Category Archives: toddlers

8 Things a Child Can Learn From Playing Golf.

willows run put put courseToday I met with a group of mums and their toddlers to play golf at the pitch and put, Willows Road Golf Course. All of the children were new to golf and most of the children were below the age of 2.  My girls had a brilliant time – my 4-year-old even asked if she could come back tomorrow.

Before 11am under 12’s can play the 18 hole pitch and put for $5. The beautiful setting meant that my 2-year-old, who lost interest after a few holes had plenty to keep her occupied.

There were lots of opportunities for learning too:

  • Number recognition as we moved around the holes
  • Recognising colours – who has the red ball? What colour flag do we have this time?
  • Reading signs – Please rake your footprints, keep on the path.
  • Gross motor skills – how do you hold the club? You need to hit it hard to get it up hill.  What is the best way to get it in the hole?
  • Counting – how many shots did you take that time?
  • Writing – filling out a score card.
  • Vocabulary – What is the stick called again? I’m in the bunker.
  • Turn- taking and awareness of others.

We’ll definitely be doing it again, a great way to spend a sunny morning.

Outdoor Play:Water Painting

mark making toddlersGetting my children to put things away when they are finished is often a struggle but sometimes it has its advantages. A tub and paintbrush were left on the driveway. After a few rainy days it inevitably filled with water. My 2-year-old picked up the brush, dipped it in the tub and proceeded to paint the garage.

On a sunny day she returned to the tub but couldn’t find her paintbrush. I brought a selection from the garage and as she discovered the different lines the brushes made. Painting on a dry driveway was a very different experience. I later found a paint roller – below are her remarks as she played.

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Christmas at Butlins

butlins christmas

This Christmas we decided to take a break from our traditional way of doing things.  We visited Butlins Minehead Resort courtesy of the Butlins Mums Ambassador Programme. We usually spend Christmas at home, but I can thoroughly recommend a Christmas Butlins break for taking the hassle out of Christmas and spending quality time with your family. We did many things on the break that are not unique to Christmas, these will feature in a later post.  This is our diary of the special things that are available on a Christmas Butlins break.

23rd December

We checked in at our Gold apartment and were immediately greeted by some lovely added touches.  The dining table was laid with a Christmas cloth, wine glasses, crackers and a bottle of bubbly and when the children checked out their bedrooms they found a lovely little gift each on their bed.

snowman
(Not pictured on a Butlins bed)

We then headed to the Yacht Club for dinner.  The children were given Christmas cookies on arrival while we were allocated our table (guests keep the same table for the duration of their break). The dining experience was a real highlight of the break.  Not only did I not have to cook but the quality, quantity and choice of food was excellent.  Food and drink were on a self-serve basis and the children enjoyed coming to make their own choice of food and using the machines to get drinks. The meals ranged from 3 -5 courses and included a bottle wine . Our meet and greet host Mark also deserves a special mention for his exuberance and energy and for going out of his way to make sure we were happy. The children loved his illuminated tickling stick.

Christmas Eve

Butlins had a special visit from 2 of Santa’s reindeer and we visited them in the morning.

reindeer

The girls and I spent the afternoon in the Skyline Pavilion. We watched the puppet show and danced with Angelina Ballerina but the highlight  was Bjorn the Polar Bear. This amazing animatronic polar bear was so responsive and lifelike that the children were captivated.

One girl was chosen to be the first to interact with Bjorn and when she called his name he turned and walked towards her.  All the children had a chance to hold their hand out for Bjorn to move towards them to be stroked and as a finale he rose onto his hind legs when the audience clapped and made a noise like a seal.

The snow globe looked like great fun with its simulated snowstorm, character photo shoots  were scheduled here during the day. Unfortunately, by the time we considered going in (on Tuesday) it had lost some of its juice and the snow wasn’t falling and blowing properly so we decided to give it a miss. Next time I’ll make sure we get in early.

During the afternoon the housekeeping staff visited with a bag each containing a carrot for the reindeer and a mince pie for Father Christmas.

The girls filled out their letters to Santa included in the welcome pack. We intended to post them on our way to Father Christmas but by this point the post box had closed and we were too late.  I believe had we been on time the girls would have received a personalised letter from Father Christmas.

We had a pre-booked time slot to visit Father Christmas in his Enchanted Forest. The children loved being met by the Gingerbread Man and a fairy as we entered the  Forest and each had a good quality gift from Father Christmas (this incurred no extra charge).

On the way to dinner we caught the end of the firework display and my 3 year old who is afraid of fireworks was very brave.

After dinner  we headed to Reds for a few drinks, and to catch the Take That tribute band.  This was followed by an Adele tribute and Beatles tribute, but these were a little late for our kids.

When back in the apartment the girls hung their stockings on the tree ( we took a small table top Christmas tree with us) and put out the carrots and mince pies along with Santa’s magic key (Butlins apartments don’t have chimneys).

All of the Butlins staff went out of their way to help during our stay, this included the security man who helped carry presents to our chalet at 4am. As a minor suggestion if you are considering a Christmas break at Butlins, leave some of the presents at home. The time and space it took to load, unload and unwrap all the presents was a little overwhelming!

Christmas Day

The girls woke up very excited that Father Christmas had visited Butlins. Remarkably, we managed to get the girls to breakfast before opening any presents. On opening the door they found this note from the man himself.

The morning was taken up opening presents and we headed for Christmas dinner during the mid afternoon. Today the little table in the entrance was laden with chocolates, fruit and nuts and a glass of Bucks Fizz for the grown ups.  Our places were adorned with crackers, chocolates, a box of party poppers, rocket balloons and streamers, a bottle of fizz (yay!) and a little wrapped present for the baby.  We unwrapped it to find a Billy Bear bowl – very useful as I had been feeding her snacks from a china bowl in the apartment up until this point.

christmas dinner

The meet and greet staff soon arrived with children’s crackers and Billy Bear cups for each of the children. A traditional 5 course Christmas Dinner left us all suitably satisfied, before heading back to the apartment for my Christmas Dr Who fix.

In addition to regular Christmas television, the Butlins television channel showed the Redcoats favourite Christmas movies, this helped to keep the children amused.

Boxing Day

Today was our pre-booked time slot for the pantomime Aladdin. This was great fun and the girls really enjoyed it. It wasn’t too long and included plenty of catchy songs.

We spent the afternoon at the funfair before coming into the warm for coffee and hot chocolate while the girls enjoyed softplay.

carousel

For the evening entertainment we made our way to Reds for a Robbie Williams and Girls Aloud tribute and a bit of a boogie. The girls had made friends with some of the children we met at the restaurant and stayed up late dancing and playing with them.

27th December

Time to check out and say goodbye.  I can highly recommend a Christmas break at Butlins. It was great to focus on the children at Christmas rather than visiting and entertaining. I would love to do it again with a large family gathering …. I wonder if I can persuade my family to book for next year?

  • This Christmas break was in Gold Standard accommodation with the Premium Dining package (Dinner, Bed and Breakfast) at Minehead Resort.
  • At the time of visiting my children were aged 7,3 and 1.

Review of ‘Your Baby Can Read’

Some time ago I was asked to review ‘Your Baby Can Read’, a system for teaching babies from 3 months old to read. The system aims to introduce the written word at the same time as a baby is developing a verbal vocabulary. As today is International Literacy Day I felt I should bite the bullet and go for it.

So why the procrastination?  My initial thoughts were that such a system goes against my beliefs.  I have seen many parents who focus far too early on reading and writing and become both stressed and competitive about it. A baby has so much to learn in the first years is it really necessary that we add reading to the list?  I also feel that a lot of the time a focus on learning to read and write means that many of the underpinning skills necessary to achieve this are overlooked.  However, I felt that it was important that such products are reviewed by someone with an early education background.  I was interested in seeing the products to help make an informed view.

The materials in the programme include 5 DVD’s, 5 lift the flap books, 5 sets of sliding word cards, music cd, 82 double-sided word cards, a sliding windows board book, word game cards, a parent’s guide and early learning workshop DVD.

To be honest, I liked the materials more than I thought I would.  My biggest reservation about the whole programme is that reading is taught through DVD’s.  There is a firm emphasis on how interactive the DVD’s are but there is no requirement to sit with your baby as you watch them.  I watched the DVD’s with my 10 month old and 2 year old, the 2 year old was mildly interested and the 10 month old paid no attention at all.  Personally I don’t see that there is anything that the children can learn from the DVD’s that they couldn’t learn from sharing the books with an adult. I may be wrong, but I feel that this is an easy way for parents to avoid feeling guilty for not  spending time with their children. The DVD’s themselves are watchable and encourage the children to interact.  It is unfortunate in my opinion that they are American, I think some of the pronunciation of words may be difficult for  young British children when listening to American accents and some words like colour use the American spelling.  I feel to transfer the programme to a UK market it would be beneficial if the DVD’s were remade with British accents and spelling.

I really like the lift the flap books.  These have the word printed on the flap and when the flap is  lifted  there is a photograph to illustrate it and a number of interactive questions and instructions eg. How many dogs are there? Point to your elbow and What is your favourite thing to eat?  My 2 year old particularly liked these and enjoyed focusing on the words, pointing to them and ‘reading’ them with me.  I can imagine that with her interest in books and the written word, having read them a number of times she will begin to read the words in the books.  The same words are used in the sliding word and picture cards and word cards (flashcards).  The word game cards have 2 of each word so that you can play matching pairs games with the words. I can imagine my 2 year old enjoying this, although I haven’t tried it yet.

The programme suggests that you begin by reading the parents’ guide and watching the early learning workshop DVD. The parents’ guide explains how to use the books with your child and gives practical ideas for sharing other literacy related activities   with your child. I thought the DVD was excellent, with a lot of sound advice about early language acquisition and literacy.  My worry is that it is very long and I wonder how many parents would actually sit through it before embarking on the programme.

Dr Robert Titzer the creator of the programme begins by explaining how the programme originated.  He explains that he created the DVD’s to occupy his baby daughter in those times when she was ‘doing nothing’ while he was making dinner or reading the paper.  I found this a strange choice of phrase – I  don’t think I have ever seen a baby ‘doing nothing’.  He also talks about early brain development and the rapidity of brain development in the first few years of life.  This is a perfect reason for interacting with babies, but I’m not sure it is a justification for the need to read at this age.

Having said that there are a number of very positive points about babies and learning that Dr Titzer makes.

  • Parents should be active as the child’s first educator
  • Spend lots of time interacting with your baby
  • Children have receptive language (the ability to understand the meaning of words) before they can speak.
  • Talk to your baby, talking about what they are interested in.
  • Babies learn through movement
  • Play games with babies in the mirror and follow their lead building on the things they instinctively do.
  • Don’t let  children watch too much television, it is far better to read with them.
  • The concept of number needs to be taught in practical situations
  • Children are ready to write when they can master the physical skills – there is no particular age at which this will happen and it should not be introduced too soon.

The children in the case studies shown on the DVD have clearly learned to read both individual words and whole books.  They enjoy reading, are happy and engaged.  I have no doubt that the programme works but I question the appropriateness of teaching young babies to read.

The main argument for teaching babies to read is that the earlier a child learns to read, the more educational advantages they will have later. There is  a wealth of research that shows that the size of a child’s vocabulary at the age of 3 is the biggest predictor of how easily they will learn to read . The programme encourages the development of vocabulary through the introduction of 164 key words. It gives opportunities to introduce other words related to the children’s interests, by providing blank cards and a wipe clean marker pen.   However, surely it would be as beneficial to focus on spoken language and oral/aural skills (such as rhyme, identifying sounds, alliteration) in the first 3 years, accompanied with fostering a love of books, story, song and rhyme?

Dr Titzer explains that the earlier a child learns to read then the more likely they are to love it.  From personal experience with my own children I disagree with this.  My 2 year old has been obsessed with books since she was around 6 months old but cannot read yet.  At almost 3 she is beginning to show an interest in words and is keen to read some for herself.   My 7 year old went to school without being able to read but with a huge vocabulary, an interest in books, the  ability to recognise rhyme and alliteration, a love of singing and poetry, the ability to keep a steady beat and some knowledge of the alphabet.  Within weeks of being in school she learned to read, she is now a well above average reader, an avid bookworm and reads aloud with more expression than most adults (including myself). Based on my 2 year old’s extensive vocabulary, love of books and ability to recognise rhyme I expect her to go the same way. From this experience I question the necessity of programmes such as ‘Your Baby Can Read’.

I think if you have a pre-school child who has built a good vocabulary, oral and aural skills, loves books and is showing an interest in the written word then this could be a useful tool in the journey to learning to read. Personally I don’t like the idea of teaching reading using DVD’s because reading is as much about sharing a special time and ideas with your child as it is about the act of decoding words. I will use the rest of the materials with my 2 year old daughter if she shows an interest but I wouldn’t choose to use them with my baby. For those who would like their baby to read I have no doubt that the system works and that if the system is followed according to the comprehensive guidance the babies and toddlers will get great pleasure from it.  From the perspective of an early educator, I would let babies be babies and use it when the children are a little older.

 

Little Princess – I Want to Play iApp

I’ve been given the chance to try out the new Little Princess I Want to Play iApp.  As I am always on the lookout for good apps for pre-schoolers, especially those of an educational nature I thought I would give it a try.

My first impressions were favourable – the Tony Ross illustrations are as vibrant as those in the books and there is a selection of 4 games to play.  The games are simple enough for young children to play, are very visual and have nice sound effects.  The instructions for the games are written on the screen.  As an app designed for pre-school children I feel it would be very helpful if they were also explained in audio, although once the rules are explained by an adult they are very easy to follow.

My 2 year old absolutely loved this app. She made her way through each of the games starting with pairs as this is familiar from many other apps. The cards are touched to reveal characters from the Little Princess stories and the object is to reveal all the matching pairs. 

 The dressing up game was a firm favourite, a selection of clothes and accessories are dragged onto the princess until she is dressed, you can then take a picture of your chosen outfit.  My daughter was a little disappointed that when she dressed the princess in her swimming costume complete with armbands, goggles, flippers and rubber ring, the princess did not go off for a swim.  Perhaps this could be an added feature? A helpful arrow appears to show where the accessories should be placed on the princess, helping to avoid unnecessary frustrations.

Bath Time was another popular choice, Puss and Scruff need to be cleaned.  To begin with you rub the animals to lather them up (an arrow appears to tell you if you have missed a bit) and once they are covered in soap, bubbles appear .  The object is to pop all the bubbles in the shortest space of time. Even my 9 month old enjoyed playing this one (much to the annoyance of her sister).

The final game is bunny bop.  Rabbits appear from rabbit holes and the object is to bop as many as possible on the head in the alloted time. If you bop Puss or Scruff points are deducted ( this didn’t deter my 2 year old who prefered to bop the cat and dog – clearly not as competitive as her dad then).

The app was a huge success with my 2 year old and my 7 year old enjoyed it too.  I wouldn’t say it has any particular educational value but is a very good entertainment app for under 5’s.

The Little Princess I Want to Play iApp is available to buy for £1.99. Money well spent I would say.

This app was tested on the iPad.

How my 2 year old learned about deer and death.

dead deer in a gardenIt’s not every day that you wake up to the sight of a dead deer in your garden!  I was first alerted to the fact when my dogs hadn’t come to whine at the door after being let out. My 7-year-old went to find them and see if they had gone into the woods at the bottom of our garden.  She returned and said that there was something lying down behind the dog,  I asked how big and she said she didn’t know.  I was expecting to find a frog or maybe a bird but was confronted by the above.

I wasn’t sure whether to let my 2-year-old see it,  she really wanted to see the ‘reindeer’ but I thought she might be frightened.  However, I’m always keen to avoid sheltering my children so we went to the bottom of the garden so that I could gauge her response.

She was in fact absolutely fascinated by it.  It isn’t often that you will get the chance to see a deer that close so we could look at it and talk about it.  I pointed out its hoofs and she said

maybe it will get proper feet – does it have to go like this? (standing on tiptoe).

From the outset I talked about how it was dead.  I think children are very matter of fact about such things and their questions should be answered honestly but in a sensitive manner.  She saw that it had hurt its legs and was very concerned,

Maybe we could put it in the shower or in the bath and make its leg better?

I explained that we couldn’t put it in the bath and that we didn’t need to make it better because the deer didn’t hurt anymore, he couldn’t feel it because he was dead

Does it have arms?

No it has 4 legs like the dogs. Most animals don’t have arms.

But we have arms.

Yes.

Perhaps when we talked about the deer not feeling hurt, she was thinking of feeling as touch.

Not that it’s likely that many of you will encounter a dead deer in your garden, but would you know what to do if you did? Probably not, well neither did I and it took about 2 hours to find the answer. First port of call  the vets – I thought they might be able to point me in the right direction.  They gave me the number of the RSPCA and the local council.  According to the council a wild animal can only be collected from the roadside or public place, if it is on private property then the disposal is your own responsibility.  If I couldn’t find anyone to collect it then it became an environmental health issue and they would come and collect it.  The RSPCA suggested I contact DEFRA .  They said that they would normally advise people to dispose of animals in normal refuse, but that a deer probably wouldn’t fit! Their advice was to call the council again. The senior staff at the council finally authorised collection free of charge.

The men arrived and my 2-year-old delighted in showing them the way, saying ‘we think it is dead’.  I think they had visions of an animal that as soon as they moved it would start kicking out – I reassured them that it was dead.  The small antlers were caught around the tree and the deer was too big to fit in the bag they had brought so they carried it up the garden.

Oh look it’s awake now

my daughter said when she saw its eyes wide open.  She wanted to see them put it in the van and know where it was going.  I told her that they would probably bury it.  They put it in a yellow bag and onto the truck.

Are the mummy and daddy reindeer dead?

I don’t think so, they might be looking for it – poor deer

It’s alright reindeer you’ll get better soon.

We waved goodbye to the deer and the men.  So that was her first experience of death – we will see what other questions it raises in the coming days.  For now she has gone to bed with her cuddly reindeer kissing it’s legs and telling it she will give it a plaster to make it better.

Are Twos Really Terrible?

The bedroom door opens and a loud and enthusiastic voice proudly announces that she has opened her own door. She attempts to climb over everyone in the bed  asks for covers and then announces that she is hungry and wants breakfast. We are lucky if we get breakfast on the table without a shriek of ‘No me’ or ‘mummy do it’ if her sister tries to help.  ‘Me do it’ is the favourite phrase when getting dressed, followed by a Rumpelstiltskin stamp and jump if she fails.  Late for school again, we are lucky if we make it that far without  a tantrum over picking a flower, whether to walk or get back in the buggy, wanting to bring something we have left behind or failing to say hello to someone on our way.

Welcome to a typical morning in the McClary household  courtesy of my challenging middle daughter aged 2 and a half.  I don’t remember the 2’s being particularly terrible with my eldest, perhaps memory fails me, but then she didn’t have to compete with 2 sisters for attention.   I was once told that 2 year olds are not deliberately difficult, they just make mistakes.  I’m not always convinced – particularly when I say don’t wake your sister and she proceeds to shout in her loudest voice . We give her a hard press sometimes but always come back to how gorgeous she is.   When a day starts in this way it’s often difficult to focus on the positives but in reality there are lots of lovely things about 2 year olds.

The pride that they show when they achieve things – my daughter beams and says ‘I did it’ .  As difficult as it may be to let her do things herself , especially when we are in a rush it’s wonderful to see her achieve things.  Hopefully she will soon be independent and able to dress herself by the age of 3 like her sister.  I also remember my eldest making me breakfast for the first time before she turned 3.

Though often toddlers like to challenge us and do the opposite of what we say, they also love being helpful.  If you give my  daughter and her friend a special job to do they are eager to help.  She is good at tidying up, putting things in the bin, helping put the washing in the machine and feeding the dogs.

She is incredibly loving .  She loves to have hugs and often says ‘I love you’ .  She wakes me in the morning with a hug and a kiss and if her dad is away says ‘ I want my daddy’ and sometimes when her sister is at school ‘ I want my sister’.

I love the way she can hold a long telephone conversation .  She makes funny little mistakes like showing my dad that it is raining in our garden ‘ look, see, in this garden.  It is raining’ or that anything that happened in the past is referred to as yesterday. She sometimes has telephone conversations with her best friend.

Her vocabulary is improving all the time and never ceases to amaze me.  I love listening to her use new words and phrases and hearing  the things she has obviously picked up from us or her sister.

I love hearing her laugh – she is incredibly ticklish and it’s lovely to hear her unrestrained laughter.

She is still working out how things work so sometimes comes out with funny things.  Recently she said ‘mummy remember I lost you and you were in hospital, then we went to hospital to buy my baby sister’ or the time that she saw horse manure on the road and said ‘mummy has the road done a poo?’

I love that she is learning new things all the time and her beaming smile when she discovers something new.  Her latest discovery is rhyme and often recognises rhyming words  and proceeds to list as many word as she can that rhyme with the original word.

I love reading stories with her.  She has had a love of books from before she was a year old and is always asking for stories.  When she is getting difficult because she is tired she will sit and cuddle in to you sharing her favourite books.  It’s also lovely to see her ‘reading’ books for herself – reciting the well-known phrases verbatim .  If you give her a book with single words accompanied by a  picture she believes she can read and looks so impressed.

I often find myself hoping that the 2’s will soon end in the hope that we will have a more civilised little girl.  This exercise has reminded me of all the lovely things about her and that sometimes I should take a step back and remember those things. Children grow up so quickly and soon these times will have been and gone and I’ll wish I had appreciated them more.

Toddler Takeover @At-Bristol

watering cans
I’ve had a really fabulous day out with my 2 year old and her friend at the bi-monthly Toddler Takeover at At-Bristol.  At-Bristol is an interactive science centre with over 300 hands on exhibits.   The Toddler Takeover is a themed day targeted at the under 5’s.   The theme for today was ‘Come Rain or Come Shine ‘.  I’ve been impressed by the amount of exhibits that my 2 year old can enjoy when visiting with her older sister in the past.  There are 2 under 8’s areas that are always available .  A role play airport including a cockpit where the children can fly a plane, passport control, luggage and an x-ray machine and a hostess trolley.  When my eldest was 4 we spent most of the session playing here.playing airports  The other has an animal theme and includes a tunnel, dressing up, storytelling and a sticky spider’s web game where the aim is to throw bugs at it to try to make them stick in the web.

throwing

I once saw a superb storyteller in this area so was disappointed to have missed the storytelling session today.

As our children were under 3 we only had to pay for the adults therefore the day was good value for money.  In addition to the usual exhibits, there were a number of theme based activities  designed with the under 5’s in mind.  These activities were on the whole well thought out and there was a mixture of child directed hands on activities and more structured adult directed activities.  Some of the activities involved making an end product – a windmill or weather wheel and some were more exploratory such as musical instruments that made weather sounds, pretend snow and water play.  These were suitable for even the youngest children and each of the exhibits included a list of  suggested questions and discussion points .

There were a lot of staff helping the children to make the most of the exhibits including a number of volunteers.  Some staff were better at engaging the children that others but in all I felt that the level of supervision was excellent.

For an extra 50p the children could watch a show in the planetarium.  This was very interactive and visual and at about 15 minutes short enough to keep the children’s attention.  It may have been better presented by someone with experience of working with large groups of under 5’s but he managed to keep the interest of most children.

My little one enjoyed running through the lights best of all and is looking forward to returning with her sister so that they can do it together.

playing with light

We had a lost child incident whilst we were there and would just like to commend the staff for the efficient way that this was dealt with.  The child had wandered from the cafe to the main exhibit area.  When  staff  observed that he was without an adult, 4 members of staff  kept in close contact  without approaching him directly, so as not to alarm him. When reporting the lost child the reception staff immediately alerted all the other staff and the child was found .

On a practical level there are a number of baby change areas and buggy parks throughout and a picnic area where you can sit and eat your own food.  The cafe has its own small play area so the children can play whilst you have a coffee break. Parking is on the expensive side but park and ride or public transport are an option.

As an added bonus to the day out, outside At-Bristol there are a number of water features that on sunny days become a great place for children to splash about in.

splash

My only real suggestion for improvement is that there could have been better signage from outside that the event was going on . I’ll definitely be recommending this to my friends and am looking forward to the next one.

At-Bristol is also a great place to visit with older children too, my 7 year old wants to go tomorrow and is disappointed that she couldn’t come with us today. ‘I want to play with the fake snow’ she said when she found that it was only available for the toddler session.

http://www.at-bristol.org.uk/

Sesame Street on Kinect

Cookies_Are_Circular_

I know it’s a bit sad but I was very excited to hear this news.  Firstly, I am a huge fan of Sesame Street – my mum often attributed my intelligence to the fact that she watched Sesame Street whilst carrying me.  Secondly no more shouting ‘Get out of the way’ when my youngest tries to join in with Kinect games because this one will be aimed at her.  When we got our Kinect for Christmas I thought it would save all the arguments over controllers and my 2 year olds inability to handle them properly, but so far there hasn’t really been able to join in.  She has played bowling with some success and manages some of the games on Kinectimals but I do feel that she is a little young for these. So Hooray, finally a game aimed at pre-schoolers and with Sesame Street behind it I trust that it will be good.

I love that ‘Once Upon a Monster’ is aimed at families playing together – we often have 5 children trying to play ours and it can get a little manic.  The game is aimed at teaching young children about emotions like sensitivity, empathy and friendship that’s got to stop the arguments surely!

I can’t wait to see the finished product – I hope it lives up to my expectations.

http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2011/04/sesame-street-kinect-game/

Brain Food – Junk Food may lower IQ.

As parents we are keen to get our children the latest educational toy, send them to the best nurseries and pre-schools and give them the best preparation for school that they can.    A research study conducted by the University of Bristol released today suggests that diet at the age of 3 may have an effect on how intelligent our children are at the age of 8.

The study bases its findings on participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) which tracks 14,000 children born between 1991 and 1992.  It suggests that a diet of predominantly processed,  high fat and sugary foods up to the age of 3 may lower IQ at the age of 8.5. In contrast A diet rich in vitamins and nutrients may do the opposite.  Parents were asked to complete diaries outlining the food and drinks their children consumed at age 3, 4, 7 and 8.5.  IQ was measured at the age of 8.5.  After taking other influential factors into account it was found that children with a predominantly processed diet at the age of 3 were associated with a lower IQ at the age of 8.5, irrespective of whether their diet had improved by that age. Similarly children with a healthy diet at age 3 were associated with higher IQ’s at the age of 8.5.  Diet at the ages of 4 and 7 had no impact on IQ.  Though the findings are modest, the results are in line with previous research which shows that quality of  diet at the age of 3 is related to school performance and behaviour. A possible explanation is that the brain grows at its fastest in the first 3 years of life, therefore good nutrition may lead to optimal brain growth.

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So much marketing is aimed at parents and children, making parents feel guilty that they are not buying the child the latest ‘educational’ toy or taking them to classes to improve their language and social skills.  So why not use this as an opportunity to market nutritious food for the youngest children as brain food. Three years isn’t that long a time to limit processed foods and it sets children up with good habits for life.  So maybe next time my 2 year old is nagging for a biscuit or sweet I’ll suggest a healthy alternative –  ‘ Have some special magic food , it will make you clever’.

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alspac