Holiday Shopping Guide 2017 – Unique Finds for 1 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Make sure to check back every day for our next list and remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

1 year olds are the stars of their first holiday experiences. And while they may be more interested in the wrapping than than the box, it still such an exciting time to try and figure out some special finds just for them!  Their first toys are really their first tools of play — so enjoy buying for them. Here’s our picks for this group this year!

Kangaroo Jack-in-the-box

 

 

 

 

 

PipSquigz Loops

 

 

 

 

 

Square Clutching Rattle

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds For 2 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Make sure to check back every day for our next list and remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

2 year olds are some of our favorites to shop for. They are just SO So EXCITED about everything. And they are finally old enough that this may be the year that the toy becomes more exciting than the box! Here’s our picks for this group this year!

 

 

1. Cuddle + Kind

2. Pop Up Pals Cause and Effect Learning Toy

3. Smart Max

4. Fisher Price Tape Player

5. Fisher Price Record Player

 

 6. Felt Food from Target

7. Tool Set

8. Y-bike

9. Melissa & Doug Match & Roll Shape Sorter

10. Play Tunnel

11. Easel

12. Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks

13. 1-2-3 Just Play With Me (perfect for parents wanting to guide early learning through play!)

2017 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds for 3-4 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Make sure to check back every day for our next list and remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

3-4 year olds are developing their creativity and acting out real life scenarios through imaginative play.  Here are some of our favorite picks to support that developing brain through PLAY!

Choo Choo Shoes

 

2017 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds for 5-7 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Make sure to check back every day for our next list and remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

5-7 year olds are a fun group.  Kids really start to discover interests and love making first real friends on their own so buying for them can be fun and exciting.  Here’s our picks for this group this year!

  1. Stomp Rockets
  2. Zoom Ball
  3. Fantasy Fort
  4. Domino Race Set
  5. Walkie Talkies
  6. Etch-Sketch Freestyle
  7. LightBrite
  8. Rock Em Sock Em Robots
  9. Root Viewer
  10. Light Up Bubble Wand

2017 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds for 10+ year old kids

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone. 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Make sure to check back every day for our next list and remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

We are starting with our oldest kids. This crew is sometimes the hardest to shop for. The marketing powers want you to think that this group is too old to play…too old for toys. But we think if you find the right fit, these big kids have the potential to enjoy holiday mornings just like they did when they were younger. Here’s our picks for this group this year!

1. Thinking Putty

2. Legos

3. Slime Kit

4. Nail Style Studio

5. Snap Circuits

6. Hex Bug Battle Bots

7. Bath Balm Lab

8. Water Speakers

9. Lazer Tags

10. Game of Phones

11. Light Up Air Soccer

12. Spike Ball

13. Teens Cook

What I wish parents knew about math education in today’s politically charged climate

Milestones and Miracles Note- from Nicole: While we typically aren’t a company that dives into anything political publicly, we are parents and therapists that believe in supporting other parents. And when we know about something or learn about something that might help another parent, we will share at all costs. That’s why we created this space. This blog post is the result of years of begging. My daughters have had the gift of having Cindy Evarts as a math teacher or mentor of their other math teachers in some way for the past 7 years.  During that time, as parents we have not only learned the real “why” behind the frenzy many parents are facing and questioning with their children’s math instruction, but also been empowered to learn ourselves so that we can help our children succeed.  In doing so, I have nagged Mrs. Evarts to put what she has eloquently explained to me into words for others. I trust her immensely, not only for her vast knowledge and experience, but because I have seen my children understand math in ways I once only memorized for short periods. It is my hope that her words will also empower you to get excited about embracing math and the possibilities that working with your child’s teacher hold in helping your child succeed and enjoy learning. We are forever grateful for her unmeasurable contribution to the students and teachers in our county. 

What I wish parents knew about math education in today’s politically charged climate.

By: Cindy Evarts

As I write this – the West Virginia state legislature is debating bills that are intended to change the way I teach mathematics in my classroom.  The debate is heated.  Sponsors of the bills want to “prohibit” the use of Common Core standards in West Virginia and replace them with a set of standards from California from 1997.  The sponsors of the bill cite the “widespread dismay over Common Core standards” as the reason along with opposition to what they see as “federal overreach” to our state.  How did this happen and why do we – both teachers and parents –  need to pay attention?

Standards vs. Curriculum.

First, it is important to know the difference between standards and curriculum.  Standards spell out what students should know and be able to do at the end of each school year.  Curriculum is written to provide ways to meet the standards.  The Common Core State Standards Initiative provided only standards – not curriculum.  Curriculum has always been left up to local school districts to choose and adopt.  So what’s all the fuss about?

Unlike previous standards, the Common Core State Standards did not merely provide a list of topics to be covered by teachers and memorized by students, they also required students to acquire a deep understanding of concepts.  This was what good math teachers had been doing all along and this was what was required to produce students who were not only good at passing math classes – but could also know how to apply the mathematics required to keep our nation competitive with the rest of the world.

Why The Change?

So why the “widespread dismay?”  Don’t we want our students to be able to develop understanding rather than just memorization?  Don’t we want our students to have the mathematics skills they need to compete with students from other states and with the rest of the world?  Do we really want politicians “prohibiting” teachers from using standards that are research based and designed to produce students who can think critically?

Teaching for understanding is not easy.  It requires a teacher with the commitment to understand not only her content area but also to know her students.  It often means long hours seeking lesson ideas that go beyond worksheets and finding ways to provide students opportunities to solve meaningful problems and work together with others to build understanding. Good teachers along with forward thinking school districts have spent countless hours working to build and adopt curriculum designed to meet these researched and rigorous standards.  It has been a slow process – and now, after we are beginning to see progress – we are faced with a situation in which we may be prohibited from using what we know is working. 

Are there problems with Common Core?  Yes – but most of the widespread dismay is really about a lack of understanding about curriculum – not standards.  Textbook companies still want to sell textbooks and busy teachers still want worksheets.  The problem is – how do you design a worksheet to promote deep understanding?  The misunderstandings about how to accomplish that goal made for many indignant Facebook posts pointing out what many saw as ridiculous steps to solving simple problems. The standards were adopted without commitment to the quality teacher training needed to ensure their success and the public’s backing.

But How Can I Help My Child?

Much of the opposition to the standards has come from parents.  I know for parents it can be a struggle to help our children who are taught in classrooms using methods designed to build conceptual understanding.  We were not taught this way – we know the procedures and algorithms we were taught in school but many of us are at a loss when our children are given activities designed to promote thinking rather than memorizing.  I know it is tempting to “teach” our kids tricks and procedures to quickly solve the problem.  However, what we don’t realize is that by providing shortcuts, we take away the very struggle that promotes the brain growth needed to be successful in higher level mathematics.  Don’t worry – the algorithms you know and love will be taught to your children when they are developmentally ready –  and the deep understanding they have gained in the process may help them come up with even more efficient algorithms!  In the meantime – parents should do what they can to support their children’s growth in mathematical understanding and can consult sources like Khan Academy, Youcubed.org, or Greatschools.org for help in understanding the standards.

In my math classroom there is no discussion about standards versus curriculum.  My students don’t have time to worry about federal overreach or listen to a politician debate about who has the power to decide what they learn.  My students are too busy debating how to solve percent problems or the best way to balance an equation.  They groan when I give them homework and they cheer whenever I find a lesson that involves food.  They worry about tests and they are forever losing their pencils.  They are 7th graders and they don’t always see how what they learn today in my math class will apply to their future.  However, they are making progress and they are gaining the skills that will help them to be successful in higher-level math classes.  They have learned to work together and they have learned from their mistakes.  I wish that our politicians could do the same.

Cindy Evarts is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescent Mathematics (2003, 2013), a President’s Award Winner for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching 2014, and an Arch Coal Award Winner in 2015. She received her BS is Elementary Education from Salisbury State and her MS in Gifted Education from Johns Hopkins University. She has been teaching for 33 years in Florida, Connecticut, Maryland, and West Virginia from preschool – 8th grade and is currently teaching at South Middle School in Martinsburg, WV. She joins us in believing that “Play Builds Brains,” even for middle school students, and teaches math to her lucky students through play with robotics, blocks, and hoola hoops. 

How We Define “READING” with Toddlers

mother-reading-with-two-girls

When experts recommend reading to your toddler, “reading” should be loosely defined as any interaction with a book that involves both you and the child. That might look like just flipping the pages while you frantically try to label a couple of pictures OR just opening and closing the book and teaching them to hold it the correct way OR “reading” might mean just teaching them not to rip pages or eat the book! However “reading” is defined with your little one, keep doing it! Daily exposure to books will turn into a lifetime love of reading. I see it happening in my own children. My girls have always enjoyed looking at books even from a very young age, my son was the one I taught “book manners” to as a toddler. He wouldn’t sit in my lap for more than a hot second when he was 18 months old during our nightly book routine but now has a fierce love for books and frequently asks to visit the library. So keep trying, your efforts will pay off. Those active little ones are absorbing more than you know! And it’s important for them to see you enjoying books too…so read on, book worms!

If you want to attempt to engage your little one with books more, try one of these tips:

  1.  Don’t be an overachiever.  Make sure the books you are “reading” with your toddler are age appropriate.  Little ones like short board books that sometimes don’t even tell a story.  Instead the book may just label objects, animals, colors, etc.  And that’s okay!  Their little attention spans (and bodies) aren’t ready to sit for a complete story and that’s the way it should be.
  2. REAL photos are best.  Babies and toddlers will be interested first in books with real photographs.  In fact, making your child their OWN book by taking photos of their favorite toys, snacks, family members, etc. will instantly turn you into their favorite “author”.  Slip the pictures into a 4×6 photo album that they can carry their book around and look at anytime they want.
  3. Get silly.  Just naming pictures may not be enough to hold your child’s attention.  Try making the book more interactive by responding with a tickle when your child turns the page or maybe when your child touches the spider on each page you make a silly face and exclaim, “Ewwwww!”  Or better yet, make up a song and as you turn each page the song continues!
  4. Capitalize on your child’s interest.  Even young toddlers express toy preferences by often gravitating to the same toy and type of play.  Take them to the library and help them find books with a favorite animal or character that may peak their interest enough for them to sit in your lap to look at the book with you.
  5. Limit distractions during your daily reading time.  Some kids may never choose a book over a screen but if the tv is off, your phone is out of sight and the iPad is put away during book time, they will learn to love books just as much as screens.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” – Emilie Buchwald

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Black Friday Gift For Therapists & Early Childhood Professionals!

Therapists & Early Childhood Professionals – purchase a copy of 1-2-3 Just Play With Me anytime on Thanksgiving Day through midnight on BLACK FRIDAY and you will receive a FREE set of useful handouts to use with parents and teachers/staff. We’ve created detailed handouts like the one below on our TOP 10 TOPICS (aka the things we repeat OVER and OVER as therapists!) So let us help you reinforce your message by having your own copies of these on your computer to reuse as many times as you like!

Topics incude:

BYE BYE BINKIE (Risks of prolonged sucking and strategies for weaning)
READ ALL ABOUT IT (Benefits and tips for daily literacy)
TUMMY TIME TIPS (Benefits & tips for tummy time)
ALL ABOUT PLAY (Information for parents of staying focused on play based activities)
THE WONDERS OF BLOCK PLAY (A beautiful picture graphic on the many uses of blocks)
IS TV SAFE FOR BABY? (Guidelines and education on screens and the young child)
WHAT DOES READY FOR KINDERGARTEN MEAN ANYWAY? (Education & tips on pre-K play based readiness)
PICTURE THIS (Education & tips for picture based communication)
LEARNING TO SPEAK (Articulation Development)
TOY TIPS (Support on choosing toys with a developmental purpose and setting up a play space).

SIMPLY purchase the product from our homepage, send it to yourself or someone you love as a gift (we ship for FREE in the US and can include a gift card – just add your message in the notes at checkout), and also add FREE HANDOUTS PLEASE in the notes. You will receive 10 PDF copies within 24 hours to the email you provide at check out! (P.S. Make sure to leave your email in the pop up for a 10% code!)

 

BYE BYE BINKIE jpeg

OUR GIFT to #ASHA15 Customers!

We are packing our bags and headed to DENVER!  This year’s National ASHA Conference is the biggest conference we have attended and we are thrilled and honored to be among 12,000 Speech Therapists as speakers and as vendors! We hope if you are attending, you will come see us at BOOTH #358 where we will be sharing all we have to offer, including:

1-2-3 Just Play With Me (print and digital) – Print copy at a discounted conference rate!

PLAY BUILDS BRAINS coffee mugs

Customized Developmental Checklists

To celebrate this MILESTONE event for our company, we are sharing our joy in several ways, including:

A FREE TOY OF THE DAY TREAT to use in your work as an SLP (while supplies last!)

An INCREDIBLE daily and grand prize drawing for therapists purchasing 1-2-3 Just Play With Me — you could go home with an inspiring and beautiful bracelet, new stylish totes for your therapy gear, and resources (books, toys, games – including resources from Scanlon Speech Therapy) to fill those totes, PLUS a KINDLE FIRE with the ebook version of 1-2-3 Just Play With Me on it!

See flyer below for pictures of all these great goodies!

ADDITIONALLY – if you purchase 1-2-3 Just Play With Me at ASHA ’15 (which will will ship for FREE to your home or office  – no need  to fill your carry on with our beautiful box!), you will receive a FREE set of useful handouts to use with parents and teachers/staff.  We’ve created detailed handout like the one below on our TOP 10 TOPICS (aka the things we repeat OVER and OVER as therapists!) So let us help you reinforce your message with having your own copies of these on your computer to reuse as many times as you like!

Topics incude:

  1. BYE BYE BINKIE (Risks of prolonged sucking and strategies for weaning)
  2. READ ALL ABOUT IT (Benefits and tips for daily literacy)
  3. TUMMY TIME TIPS (Benefits & tips for tummy time)
  4. ALL ABOUT PLAY (Information for parents of staying focused on play based activities)
  5. THE WONDERS OF BLOCK PLAY (A beautiful picture graphic on the many uses of blocks)
  6. IS TV SAFE FOR BABY? (Guidelines and education on screens and the young child)
  7. WHAT DOES READY FOR KINDERGARTEN MEAN ANYWAY? (Education & tips on pre-K play based readiness)
  8. PICTURE THIS (Education & tips for picture based communication) 
  9. LEARNING TO SPEAK (Articulation Development)
  10. TOY TIPS (Support on choosing toys with a developmental purpose and setting up a play space). 

 

We are proud to be with you at ASHA ’15 as your #1 PLAY advocates! So come have fun with us. BOOTH #358 is the place to be for FUN, useful education, & practical resources! Follow the butterfly & come PLAY with us in Denver!

Let them fill in the bubbles and JUST MOVE ON – a mother’s call to minimize standardized testing stress

I debated writing this blog.

It’s one of those situations where as a person who blogs (I still can’t publicly call myself a writer) you internally struggle with putting your family and your beliefs out there publicly, because there will likely be strong opinions and comments of all sort in return.

In the end I decided it was worth it.

So here goes…

First I want to say that children and education and parenting and politics can all be sticky topics. And while my husband and I have choices we believe in, I understand and appreciate that yours may differ from mine and I genuinely appreciate that. One thing working in the homes of families for more than 10 years has taught me is that what works for me might be awful for you and vice versa.

There you go. Now on to the important part.

If you, like us, choose public education for your children, then they likely begin the ritual of standardized testing in the 3rd grade. We believe and appreciate as taxpayers and as parents that there needs to be a way to measure accountability and progress for schools. However, we, like many American parents, aren’t super pleased with the job that the current testing process is doing. We have a current 5th grader and current 3rd grader and can say with confidence that the tests our oldest daughter has taken (and done well on)  have never been able to fully assess the incredible progress we and her teachers have seen through the years or more importantly measure the talent or work performance of her stellar teachers.

A bigger problem to us as parents is the pressure associated with the test. Because the schools here in our state (WV) are required to document to the state how they are “preparing kids to take the test” and “letting them know how important the test is,” there are lots of activities, written and verbal interactions, and general overkill (in my opinion) that this test is a big deal. Do you remember pep rallies for a standardized test when you were a kid? How about signs cheering you on? Or multiple letters sent home to your parents reminding you to go to bed early and eat a great breakfast? Yea – me neither. We showed up, got new pencils, filled in the bubbles completely (not half way now – that was the only thing stressed), and went to recess.  Is all the “hype” needed?

We enthusiastically say NO! Why? Because kids naturally know it matters and they will either try their best or they won’t. I’d love to see a study that proves the letters home about the importance of breakfast increases test scores. You know what I know for sure it does increase? TEST STRESS. You know how I know? My 5th grader started sleep walking and mumbling about standardized testing in the 3rd grade. There is nothing creepier than walking up to a zombie eyed kid mumbling about taking a test while hovering over you in bed. Worse yet, my current 3rd grader, spent the night before her first day of testing dry heaving for 90 minutes. That kind of did me in as a Mom. I’m tough, but not that tough.

My husband and I debated (passionately I might add) about what to do. My mom is a long term educator and past principal. I know the school needs test scores. I also know my kid needs to worry about riding her bike an extra 10 minutes vs. vomiting over a test at night. We want to advocate for our children AND their teachers. The question is how to do that? There’s a large “Opt Out” movement currently, with some state superintendents actually encouraging parents to opt out with the reasoning that educators can’t change legislation so maybe data will. I understand that desperate thought process (to be honest it tempts me), but I also know in the short term, right here in my corner of the world, it may hurt my precious school and teachers. So I communicated with my daughter’s teacher, prayed, and in the end she was fine the next day when she realized it wasn’t as bad as she had imagined.

And then I wrote to my elected officials. To be honest, even though I am a very optimistic person, I have little faith this will help, but I did it, because I have to do something. And when I shared it with my best friend (and co-owner of Milestones & Miracles), she immediately said, “Share it on the blog.”

So here it is. Here’s my letter. I know it will likely be met with comments of how others handled it differently or how they opted out of a test or even opted out of public education all together and like I said before, that is ok and to be expected. We choose these schools and this village for our children for many reasons not mentioned here (even with a crummy test).  This letter might not be the best option of how I can advocate for my child, her teachers, and her school, but it is the best I have right now. So it is what I offer until I have something better. I shared it with her principal and thanked her for leading educators who care about my child’s future more than a test score.

To me, the real question is, for those of us who continue to want to access public education for our children, what is the most effective way to support both our children and our schools?

Dear Senator,


I am writing to share my opinion regarding our current education system and state testing policies in WV.

Let me start by sharing that as a daughter of a life long educator (most of those years in WV) and a parent who is beyond pleased with the education and experiences my daughters have received, I am a supporter and believer in public education. I have seen my mother change and inspire countless lives. I have witnessed teachers pouring their talents into my daughters and their classmates and not just caring but putting concern into action with students who are unsafe at home. When I speak of their creative projects, their involvement with the First Lego League, and the personal relationships with school staff that have fostered a deep love of learning for my children, people assume I send my children to private school. I beam with pride when I can correct them by saying my children actually attend public school in one of the poorest states in the country. The teachers and administrators we have encountered here in Berkeley County can and often do bring me to grateful tears.

Today is the first day that my 9 year old will take a standardized test. She is a confident and bright child that does well in school and has never complained about a test, an assignment, or going to school. On the contrary, she cries when she is sick and has to miss school! Last night, she shook, hyperventilated, and dry heaved for 90 minutes before bed – because she is “scared of the test.” This is a child that competed individually at the state gymnastics meet, played a main role in the school play, and speaks at our church in front of hundred of adults without even a mention of nervousness. My confident bright child was physically ill last night…because of a test.

photo

As I helped her take deep breaths, reassured her she was well prepared, and promised her that this test will have no affect on her future, I became quite frustrated and angry. What are we doing to our children?

I work for a federally and state funded program (as a Physical Therapist for WV Birth To Three) and so I understand the need for accountability. As a taxpayer I expect it. When we force our teachers to give tests that do not test true knowledge, we place them in a hard position. They feel the pressure and without ill-will pass that pressure on to our children. When we require administrators to document what they are doing to “motivate students to try hard/do well on the test,” we create unneeded stress on children. I would be curious to see if this well-meaning requirement actually hinders their scores. I understand that many children in our state do not have parents at home who are prioritizing or supporting education, but I’m not sure pep rallies for tests, signs cheering students on, and notes and constant verbal reminders on what to feed our children and when to put them to bed will solve that. The extra hype creates hysteria for my child and others. I firmly believe if she could come in and take the test with a good ‘ol “do your best” parents would not be seeing these clear signs of anxiety in our children.
As a home provider of early intervention in many of these at risk homes, might I suggest that working to change that culture in the home 365 days a year vs. the week before testing with community and school support that involves families might be more effective? There are better ways to do what needs to be done. If you haven’t read “The Smartest Kids In The World And How They Got That Way” by Amanda Ripley. I strongly encourage you to. It opened my eyes to the countries that are doing great things with fewer resources than we have here in the US.

I also work as a small business owner dedicated to providing educational support to families, reminding them what typical child development looks like (as a nation we are forgetting this), supporting a child’s need and right for free and safe unstructured play, and encouraging movement and sensory based learning experiences. One way my business partner and I do this is by going into schools and providing continuing education on how the young brain learns best and then problem solving ways for teachers to do this while still meeting state standards.

As a business owner I will continue to do this.

As an early intervention therapist I will continue to try to attempt to strengthen WV families and empower them to be involved with their children’s learning from the start.

As a parent, I will continue to advocate for my child and others, pray for their impressionable minds, and reassure my child that her individualized learning can’t be appropriately measured by one current standardized test. I will also support my child’s hard working and underappreciated teachers and administrators.

What will you do?

Respectfully-

Nicole Sergent

Martinsburg, WV