I recently finished reading Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence by Jane Healy and I can’t recommend it enough to parents. I’ve said before that I really enjoy reading about brain development but I what I especially liked about this book was that it wasn’t simply interesting facts but also useful information that you could apply to your children’s lives. Healy explains clearly what is going on in your child’s brain at different stages and then gives practical ideas to support your child.
This book covered questions I didn’t even know I had–things like when to start music lessons, if counting on the figures is okay, how children learn new words. But the book deals with far more than skill development. Healy really focuses on emotional aspects of development. I felt like the book gives you a huge pat on the back and shows that you aren’t ruining your child’s life but it also gave a huge list of ideas to help your child be successful in life.
Many books have lists of milestones or what your child should do at each age but these can simply become a checklist making it seem like every child should be able to do the same thing on the same day. Here Healy explains more about what the brain is capable of at each stage. She offers very broad ranges and tends to explain things more in the form of “By age six most children can…” I felt like the book helped me to have realistic expectations for my children. And I really liked how Healy is able to deal with all different ends of the spectrum. She addresses everyone from average children to gifted children to different learners. I say different learners because Healy often points out strengths (and even causes sometimes) when discussing learning disabilities or delays.
While I think all parents can benefit from this book, and those with little ones might be more drawn to it, I would especially recommend it to those whose children are getting ready to start school. Having been in education for 30 years, Healy does a fabulous job explaining what you should expect from your school. She explains what good schools do and recommends how you can go about getting the best for your child. She offers tips for helping with homework, talking to teachers, studying with your child, and advocating for your student. Even if you are schooling at home, like we are, the sections on schools will be useful. When she says what to look for in a school or teacher, I just applied that to our own home and what we should be incorporating. This truly is a book for everyone.
I also appreciate the way Healy deals with technology. She definitely discourages overuse and explains why. For example, babies’ brains need live speakers and don’t process the electronic sounds the same way. But she also makes suggestions for when to use technology and how to get the most of it. She points out that math programs for early grades can be bad because it’s important to learn the concepts not just memorize the answers but software for older children can be great because it allows them to practice real world skills.
The first part of the book is all about brain development. Recently I was at the park with the girls and while watching all the kids play I could actually see things she had described in the book. The later parts of the book all deal with practical applications, specific things you can do based on the science. While I must read a book front to back or it drives me crazy, this really is one book where you could jump to the section you want. Just don’t tell me.
Alright, I now feel like I am president of the Jane Healy fan club. I will stop singing her praises. I just really think this is one parenting/development book that many, many people can appreciate.