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Introducing The Wriggler #HelpThemLearn series

Father reading to a baby on his lap

Introducing... The Wriggler - #HelpThemLearn Series!

Once my friends and family started having babies, they would often ask me – ‘are there things I could be doing to help them learn?’ – and the answer is ‘yes!’

What do I know? 🤷
Some of you may already know, but for those of you who don’t, my name is Aileen, and I’m a mom to two great kids. Like most moms, I wear many different hats on different days. I’m co-creator of The Wriggler (with my husband James), and for a chunk of every week I also work as a Chartered Educational Psychologist. I’ve been lucky that my training has given me an insight into how children learn, from birth right across the lifespan. I work with babies, school-going children, teenagers and even adults, and I’m passionate about how the brain develops and, in many ways, determines who we are and what lives we lead. 

The thing is, we all want happy, healthy children and we strive to give them the best opportunities in life that we can. Sometimes though, it can be hard to know what exactly we can do to help, especially in those early years from around 6 months to age 3, which we know is a critical stage of development; but this is also before they start any semi-formal pre-school/school.

It’s just one more reminder that these precious bundles of joy don’t come with a manual, eh?! 🤦‍♀️

So that’s where we come in!

What is the #HelpThemLearn series?
Over the next 52 weeks I’ll be giving you some information about your child’s cognitive development, and simple, practical tips and play ideas that you can try as part of our Help Them Learn series.

I’ll start by giving you a bit of an overview of cognitive development – what it is, and the abilities that make up most current theories on cognitive functioning, also known as ‘intelligence’. Once you know a bit more about that, you’ll be in a great position to start recognizing opportunities to promote it. My hope is to give you simple games and activities that you can pepper throughout your normal day that will help develop important skills like short-term memory, visual processing, and problem solving skills, to name but a few.

Sound interesting? Or not?! 😴
Now, I just read that paragraph back to my husband James and his exact response was ‘Snore!’ (with a very dramatic snoring action to go with it). And that’s where he comes in. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to this stuff but I also realize that the world of cognitive development is full of jargon and incomprehensible terms that are hard to relate to the real world. (The sad reality is loads of studies have found that people don’t read psychological reports because they’re so full of jargon). But James has your back – he’s a teacher by profession – so his job is to make this info as digestible as possible, and lucky for you, he’s a great teacher!

How is this different?
If you Google ‘play ideas for kids’, you’ll find lots of interesting ideas, and Pinterest and Instagram are full of great accounts with lots of fantastic inspiration. Where the #HelpThemLearn series differs is that our starting point for each activity will be the cognitive ability that you’ll be promoting. Here’s a little preview – there are seven main cognitive abilities – and each week, we’ll give you a ‘Play Plan’ to target one cognitive ability, e.g. Short Term Memory, so by the end of the year, you’ll have lots of different games and ideas to help develop each of the seven cognitive abilities.

One more thing…
Let me be clear, most children will grow and develop just fine without intense interventions from a psychologist! And hot housing our children by drilling them with hours of structured activities is not helpful, and in many cases can be counterproductive. So that really is not my aim with this play series.

Really, what I’d like is to give you an understanding of what’s going on with your child’s cognitive development in those first three years and to see how what you’re already doing is benefiting them and why. You might also pick up a few little hacks and ideas that are practical and simple to try. Most of the ideas involve toys that lots of homes already have; many will involve common household items, and there are also plenty of ideas that use no materials at all, just you and your little one! I understand the pressures of daily life, so the activities should only last 10-15 minutes, and while they generally start as parent-led, over time they’ll promote that blissful state of independent play, as you sit back with a cuppa and watch the fruits of your labour – win win!

My aim overall is that by the end of the series, you’ll understand more about your little one’s cognitive development, you’ll feel confident when you realise all of the wonderful things you’re already doing to help them, and you’ll pick up a few new ideas to help you and your little one enjoy play time even more!

Make sure you subscribe by entering your email address in the subscribe box below. Keep an eye out for our weekly emails with the subject line: #HelpThemLearn
Can’t wait to chat more soon!
Aileen x

PS Why not follow us on Instagram to follow the weekly play plans in our stories too? Just follow the link here

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