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Which Educational Toys Are Right For My Baby?

Babies by their nature learn each second of the day after they are born. The topic of educational toys and babies is therefore a subject that ought to be taken seriously to ensure the correct development of your newly born. With this in mind we need to understand the type of toys that can help the baby’s development.

Buying a newborn baby a new toy can be fun for the baby and parents too. All department stores have educational toys for all ages with some sitting out for you to play with before buying. Check them out and look for the right one to teach your baby new skills from the beginning of their life.

Babies need to learn new touches, sounds, and words the day they are born. Education toys for newborns will help them to recognize these things as they play with them.

Language developments begin at birth and your baby learns by hearing sounds. Buying the child toys that talk and play music will increase their language skills as they grow. Hearing is critical to a baby’s health and if you notice something is not right you should consult your doctor.

Other types of toys to consider are dolls or soft animal toys. Infants learn to cuddle, coo, touching and can teeth on them too. Look around to find the right one. The toys are available for boys or girls so they will both enjoy this new learning experience.

The different types available will teach your baby to understand and feel texture so a wide variety would be advisable although you need to be aware that the doll doesn’t have any harmful parts that may come off like buttons. Animal toys such as frogs that sing for example will teach baby new touches and sounds as they begin their journey ahead in time.

Videos are now also being made for the newborn up. Check the age ranges on these because they come in different age groups. These videos teach the baby new sounds and this develops the infants senses by recognising the sounds with what they see.

Other examples of educational toys include musical teething rings which teach your new baby different textures, music sounds and some come with a mirror. Mirrors teach them to know who they are and see their own expressions. The easy grip made just for the baby in mind is great to teach them how to hold things.

Crib mobiles are neat and come in many different shapes playing music to your baby while sleeping. Crib mobiles teach the baby movement by turning sounds from the music, and the colours and shapes keeping their attention. Learning is the key for your newborn.

Bath toys are available that make sounds and can be played with the water with support. The toys that are musical attach over the tub or sink and the baby learns to reach for them. Toys that are made for the water are sponge that you can wash them with teaching again the different texture.

Be sure when buying your new baby toys that they are childproof before letting them play with it. Buy according to the age group on the box to stay in their field of growth and knowledge giving them room to advance with. Teaching is easy because your newborn starts learning the day they are born and you want that to stay with them all through their lives.

Will Music Really Make Your Child Smarter?

The nineties have been the decade for widespread news about the affects of music on the brain. Everyone seems to be asking about the “Mozart Effect”, specifically what it is and how to use it to their child’s benefit. It is certainly an exciting time to be a music educator and a parent. We are finally able to look at documented research that shows that music is integral to a child’s growth, and use this information to help our children achieve their full potential. What more do we want as parents than to give our children all of the tools necessary to become happy, well-adjusted, intelligent human beings?

Unfortunately, like most popular theories, the “Mozart Effect” has become watered down in an effort by some people to make more money at the expense of the general public. You can go into any bookstore nowadays and buy “Mozart Effect” books, videos, tapes, and even bumper stickers.

In researching this article I did just that at several local music stores, as well as on the internet. I looked first in the music section, and when I didn’t find any books on the subject, wandered over to the children’s section with my 2 year old daughter. Again, aside from a mixed assortment of compact discs with music for children’s brains, I found nothing of real value for research. Curious, I went to the information counter where I was told that the “Mozart Effect” books, written by Don Campell, were to be found in the “alternative medicine” section! And, they were all sold out. That gave me my first clue that something very interesting was happening on this subject. I decided to research further in the library and on the internet.

The term “Mozart Effect” has come to simplify (by Don Campbell et al) a large body of research by neuro-scientists and experimental psychiatrists showing a definitive link between music study and improved spatial intelligence. This is nothing to be taken lightly. Children are born with over 100 billion unconnected or loosely connected nerve cells called neurons. Every experience that child has will strengthen or even create links between neurons. Those pathways that remain unused will, after some time, die. Because neural connections are responsible for every kind of intelligence, a child’s brain will develop to its full potential only through exposure to enriching experiences. It is important then, to identify the kinds of enrichment that forges the links between neurons.

Music has been clearly proven to improve neurological connections responsible for spatial intelligence. Spatial intelligence is necessary for a person to be able to see patterns in space and time. It is the ability to perceive the visual world accurately and to form mental images of physical objects. This kind of intelligence is used for higher brain functions such as music, complex math, solving puzzles, reasoning, and chess. Music specialists for years have noted that their musically-trained and involved students tend to be at the top of their class, often outscoring their non-musical classmates in mathematical tasks. Until recently, however, there was no way to clearly prove it.

Definitive studies have been done since the early 1980′s when Dr. Gordon Shaw and colleagues presented the trion model of the brain’s neuronal structure to the National Academy of Sciences. By 1990 the team had shown through computer experiments that trion firing patterns produce viable music, when these patterns are mapped onto musical pitches. This study was important in that it suggested that this musical model could be used to examine creativity in higher cognitive functions, such as mathematics and chess, which are similar to music. By 1991, Shaw proposed that music could be considered a “pre-language” and that early childhood music training exercises the brain for some higher cognitive structures.

In 1993 at UCal Irvine, Dr. Frances Rauscher, a Columbia PH.D. scientist and former concert cellist, joined the Shaw team in documenting a pilot study of the earlier research, but now directly applying their findings to people. This preliminary study showed that a group of college students temporarily improved their spatial-reasoning skills after listening to a Mozart piano sonata for 10 minutes. The same study applied to preschool children showed a more permanent improvement.

By 1997, the Rauscher-Shaw team had significant evidence suggesting the benefits of music to children’s spatial intelligence. The team studied three separate groups of preschoolers. The first group received specialized music training, particularly weekly keyboard lessons; the second group received specialized computer training; the third group received no specialized training at all. After several months, the team tested the children using tests designed to measure spatial tasks. Those children who received the keyboard lessons performed 34% better than the children who had taken either computer lessons, or no lessons. And, the effects of the keyboard training was long-term, suggesting that their may indeed be a learning “window” in early childhood, where we may enhance the connections of neurons forever.

Other research has suggested the same thing–that music training in early childhood indeed helps a child’s brain to develop. In the Winter ’95 issue of Early Childhood Connections (ECC), Dr. Edwin E. Gordon, talks about a Music Learning Window. He says, “A child will never have a higher level of music aptitude than at the moment of birth… A child’s potential to achieve in music remains throughout life where it stabilizes at age 9.” Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, found (through magnetic-resonance-imaging of musicians who began training before age 7, began later, and non-musicians) that certain regions of the brain are larger in musicians who started their musical training before age 7.

Now we have an entire scientific collection of data suggesting what music educators have known for centuries– that music has a definitive effect on children’s developments.

So, what do we, as parents, do with this information? Here are some suggestions:

1. Although listening to well-structured and performed music such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach certainly is wonderful for exposure to the arts, it is not simply by listening to music that your child’s brain develops. All of the research has shown that music TRAINING is required. This means getting your children into music lessons early, while the music learning window is at its peak before age 9. Piano lessons seem to be exceptionally helpful, as the keyboard is symmetrical, balanced, and logical.

2. Support your child’s local music programs in schools, churches, synagogues, etc. Here you will find skilled, educated music instructors who will bring new musical experiences to your child, including an appreciation for music in culture, history, and pure listening enjoyment. Demand a quality music education for your children throughout their lives.

3. Reevaluate where music fits into your home. Question why music traditions and activities, once central to family life, have been replaced by mass-market entertainment requiring no familial participation. Get off the couch and onto the floor and sing, dance, play instruments with your child.

Young Children – The Benefits of Doing Educational Activities With Children at an Early Age

Beginning to do educational activities with newborns is not too early. Talking to your baby will help them to learn the spoken language; not only to be able to understand, but also to increase their ability to verbalize.

Early introduction to music is important also because babies are sensitive to the sound of music. Even hearing music before their birth will have a calming effect on them. As adults music lifts our moods and will make us smile or cry with emotion; the same is true for young children. My son and daughter-in-law played music before their baby was born. And as a newborn, they sang songs to her and played calming music for naps and night time. When she was about seventeen months old, she loved Silent Night and although she cried emotionally each time she heard it, she wanted to hear it over and over again. Now at just over two years, she spends a lot of time singing and sometimes plays her flute while she dances to music. Because of this early introduction, it seems that music is playing a large part in her life.

The brain builds itself by forcing connections through learning. Babies love to learn and are little sponges in their first few years of life. There are videos available for babies that show the alphabet and numbers and then eases them into the introduction of words. My son and daughter-in-law began using them on a daily basis when their daughter was six months old and are strong advocates of their use. Now at twenty-eight months she is able to read many of her own books herself. Although she enjoys imaginary playtime and the usual things young children play, (i.e.: playing with her dolls, having tea parties, playing at the park and visiting with her cousins, etc.), she always gravitates to her educational games.

As babies grow, there are many educational activities for as early as 12 months or sooner which include books and games about shapes, colours, matching sequences, building blocks, large Lego pieces and counting games. Activities such as these are enjoyable for young children when mom and dad are spending time with them. Of my seven grandchildren, she is the only one whose parents have implemented this type of early learning and I can definitely see the advantages of it to her.

Although beginning early reading with a very young child is considered controversial by some, education is becoming more and more important in the world of today. This is evidenced by the all-day kindergarten classes now being held in many areas. I believe that for those who do begin early educational activities, they are giving their children a definite advantage over those who are just beginning to learn their alphabet and numbers in kindergarten.