Friday, July 21, 2006

Brain-based Learning can be Quiet

Here’s the main article from today’s Brain Boosters for Your Kids ezine. Subscribe at Back issues are posted at  You’re welcome to reprint this article in your on-line newsletter or print publication.  Just be sure to reprint all of the article and include my name, MaryJo Wagner, Ph.D. and contact information,,  

Quiet on a Summer Day: It's Essential for Your Sanity and Their Brain
by MaryJo Wagner, Ph.D.

Is your youngster only quiet when asleep or watching TV?

Kids need quiet activities that require focus and  concentration.  The trick is getting them to do it.

And you need the down-time too. Schedule some time every day which doesn't involve driving kids to the pool, and you'll stop counting the days till they're back in school.

Succeeding in school requires the ability to be quiet and focus. Your kids will benefit by practicing these skills during the summer that they'll need in the fall when school starts.

The key is letting them choose fun un-school-like quiet things.

Try alternating between mental activities like word puzzles and physical activities that build eye-hand coordination such a building models or sewing.

1. With very young children and older children who resist this idea, start small. Begin with as little as 10-15 minutes a day and do the activity with them.

2. For kids who are “antsy” all the time (ADD/ADHD), Cross Crawl and Hook-ups from Brain Gym® work. Directions for Hook-ups are in the July 20 issue of this ezine. How to Cross Crawl is in the premier issue. Go to  While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to the Brain Boosters for Your Kids ezine.

3. Take the kids to a large arts and crafts store like Michaels or Hobby Lobby and let them pick out something that looks like fun: sticker books, paint-by-number, model cars and airplanes, jewelry kits, art projects and science experiments.

Do watch, however, that they haven’t picked out something beyond their skill level. You don’t want “This is too hard and I can’t do it” as part of quiet time!  I put a 3-D castle jigsaw puzzle in the garage sale.  Neither my husband nor I could do it and our grandson, who enjoys quiet activities, gave up in 10 minutes.

And steer them away from things you know will drive you crazy. Is this an activity that makes a huge mess and you can’t stand messes?  Maybe something else will interest your child. My granddaughter chose a sand painting kit. We had colored sand everywhere for months. Never again!

4. Check out books at the library. (However, for children who hate to read or have difficulty with reading, this is not a good choice. Quiet time in the summer must be something fun.  Being quiet for most kids is hard enough already. If you’re working on reading over the summer, and I hope you are, choose a different time.)

5. Card and board games. Quiet and focused doesn’t necessarily mean by yourself.

6.  Word games, puzzles, mazes, hidden pictures, activity books. “Where’s Waldo” is great fun for older kids.  Kids intrigued with astronauts? Try Dave Phillips’ “Space Age Mazes.” Have a child passionate about dinosaurs? They’d go for “Dinosaur Word Search” by John Chaneski.

Dover publishes sophisticated activity books of all kinds for older children and  adults.

Torn between coloring books that limit creativity or free-hand drawing your child won’t do? You can have it both ways with Anna Pomaska’s “Create Your Own Pictures Coloring Book” where pictures are partly drawn.  

Barnes and Noble and Amazon carry a large selection of these books.  Check out titles on-line.  Sometimes you’ll find inexpensive “used” copies that haven’t been used at these on-line sellers.

7.  Do you have a quiet hobby they can do with you? Perhaps you do scrapbooking. Your child works on her scrapbook while you work on yours.  

Maybe you enjoy knitting. Let your child make fluffy scarves with giant needles. Easy for the first-time knitter and they’re all the rage. Think birthday gift for Grandma.  You’ve never held a knitting needle? Learn together. And Grandma gets two scarves. Boys can knit too. And girls can make model cars and airplanes.  It’s o.k.

Bottom line: Have fun. Fun helps the brain develop more quickly than struggle. And remember quiet time isn’t an excuse for those children who would sit all the time anyway instead of running and playing outdoors. Kids need both.

Copyright MaryJo Wagner, 2006

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