Baby Reflexes

Do you ever wonder about the funny movements newborn babies make?  Here are several of the most common:

1. Moro Reflex:
This one is fairly dramatic so you probably noticed it.  When baby is startled by a loud noise or her/his head moves abruptly, she will automatically throw out her arms and legs and extend her  neck.  Then she brings her arms back together rapidly.
When:  First few weeks of life. Disappears by 3 to 4 months of age.

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2.  Tonic Neck Reflex: 
Sometimes called The Fencing Posture.  When baby’s head turns to the right or to the left, his arm on that side straightens and the other arm bends as if he were getting into fencing position.
When: First few weeks of life. Disappears by 5 to 7 months of age.

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3.  Stepping Reflex:
When baby is held under arms and her feet touch a flat surface, she will put one foot in front of the other as if she is trying to take steps.
When: First few weeks of life. Disappears by 2 months and then returns around 12 months.

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4. Palmar and Plantar Grasp Reflexes:
Palmar Grasp: Stroke the palm of baby’s hand and she might grip your finger.
Plantar Grasp: Stroke the sole of baby’s foot and he might tightly curl his toes.
When First few weeks of life. Palmar Grasp disappears around 5 to 6 months.  Plantar Grasp disappears around 9 to 12 months.

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Until next time,
Warmly, Linda, the Babies Can’t Wait Lady 

The BCW Lady says:  We SING in all our Workshops, accompanied by my on my trusty Ukulele.  I love to take traditional songs and put new words to them – words that celebrate what home visitors and teachers do – Here’s a sample:

That’s What Home Visitors Do!
Lyrics: ©2002 Linda Kimura; Melody: from Disney’s Cinderella (the Bibbidy Bobbidy Bo Song)

Driving the distance to make home visits
Helping the families set goals
Always remembering to follow through
That’s what home visitors do!

 Planning with parents for children’s learning
Health and nutrition for you
Parent-child groups teach expectations
That’s what home visitors do!

Now, making home visit means keeping a smile on your face
But the thing-a-ma-bob that does the job
Is building up trust every day

So…….
Teach cues and signals while you talk story
Constantly learning what’s new
Make up home visits the end of the week
That’s what home visitors do!
That’s what home visitors
Those great home visitors
That’s what home visitors do!

 

Friday Fun with Children

What to do with infants and toddlers this weekend?  It doesn’t have to be amazing, or over-the-top, and you don’t have to be Daddy Disneyland (or Mommy Disneyland).  In other words, use what you have in the yard and the house.  Children appreciate your time with them more than anything. (When you always take them places, their time is spent more with the “places” than with you)

Lie on your back on the carpet and kick your legs.  Hana and Andrew made a game out of just that.  Run in the grass!  Look how much fun Hana is having just running across the lawn.  It’s not how much it costs or how far you have to travel, it’s the time you spend interacting with your children that counts.  Happy Friday!

For more tips, LIKE our Facebook page HERE and follow us on Pinterest HERE.

Warmly, Linda, the BCW Lady

Smoking During Pregnancy

“We found that exposure to tobacco compounds via breast milk of heavy smokers was associated with a modest elevation in childhood BMI [body mass index] and risk of overweight at 7 years of age,” write the authors of an article published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal on June 20, 2012.

“Considering the numerous health benefits of breastfeeding to both children and mothers . . . we present our findings as further incentive for the provision of resources to help women, particularly pregnant and breastfeeding women, to quit smoking,” the authors conclude .http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10995-012-1059-y.

Read article abstract here

Need to re-energize your Prenatal Home Visitors and Managers?  Bring our Prenatal Expert, MaryKay Borders, RN, RD, to your program for our well-known Training+Consultation titled “Promoting Positive Pregnancy Outcomes”   Email me for more info, to request a Cost Proposal, and to book MaryKay.  Linda.Kimura@babiescantwait.com

Warmly, Linda
The Babies Can’t Wait Lady

 

Home Visitors: Let’s Talk Story

“Talk Story” is a description of a speech style used frequently in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.   The meaning behind it is to talk in a conversational manner rather than to teach or lecture someone. Talking Story means giving the family the opportunity to share as much of or as little of themselves as is comfortable.  For the home visitor, it means slowing down and listening – rather than always being the one asking questions and writing down answers. It means talking in a conversational style rather than asking questions like a researcher or teaching as if you were behind a podium.

Be professional.  When I use the phrase “Talk Story”, in relation to home visitors, I am adding a professional component to it.  As a home visitor, you are building a relationship with a family by your attitude and style.  But you are also in the home for more than just conversation.  You are there because your program has a mission and goals, and the children and families you visit somehow fit that mission and are appropriate for those goals.  So when a professional like you talks story, you are not only using it as a technique for building a relationship, but also as a teaching/training tool.

You may be paid to visit a family, but you are still a guest in the family’s home.   Use this opportunity wisely and Talk Story.  It can lessen fear, anxiety, anger and increase the beginnings of trust building.

Many people listen and learn better to a conversation or story than they do to a lecture or teaching.   Help put others and yourself at ease by being appropriately friendly and Talking Story.

Think back to trainings or workshops you have attended.  See if you can remember trainers who made you feel at ease, made you feel good about being in their session.  Now, think about what made you feel good.  Did the trainer acknowledge you? Smile at you with their eyes as well as their mouth?  Welcome you?  And what about their lecture and conversational style?  As a trainer myself, I know that it takes a very skillful trainer to stand up in front of participants, teach them, and make that teaching feel intimate, personal and friendly.  When expert trainers talk story, it’s more than just a conversation.  They get the training message (the information and learning) across to participants while using a conversational style.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because you are, in many ways, like those expert trainers.  You just do it one-to-one.  So your skill in talking story becomes even more important because lecturing and other didactic styles become even more obvious when there are only the two or three of you.  So practice talking story on home visits – you’ll find it gets easier and becomes more natural over time.
Warmly, Linda
The Babies Can’t Wait Lady
 

 Talking Story
Lyrics & Music: Linda Kimura
Ho’o ho’o ka’a na maka
©2000

 “Talk Story, talk story, we’ll sit and just talk story
The waves may rise, the sun may fall
But you and I, we’ll have it all
Talking story, talking story
Talking story, talking story
Brothers and sisters talk story” 

“Oh Auntie left and waved good bye
Sitting up in that plane so high
What shall we do without her smile?
Remember and talk story
Talking story, talking story
Talking story, talking story
Sisters all talk story”

 Na Keiki run; Na Keiki play
And you and I we watch them
They shine so bright, the sun looks down
And sees us all talk story
Talking story, talking story
Talking story, talking story
Sees us all talk story”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Engaging Families: Part Two

Excerpted from Linda’s book “Babies Can’t Wait: Relationship-based home visiting”.

After you have updated your resources, train your sources!

 Schedule time to train/retrain your sources.  Even if they say they have been trained, insist (respectfully of course) on training them again.  Your sources may be working in other organizations. Although they will do their best to portray your program accurately, their descriptions may drift over time.   This is only natural, because they are trained to work within the philosophy and protocols of their organization.  Even within your own agency, recruiters who support all agency programs may understand some programs better than others.

The most effective training will be a group event that you sponsor (providing them with snacks or lunch of course).  This method works best because participants can learn not only from their questions, but also from the discussion and questions of others.

If a group event is not possible for some or all, don’t give up – go to the sources and train them individually.

Before you train (either individually or group), prepare, prepare, prepare.  Plan an enthusiastic presentation that acknowledges their strengths and commitment –remember; they are doing this for you and your (client) children and families.

Follow up.  You show trust and support with families by following up/ following through.  Do the same for your recruitment sources.  Check in now and then; remember them on special days; say thank you.

Sample Written Materials for Your Sources:
In addition to your Family Friendly Brochure, make:

Short (1 page) Information Sheets for your sources – some people call them “cheat sheets”.

Sample headings:
Who qualifies
When children and families can start the program
What families can expect in the program
When families can expect to hear from someone in the program
How to refer
Collaboration contacts

Style:
Use bullets underneath headings, short sentences or phrases.
Don’t use abbreviations (they can vary in meaning from organization to organization).
Use positive words.

The 3S rule applies here too:  keep it short, sweet and simple (hopefully no more than 1 page). You might even want to laminate the page for your sources.

Focus on your program: Read your program’s recruitment materials and talk to the recruitment staff. Think about how their materials and explanations help or hinder you in your work.

Focus on your clients: Now imagine that you are a family wishing to enroll in your program. Imagine that you are attending a recruitment event or speaking to recruitment staff.
How do you feel? (as a parent in that family)
What questions do you want to be answered? (as a parent in that family)

Focus on the community: Imagine that you are an outside consultant, who knows nothing about your program and has been sent in to review your program for compliance. Read the materials and imagine you are observing recruitment as if you are that consultant
What did you learn about the program? (as an outside consultant)
What questions do you have for the staff? (as an outside consultant)

 

To purchase Linda’s book, click HERE for brochure and cost information

 

 

 

For more information or to schedule a program consultation,
click HERE to contact Linda Kimura, the Babies Can’t Wait Lady.


 

Cross-Cultural Communication at CHSA

The BCW Lady announces an upcoming event:
What: “An Introduction to Cross-Cultural Communication”
Who:  Linda Kimura, the Babies Can’t Wait Lady
When: Thursday Feb 2, 2012
Where: California Head Start Association’s Education Conference

It’s a sold-out conference – if you are one of the lucky ones attending the conference, please join me in my 90 minute workshop to learn a little about Hofstede’s Individual and Group Orientations.  Keeping the two orientations in mind can make your life easier as an early childhood professional and ensure that your work with parents and families is respectful and meaningful.

 

 

 

I am Thankful

I’ve noticed a lot of folks listing one thankfulness each day this Thanksgiving holiday season.  It’s a great idea – I just didn’t get around to it until now! So I’ll list a few “thankfuls” all together and see what comes up for me:

T is for TEACHERS – Especially those who taught me including my mother and aunts, and my school teachers.

H is for HOME – Just being home with my husband John is my most treasured time. I’m thankful for every day we have together at home.

A is for AMIDA BUDDHA. Namu Amida Butsu. (trust in the person and work of Amida Buddha)

N is for NEW EXPERIENCES – When I review my life so far, I am amazed at all the new experiences I faced.  From wonderful to not-so-much, I learn from all.

K is for KINDNESS – I appreciate the kindness of friends and colleagues and strangers. When I travel, I rely on the kindness of travel industry folks to get me there – and program staff to make sure I am ready to train and consult. Thank you to all of them!

S is for SACRAMENTO – It’s where I met my husband. ‘Nuff said.

G is for GRANDCHILDREN – From 8 months to 18 years, they’re a joy and a surprise every time we are with any of them. (I am also thankful for their parents -our children – but I didn’t have a “C” to work with in the word “Thanksgiving”.)

I is for INFANT/TODDLER DEVELOPMENT: I’m thankful for the chance to work in such a fast-moving and often-changing field – I love each day of this work.

V is for VACATIONS – I am thankful for mini vacations we take because they give us chances to relax. We worked hard for them -and I appreciate them.

I is for IPADS, IPHONES, IPODS - in other words, for cutting edge technology. (at least it seems cutting edge to me) I am truly thankful for the difference technology has made in my work life – shorter hours due to less searching for information, more advanced trainings, and more informed consultations.

N is for NAIL POLISH – Especially on my toes!  What a treat pedicures are, and how great they make my plain old toes look!

G is for GOOD WEATHER – Whether it’s the sunshine of our home in California, or the hot, hot sunshine of Arizona, or even the cool and wet breeziness of my home state of Washington, I appreciate weather that allows one to enjoy the changes.

What about you – what makes you thankful?
Happy Thanksgiving from Linda, the Babies Can’t Wait Lady 

 

States of Awareness

 This week and next, I’m sharing tips about babies’ states of awareness on my Babies Can’t Wait Facebook Page  Here’s a little bit about it.

Most child development experts believe there are six States of Awareness (also known as States of Consciousness). Many parents find it useful to learn a little about each of the six States. A little knowledge of States can help parents and caregivers feel more competent and enjoy their babies more during routines such as feeding and sleeping

THE SIX STATES:
Sueño Profundo / Deep Sleep  (sometimes called Quiet Sleep)
Sueño Ligero / Light Sleep (sometimes called Active Sleep)
Soñoliento / Drowsy
Alerta Tranquila / Quiet Alert
Alerta Activo / Active Alert
Llorando / Crying (crying that lasts at least 15 seconds)

This week I’m explaining the states on Facebook. Next week I’ll provide tips for working with each state.

Remember,
Infant behavior is the language of interaction.
Periods of alertness allow infants to experience their environment and learn about the people around them.

As Penelope Leach reminds us: “A baby under one year of age only wants what it needs and needs what it wants”.

Warmly,

Linda, The Babies Can’t Wait Lady

Whatever It Takes: Successful Schools Prepare Children for Life

Note: This Blog entry summarizes and expands upon a wonderful article in the September 2011 Smithsonian Magazine by LynNell Hancock titled “Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?” Links to Ms. Hancock and the article are below.

The small country of Finland has greatly improved the reading, writing, and science literacy of its children over the past 10 years – partly because teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to help children learn. Teachers in Finland consider themselves to be preparing children for life.  Ninety-three % of Finland’s students graduate from academic or vocational high school (17.5% higher than the US); 66% go on to higher education (highest % in the European Union) and yet Finland spends 30% less per student than the US.

Finland’s schools were not always wonderful. Until the late 1960s, most children left school after 6 years (Finland was emerging from under the Soviet Union).  As Finland charted its future, a dream emerged – every child would learn in a good public school, no matter where that child lived, – everyone would be educated, and school resources would be distributed equally.

Some say this tiny, ethnically homogeneous country cannot be compared to large, ethnically-diverse countries. However, when LynNell Hancock visited Finland schools for Smithsonian Magazine (September 2011 issue), she found schools similar to Kirkkojarvi Comprehensive in Espoo ( a suburb of Helsinki) where more than half its 150 elementary students were immigrants – from Somalia, Iraq, Russia, Bangladesh, Estonia, Ethiopia, and other countries.

Finland’s education success has inspired and confused many – and even irritated some American educators and administrators.  What is it about Finland and its educational system that seems to work? Let’s take a look at a few of the differences:

TEACHERS: Teachers in Finland are considered professionals, and respected on a par with doctors and lawyers.  They all obtain their Masters degrees in education, paid for by the state. Autonomy and respect make the job attractive.

STRATEGIES: Teachers use many methods to support children. If one method doesn’t work, they have the autonomy to consult with colleagues and try another method. This could mean combining classes. It could mean using new materials, or old materials in a new way.  If a child needs special help, the child receives that help. Nearly 30% of Finland’s children receive some kind of special help sometime within their first 9 years of school. Teachers ensure children have time to play outdoors, even in the middle of winter – we value play, say the Finns.

CONTINUITY OF CARE: Elementary teachers often stay with the same group of children for a number of years in contrast to US teachers who usually have different groups of children every year.

TESTS & COMPETITION: In the US, government officials, business people, and philanthropists like Bill Gates put money into private sector ideas that involve competition.  Indeed, President Obama may be on the same path with the “Race to the Top” initiative which requires states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers.

This would not be tolerated in Finland.  In fact the goal of Finnish education is to teach children to learn how to learn, not to learn how to take a test.There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland (except one at the end of high school senior year). There are no rankings, no comparisons, no competition between students, schools, or regions.

Note: What does this mean for learning? In the worldwide 2009 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores, Finland was second in science, third in reading, and sixth in math out of nearly 1/2 million children worldwide. United States scores have been in the middle of the pack for the past 10 years.

DISABILITIES: The Finland national goal for the last 5 years has been to mainstream all children – to teach all children in the same classrooms, with lots of special teacher help available to make sure no child is left behind. Only the most severely impaired receive segregated learning.

DUAL LANGUAGE LEARNERS:  The only time dual language learner children are pulled out of regular classrooms is for Finnish as a Second Language or occasionally for special “preparing” classes taught by experts in multicultural learning especially for children who are just learning the Finnish language.

Note: All children in Finnish schools learn Finnish and Swedish, and then a 3rd language (usually English) beginning at age 9.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Finland turned over the accountability and inspection of its schools to teachers and principals. All schools are organized into one system of comprehensive schools (Peruskoulu) for ages 7-16. Resources are distributed equally so children from rural areas receive the same education as children from affluent suburbs and inner cities.

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
It’s not perfect – Finland economics are suffering, and a huge influx of immigrants has strained the system. Still, there are questions to be pondered, and maybe even a lesson or two to be learned by those of us who grew up in and espouse the western ideal of competitive education.  It’s not easy to look at a system so different from our own, and take heed of what they might do better than our way.  It’s easy to see the differences – it’s just not easy to accept that there might be some better strategies.

I’m not advocating the US switch to the Finland system of education.  I believe there are significant differences between our countries. For example, Finnish schools provide food, medical care, counseling, taxi service if needed – and student health care is free.  OK – I really, really wish we could do that for every child in the US.  But I’m practical enough to realize that’s not going to happen.

But I do wish our government officials, business people, and philanthropists would occasionally dream beyond our system and imagine what it might be like if we could incorporate some of those strategies that seem to work so well for Finland. Unfortunately, we aren’t the leading country in education –  not by a long shot.  But we can do better – so I end with a plea for every parent at every school that’s not working that well: Read about other school systems – like Finland – and ask yourself – what is one small step our school could take to enhance how it treats students, how it treats teachers, how it supports learning?

To read the entire wonderful Smithsonian Magazine article by LynNell Hancock, click HERE

Warmly, Linda
The Babies Can’t Wait Lady