baby begins to 'serve' less and the brain growth connections slow down and ultimately, the brain 'prunes' or cuts that connection. The more connections that are cut, the less contact and the slower the connection is with other parts of the brain. Gaining skills socially, emotionally, physically, and academically becomes harder and slower than other kids their age.
Now, I feel fairly confident anyone still reading this article is about helping their baby the best they can, but I want to point out a few of the distractions (what I call Everyday SERVE SUCKERS) in our modern day and age:
• Cell phones: talking, texting, Blue Tooth
• Anything with a screen, social media platforms
• Non-stop access to entertainment like a TV series
• Over-crowded schedules
• Personal-family crisis, chronic illness, financial crisis
• Little to no parent/caregiver support
• Alcohol and drug use
But here's awesome news: Brains like to re-grow! They like to be faster and stronger! They are wired to make lots and lots of connections on a regular basis! They want positive interaction and new experiences- your baby's brain is hungry for living!!!  Pay Attention to those starter home babies and help them turn into Parade of Homes quality adults.
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Mom to Mom is provided by United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties in support of the Birth 2 Five initiative.

 

 

Columbia Industries Student Training Program Success!

With school supplies on sale at stores everywhere, it's hard to avoid the sad truth. Summer is half over. Some folks love the coming sweater weather and the colors of fall… At Columbia Industries we look forward to the arrival of fall and new students who joins us when they go back to school. To celebrate Back to School, we'd like to share a couple student success stories to warm the heart.

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Clients at CI Solutions
assemble lanterns for Railtek,
a Whidby island company.
Finished lanterns are shipped to
customers across the country.

 

Ricardo started at Columbia Industries in 2003 as a high school student.  He received training at CI Solutions and at CI's laundry facility.  When he graduated from high school, Ricardo continued his job training at CI Solutions.  He learned how to make Trainman Lanterns, manufacture hoods for the U.S. Navy, type, prepare mailers, and complete light janitorial tasks.  Ricardo also learned skills to help him manage stressful situations.  Recently, Ricardo made the choice to transition from Pre-Vocational training to Individual Employment.  He will now work with a job coach to find and maintain competitive employment.  The staff at CI Solutions are very proud of Ricardo for taking that next step into Community Employment and wish him well on his new venture.

Aaron also started at Columbia Industries as a student, in 2013.  He was able to transition to Pre-Vocational services at graduation.  After three years of job training, Aaron decided that employment was not what he wanted.  During a meeting with Aaron and his family, CI staff explained all the options available to Aaron, both in employment and in recreation.  Aaron's family encouraged him to choose the service that would make him happy.  Aaron chose to leave employment services and engage in recreational activities and volunteer work.  CI Staff were excited by the way Aaron chose his own life path once he knew what options were available for him.

At Columbia Industries, our mission is to help people with disabilities and other barriers achieve personal success. Our student programs are just a couple of the ways we reach out to the community. Columbia Industries also operates CI Community Center, a safe, creative and supervised place for people with disabilities. Regardless of the level of employment, many clients and former clients enjoy being members of CI Community Center, where they can socialize, learn life skills and explore our community in an entirely different setting.

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Members at CI Community Center enjoy the opportunity to socialize and build relationships in a safe and fun environment.

The August/September issue is here with Cover MOM: Kelsey Shay

TRI Aug Sept 2016 Cover

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Cover MOM: Kelsey Shay

Because I said so: A message from MOM Magazine

Think outside the lunch box: back-to-school lunch gear

Safety first: When are your kids old enough?

Let's do lunch: school lunch made easy

SuperDad: Efren Hernandez is SuperDad

The June July issue is here featuring Cover MOM: Cathy Manderbach

TRI June July 2016 Cover

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Cover MOM: Cathy Manderbach

Because I said so! A message from MOM Magazine

Get moving: Tips to crush your workouts

Olympic Trivia: Get ready for Rio

Camping 2.0: Taking the edge off of the outdoors

Berry Goodness: Sweet berry recipes

From trash to treasure: One mom's trailer makeover

SuperDad: Sean McClintock is SuperDad

Happy May Day

May Day

History: With the early European settlers to the Americas, May Day baskets were made filled with treats or flowers and left at someone's door step. The recipient receives the basket, trying to identify who the giver is who has run away. If the giver is caught, a kiss is exchanged.

The April May issue is here featuring Cover MOM: Diana Cissne

April May 2016 TRI Cover

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Cover MOM: Diana Cissne

Because I said so! A message from MOM Magazine

Moms and Money: Getting the most from your credit card

Get Moving: Sticking to a fitness program

Confessions of a junk store junkie: Decorating with second-hand finds

A room to grow: Tips for decorating a nursery or child's room

But mom I made that: Creative ways to display your child's art

The Feb/March issue of MOM Magazine is here featuring Cover MOM: Sara Schwan

TRI April May 2016 Cover

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Cover MOM: Sara Schwan

Because I said so! A message from MOM Magazine

Moms & Money: Tips to help pay for your child's education

Vacation MOM: All-inclusive family vacations

Game on! Fun ideas to keep your birthday party hopping

Birthday Parties: Inspiring ideas for your next party

Chili: Warm up with these chili recipes

Not another toy! Alternative gift ideas

SuperDad: Honoring SuperDad JB Colson