1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and your Business. How did it all start?
First and foremost I am a Mum and in a previous life I was a teacher and then became a researcher investigating how technology shapes young children’s learning. I started my business after I became a new Mum and realised that all of this fantastic research about how babies and young children learn and develop in a digital age, was NOT being shared with parents. I developed an interest (some would say an obsession) about researching how children’s brains are wired and how new technologies are shaping this process. I was shocked to realise that this critical informations was stuck in books and journals and locked behind academic gates and it needed to be put into the most important hands: parents and teachers. As a new (and very tired) new Mum I was bombarded with information on sleep, settling, behaviour and eating, but found very little information about how brains are wired and how technology is changing this process. More importantly there are such simple things that parents (and teachers) can do to promote optimal brain development (I am NOT about accelerating learning and preparing your baby for Harvard) and these need to be shared with parents. The effects of a child’s early years last a lifetime and significant impact on a child. It is scary to think that 85% of a child’s brain is developed by 3 years of age! Learning starts well before a child enters school!
2. What do you offer as a mentor in your working mum mentoring sessions?
I can provide parents with one of two focus areas during a Mentor session: (i) I can provide confused and concerned parents with research-based answers about about how they use technology with their children (for example, is TV helpful/harmful? How much mediative should they have? How can you manage this at home? Are video games helpful?) and/or (ii) suggestions for the simple, everyday things that parents can do to build their baby’s, toddler’s or preschooler’s brain.
3. What are your top 5 tips for any busy mum?
- Technology is neither good nor bad: it all depends on what children do with the technology, when they do it, where they use it and with whom they use it. Parents shouldn’t feel guilty about making intentional decisions about how they will use technology with their child. (This is the whole reason I started Every Chance to Learn, as parents were not provided with accurate information).
- Talk and sing with your child from the moment they are born and as much as possible. This develops their language skills which is essential for learning. It is also critical that you talk to your child during and after they have used technology (for example, talking to them while they are watching a TV show actually promotes their learning and language skills).
- Allow your child to move as much as possible. Physical movement wires the brain for learning. This is why we must manage how much passive media young children use and encourage physical movement. There are lots of new advances where children’s technology is now incorporating movement (Sesame Street on Kinect for example).
- Look for technology that is as interactive as possible. For example, look for apps that require the child to create something, as opposed to just clicking on a right answer. A great example is ‘Toontastic’. Look for video games that children can play with another child or with an adult.
- Let your child play. Unstructured play is absolutely critical for building a child’s brain architecture. This is even more important in a digital age where we need to teach children to ‘switch off’ from their gadgets.
4. Do you have any advice or inspiration to send out to any of our readers that are thinking about starting their own business or doing more of something they love???
Find what makes you shine and share it with others. You will love what you do and this will radiate.
5. If you had half an hour to cook dinner and realised you didn’t have anything planned, what would you cook?
I keep some organic mince in the freezer for this very reason. I can quickly make a batch of chilli con carne and turn it into burritos or a Mexican ‘spread’ (with sour cream, avocado, grated cheese and corn chips). Best of all I can have it made in under 20 minutes and toddler and hubby love to! Success all round.
6. What’s your favourite juice or smoothie?
Green smoothie with kale, pineapple, blueberries, watermelon, chia seeds. Yummo!
7. What is your favourite live by affirmation, mantra or quote?
I love Maya Angelou’s quote, “When you know better you do better.” I live by this mantra and often use this in the Parent Seminars I deliver as many parents feel guilty about their child’s use of technology (this is usually unwarranted guilt as there are so many misconceptions in the media about young children and technology). Parents often don’t know about the science of how children learn and develop and this vital information needs to be shared with them (the whole reason I started Every Chance to Learn).
8. Lastly, anything you want to share with us about you or your business?
We deliver Parent Seminars in parents’ homes for mother’s/class groups, in preschools, church groups, community groups and at primary schools. We also deliver ‘Lunch and Learn’ seminars for busy working parents, delivered at business premises during work hours.