- Published on Thursday, 28 April 2011 15:02
Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to a wonderful woman I met on twitter (of course): Deborah McNelis, founder of Brain Insights. Brain Development has always been a fascination of mine and following the Child Study I was recently a part of, I'm now even more motivated to learn...and share. Our children deserve to be cared for and loved and that all starts in early childhood!Read below to learn about Brain Insights and Deborah's FOUR great tips: ideas that you can begin using right now!
Tell us about Brain Insights and your background. What do you do/offer?
I started with a B.S. Degree in Early Childhood Education then got and a masters degree in Education. I became so extremely excited when information on early brain development started becoming available. It was thrilling to know that the world would be able to know what is best for the potential of children. So, I am overjoyed with the development of braininsights® due to the opportunity to have an impact on the awareness of the importance of the early years in developing a child’s brain. My goal through this company is for everyone to gain an understanding of brain development, it’s impact and the ways we can all make a difference.
Brain Insights is a company focused on making the science of early brain development easily understood and implemented. Due to all the knowledge brain research has provided, we all have the wonderful opportunity to contribute to healthy brain development. Much of the information that has been promoted is confusing and incorrect. For example: The idea that DVD’s are good for children, or that flashcards or electronics are better for brains than play, or imaginative or creative activities do not contribute to optimal learning. Brain Insights is dedicated to providing adults with the real, accurate and meaningful information.
With this goal, Brain Insights offers inspirational and enlightening presentations, a brain awareness blog, an e-newsletter full of updates and resources, and the practical, unique and easy to use Brain Development Series. The award winning series includes 6 beautiful, age focused packets with activity ideas to use during busy everyday life. I am so thrilled to tell you the response to these has been terrific!
The packets are filled with ideas for busy parents and are written from the child's point of view. They are designed to provide fun and loving brain development ideas for use while, cooking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, waiting for appointments, driving in the car, etc.
Additionally, each activity includes a scientific research based explanation of how a growing brain benefits from the interaction. The information is provided in everyday language. It is a way to easily learn what all children want all adults to understand!
Who is your target demographic?
I feel it is critically important for everyone to be aware of the impact the early years have on the learning and relationships for life. We ALL benefit when ALL children have well developed brains. It is not only parents and professionals that work with children that need to know this. Since 90% of a child’s brain physically develops based on experiences in the pre-school years, it is also imperative that employers, community leaders, politicians, and the general public realizes the value of supporting and investing in the optimal development of all developing children.
Additionally, parents are not the only users of The Brain Packets, they are also used by:
• early childhood educators
• parent educators
• visiting nurses
• home visitors
What prompted you to start Brain Insights?
Brain Insights was started due to my passion to make this information common knowledge. In doing numerous presentations on early brain development, it became apparent that the majority of people are not aware of the dramatic and positive impact we can have.
It became my passion to ensure that EVERYONE understands the basics and the way we can easily contribute to the healthy development of all children. We all benefit from all children with well developed brains, so it is critical that we all have this knowledge.
I wanted to dispel myths and create real awareness. I wanted to make it understandable and easy to implement into real life. I so want all children to benefit from all science has provided for us.
This information has been available for over 20 years. However, much of this information is not well known or practiced. I want to ensure every child is raised in an environment that uses the knowledge we have.
Can you offer our readers 4 simple tips for boosting the brain development of a young child? Things they can start doing today!
Following are 4 sample activity ideas and brain insights to explain the importance and value of the activity.
- Doing Nice Things Makes “Cents”
Provide a “giving jar” and a supply of pennies. Every time someone in the family does something nice or thoughtful for someone else, a penny can be added to the jar. At the end of the year use the money to donate to a cause you want to support or help.
Brain Insight: The brain benefits by activating the reward centers when we give to others. Research has demonstrated when giving, the brain releases dopamine which is responsible for the feelings of euphoria. Additionally, it has been shown that the hormone oxytocin was released in study participants. This increases levels of trust and cooperation.
- Grocery Shopping Fun
Give me a coupon with a picture on it. Make it a fun “treasure hunt” to find this item as we go through the aisles together.
Brain Insight: My brain doesn’t like to be bored. I need interesting things to keep it entertained. If I get too much stimulation I will need you to help me to relax. My brain is not good at controlling all of this on my own yet. I need you to help when I am looking for stimulation, I also need unstructured time to just play or relax.
- What was that sound?
While you are cooking, ask me to close my eyes and guess what you are doing by the sounds I hear.
For example: Breaking eggs, pouring milk, running water, opening the microwave, and so on.
Brain Insight: My brain makes more connections when I have the chance to develop all of my senses well. Listening activities help develop my language and reading skills.
- Where is it now?
Give me two or three empty plastic containers and a piece of cereal. Have me hide the piece of cereal under one of the containers while you are not looking. When I have it hidden, you guess which container the cereal is hidden under. Have me repeat the activity. Do it another way: You hide the cereal and have me figure it out where it is hidden.
Brain Insight: More brain connections are made when I start or direct activities. Letting me lead play helps build stronger connections and leads to greater learning.
Any final thoughts?
It is valuable to realize that all developing brains need:
- time spent playing outdoors. The brain coordinates many brain areas through physical activity. Nature and physical activity improve attention span, problem solving and contribute to advanced skills in all areas.
- nutrition for energy and to function optimally. Feeding the brain well contributes to children who can attend longer and have calmer behavior.
- sleep to help keep the brain’s chemical systems in balance. This contributes to better moods, attention span and healthier eating.
- interactive play rather than television viewing to develop valuable and strong connections between the 100 billion brain cells. The brain needs to explore, interact, and play with real objects.
- loving consistent interactions with caring adults. Consistent relationships and routines to reduce the level of stress in the brain. It is comforting to the brain to have a schedule, limits, and predictability. It feels secure when it knows what to expect next.
Deborah is the creator/owner of braininsights, a presenter, and a brain development specialist. Her training comes from her degrees in Early Childhood Education and Adult Education and her experiences as a preschool and kindergarten teacher, an instructor for a Early Childhood Associate degree program, a brain development specialist, and coordinating a family literacy program.