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(103 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 05-Jun-13 16:24:43

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to enabling top researchers to achieve extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. Some of the Trust's current projects include exploring how the latest developments in neuroscience (the science of how our brains work) can help improve how children learn, at home or in the classroom. You can read more about this work on the Wellcome Trust's blog.

The Trust would love to incorporate Mumsnetters' views and experiences into this research.

They want you, please, to post on this thread about any activities/products/techniques you may have come across that are aimed at boosting your child's learning - anything from games designed to affect how the brain learns to products/techniques you might use to make changes to your child's diet or lifestyle. You may have come across these things in use at your child's school or you may be using them yourself at home.

When you post, please think about the following questions...

- Which activities or products (if any) have you come across which are designed to boost your child's learning? And how effective (or otherwise) have you found them?

- Have you tried anything yourself to improve or enhance your child's learning? If so, what have you tried? And what influenced your decision to try that activity/product? How effective (or otherwise) do you think it has been?

- What aspect of your child's school experience (if any) do you think could most be improved by neuroscience? You might want to consider, for example, how the teacher talks to the children, the activities the children take part in, or the materials they study...

You're also very welcome (no pun intended!) to post any other relevant comments on this thread. And everyone who does so will be in with a chance of winning a £50 Amazon voucher as a thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions.

If you are happy to provide further responses on this topic, the Wellcome Trust have more detailed surveys for parents, teachers and students on their website.

As ever with our sponsored threads, Mumsnet does not have a particular view on this research, we're simply providing the forum for discussion.

Thanks
MNHQ

I am not convinced by some products on the market.

I talk and read to the children. We are bringing them up bilingual (English - Me and Arabic - DH). I've encouraged music and sport. We have supported their phonics work with things like Toe by Toe and Dancing Bears because both are probably dyslexic (seeing an Educational Pyschologist shortly).

I would love to understand more about how children learn and process information. I would like schools to understand different ways of presenting information to make it accessible to children who absorb and process information differently.

Hasitfallendownagain Wed 12-Jun-13 14:39:17

The only thing I use specifically to enhance my child's learning is a phonics-based learning to read computer program, and a set of "teach your child to read" type books. We don't live in the UK, but may return soon, and I want the DC to be able to read and write in English if we do (formal schooling starts later here).

I'm not that keen on "educational" resources for younger children; my 2 year old seems particularly bright (time will tell!) but I'd rather focus on things being fun than being educational or a "learning opportunity" until she is a bit older.

lljkk Wed 12-Jun-13 18:11:32

Which activities or products (if any) have you come across

we get "Tutor your child with us!" flyers from the school, is that what you mean? For someone's business, waste of money. I bin them.

Have you tried anything yourself to improve or enhance your child's learning?

Other than usual supportive parent things I don't think so.

What aspect of your child's school experience (if any) do you think could most be improved by neuroscience?

Not a clue. Don't know enough about neuroscience.

rachaellewis Wed 12-Jun-13 22:36:24

I have a 2.5 year old girl and 1.5 year old boy. We have been concerned and interested in how to teach our babies reading, writing, counting; all of the basics from a young age so they are ahead of the game. The aids we have used for this have mainly been educational videos such as 'your baby can read' and Apps on toddlers innotabs and our phones. It may not seem the right thing to do for a child so young. Yet it has held our toddlers attention and she has enjoyed learning this way. She knows her alphabet 100% and recognises all of the letters. She can read some words and recognise many words. She also counts to 30.
I do read to my children. I also try to teach them to write and play counting games. They like to count with me. But do get frustrated if I try to teach them things without a prop, such as flash cards.
I believe there are a few problems with schools in the way they teach, the main areas that I think need working on are as follows:-
1) Too step a gradient. Some children are not thoroughly;y grasping the basics and the teachers are speeding along, leaving the child with a lack of basic comprehension, so they then become more and more confused as time goes on as they do not know the foundation steps needed to comprehend what is being taught to them.
2) Misunderstood words. If a word is misunderstood as there is not a full understanding of the meanings of that word there will not be full understanding of that sentence the child is trying to learn, nor the paragraph and so on. More work should be done to make sure the children understand and can use those basic words in sentences.
3) Grammar. A child must know what a comma and full stop and other symbols are and how they are used. Otherwise again great misunderstanding will be present when trying to read or form sentences
4) A lack of mass. For example- when teaching a child what a foot ball is, show them the ball. Have them play football with it, throw it up in the air, pass to another child. If you have not seen something and someone is trying to explain it to you, confusion may come.
I will be having my children take extra courses in grammar and communication and how to use a dictionary once they are old enough. there is a whole series of courses, learning books and videos available to help your child learn how to learn.

vor Thu 13-Jun-13 00:53:29

I have a child in Year 3 with motor skills difficulties, so ergonomic pens/pencils; construction toys; craft activities have been our focus in developing his learning as traditional activities such as reading, colouring, writing were difficult to engage him in without a fun element. He struggles with writing and concentration relative to his peers, so while cognitively capable, he doesn't have the ability to sustain effort. We have found activities such as reading fact/topic books; toy based play eg construction, animals; card games to be a much better way for him to express what he is learning or know than written work. Number based Card games and visual perception games are a great way to see how strong he is in maths and logic. Books like 'Smart but Scattered' have been really helpful in understanding our natural ways of self organising and how to help a child who may have weaknesses or immaturity in organisation.

My sons school experience has been mixed. I think that the school curriculum generally provides a great variety of ways of stimulating and engaging children in learning - he loves school, the way topics are interwoven with practical activities eg building a volcano model and preparing a slide show with your class mates on volcano facts and doing an improv theatre piece on people caught in the eruption of a volcano. What is less satisfactory is the way evidence is gathered on a child's learning. Things like writing speed and concentration vary greatly in children, and this is a natural developmental scenario. Yet the evidence of learning achieved assumes all children can achieve the same level of speed and concentration. We let children learn to walk in their own time - why don't we do the same for speed and concentration? For example, in recent SATS, my sons teacher felt he could have got all questions right for Maths if he could work faster and concentrate, but only manage to complete one of the two assessment. Another example, is when doing more traditional written work, he experiences not doing as much as everyone else as being not as capable. Now I'm not bothered about the SATS score, but I do worry about the impact this has on his self esteem and confidence in his ability to do well. In summary, if the learning experience takes neuroscience into consideration, so should the assessment process and approach to more formal class work.

Mashabell Thu 13-Jun-13 07:32:30

When I worked as a voluntary assistant with weak readers a while back, I found that the words which kept tripping them up were nearly all ones which contained graphemes with irregular sounds (such as ou, ough, o in soup, through, once). I helped them to learn to read the words over which they kept stumbling by respelling them more simply.
e.g. said - sed

one - wun

people - peepl

I used to fold a sheet in half and make a note of the words which tripped them up when I listened to them read the book they were on at the time.

When I had collected 7-10 such words, I unfolded the paper and wrote the simpler spellings on the other half, telling them that they were only there to help them to learn to read the tricky words. It worked very well.

I found this very effective with struggling readers who don’t get any reading help at home, because it helped them to learn the tricky words at home by themselves, without help from a literate adult.

Perhaps the Welcome Trust could do some research into what effect learning to read words with regular and irregular spellings has on children's brains?

Masha Bell

starray Thu 13-Jun-13 14:26:32

I have a toddler who is nearly three years old. I have used Baby Einstein DVDs with him, also the Brill Kids Reading Programme. He enjoys them both, but I don't know how much he has actually absorbed from them. But that might not be the fault of the programmes as such but rather that I don't play them often enough. I generally find it more fun to read to him and sing to him myself.

From the age of 4 or 5 months I have played foreign language learning CDs and DVDs (French and Chinese in particular) for my son as I am bilingual myself and I do believe that learning a different language builds neural links in a child's brain that enhances his learning in many other areas. The Little Pim DVDs are particularly good as they show the language used in real life situations. I have also used flashcards and taken him to language classes, but he seems to have remembered and learned the most from songs in the foreign language.
Jigsaw puzzles are another favourite. I never deliberately introduced him to this, but it started as a gift and as he liked them so much, I have actively encouraged him to do more puzzles and more challenging ones as we have gone along.

It is difficult to gauge how effective all this has been, but he is a very articulate and vocal child with a great love for reading and an insatiable curiosity, so hopefully I am on the right track.

He is not due to go to nursery till September.

Cies Thu 13-Jun-13 19:56:45

I suppose the main things I have come across are related to growing up with several languages , which my dc are. I searched for information online and also read books . It's fascinating to see how it all happens.

I do also remember buying an Amazing Baby book because of the geometric patterns .
As far as school is concerned , teachers should know about different learning types and relevant milestones so as not to leave anyone behind.

v3an Thu 13-Jun-13 20:26:18

I have a 2+ year old boy and I am amazed how he is speaking skills are improving daily in 3 languages, and how he can speak each language according to the recepient. He speaks in Spanish to me, in arabic to his dad and in English at nursery.
A present, he is into learning the time and he asks what time is it every 5 minutes. I showed him and explained how a coo coo clock works, and he loves it. He pays attention and can tell when coo coo o'clock time is near, and we sing together the number of coo coos according to the time it is.
He can count and recognise the numbers up to 12-15 in Spanish. I bought him a book in Spain that has up to number 30 touch buttons, each relates to a picture in the book and makes a relevant sound. Eg 10 sheep bahh. He absolutely loves it, and I think that this book might have helped him to count and recognise from 10 up.
I think Leggo duplo blocks develop the creativity and imagination, and he plays with them frequently.
I think that the dedicated time and motivation I spend with my son is key for his learning and development, nursery also helps as he became fluent in English only attending 3 days a week.

LackaDAISYcal Thu 13-Jun-13 20:27:41

oooh, too much effort for only £50 I'm afraid. Need a bigger incentive to do thinking wink

LentilAsAnything Thu 13-Jun-13 21:13:25

smile @ Lacka!

DS is 2.8.

- Which activities or products (if any) have you come across which are designed to boost your child's learning? And how effective (or otherwise) have you found them?
Hard really to say what's been effective as we've used various things, so what to attribute to what! But I was (am!) a SAHM with loads of time on my hands so I did loads - flash cards, educational posters on the walls which we'd 'study', reading loads and loads of books, going out lots and chatting about what we are doing and seeing. We involved him from very early on with everything we were doing - he helps cook, uses sharp knives, bakes cakes, etc. We had an iPad anyway, and DS has had access to it since he was sitting upright. I believe it's been vastly beneficial, all the Apps aimed at babies and toddlers, he's loved playing games and learning things on there - various alphabet and number Apps, Reading Eggs, maze games - sometimes he is better at stuff than I am! Watched some decent TV like Numtums, Alphablocks, Dora. Dora is ace - DS has quite a few Spanish words, understood from early on that it was a different language. We lived in Germany from when he was 18mo til 2.8, and I think exposure to a new language is fabulous for them at a young age.
Activities, I took him to various classes, starting with baby massage to help him feel relaxed and calm and extra close to me, to singing and music classes, gym classes, swimming - he was very eager to do lots of new things, and I feel he is capable of many things ahead of his age. But who knows what's due to anything we did, and what's genes/luck?

- Have you tried anything yourself to improve or enhance your child's learning? If so, what have you tried? And what influenced your decision to try that activity/product? How effective (or otherwise) do you think it has been?
Oops, kinda answered that up there.

- What aspect of your child's school experience (if any) do you think could most be improved by neuroscience? You might want to consider, for example, how the teacher talks to the children, the activities the children take part in, or the materials they study...
We have taken the decision to homeschool/unschool. Just feels like a natural progression from how he learns at the moment - he asks, we answer what we can, we research what we don't know, we read, we inspire, we make it all fun.

kimbiddulph Thu 13-Jun-13 22:40:59

I've come across heuristic play at my local children's centre. This is the idea that kids learn by playing with everyday objects. You give them a load of spoons and plastic boxes and yoghurt pots, sit to one side and don't interact and just observe what they do. Something like this: www.littleacornstomightyoaks.co.uk/Articles/Treasure_basket. I'd like to know whether this is based in solid neuroscience. It seems like a good idea to do if not strictly necessary.

The other thing they suggested is play patterns, that children play in a number of ways, and favour some ways more than others. These include being 'transporters' and moving things from place to place, 'scatterers' etc... The claim was made that anecdotally these give an idea to future interests and even careers! What kind of evidence is this?

I'd definitely be interested in having learning properly informed by what we know about how the brain develops. Should we delay learning to read and write until age 7 (suggested by Maryanne Wolf's book Proust and the Squid)? What's the best ratio for early years childcare to maximise learning and feelings of security? How well is the EYFS curriculum backed up by the latest discoveries in neuroscience? These are just a few questions but there are loads more.

AnnieDanny Fri 14-Jun-13 13:13:02

I agree with many of the comments already posted, namely that any given 'product' is only as good as the dialogue that it inspires and that there is no substitute for authentic, hands on exploration. I would add that I have found a knowledge of schemas invaluable - these help you to look beyond the 'content' of your child's play to the underlying patterns of behaviour and thinking that they are demonstrating which can then be fostered and developed further.

- Which activities or products (if any) have you come across which are designed to boost your child's learning? And how effective (or otherwise) have you found them?

The Promethean Trust's Dancing Bears book and flashcards package really helped DSD with reading (age 6-7). We haven't even used it that consistently, and my DH prefers to do the flash cards his own way rather than the book's way, but despite that, this package really helped DSD to get back on track with reading and better understand phonetic rules. It worked far better for her than the Jolly Phonics sign language she did for a year in P1 - DSD had fun making the motions in class, but never made the connection between the sounds and the letter symbols.

DSD's mum and her DP have also done things with DSD. They've mentioned using grapes to help DSD get the hang of addition, and have had her find random words in her school books. I'm sure that has also helped (e.g. finding the word was a method DSD's teachers started to use in class).

- Have you tried anything yourself to improve or enhance your child's learning? If so, what have you tried? And what influenced your decision to try that activity/product? How effective (or otherwise) do you think it has been?

See above. Dancing Bears was purchased and used after mrz and a few others on the Primary Ed board recommended it. We also purchased several stages of ORT's Floppy's Phonics books, again based on recommendation here. When PBS America broadcast "Between the Lions", we recorded all of the episodes available and let DSD watch them. We rented Sesame Street DVDs. We bought a LeapPad and stocked it up with educational games. We've let her play educational computer games online. We've bought board games.

We've also done "for free" activities like reading to her every night, and counting out loud in the car in the morning, by ones, twos, and fives. We've done counting backwards. DSD's grandma has done simple sums with her using pennies. Last night, DSD wanted to try chimney sums, so DH did some with her using paper and different colored markers - I ended up drawing an actual chimney with a Santa in it, so she could get the hang of which way to add the numbers (she started by adding them side-to-side ... woops).

Hopefully, all of the above has helped a little. Dancing Bears has probably had the most obvious effect. "Between the Lions" got her excited about reading again, after her confidence was knocked in P1 and P2.

Reading and numbers not sinking in right away, and an intense fear that DSD will be left to flounder as the class dummy, and then eventually be told in secondary school that she's "not capable of work at a higher level" (so, no Highers, no chance to go to uni, etc), is the motivation for a lot of this, TBH. Neither DH nor I remember learning how to read, nor do we remember struggling with it, so watching DSD struggle is frustrating, because we don't know how best to help and are just guessing most of the time. Our moms, who had different lifestyles compared to our own 25-30 years ago, taught us reading, counting and basic addition before we entered primary school, so we started primary school prepared. Neither DH nor I started primary school until age 5, either.

- What aspect of your child's school experience (if any) do you think could most be improved by neuroscience? You might want to consider, for example, how the teacher talks to the children, the activities the children take part in, or the materials they study...

I have a hunch that if DSD had been made to start primary school later, and had not been allowed to spend 6 months in P1 before turning 5, that she may have struggled less with taking in the basics of reading and math and therefore struggle less today. She seemed much more able to retain information in P2, when she was 5.5 years old. But because she retained very little of what she learned in P1, she had to repeat a lot of that material all over again. While DSD is improving every day, she's still consistently about 6 months behind her peers when it comes to reading, math, etc.

I don't know how it would help DSD specificially, but it would be interesting to see if my hunch is at all right. I have seen a lot of reports stating that the youngest in the class tend to get the worst high school exam results. But is there any proof out there that there is a difference in how much information a child can retain at age 4 vs age 5, or age 5 vs age 6? If there is a difference, how big is that difference between each age group? Can it set them up for a lifetime of being behind their peers in the curriculum? I think if can be proven that the abilities of your average 4 year old are vastly different compared to your average 5 year-old, and can be proven that this does continue to affect them, maybe that might raise a lot of questions about our approach to early primary. E.g. - is a 12-month cohort (March-Feb birthdays, or September-August birthdays) really the best way to set up a P1/R classroom?

LaraBrabazon Fri 14-Jun-13 16:35:08

I have a three year old and I did the following things to boost her learning.

1) I taught her sign language (BSL) so that she could communicate with me before she could talk. Not only did this develop her conversational skills immensely as she became a talker, but also encouraged her motor skills as well. I taught her signing with songs, which also improved her memory. She now has quite a repertoire of nursery rhymes, children's songs, as well as current and historic popular music.

2) I took her swimming regularly (she could swim without aids by 2 and 3 months) to improve co-ordination.

3) I bought stick on letters and numbers for the bath, so that we could talk about them as she played with them.

4) I make up stories and songs with her toys and get her to think of things for me "where are your teddies going?" "what are they having for lunch?"

5) I have a chart with the date / weather etc. and talk to her about it every morning so that we decide what day it is (I use days of the week rhymes so that she can work it out) and pick the appropriate weather symbol.

6) We play with a lot of different musical instruments. She has her own percussion bag and we play along to her CD's.

coorong Sat 15-Jun-13 16:56:11

We have two dd 5 and 7 late summer born (birthdays in holidays) but top of their class academically. We haven't actively bought anything, but rather actively avoided things - no battery operated toys, no TV on school days, no games consoles. We don't watch TV during the week either. They do rock climbing and piano - great stimulus. Lots of chess, dominos, etc draughts and strategy games. Lots of pen and paper maths games and puzzles.
When they were babies, we didn't buy any of those picture things, we used to park them under trees to watch the leaves and branches blow around - all those black and white shadow.
As to developmental stuff, we follow Carol Dweck's growth mindset philosophy.

coorong Sat 15-Jun-13 16:58:28

We also didn't try to teach the girls how to read before they started school. They knew a few letters, but that was about it. We haven't coached them, rather removed the mind numbing activities fromthei lives.

mousebacon Sat 15-Jun-13 19:03:47

We haven't gone in for 'published' resources for our two sons but agree with other posters about spending quality time together, reading and doing basic number work in real life situations so the boys can see how that style of thinking works in everyday life.

As a teacher, I work in a school that is very interested in the science of learning. We have 'brain' week every September where the children discuss what kind of 'smart' they are and where their strengths lie. For example being people smart or design smart.

Every day the whole school starts with movement to music (wake up shake up) which is a dance with specific cross body movements supposedly designed to awake both sides of the brain and make the children more ready for learning. I'm quite sceptical of this particular idea!

We also do a great deal of collaborative learning, encouraging the children to share ideas, work systematically and most of all, persevere when things are challenging.

beautifulgirls Sat 15-Jun-13 21:50:46

I have tried omega 3 oils but don't feel that they have made any obvious difference in learning ability, though have perhaps helped with the behaviour in a positive way with one of my three children. I started them to try and help with a speech issue with one of my daughters, though I don't believe it helped. I read about it online before trying it.

We have used the Percy Parker times tables CD which is repetition and fun songs to help with times tables and for sure they have helped with learning there. I had the recommendation from the mumsnet site for that and have recommended to a few friends since then.

I tried music classes for toddlers with my older two - specifically to try and encourage speech and noise from DD with speech issues. I think it helped her love of music but I am not sure it actually did anything for her longer term education. DD2 enjoyed the classes and still loves singing and seems to have a lot of confidence in doing this.

DD1 did a lot of speech therapy (ongoing) before and since starting school. I honestly think without this she would have been entirely struggling to read as she learned a lot of the phonic sounds from this (not letter recognition) and so their sounds were at least familiar to her when she started and she had been taught to listen to the breakdown of sounds in words which was a very difficult concept for her for a long time. (she would have to point to pictures to indicate the sound at the start or end of a word for example) Given her obvious learning issue for her this was a big step. DD2 didn't do any of this and has not struggled with her reading but would not expect that.

I think the use of computers in schools has to be looked at a lot more. Keeping the interest aspect for a child has to be one of the most important parts of their learning and given the focus so many children have on electronic gadgets and computers I think this would help many children to learn. Whilst children need to learn to write is too much emphasis put on this early on or would children learn more with alternative ways to record their work (typing or voice recording perhaps) whilst building on writing skills more at their own rate. There seems to be a huge amount of pressure on DD2 to get work written down when clearly her brain is way ahead of her hand. It is having negative effects on her learning as she becomes disillusioned with her written work.

Talkinpeace Sun 16-Jun-13 13:57:14

The best thing for encouraging learning and brain development involves taking children outdoors and letting them get bored enough to start exploring.
Take them to the beach on a chilly day and let them explore and observe.
No money needs to be spent.

psychologymum Sun 16-Jun-13 15:02:57

When my son was a baby, I used a board book with pictures of different objects and I would point at the objects and say them to help him learn the words. As I have a psychology background, I know that parents who point at objects and name them regularly significantly improve their child’s language acquisition. Baldwin (1995) found that babies as young as 10 months old would spend more time looking at a new object when the adult pointed at it and named it. I also repeated the names of objects as part of a conversation to encourage my son's language development. For example, I would point at my son's teddy bear and say the single word ‘teddy’ but then I would say, ‘Do you want your teddy?’, followed by ‘Here’s your teddy’.

psychologymum Sun 16-Jun-13 15:06:58

I have seen neuroscience research showing that mindfulness can improve children's ability to control their emotions and improve their attention span. I would like mindfulness to be taught in schools. I would also like primary school children to be taught about emotions and how to relate to others through stories.

Jellybeanz1 Sun 16-Jun-13 19:00:14

My DS had a speech delay and subsequent S & L therapy for 5 years, however at 2 ( with only a few words prior) he learned all the phonic letters from a singing phonic toy. It gave us great reassurance he was bright and may be wasn't going to be extreme on the autistic scale. We replaced it with speaking aeroplane which allowed up to 3 letters in any order and would also say the word. ( it was magnetic so we stuck on the fridge) he loved it. He was also given a singing bus with numbers which he loved. Regarding numbers he learned the numbers from a 100 poster we displayed for his older sister above the kitchen table so at around 2 he had 150 words but most of them numbers and letters! He is 8 now and mathematically gifted he responded well to the logical systems way of working. Even now if we want him to write his English homework or pick up his toys he'll buzz with excitement if he can do it with the challenge of a time limit. A recent useful present was a stop watch from Argos.

I bought all the jolly phonics range when I knew we had a problem. We played the singing DVD in the car and I didn't display the frieze as I didn't want it in lounge but laid it out on floor. When the song about each sound came on the children used to jump on the correct sound image and do the actions. They loved that. By the time he started school he was already starting to read and is currently 4 yrs ahead in his reading age. We used the Oxford reading tree at home but tin tin annuals and beano helped. My DH says he learned to speak French from Aesterix books in French.

Both my DC went to Montessori nursery, and liked their multi sensory approaches.

savoirfaire Mon 17-Jun-13 21:37:16

Interesting how many people on here have done Babylab at Birkbeck. Both my two have done it (3.5yo and 1.5yo). I would also thoroughly recommend it. They're on Facebook if you want to find out more. Youngest also a participant in Fish Oil Study currently going on at another university. I'm sure Wellcome realise that this is a rather self-selecting sample of interested individuals!!

Like others, I'm reasonably well informed on child development (including the fact that chidlren learn at different rates and there's no point pushing young children into things they're not ready for yet - a fact which some other MC parents I am in contact with seem to take a different approach on).

We haven't had 'educational toys' as such - I'm a sceptic about things which are new fangled and expensive but don't (IMO) do anything different from older stuff. All toys have learning opportunities in them, whether it be caring for a doll, stacking cups, pouring water, or playing skittles, building towers. Someone above mentioned the idea of grasping what children are interested in and running with it. Eldest DC has always had an incredibly intense interest in animals, particularly birds and dinosaurs - he could spontaneously name 10 or 12 different kinds of birds well before he was 2 and is a regular twitcher at 3.5. This has been incredibly interesting for us - we have realised that he has learned about so many others things through this interest. Any task was more interesting for him if it involved these things he loves. He's now starting to read and loves to spell out the names of his favourite animals on the fridge with magnetic letters. He spells out the alphabet in order, making the shape of an animal as he goes (totally spontaneously - not taught by us - we were quite amazed!). Rather than building towers from duplo etc, he built 'ducks' and 'geese' (towers with bases and 'heads') which has enabled us to talk about balance and pivots and all sorts. Like so many modern children he has grown up around an ipad and we have availed ourselves of various apps, the most successful being i-write-words (shame it uses capital letters in the voiceover though, but it doesn't seem to have confused him) and when he was younger the Ministry of Letters alphabet singing which is wonderful. He also loves to sing (Old MacDonalds was his first favourite, obviously!) and I believe this has a strong impact on child development and I would love to understand the 'science' behind it.

I've found it really interesting to 'see' how child development works as my children have developed and I've learnt a few things (or perhaps surmised some stuff which isn't true!). For example, my son never really had separation anxiety and then all of a sudden when he learned to say 'mummy' and 'daddy' properly (as opposed to 'mama'/'dada' randomly assigned to either of us) he suddenly got really clingy for a few weeks, similarly having never been particularly cuddly he became so when he learned to say the word 'cuddle' - it was as though he needed the language to really 'get' the concept.

Bit of a stream of consciousness - I hope it is of some use.

poppy1973 Wed 19-Jun-13 07:05:09

- Which activities or products (if any) have you come across which are designed to boost your child's learning? And how effective (or otherwise) have you found them?

There are a few products on the activities that are meant to boost childrens learning. Dancing Bears, numtums etc on tv and the flashcards etc. that can be purchased.

I worked on Baby sign with my first child - this really worked, Showing the child basic signs to link with the language spoken to items. My child could then before he spoke sign to me that he wanted more milk etc. His language now he is older is excellent.

- Have you tried anything yourself to improve or enhance your child's learning? If so, what have you tried? And what influenced your decision to try that activity/product? How effective (or otherwise) do you think it has been?

I have always used a lot of language with my children. Spoken to them carefully, extended their language by use of stimulating play etc. Role play is a great way of extending their language and encourages the language development.

- What aspect of your child's school experience (if any) do you think could most be improved by neuroscience? You might want to consider, for example, how the teacher talks to the children, the activities the children take part in, or the materials they study...

Multi-sensory approaches should and could be developed more in schools if they had more money and time. Practical experiences to be developed more in schools.

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