Brain Development and the Senses

Some cartoons, commercials, and print ads correlate buying a certain product to working wonders for your body. For example, in the cartoon Popeye gains strength by eating spinach. I’ve seen several magazine ads using celebrities with milk moustaches proclaiming that “Milk does the body good.” Honey Nut Cheerios® cereal commercials have individuals stating, “I lowered my cholesterol today.” Yet, my memory fails me when it comes to advertisements that promise healthier eating for boosting learning.

Some children tend to have difficulty in being able to grasp or learn. Often times, these children are unable to learn due to poor nutrition or lack of hydration. When nutrition is neglected, or poor nutrition choices are made, it makes it very difficult for children to make connections, search for meaning, or simply problem solve (Norman, 2014).

Several studies have suggested that eating habits will affect the extent of one’s learning. Food serves several purposes: great source of nutrition, keeps one healthy, and it builds better brains. For instance, foods are a source of carbohydrates and sugar for energy as well as protein for amino acids (Jensen, 1997). Have you ever noticed how certain foods will cause your body to feel sluggish or make you more alert? Moreover, certain foods could also serve as memory boosters.

Nutrition is critical during the early years of brain development. Specific nutrients will ensure healthy growth development (Georgieff & Rao, 2001). In order to consume the necessary nutrients for learning, children will need a combination of proteins, unsaturated fats, complex carbohydrates, sugars, and trace elements such as boron, iron, selenium, vanadium, and potassium (Jensen, 2005). These foods are leafy green vegetables, salmon, nuts, lean meats, and fresh fruits. Be very cautious of food allergies! Yogurts, eggs, and cottage cheese are foods that enhance learning. In addition, (Misner, et. al, 2001) vitamin A is recommended which can be found in sweet potatoes or any orange vegetables. Keeping the brain hydrated during the day is equally important.

Did you know that certain foods may influence behaviors or moods? If a child has too many carbohydrates at lunch, they will tend to nod off. Proteins feed the brain and are great for morning snacks. Peppermint helps to give a burst of energy. Apples and oranges both promote creativity and will keep children alert . (Karges-Bone, 1996).

Nutritious snacks that may be served in some classroom are popcorn, carrots, raisins, rice cakes, energy bars, yogurt, mixed nuts, dried or fresh fruits, and veggie snacks. Remain cautious of food allergies. Remind parents that good nutrition can start at home before school for an awesome day of learning!

Kids R Kids International


Written by Danithea Ward, Ed.S., who is an Education Specialist at the Corporate Office. She holds an Educational Specialist degree in Education, a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a BA in Early Childhood. She has taught for more than 13 years. In addition, she is a Level I Trainer for Georgia and a Professional Master Registered Trainer for Texas. In 2014, she will complete her Doctoral Study in Teacher Leadership through her study on the effects of physical environments in brain-compatible classrooms. She enjoys nutritious meals and peppermints



Eggs are a source of protein. Nutrition is critical during early brain development.

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What Parents Should Know about the treatment of Behavioral and Emotional disorders in preschool children

What Parents Should Know About Treatment of

Behavioral And Emotional Disorders in Preschool Children

 The number of children diagnosed with and treated for disruptive disorders including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has markedly increased over the last decade. Concurrent with this trend is a growing debate about the best way to treat such problems in children.


According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2000, the number of preschool children receiving stimulants, antidepressants and other psychiatric medications “rose drastically from 1991 to 1995.” The study raised concerns about the increasing use of medications to manage ADHD disorders in young children because little is known about their safety and effectiveness for children of preschool ages. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the study points out, approve few of these drugs, for prescription to young children.


For parents, especially those parents of children who have been diagnosed with a behavioral or emotional disorder or those who suspect their children have been suffering from such a problem, these new concerns about the use of psychotropic medications present nagging dilemmas. How should a parent make decisions about what course of treatment is the best one for his or her child?

While all children develop at their own pace, there are developmentally appropriate stages through which children progress. It is important for parents, caregivers and teachers to be aware of their children’s growth and development and to watch for unusual behavioral changes or regressions. Every child will have an occasional “bad day”, and it is appropriate for young children to have high energy levels. But, if your child is experiencing persistent problems that interrupt his or her participation in school or interaction with other children, or, if your child shows signs of social withdrawal, an inability to focus their attention, or is impulsive and unduly aggressive, it may be time for you to seek professional help to determine what is going on and how best to help your son or daughter.

As a general rule, it is time to consult a mental health provider if your child’s behavior is age inappropriate, an on-going pattern, and, if it interferes with his or her learning, growth and social development.


Teachers, school administrators, or primary care physicians may suggest that a child’s behavior is problematic and that he or she could benefit from taking a psychotropic medication. However, a thorough evaluation and diagnosis by an appropriately trained and credentialed health professional should take place before any such decision is made. Among the providers who would do appropriate assessments of your child’s behavior are child psychologists, pediatricians, pediatric neurologists, and child psychiatrists. These pediatric providers should also continue to work with the child; his or her family and school to create a school and home-based treatment plan and monitor the child’s progress over time. A “team” approach when treating a child is critical – the team members being the child’s parents, pediatrician, psychologist, school-based counselors or psychologists, school administrators and teachers.

Treatment programs can take many forms and are best when specifically tailored for the child. They may include psychotherapy including cognitive-behavior therapy, or behavioral management training; parent education, social skills training, and family support services. If it is determined that your child needs medication in addition to the behaviorally based treatment it is often most effective if both types of treatment are employed together.


A variety of psychotropic drugs have proven to be very helpful in helping adults manage a number of psychiatric disorders, but few of these drugs have been tested for safety and effectiveness in preschool children. Depending on your child’s diagnosis, behavioral, family and school-based therapy programs should be considered first and given ample time to work, before the use of medications. Your child’s specific diagnosis is critical to determining the best treatment plan. Research has shown that for a diagnosis of ADHD with a co-occurring emotional disorder a combination of medication and behavioral therapy work best. For a diagnosis of ADHD only, medication based treatment is often most effective. If your child is placed on a medication-based treatment, the on going monitoring of the medication’s effects and effectiveness is critical.

The Food and Drug Administration will have approved any drug prescribed by a physician for clinical use, but not necessarily for use by preschool children. More research is needed to understand both the short and long-term effects of these drugs on children and their developing brains. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health recently announced that it will invest more than $5 million in research on the use of Ritalin, behavioral therapy and the combination of both interventions to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in preschool children.

Source: The American Psychological Association

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Safety first! How to find a child care center you can trust

Picking a child care center is difficult for many reasons, but mostly because we worry about the safety of our children when they are out of our sight and in the hands of others. We want to be completely confident in the knowledge that our child is safe, and the only way to do that is to strictly evaluate the centers in our local community.

  1. Cleanliness.Safety isn’t just about childproofing, it’s about keeping them in good health. While the first impression we get of a center is of eye-catching colors and piles of toys, we need to look beneath that and see if everything is as clean as it should be. Toys should be disinfected and cleaned throughout the day and the rooms should be dirt-free. There should be no odors of dampness or mold. Snacks and other food should be prepared in a spotless kitchen and using quality ingredients. The staff should be trained in dealing with possible health infections and preventing them from spreading to other children. The center should also be helpingchildren to learn self-help skills, by teaching them to wash their hands, giving them good habits for the future.
  2. Security. When you leave your child at a child care center, you need to know they are protected from harm from the outside world. From hiring staff that have passed security and background checks to security coded entrances and camera surveillance, the child care you choose should provide the latest in expert security systems to keep your child safe. This isn’t just to keep the wrong people away from your children, it’s to make sure that every child receives the right amount of attention and care from the right people in a secure environment.
  3. Safety features: From making sure that food is kept fresh and clean to tempered glass walls that allow for maximum supervision, you want your child care center to have a plan for every possible scenario. By making the environment safer and healthier, children and staff alike can relax in a calm environment and concentrate on having fun, learning new skills and making friends.

At Kids R Kids, we offer the Brain Waves Curriculumwhich exposes children to safe, secure and educational environments. The classes and playrooms are filled with materials that encourage children’s curiosity through sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.

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