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Vocabulary Cartoons – “. . . why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?”

P.O Box 511314
Punta Gorda, FL 33951

800-741-1295

info@vocabularycartoons.com

http://www.vocabularycartoons.com/

 

by Michael Leppert

 

The quote above is from a testimonial comment from an English teacher about the simple but ingenious vocabulary builder – Vocabulary Cartoons.

 

Vocabulary Cartoons is a series of books with cartoons on each page and here is how it works: There is a cartoon of a baseball player wearing an enormous baseball cap, for the word “Capacious”. The definition is: “Roomy, able to hold much” and the caption reads: “A SPACIOUS CAP is CAPACIOUS

 

Another example: There is a cartoon of a pirate captain standing on a dock with a sign “Free Cruise”. In the background is his square rigger and the word is “Accrue” The definition is: “To accumulate over time” and the caption reads “Pirates know how to accrue a crew.”

 

This approach to teaching vocabulary replaces memorization to a large extent and also adds an element of fun to vocabulary building.

 

Among the products offered are:

 

SAT Vocabulary Word Power I for 7th to 12th graders who are boning up for the SAT and other standard tests. This books contains 290 rhyming and visual mnemonics that have high frequency on the SAT, along with 29 review quizzes consisting of matching and fill-in-the-blank problems.

 

SAT Vocabulary Word Power II – 290 more great mnemonic cartoons, rhyming words and 29 review quizzes.

 

Vocabulary Cartoons, Elementary Edition for 3rd to 6th graders. Contains 210 words every grammar school student should know presented in an easy to read format. Also includes 21 review quizzes with matching and fill in the blank problems.

 

Melissa Forney’s Picture Speller for Young Writers, for K to 2nd graders – containing over 1300 colored drawings, organized by theme, to help young writers develop their skills. Also great for ESL students.

 

Students who have used Vocabulary Cartoons for the SAT prep have learned 72% more words than students who relied on traditional rote methods. That difference could boost one’s score considerably.

 

No matter what grade level your child is, Vocabulary Cartoons is a great aid in increasing his/her English skills. Visit the website, http://www.vocabularycartoons.com, for complete pricing and ordering   MjL

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Nurturing Innocence & Naiveté

by Mary Leppert

I believe the confining institution that we call “school” strangles the true gifts and great things that life can offer us. There is an innocence and naiveté that I contend we are born with. We begin life with the pure gifts of enthusiasm, initiative, joy, curiosity, excitement and happiness. To prove this to yourself, watch a crawling, excited little baby in a safe environment. He will try to go anywhere and everywhere that is available.

It is important to keep these positive qualities alive and well in our children for as long as possible. We need to nurture that “toddler” sense of adventure and protect it from being squelched or suppressed. I feel it is important that we retain our innocence and naiveté through the journey of Life or we risk diminishing and ultimately losing the later versions of our precious “birth” gifts: Initiative, willingness to take chances, thirst to explore and basic happiness. If we “educate” out of our young people these birth gifts, they will not be able to shape new journeys, new industries or new fields of endeavor.

Complete homeschooling and home living — without school participation or indulgence in the current cultural fads — allows our children to retain their innocence and naiveté longer; it allows them to remain closer to their true selves and develop more fully along those lines before the influence of the external world pushes in. In the period before the 1850s -prior to the full encroachment of institutional schooling into the private world of the individual family — this is how children grew up into adulthood. Their main influence was the family and the immediate community around them. The values that a child stood upon throughout his life, what he chose to do for a living upon reaching adulthood, and whom he wished to associate with, were all shaped by the force of his family. It is more appropriate for one’s family to perform this shaping function than for an indiscriminate institution to do so.

Children are to be raised by their parents – or their extended families. The biological truth of the human race is that mammal parents raise their young until they are ready to survive independently. No matter what else one may believe, it is a scientific fact that we humans are mammals. We need to raise our children in the way that suits our human nature . . . and they need to be raised by us in this way.

This is the core of homeschooling, in my opinion. This is how Man in nature has always learned. If you have read Jean Liedloff’s book “The Continuum Concept” you know that she relates how the South American Indian children learn about all of the dangers and pitfalls — literally — of their environment by observing their parents’ behavior. The adults do not have to scold them repeatedly to make them mind; the children learn that to disobey the first warning from parents may result in catastrophe – death or serious injury. While we do not face such dangers in our lives, our children still learn by watching and observing what to cultivate and what to avoid by our example.

For a personal example, I have always thought of my dad being the one who taught me how to be optimistic, to never give up, and that I could accomplish anything I wanted to do. I was trying to think of a time that he sat down and taught me these lessons. I realized that he never did. I learned these things just by being around him. I learned to be who I am through his subtle influence — not by being lectured to.

Our children are “The Silent Watchers” and we are constantly instructing them. This occurs in ways such as whether or not you watch television and if you do, what programs you choose. How you conduct yourself with others. Do you read books, discuss topics of the day, have opinions, play sports, have hobbies and other “outside” interests, attend church, maintain spiritual beliefs, admire others for their achievements? At this point, it becomes obvious that academic subjects comprise a small percentage of this lifestyle we call “homeschooling”.

Many people accomplish things in life simply because no one ever told them they couldn’t — that is what I mean by “innocence and naivete.”

Let us not worry if our children have been sent off into that judgment world that we call school, to be weighed and measured; not worry if we have confused notions of “education” and have sent our children on that twisted path already. What matters is that we are all here now, together, and I believe that each day we can undo the damage that has been done and guide our children, each on the path that is meant to be his or hers, by living this life we call “homeschooling.” MBL

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John Taylor Gatto’s The Empty Child Part 1

by Cathy Duffy

[Ed. Note: John Taylor Gatto’s book, The Empty Child: A Schoolteacher’s Intuition about the Problem of Modern Schooling, published by Simon & Schuster in 1999, was another milestone by one of the foremost thinkers and social commentators in the alternative education world. Below, is an article by one of the field’s most formidable product reviewers, Cathy Duffy, that introduced this excellent book.]

“I don’t mean to be inflammatory, but it’s as if government schooling has made people dumber, not brighter, made families weaker, not stronger…has ruined formal religion with its hard-sell exclusion of God, has set the class structure in stone by dividing children into classes and setting them against one another, and has been midwife to an alarming concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a fraction of the national community.”

Maybe John Taylor Gatto doesn’t intend to be inflammatory, but if you care at all about children and education, you’ll be livid as you read through this book. Gatto takes us on a journey, tracing his own experiences and the development of his thinking about government schooling, including his realization of the tremendous harm done to children by government schools. The above-mentioned “damages” are only a few of those exposed by Gatto.

Through a series of related essays, Gatto puts together the “whole story of schooling”—the hidden agendas, the true believers who crusaded for their educational theories, the increasingly heavy hand of government, the dumbing down of curricula, elitism, racism, and other key factors that contribute to the evil monstrosity that many people view as “crucial to the survival of democracy in America.”

This is an important book which everyone should read and I’ll pass on to you some of Gatto’s ideas as best I can. I’m borrowing numerous quotes from his book so that you’ll know the power of his writing and be anxious to read it yourself.

In Chapter One: “A Short, Angry History of Modern Schooling,” Gatto begins with an expose of the racist, elitist mindset of those who would conform all people to their own worldviews and value systems. Many of these elitists were closely tied (or were themselves part of) the industrial revolution overlords. Important to their own personal success was the development of a compliant working class to labor in their factories.

Gatto describes the birth of The Education Trust, a group of movers and shakers representing such money interests as Rockefeller and Carnegie. He describes their agenda: “At first, the primary target was the tradition of independent livelihoods in America. Unless Yankee entrepreneurialism could be put to death, at least among the common population, the immense capital investments (that) mass production industry required for equipment, weren’t justifiable. Students were to learn to think of themselves as employees competing with one another for the favor of management, not as Franklin or Edison had once regarded themselves — as self-determined free agents.”

To accomplish this goal, scientists and educational zealots joined forces, with the financial and power backing of the giant foundations, to design an education system that views people as human capital to be psychologically manipulated into desired patterns of behavior. Education became, according to the definition of the Federal Education department, “a means to achieve important economic and social goals of a national character.”

Those important economic and social goals are reflected in the results of government schooling. Gatto claims, “Schools train individuals to respond as a mass. Boys and girls are drilled in being bored, frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete. A successful mass production economy requires such a clientele. A small business, small farm economy like the Amish have, requires individual competence, thoughtfulness, compassion, and universal participation; our own requires a managed mass of leveled, spiritless, anxious, family-less, friendless, godless, and obedient people who believe the difference between ‘Cheers’ and ‘Seinfeld’ is a subject worth arguing about.”

Eugenics and forced sterilization also figure in this brutal picture early on, but I’ll leave you to discover how by reading this chapter yourself. You’ll meet more of the eugenics movement in later chapters as well.

Government compulsion was essential to the educational system the elitists had in mind. In chapter two, Gatto explores the genesis of compulsory schooling in various historical and geographic settings. He makes a keen observation: “… one of history’s grand ironies is that orderly Anglican Virginia and post-Puritan Massachusetts were the prime makers of a revolution which successfully overthrew the regulated uniformity of Britain. And in neither the startling Declaration of Independence which set out the motives for this revolution nor in the even more startling Bill of Rights in which ordinary people claimed their reward for courageous service, is either the word “school” or the word “education” even mentioned. At the nation’s founding, nobody thought school a cause worth going to war for, nobody thought it a right worth claiming. You want to think long and hard about that.”

Although there has been a relentless push toward more and more centralized, government control of schooling in America, Gatto challenges the very notion that it is necessary and inevitable. He makes a marvelous analogy to driving: Consider how dangerous a weapon an automobile is in the hands of many a driver. Yet, we allow many questionable drivers on our roads with only an extremely minimal course in “driver training.” The complexity involved in the actual task of controlling a ton or more of such a dangerous, flammable or even explosive vehicle begs for extensive training and oversight. Still, we trust that the majority will figure out how to safely control their vehicles without years of training and constant oversight. Gatto says, “Carefully analyzed, driving is as impressive a miracle as walking, talking or reading, but this only shows the inherent weakness of analysis, since we know almost everyone learns to drive well in a few hours.”

We used to place the same sort of trust in people to obtain education without government coercion and oversight. The results of freely-obtained education far surpassed present-day results. You can’t miss the irony!

In the next chapter, Gatto tackles the dumbing down of curriculum. From his own experience, he relates his discovery that over-simplified texts were not created because they were all that students could handle; he found his eighth grade class (“including the dumb ones”) responded better to reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, a very challenging read, than to their assigned texts. This led him to conclude that real books are generally more effective learning tools than school texts.

Others have pointed this out, also, but Gatto goes beyond, to uncover some of the reasons for dumbed-down education. He attacks the “Bell Curve” mentality that attributes learning ability to genetic inheritance. The result of bell curve thinking has been a caste-type approach to education that allots minimal literacy to the “lower classes” and full literacy only to those at the top who need to “run the show.”

Bell Curve thinking needed some sort of genetic evidence to support itself. Phrenology, a scientific “rage” at the turn of the century, was the “brainchild of a German physician named Francois Joseph Gall. Gall, in working with the insane, became convinced he had located the physical site of personality traits like love, benevolence, acquisitiveness, and many more so precisely he could provide a map of their positions inside the skull! These faculties signaled their presence, said Gall, by making bumps on the visible exterior of the cranium!” Phrenology then became a “scientific” way of predetermining social policy, including forms and content of education, for individuals.

Once assumptions are accepted that certain people have limited mental potential, then schools lowered their expectations. Methodology followed. Sight reading was introduced as a way to sidestep the “dull and tedious” methods in favor of quick word memorization so that children could jump right into “See Spot run!” The fact that sight reading retards the growth of decoding ability and vocabulary, limiting lifetime literacy, seemed either irrelevant or to good purpose to those making such decisions for all school children.

Some of the elitists who designed American schooling believed that people are truly “empty,” just waiting to be “filled” with the proper data for their role in society. Such thinking is revealed in comments such as that of the University of Wisconsin’s Edward Ross who, in 1906, described people as “little plastic lumps of human dough.”

The view of people as pliable lumps of dough doesn’t account for all those who seem to have been “written off” by the system as “wasted material” within some of our inner city schools. Gatto relates his early school-teaching experiences beginning with his first day as a substitute at what he called “a perfectly horrible place” that had been nicknamed “the death school.” Assigned to teach a typing class at this Harlem junior high, he was issued work orders for the day: Students must not type! “Under no circumstances are they allowed to type without the regular teacher present….They break the machines.” The inanity of trying to teach 75 kids typing without allowing them to type, probably colored Gatto’s entire teaching career. (Of course, he let the kids use the typewriters that day. He reports, “All the machines survived unscathed.”)

This experience was only one of the many curious mysteries of government school systems where so many things happen that are contrary to common sense. Gatto continues: “Twelve years of legal school confinement keeps self-knowledge at bay. School deprives us of language and metaphor needed to regard such things. It curtails the raw experience out of which our natures concoct private recipes to endure. Where does the principle of sitting 75 teenagers in front of typewriters and telling them they can’t type arise? Don’t say it’s crazy until you can answer such questions. There are defensible reasons for doing such things, however revolting the spirit which conceives them.”

Gatto supplies one of the those “defensible” reasons: “Let me begin the discussion by suggesting the real purpose of all true education in the world of illusion inflicted upon us since the advent of coal power is to shatter the conditioning and noble lies which prevent us from understanding our personal predicament and learning to face it with courage. Schooling is a numbing injection, a poison drop to help you roll from womb to tomb nearly asleep.”

A period of rapid turnover in Gatto’s school’s superintendents and principals was critical in determining the directions he took. Lack of oversight left teachers pretty much on their own to do whatever worked. With surveillance at a minimum, he felt like he had a “blank check.” He began to experiment, gradually figuring out that children are individuals with vastly different dreams, wishes, talents, and goals. Gatto likens real education to a helix sport: “…one of those wonderful undertakings like seatless unicycle riding over broken wilderness terrain, a sport that avoids rails, highways, tracks, and too-programmed confinement…. In a helix sport, participants search for a new relationship with themselves. They are prepared to endure pain, discomfort, expense, and even considerable risk to achieve this goal. Helix sports are free of expert hierarchies….a revolt against predestination and planning, timetables, schedule, the excessively planned journeys.”

In contrast he says, “Process your kid like a sardine, even at a good cannery, and don’t be surprised when he comes out oily and dead.”

Teachers suffer from some of this deadening process also, as they struggle within a system that plays them off against each other, while failing to reward or encourage excellence or worthy innovation. Teachers who buck the system, no matter how effective they are in helping students learn, find themselves relegated to the lowest, dirtiest assignments — nudging them towards “early retirement.”

Gatto fans will especially appreciate the next chapter, where he reveals much about his own disturbing childhood. It’s really a story about how children generally learn life’s important lessons from people who touch their lives in some meaningful way. He tells us, “My best teachers in Monongahela were Frank Pizzica, the high-rolling car dealer, old Mr. Marcus, the druggist wiser than a doctor, Binks McGregor, psychological haberdasher, and Bill Pulaski, the fun-loving mayor. All of them would understand my belief that we need to be hiring different kinds of people to teach us, people who’ve proven themselves at life, by bearing its pain like free spirits…. No one who hasn’t known grief, challenge, success, failure.

In my opinion, this is one of the most important books on education ever written. Its importance stretches even beyond the realm of education, because Gatto presents his “critique” of education within the much larger context of societal influences and ideas. I especially appreciate Gatto’s treatment because, even though it’s accusatory at times, it recognizes that people operate out of personal motivations which they perceive to be good. Nevertheless, the elitist ideas of those who would impose their own agendas on others has created most of the problems of modern society.

Next week, Part 2 begins with a discussion of “Chataqua”, a grand example of elitist manipulation.

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What Is the Effect of a Classical Education?

by S.B.

 

People often associate the phrase “classical education” with a kind of elite intellectual endeavor, as if a classical education is only for especially bright students. I think this is because a classical education is perceived to be an almost entirely intellectual pursuit. It is not. In fact, an overemphasis on the intellect — and a narrow part of the intellect at that — at the expense of the rest of the human person, is one of the grave faults of modern education.

 

Classical education is concerned with the whole person — his whole intellect, his emotions, his passions, his appetites. These do not exist separately in a human being but, rather, are integrated in each person. A complete education addresses all of these attributes both in regard to the materials used in education and in the way education is pursued. If education is simply about knowing things we will go about it in a particular way. If it is more properly about understanding things, we will go about it in a very different way. Is it more important to know the facts or to understand what they mean? I suggest it is the latter.

 

That does not mean that possessing information is not important. To understand the facts one must first know them. But who better understands what a horse is, the girl who knows facts about horses — quadruped, single-toed, eleven-month gestation, vegetative diet — or the girl who lives with horses, takes care of them, touches them, speaks to them? Which girl would you want to take care of your horse? The second girl knows the facts but she also knows something else. Absent direct experience of horses, is there a way to obtain the kind of understanding that the second girl possesses? Or to obtain that kind of understanding about any human experience and about what things are, whether we are in the realm of materiality or the realm of ideas?

 

A great deal has been written and said about the ways and means of helping students acquire information and develop particular learning skills — reading, writing, measuring, calculating, memorizing. Two skills that have been neglected, and that are essential to a classical education properly understood, are the arts of speaking and listening. I am not referring here to formal speech-making or to listening to speeches and lectures, though being adept at those activities is certainly desirable. I am referring to the arts of speaking and listening in conversation, or discussion, and in particular to discussion about ideas and human experience. The exercise of these two human faculties, speaking and listening, in an effort with others to discover and understand what is true, activates the mind in a manner that simply reading or listening to lectures cannot. It also activates the emotions and passions and gives the student the opportunity to grow in intellectual and emotional maturity. Students who have the good fortune to participate regularly in such conversation in conjunction with reading the great texts of Western civilization can acquire a wisdom that is akin to the wisdom that comes with direct life experience.

 

I once read that the difference between an educated person and an uneducated person is that, if the need arose, the educated person could re-found civilization. This thought provides us with a useful measure of educational progress. Can the students coming out of our nation’s high schools re-found civilization, or further its progress? Will your students be able to do that? What is it that will most enable them to do it? Will it be their knowledge of the periodic table of elements?

 

The word “civilization” comes from the Latin word civitas, meaning city. Civilized people can live cooperatively and peaceably in large groups. These groups are formed for the benefits that can be had by participating in the cooperative effort. Uncivilized people cannot live peaceably in large groups. Barbarians do not form large peaceful cities of free men. Why not? In our cities there are areas where it seems that civilization has virtually disappeared. Just what is it that has caused this? Is it that there has been a loss of the knowledge of math or grammar? Or is something even more important, more necessary to civilization, being lost?

 

Imagine that the rest of the world is suddenly gone. Only you and your neighbors are left. You must rebuild civilization. What is most needed? It cannot be done without cooperation. What is needed in order that you and your neighbors can cooperate? Two essentials are that you be able to communicate well with one another and that you possess the virtues that make cooperation possible. The more skilled you are in the arts of speaking and listening and the more patient, temperate, and prudent you are in your relations with one another, the more successful will you be. Reading and discussing the great texts of our culture foster both of these essentials.

 

There is something else that is fostered by this classical way of education. It is the realization and understanding that there is much that binds all human beings in all times and places. As students read about and discuss suffering, pleasure, disappointment, hopefulness, anger, revenge, love, and the whole array of human experience, they come to have a broader and deeper understanding of what it means to live a human life. They develop a compassion for others, a knowing that life is not simply about technological advancement and economic production. This is a mark of a civilized person and, consequently, of civilization.

 

Socrates said that the end of education is to learn to love what is true and beautiful. Why? Because that is what gives a person the best chance to live a good life, to be happy, and the end of education should serve the end, or goal, of human life. Even on the natural order, that end is to be happy. Every man, every woman, every boy, and every girl wants to be happy. Is that not, in fact, why you go to all of the time, trouble, and expense of educating your children? You want to give them the best chance to have a good life, a happy life. Possessing the skills of learning — knowing how to read and write, measure and calculate, to consider and judge, to speak and listen — is important and helpful toward the end in view. But the acquiring of skills and learning what is true and beautiful [the facts] is not enough. Socrates knew that simply knowing things does not fill the heart of a man or a woman. A full human life, a happy life, is marked by love.

 

For our students to learn to love what is true and beautiful they must experience it — see it, hear it, feel it. They need to get a taste of it and after doing so, they are far more likely to pursue it. Conversation about ideas and human experience promotes this. A truly classical, fully human, way of educating, fosters this and helps to produce a civilized person. Might we say that a civilized person is one who loves what is true and beautiful and is able to convey that to others in a continual re-founding and furthering of civilization? Is that not what we try to do each day in our lives — to inform, to be informed, to be courteous, to build, to make comfortable, to appease, to love, to protect? These acts require more than a trained intellect and a truly complete education addresses more than a student’s mind. Classical education does this. S.B.

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Breastfeeding – Good For Your Baby’s Brain

by Michele C. Bru La Leche League Leader

 

An interesting fact that most of us probably don’t know is that the human infant’s brain is only about 25% of its adult weight at birth. Most other mammals are born with 60-90% of their adult brain size. Dr. James McKenna, a Professor at Notre Dame University, has done extensive studies on the mother-infant breastfeeding relationship. His scientific studies of mothers and infants sleeping together have shown how tightly bound together the physiological and social aspects of the mother-infant relationship really are. He goes on to say that “most other young mammals become independent of their parents within a year, whereas humans take 14 to 17 years to become fully developed physically, and usually longer than that to be fully independent.” This means that 75% of the baby’s brain will still be developing and growing after birth. Why is that you may ask? If the baby’s brain were fully developed at birth, then baby’s head would not fit through the birth canal. So here we have this newborn baby whose brain needs to grow 75% larger.

 

Well, it would be obvious at this point to stress the need for good nutrition for your baby’s brain. But the question one must ask is does artificial baby milk, which is based on cow’s milk, contain the right ingredients for my developing baby’s brain? I submit to you that it does not. Every year formula companies are trying to enhance artificial baby milk with a new ingredient that they find in Mother’s milk. In this article, I would like to explore two essential fatty acids and how they affect the developing brain of your baby.

 

According to Dr. William Sears, “fats make up sixty percent of the brain and the nerves that run every system in the body.” There are two types of fatty acids that help the brain to grow and function properly. Currently, we are hearing all about these types of fatty acids as adults. We know they are important for our brains too. The two types of fatty acids are linoleic (or omega-6) and alpha linolenic (omega-3). It seems that getting enough omega-6 fatty acids is easy. You can find these in safflower, sunflower, corn and sesame oils. The harder to find fatty acids are the omega-3′s. Our American diet is severely lacking in this type of fat. You can find omega-3′s in flax seed, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and coldwater fish such as salmon and tuna. Some dark green leafy vegetables also contain the omega-3′s.

 

Dr. Linda Palmer, in her book Baby Matters, references data from the USDA Nutrient Database. She compares about 12 different fatty acids that are found in breast milk to three artificial baby formulas. All three of these formula companies fell short of providing the quantities of fatty acids that were found in breast milk. With regard to omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, the artificial formulas had zero amounts. So what have formula companies tried to do? They have, of course, tried to fortify formulas with fatty acids similar to breast milk. However, based on Dr. Palmer’s research “so far, all efforts to fortify formulas with various combinations of fatty acids have failed to produce the level of eye and brain development that breastfeeding and only breastfeeding can provide.” As I have also learned at La Leche League, breast milk changes from day to day, month to month and from year to year. It seems to me that our bodies can produce the exact amount of fatty acids in the right proportions necessary to feed our baby’s brain. And this is in concert with all the other components in breast milk.

 

A wonderful book that I discovered that is easy to read is The Omega Solution by Jonathan Goodman, N.D. He explores how the essential fatty acids (EFAs) support our brain and nervous system. EFAs are not just for babies but also for all of us. He says, “Faced with the disturbing increase in attention-deficit disorder among children, doctors have been looking at ways in which diet may help improve healthy brain function. Research has shown that children with attention-deficit disorder often have lower blood levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) than do children without this condition.” There are certain fish that have the highest amount of fatty acids, which include DHA. They are Atlantic Cod, Coho Salmon, Mackerel, Pacific Halibut, Rainbow Trout, Shrimp, Tuna, Cod Liver oil, and Salmon oil, with Atlantic Cod coming in first with the highest amount. Of course, Mother’s milk produces the right amount of essential fatty acids needed for her baby. But it probably would also be safe to say that Mother needs to get the necessary amounts of fatty acids as well through diet or supplements.

 

Now how do EFAs feed our brain? The developing unborn and born baby uses EFAs as “building materials and sources of fuel” for cell function. “EFA’s also play a key role in the transmission of signals that are constantly passing between nerve cells, or neurons. Without EFAs, signals from the brain would either be diminished or misguided.” Also, studies have shown that without the proper amount of EFAs, children and adults may have various memory or behavior problems. I wonder if many of our ADHD and ADD children have these brain misfires because they lack EFAs. It is definitely a research area that we should watch for and where more needs to be done.

 

An important aspect of EFA’s for the unborn baby is that a large amount of Mother’s EFAs stored in the placenta is received by the baby during the last trimester. If the baby is born prematurely, then the baby’s brain will not receive the proper amount of EFAs necessary for brain development. As we know, breast milk is so vitally important for our premature babies, and this appears to be one of the important reasons why. When my cousin had triplets, she was not that interested in breastfeeding, but she was very heavily encouraged to pump her milk by the neonatal doctors and nurses so her premature triplets could receive that wonderful, nutritional milk that only Mother can make. Without this breast milk, I’m sure her three young boys might have long-term negative affects. So how long does our brain need these EFAs? Well, if it takes another year or two for a baby’s brain to develop after birth, suffice it to say that a baby needs these EFAs in his diet for several years after birth. If a Mother nurses her baby for only a few months, then where will this baby get the essential fatty acids for brain development after the baby is weaned from breast milk? Well, in the past, artificial baby formula did not contain essential fatty acids at all! Now formula companies are trying to add it in. But according to Dr. Goodman, “Even though some formula makers add EFAs to their products, studies suggest that infants given the formulas may have lower levels of DHA than their breastfed counterparts.”

 

One study that can be found on the La Leche League website did a review of 20 studies. One study found that “The longer a baby is breast-fed, the greater the benefits to his or her IQ. These benefits were seen from age 6 months through 15 years.” Anderson, J.W., et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oct. 1999, 70. Other studies showed that breastfed babies have IQ’s that are 3 to 5 points higher than their formula-fed counterparts.

 

As parents we want the best for our children. As a new parent it takes time to realize that sacrifice goes along with raising our children. Our life is changed forever with our new baby and will never be the same. We have a vital opportunity as mothers to really make an impact on our children’s physical and emotional health. In particular, our children’s brains depend on our life-giving breast milk. If we choose not to breastfeed our babies, then we are cheating them out of essential nutrients that can develop their brains and enable them to be the best persons they can be. These essential nutrients are found in nature and have been given to us to be part of our own diets. Somehow our modern snack-eating society has lost these wonderful nutrients. They really can’t be found in potato chips or French fries. We ourselves must be eating fish, vegetables, fruits, and various nuts. La Leche League contains many articles and books that help families to eat healthy and nutritious whole foods. Breastfeeding a baby for a few years is such a small time commitment compared to one’s entire life. Yes, sometimes it seems like forever, but the sacrifice is worth it. You, as a breastfeeding Mother, should know that you are giving your child food for his or her brain, among many other wonderful advantages. Let’s not give up on our children, and let’s give them an excellent start in brain development by feeding them the perfect food for as long as we are able. And Mom, be sure you are getting the perfect food for your brain too!


References:
Whole Foods for the Whole Family, La Leche League Cookbook
Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby, Gwen Gotsch, La Leche League.

Baby Matters, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for Your Baby, Dr. Linda Folden Palmer, 2001.
The Omega Solution, Jonathan Goodman, 2001.
Websites:
www.lalecheleague.org
- Do a search on “fatty acids” for articles.
www.askdrsears.com
- Plenty of information on feeding our brains and nutrition.
www.naturalchild.com/james_mckenna/
- Information on co-sleeping, breast feeding and benefits of both.
www.babyreference.com
- “Baby Matters” website with lots of nutritional information for babies and children.

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Crosswired Science – Intelligent Science For Every Child

By Michael Leppert

 

The lack of scientific academics in American school children is well-known and often commented upon. Don Miller’s Crosswired Science is a curriculum company that believes that part of the reason for the decline in the number of America’s science-oriented students, is the delivery of the information. Crosswired teaches all sorts of science subjects with a definite objective to show kids & parents how incredible everything is.

 

Crosswired is a team of credentialed teachers (California) who are trying to present a complete spectrum to students. The average graduating senior knows little or nothing about science. Currently, students receive biology instruction in 6th and 10th grades, and someearth and physical science in betweenbut the average high school grad has little grasp of science or its value in our lives.

 

Mr. Miller takes this approach:  As the Crosswired student develops, Miller’s program teaches the same topics, but the information expands greatly and bridges to other content areas. CWS might present something in September, then again in November and April amplifying the concept topic each time around. As the child grows older, s/he can understand more of the depth of what is being taught.

 

Mr. Miller offers 25 teaching tips. One is to build great concepts instead of memorizing arbitrary facts. A lesson might center on the polarity of water (the molecular attraction of water to itself) then talk about how this plays a critical role in water being able to exist in a liquid state on earth.  The lesson would then gravitate to the importance of this molecular attraction in the transpiration of water in plants. Next, the material would teach that a newborn’s lungs have surfactant in them that is made by lung cells that breaks the polarity of water. Without this chemical being exactly in the right place, the newborn’s lungs would be sealed shut and no baby could survive. This progression of concepts, and many more elements in the lesson, establishes the concept of water polarity and how important it is to living things and how dangerous it can be too.

 

Crosswired offers great experiments that relate to the concepts that are fun and interesting. These help the students to understand significant concepts and how they relate to all sorts of cutting-edge inventions and machines.

 

Crosswired builds memorable concepts using the best resources available. CWS links to videos, animations, apps and websites that are already excellent for teaching.

 

The PAK has a value of $400 alone.  And you get a complete video curriculum for two years too.

 

Crosswired Science offers two websites – a Christian site http://www.crosswiredscience.com/ and a public school site www.cwswonders.com. This way, parents can be assured that the material will not conflict with the family’s beliefs or a school’s guidelines, and every child can access the CWS lessons. There are 72 units available currently. CWS can be used as a supplement to another science course or on its own. Visit either of their websites for much more information and help your child develop a solid and very exciting science foundation. MjL

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