Happy Healthy Homestead

Book Review: Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten

This month I read Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten by Dr. David Perlmutter.

Favorite Quotes:

“Your efforts during the first thousand days will help your child complete the task of creating a brain that is efficient, high capacity, and able to process information quickly, attributes that will give your child a meaningful advantage for the rest of his or her life.”

“Perhaps the most compelling discovery in the science of brain development is that the single most important factor in boosting brain performance in children is parental involvement. Children learn best when they feel loved, secure, happy, and relaxed. Cherish the time you spend together.”

Main Takeaways:

I liked this book because Dr. Perlmutter gave so many simple and practical resources, tools, and activities for you to do with your child at home that are mostly free. All the activities he suggests are based on what he has learned as a neurologist / from science studies to be helpful for the learning and development of young children’s minds. The chapter on nutrition is a bit outdated but it was the best he knew 12 years ago. Dr. Perlmutter has since written books specifically on nutrition that are up to date and very helpful resources. Overall I really enjoyed this book and I made a personal list of all the brain stimulating activities he suggests so that I can do them with my kids. I have listed some of them below in the notes section.

My summary of notes:

  • breastfeed if possible!
  • ensure toddlers have optimal diet and getting all vitamins
  • increase mentally stimulating activities
  • limit TV
  • introduce formal music training by age 4
  • early computer training
  • protect from toxic foods, toys, clothing, and backyard items
  • lots of love and low stress environment
  • physical activity
  • imaginative play
  • Each day: play brain stimulating game, read to child, and sing to child
  • ensure baby/child gets essential amount of DHA (placenta, breastmilk, some formulas add it, later a supplement)
  • hugs, kisses, and massages actually increase IQ as they enhance memory and Sensory skills
  • if kids are scared or stressed they are unlikely to achieve higher learning, as the “fight or flight” natural response is activated
  • every few days change something slightly in the babies room (new picture on wall, moving the chair) which will enhance infant memory
  • at around 6 months Ask your baby questions about things that happened recently and then give the answer (where did the blanket go? The blanket is on the couch). By 1 year: longer time periods and more complex (remember yesterday we were at the park and saw a dog? What color was the dog?)
  • having a child memorize a ton of facts is not going to raise their IQ. It’s more important HOW a child learns rather than WHAT they learn or what to think or how much they can remember.
  • do age appropriate brain building activities (see chapter 3). Toddler activities below:
  • puzzles: once they have mastered it turn the puzzle upside down, also have them count the pieces, add two puzzles and have them put together with pieces mixed up, puzzles with pieces shaped as numbers
  • for 2 1/2-3yr Ask child to make up story about the picture in the puzzle (where is the train going? Who is in it?)
  • card game. Get unlined file cards and 6 brightly colored non toxic markers. Draw different colored shapes and numbers. Play memory with the cards.
  • grab bag: get a soft bag or pillowcase and fill with objects that feel differently (rubber ball, soft block, plastic cup, etc) and have child feel for something and say what it is before they pull it out. A more advanced version is to put wooden numbers and letters in. Then later ask your child not just to pull out the letter B but to pull out the letter that the word bear starts with.
  • memory builder: pull out 6 square cards, 2 of each color and place them faced down. Tell them what it is when they turn over and ask them to find the matching one. When they get older you can play a full deck of memory cards.
  • stacking/sorting games: stack with all sorts of things like blocks and rings on a peg. For cups or rings that go biggest to smallest, try to encourage them to do in order.
  • mix it up: random puzzle pieces. Cover up with towel and remove one. Ask child which one is missing. Then also have them count before and after. How many are there now. Later add a puzzle piece and ask what’s new. You can also use real life objects or food.
  • craft projects: beading, picking up small objects, coloring, play doh, tinkertoy construction set
  • imaginative play: do puppet shows with stuffed animals making up stories, get your child to make believe certain themes (play kitchen, play castle etc). Also help with the plot by getting them to use problem solving skills. (The store is out of milk what should we get instead). When your child is in the car point out different sites and tell a story
  • the google game: go to google with child and use image search. Have filters turned on to “high”. print out 10 objects that are similar (dogs, things that fly, etc). Tape them to file cards, then Ask child to sort them (things that have wings vs things that don’t). Once you have collection you can have them sort by more things (animals vs plants, etc). Once in awhile pick out their special/favorite picture and talk about why, hang on door in bedroom or mirror in bathroom for a few days.
  • teach them bigger than/smaller than (my shoes are bigger than yours) and more than/less than (this pile has more berries than this pile).
  • when counting blocks and then adding one block and saying now how many, then say the number before having them recount all of them.
  • at 3 have child help set table and point out that each setting has one plate, one fork, one napkin, etc
  • by the time child is 3 1/2 and setting table for 4 but then we need it now for 6, Ask how many more we need.
  • by age 4 put price tags on toys and then buy the toys with real money. Later have them give you change back, etc.
  • rhyming books help teach phonics (dr seuss, poems)
  • when reading the same book over and over make a mistake (instead of big red ball fell say big red bicycle) and see if they correct you
  • when reading books keep basket of wooden letters (can get at hardware store), have child pick out one to hold while reading and have then identify the letter throughout book
  • buy: the reader rabbit early learning system (computer program), ages 3-5.
  • later get: letter factory by leaps yet, ages 4-6.
  • buy: cards with words on one side and picture on other
  • don’t just read to your child, but let him ask questions about the book and then stop reading every so often and ask him a question so help him understand what’s going on
  • play Mozart to your kids
  • give kids private piano/keyboard lessons maybe at 3 yrs old, but definitely at 4. The lesson can be once a week but practice with your child up to 20 min daily.
  • music helps the child to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills
  • sing to your child!!
  • Audio skills: babies 1-3 months: Shake a rattle near the head gently and the move it around to the other side and wait for them to focus on it before moving again
  • TV: no tv for kids under 2! For kids over 2, let them watch up to 1 hour/day and no more. Also try to ask them questions about what they just watched and help them understand what happened.
  • don’t use tv as a reward or punishment
  • let your child see you reading
  • no tv during family meals, no tv in a child’s room, no commercials, don’t let tv be on in the background
  • computers: it’s helpful for children to have a basic knowledge of how to use a computer by time they go to school/kindergarten
  • don’t expose them to computers before age 3
  • no ipads etc. but traditional computer set up with keyboard and mouse
  • software programs to get for ages 3-6: Shelly’s my first computer game and reader rabbit
  • limit computer time to 30 min daily, most time should be spent reading or outdoors
  • video games: biggest problems are the time kids spend on them and the content. no more than 30 min and of course very good age appropriate content
  • nursing mothers should take 400 milligrams DHA daily
  • children 6mo-2yr 100 mg daily, children 2-5yr: 200 mg
  • make sure you are getting enough iron by eating meats, cruciferous veggies, and berries, and multi vitamin
  • nursing mothers should take 150 micrograms of iodine. Check multi vitamin to see if it’s in there. It’s very difficult to get this from diet unless you eat kelp/sea veggies
  • use glass bottles for breast milk
  • (ch 8: nutrition – this section is super outdated so I just ignored. I don’t agree with many things he suggests but it was the best that they knew at the time it was written 12 years ago. More recently he has written several books on nutrition that are up to date and are very helpful.)
  • top toxins to avoid: PVC, pesticides, Mercury, PCBs, lead, solvents, CCA,
  • healthybuilding.net to order a testing kit to see if your deck m/structure has arsenic
  • better alternative decks:
    • Choicedek.com
    • Nexwood.com
    • Perma-deck.com
    • Polywood.com
    • Carefree-products.com
  • there is a chapter on asthma (I didn’t take notes on this chapter)
  • only use pacifiers when falling asleep, not during day as it can increase chances of ear infections by 40%
  • don’t use antibiotics for ear infections or at the least wait 72 hours. Majority of the time it’s viral and antibiotics will not help.
  • he suggests a vaccine schedule of lower doses spread out longer.
  • don’t do any vaccines with mercury whatsoever as it’s extremely toxic. Most have taken it out now.
  • reduce risk for ADHD by: breastfeeding, DHA, healthy diet and removing excitotoxins, reduce environmental toxin exposure such as household cleaning products etc, and limit TV.
  • to see if your child has a specific vitamin deficiency: www.spectracell.com. The intracellular vitamin analysis
  • see his list of products in the back of book

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