The 11 Thought Leaders That Parents Should Know

When your child is born, so is your parenthood journey. These days, as a parent you may find yourself working harder than ever as you adapt to new ways of navigating your home, work, and social life. That’s why I want to provide you with a cheat sheet of thought leaders who can support you with the cognitive, emotional, social, academic, and character development of your children. When given the awesome responsibility of parenthood, you have no idea where this journey will take you… whether your child will show signs of anxiety or depression…whether they’ll have trouble organizing themselves, making transitions, staying focused, or self-regulating. In your commitment to caring for and nurturing your child unconditionally, you rely on the level of knowledge and skills you have at the time. If you’re like me, much of the knowledge I had was inaccurate, incomplete, or misunderstood. I honestly didn’t know what I didn’t know. One of my biggest discoveries as a parent and educator was learning about the brain, especially the connection of emotion to learning and the power of environment in developing mindsets, habits, self-talk, and skills. You can’t change your kid’s genes, but you can shape their environment. So, I am here to empower you. But I can’t do it alone. Let’s meet 11 thought leaders that changed my life and learn ways they can enhance your parenthood journey. Judy Willis, Neurologist, University of California, Santa Barbara Author of How Your Child Learns Best: Brain-Based Ways to Ignite Learning and Increase School Success. “ I [we] wake up with a new brain everyday and it is up to...

How Stress Affects Executive Function in Children—What Teachers Need to Know

Teaching stressed students and those with executive function deficits and anxiety disorders places additional demands and challenges on teachers. By equipping teachers with information and strategies to decrease classroom stress and boost executive function, teachers have an awesome opportunity to shape students’ brains in the best possible ways. Stress was once a topic associated with adults, but with the spike in anxiety among children, stress levels are increasing in the classroom, making it more challenging for teachers to teach and students to learn. More and more kids are acting out or zoning out in class, causing their stress response to activate and executive function skills to go offline. First, let’s clarify what executive function is. Think of it as your brain’s GPS system, a set of self-directed cognitive, social and emotional skills that tells the brain what, where and how to do something. This “system” cues and coordinates skills such as: Task initiation (i.e. getting started on an assignment and knowing how to organize/prioritize) Setting goals (i.e. making goals achievable…not too high or too low) Working memory (i.e. remembering directions or applying steps to a math problem) Self-monitoring (i.e. checking work and making improvements) Effort and Focus (i.e. sustaining the effort and focus needed to complete a task) Self-regulation (i.e. keeping emotions in check, particularly when obstacles occur) Cognitive flexibility (i.e. shifting gears or perspectives and transitioning from one task to another) Executive function is regulated in the prefrontal cortex and continues to develop throughout life. Since the brain is not fully developed at birth, children are not born with these skills needed for success in school and life...

How Parents Can Best Support Their Children During School Shutdowns

With very little warning, many parents or caregivers have a new role they didn’t anticipate filling on such short notice: Homeschool Teacher. Globally, schools are shutting down — some for a minimum of 30 days, others indefinitely. With very little warning, parents and children are adjusting to a whirlwind of new homebound changes and routines, many of which are adding high levels of stress to their daily lives. There is one new role many parents or caregivers didn’t anticipate filling on such short notice: Homeschool Teacher. While the thought of taking on this role may be initially overwhelming, take comfort in knowing you have been your child’s first and most important teacher all along. However, transforming your kitchen or dining room table into a classroom is another story. As you step in and support your child’s learning, a certain amount of stress is to be expected. Your child’s well being is a priority, and so is yours. Since parents don’t leave the hospital with their newborns and a parent toolbox in tow, allow me to equip you with a crash course of information, tips, and strategies about the science of learning and managing stress. If there was ever a need for a parent toolkit, it’s now. How Stress Works It all starts with a trigger. Worried thoughts follow, which activate a part of the brain called the amygdala, the brain’s alarm. It sends a “Mayday!” message to the brain indicating a threat, releasing stress chemicals which produce physiological changes throughout the body — rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, body tightness, headache and/or stomachache — and turn on the Fight,...