Dr. Kristen Connolly, MD, Franklin County Pediatrics
Sep 11, 2014

Imagine a day when you have a long to-do list of greater and lesser priorities. You choose one task to start on, but are distracted by the background noise of a lively conversation nearby. You succeed in mentally blocking out the chatter just as your phone rings or someone knocks on your door.

“Executive function” is the important set of skills that enable us to choose and balance priorities, work toward future goals, multitask, regulate our emotional reactions and adjust plans as we go. Executive functioning is what scientists often call our brain’s “air traffic control system,” balancing incoming information and outgoing communication and actions.

Peter Gilbert, Executive Director, Vermont Humanities Council
Sep 04, 2014

Not too long ago, one of the Vermont Humanities Council’s early literacy program leaders was encouraging a well-intentioned mother to talk—and read a lot—with her very young child. The mother replied, in effect, why should I talk with him? He can't understand what I'm saying anyway.

Culturally, this is a deeply ingrained common misconception. But what we now know is that hearing language is the way children learn language, and how brains develop in important ways. And if the brain connections associated with language aren't developed early on, unfortunately that cognitive foundation for language won't be as strong down the road.

Suzanne Loring, Stern Center for Language & Learning
Aug 28, 2014

In a study done by the National Endowment for the Arts, To Read or Not to Read, "The habit of daily reading ... overwhelmingly correlates with better reading skills and higher academic achievement. On the other hand, poor reading skills correlate with lower levels of financial and job success." According to the report, children who read on a daily or weekly basis for pleasure score better on reading and writing tests than infrequent readers. And reading comprehension and writing skills are rated the first and third-most important skills by today's employers. So how does one help a child develop a love for regular reading?

Dr. Jody Brakeley, MD, Child Development Clinic
Aug 21, 2014

"Stress" is receiving a lot of attention recently, and rightly so. Research shows that children who do not have the benefit of stable, responsive, nurturing relationships with consistent, protective, interactive adults can have differences in their brain development. Why? Because a supportive relationship with a trusted adult provides an important buffer against stress.

Ellie Tetrick, Music Educator
Aug 14, 2014

Singing, dancing and playing music are innate to a young child. Music is how little ones learn language, form close relationships and learn about the world around them. And in my 20+ years of working with young children as a music educator, I have never met a baby, toddler or preschooler who didn’t love music!

The benefits of music education in the early developmental years are not only fun for a little one, but also contain essential learning.

Linda Wellings, Early Childhood Educator, Shelburne Farms
Aug 07, 2014

Asking an early childhood educator from Shelburne Farms to write about play can only lead to a conversation about play in the natural world. Play and exploration, usually in the forests, fields or farmyard, are the mainstay of our early childhood program. Behind simple acts of play, important development is taking place. The earliest years are a critical time for cognitive, physical, social and emotional development in children—and play impacts all of those capacities.


 

Karen Flynn, Vermont Department of Health
Jul 31, 2014

Breastfeeding is one of the most important gifts a mother can give to--and a father/partner can support for--their child. “Babies are born to breastfeed, and during the first days, weeks and months of a child’s life, breastfeeding promotes optimal brain development and function,” says Dr. Breena Holmes, the Director of Maternal and Child Health at the Vermont Department of Health.

Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life and continued breast­feeding thereafter (along with adequate complementary feeding) supports the best cognitive and social-emotional development.

- See more at: http://www.letsgrowkids.org/blog/breastfeeding-ancient-practice-modern-b...

Breastfeeding is one of the most important gifts a mother can give to--and a father/partner can support for--their child. “Babies are born to breastfeed, and during the first days, weeks and months of a child’s life, breastfeeding promotes optimal brain development and function,” says Dr. Breena Holmes, the Director of Maternal and Child Health at the Vermont Department of Health.

Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life and continued breast­feeding thereafter (along with adequate complementary feeding) supports the best cognitive and social-emotional development.

- See more at: http://www.letsgrowkids.org/blog/breastfeeding-ancient-practice-modern-b...

“Babies are born to breastfeed, and during the first days, weeks and months of a child’s life, breastfeeding promotes optimal brain development and function,” says Dr. Breena Holmes of the Vermont Department of Health. Exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months of life and continued breast­feeding thereafter (along with adequate complementary feeding) supports the best cognitive and social-emotional development. But many moms face barriers to breastfeeding.

 

Melissa Riegel-Garrett, Executive Director, VAEYC
Jul 24, 2014

At a Fourth of July barbeque this summer, I ran into a very pregnant mom in the buffet line. After learning she would return to work following maternity leave, I asked if she’d found a childcare provider yet. I was not surprised when she replied she was on several waiting lists, but had not secured a spot. What did surprise me was when she shared she really didn’t care which program her child got into, as long as they had a spot by the time she returned to work. 

Research shows strong links between quality early care and healthy child development.

- See more at: http://www.letsgrowkids.org/blog/defining-quality-childcare#sthash.dYEGd...

Research shows strong links between quality early care and healthy child development. Seventy-two percent of Vermont children under the age of six have all parents in the workforce—which means those children are in care outside of the home for up to 40 hours a week. In a child care market with a shortage of available infant care, the stakes are high when it comes to ensuring that child care programs in Vermont are not only affordable and accessible, but also quality. But what does "quality" mean when it comes to child care?

Dr. Lewis First, MD, Fletcher Allen Health Care
Jul 17, 2014

With summer here, tennis playing is in full swing—but have you ever thought about how tennis terms might relate to social interactions with your child? Even if you don’t play the game, you are familiar with the term “serve” and “return” as players send the ball back and forth over the net. Well, “serve and return” may be just as critical when you communicate and interact with your infant, even if your infant is still smaller than a tennis racket.

Marcia Bristow, Dietitian Nutritionist
Jul 10, 2014

Eighty percent of a child’s brain development occurs in the first three years of life, rapidly producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses, between these cells. In order for this crucial development to occur properly, children’s brains need appropriate fuel in the form of adequate nutrition. A car needs oil, gas, and other materials in order to run properly. Like cars, our brains need adequate fuel to function and excel.

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