I am not artistic. The thought of drawing and painting almost makes me cringe. Actually, as I wrote those words I thought back to “drawing and painting” class in junior high and…pardon me while I sob in the corner for five minutes.
Okay, I’m back.
Anyway, I am not a very artistic person. But thanks to having a daughter, I am learning. One of the highlights of our week is going to The Independent Space in Kutztown for storytime. Before the actual stories begin the kids draw while the adults work on various, simple, art projects. A few months ago I did something called “finger-knitting” and I am proud to say my daughter now has a cool scarf for her dolls.
I may not be artistic, but I see the value in art for children as they learn creativity, motor skills, problem solving and more. A couple days before my birthday I must have dropped a hint about this to my wife, for she bought me two books filled with ideas for toddlers. The first is 101 Ways to Teach and Entertain Your Toddler: Activities and Games for Every Season by Sophia Lawson. This book is very brief and to the point. As the title says, there are 101 ideas. I look forward to trying some of these. My main negative critique would be that the “ideas for boys” and “ideas for girls” chapters seemed somewhat archaic. I think many of the ideas for boys would be great fun for my daughter.
The second book is Baby and Toddler Learning Fun: 50 Interactive and Developmental Activities to Enjoy with Your Child by Sally Goldberg. This book has a lot more theory before getting to the actual fifty activities, which could be a pro or a con. If you want to how kids learn and why you should make your own toys, then you’ll appreciate this part. If you’re like me you may wonder why you have to be sold on making your own toys if you have already bought the book! After a while I wanted to scream – just get to the point already! Finally you get to the fifty activities and there are many great ones in there. Definitely worth checking out if you want to make stuff for your kids to play with. Just feel free to skip the beginning chunk.
As I read these two books, I noticed that Amazon was having a sale on Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina. I had heard of his book Brain Rules, but never read it. This looked interesting so I got it. I was not disappointed. Medina debunks many myths parents believe (the truth is, playing Mozart for your baby will make them like Mozart, it won’t make them smarter). On one hand, this book could be depressing as Medina argues that 50% of your child’s intelligence is genetic and thus cannot really be changed. On the other hand, Medina emphasizes the things you can do to help your child. He shows that things like being able to delay gratification and learning to have empathy for others are some of the best indicators of happiness later in life. Overall, if you want to learn about the brain and are not weary of parenting books, check this one out.