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Helping Kids Thrive

• I am a social artist. I see life as an art form and daily experiences as opportunities to create a better world.

• I see the early years as the seedbed of humanity, when meaning-filled moments have the power to create extraordinary lives.

• My life’s passion is to help kids (and their parents) thrive.

How? Experience helps to sculpt a child’s brain and heart. It is also the greatest influence over their health, what they believe, who they are and who they can become.
But kids don’t get to choose their experiences–we do! That’s why I believe parenthood is the most creative and important job on the planet. That’s where world-changing power lies: the power of prevention, and the power of enhanced–and reached–potential.

Parents change the world for the better each time they engage eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart with their child.

My inspiration:

15 years of experience teaching young children in rural Nova Scotia was exceptionally rewarding work.
I vividly remember one day an exciting breakthrough occurred. I had been watching a highly intelligent child struggle with many of the activities going on in the classroom. His work was done with little interest and lots of help. It was acceptable for his age but I knew in my heart he could do so much better. Eventually he began to notice his classmates’ joy when they wrote about something important to them. Soon he stood in front of me with a drawing he had done. When he said, “I want to write about my Dad’s fishing boat,” my heart sang! I asked him to slowly tell me the exact words he wanted to write. As he slowly and loudly said each word, “My dad’s boat is red.” the lights went on! Off he scurried to “write” his idea on paper at his new, beginning level of understanding of how language works.

Very pleased with himself he asked to visit the principal. Since his previous trips to the principal had been related to behaviour, we were both thrilled at this turn of events. When we returned to the classroom the kids (bless them!) spontaneously clapped for him.

Two things happened in that moment: the look on his face lit up the room; and I was struck with what I call a soul startle–its when my world stops for a moment and a BIG Message fills my heart. This time it said: Every child deserves to feel like this. Every child deserves to arrive at school ready to thrive. Up until then my approach had been to help kids compensate for missed early experiences, but the ratio of 20+ : 1 student/teacher ratio limits what’s possible. For the first time I felt empowered to prevent problems before they begin, rather than compensate for them. But how?
I realized that most kids are born healthy and ready to learn. So what happens between birth and school which causes 25% of them to arrive with learning, behaviour, relationship and/or health problems? I began to target every challenge I had seen in my school career. What causes it? How can we prevent it?
I looked for research and found little at that time. I simply began to write what my heart and my experience told me would be helpful. Miracle of miracles, slowly but surely supportive research on early brain development began to explode onto the mainstream and into the end notes of my book. I learned an important lesson: if you follow your heart the world will catch up!

It took a long time but 20 years later my book, The First Five Years: Nurturing Your Child’s Ability to Learn was published. http://brunswickbooks.ca/First-Five-Years/