Did you know your baby can hear you, even before they are born?

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child-kissing-pregnant-belly1Babies will begin to respond to language in-utero, and this will prime their brains for early language nutrition. 

What’s happening before birth:

Your baby can hear you, and can begin learning language even now! Begin reading to, talking, singing or even humming to your baby. This will help your baby get used to your voice and begin to recognize what makes up language. Rubbing, patting or touching your tummy throughout the day, is another way to communicate with your unborn baby. Because a baby’s brain is constantly developing, connections in the brain will increase and become stronger each time your baby hears new words.

What most babies do before they are born: 

  • Recognize mother’s voice
  • Respond to mother rubbing her tummy
  • Startle to loud noises
  • Can see light
  • Open and close eyes
  • Hear external noises and conversations
  • Gain preference for native language
  • Make facial expressions
  • Recognize rhythm and patterns of stories and rhymes
  • Recognize mother’s voice (and later, father’s)
  • Hear sounds of mothers body
  • Suck thumb
  • Detect strong flavors
  • Detect temperature, pain and pressure
  • Kick, squirm, move around
  • Turn head from side to side
  • Open and close hands
  • Open and close eyes
  • Suck, swallow and yawn
  • Curl toes
  • Stretch
  • Hiccup
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Language Nutrition

Just as healthy food nourishes a growing baby’s body, language nutrition nourishes a baby’s brain. Quantity and quality of nourishing language, like healthy food, is critical to brain development.

Language-rich adult-child interactions, beginning at birth, have a direct impact on social-emotional and cognitive development and language and literacy ability.

The impact of adult-child interactions on the brains of infants and toddlers is unparalleled by any other stage of development, as this is the time when they are forming the neural “connections that build brain architecture – the foundation upon which all learning, behavior and health depend” (Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University).

cropped-screen-shot-2018-04-05-at-7-21-50-am1.pngA solid foundation of language nutrition – the use of language, beginning at birth, that is sufficiently rich in engagement, quality, quantity and context that it nourishes the child socially, neurologically and linguistically – is critical in developing a child’s capacity to learn.

Augmented reality in children’s books increases engagement translating into better learning outcomes.

53274772_384802738767478_1285140844453560320_nThe popularity of technologies like augmented reality is increasing as more publishers use them to engage young readers. In the US, only 38% of 4th graders and 19% of 8th graders report reading on their own time, and technologies such as AR are seen as a way to reach a generation which grew up constantly interacting with screens and digital content.

This also forms part of a broader shift towards empowering readers and engaging them in the creative process. A recent World Economic Forum report listed creativity as one of the top skills needed for workers to thrive by 2020, and such interactive technologies are key in accomplishing this.

Augmented reality is far from a new phenomenon, however, and many in the publishing industry have been investing in this area for some time.

Publishers in this space tend to agree that this technology has the potential to combine the best aspects of both digital and print. The personalized books 3.2.1 Publishing creates are printed and then coupled with a 3D augmented reality experience that can be accessed through a free mobile app on any smartphone or tablet.

We believe it is not about what AR as a technology can achieve—it’s about the way it is leveraged in the book so that it hooks and enriches the young reader’s experience in ways that a normal book could not.

It should address specific pain points perceived by those young readers, who tend to enjoy books in a different way and want to get involved, not just from a reading perspective. That is where AR can provide additional depth and richness to make reading more fun, interesting and engaging.

UK Lebanon Tech Hub conducted market research amongst a sample of parents aged from 25 to 45 to learn what factors might appeal to them and encourage their adoption of AR technology.

The surveys and interviews found that while the vast majority – over 93% – of parents habitually used devices like smartphones, tablets or PCs themselves (and often let their children use them), they were often concerned that the content their children consumed should be both educational and interactive. While many viewed AR as a gimmick, once they were introduced to it they often perceived it as a potential way of improving their children’s short attention span and enhancing interaction with them.

Many believe that augmented reality and virtual reality work on reading because it uses multimodal learning, meaning we are using more than one sense in the brain to learn.  Gerald Gentemann founder of 3.2.1. Publishing explains, “AR creates a strong emotional tie for young readers, like they are attached to the book and part of the story. If you watch any kid read with augmented reality it’s as if they are playing a game.”

Two PhD researchers at the University of Central Florida, Maria C. R. Harrington and Emily K. Johnson investigated how augmented reality has the potential to foster engagement, and their preliminary results chime with a recent article in Publishing Research Quarterly which notes the technology’s positive impact on literacy and overall learning effectiveness through cognitive attainment: ”Augmented technology contributes to increasing engagement, invites participation, and develops appreciation of the context. Augmented books are proposed to incentivize curiosity, facilitate the interpretation of text and illustrations, and provide a learning tool that relates to the reader,” the paper concludes.

In an article published in the Computers & Education Journal, however, researchers examining the potential of AR for education warned that while the technology did offer many new learning opportunities, it also presented significant challenges. It’s more productive, instead, to approach AR as a concept rather than a technology.

Dean Velez founder of Anvel Studios one the pioneers in VR and AR edutainment believes this is the approach publishers are adopting, ensuring that their titles are “future proof” by designing engaging experiences anchored on great stories. Velez concludes, “If you have robust content, it will engage readers whether they’re viewing it on a smartphone, through smart glasses…or using whatever new device comes next.”

Language Nutrition™ – A Public Health and Education Imperative

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Just as healthy food nourishes a growing baby’s body, language nutrition nourishes a baby’s brain. Quantity and quality of nourishing language, like healthy food, is critical to brain development.

Language-rich adult-child interactions, beginning at birth, have a direct impact on social-emotional and cognitive development and language and literacy ability.

The impact of adult-child interactions on the brains of infants and toddlers is unparalleled by any other stage of development, as this is the time when they are forming the neural “connections that build brain architecture – the foundation upon which all learning, behavior and health depend” (Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University). 

And a solid foundation of language nutrition – the use of language, beginning at birth, that is sufficiently rich in engagement, quality, quantity and context that it nourishes the child socially, neurologically and linguistically – is critical in developing a child’s capacity to learn.  

GoMo Health, a leading population health management company, and Empowered Education a company that secializes in childhood development announces the launch of EduCare, an interactive program designed to promote early childhood literacy, learning, health, and wellness for families, caregivers and children ages 0-8 years old.

EduCare is a market-ready program with content developed by expert health care providers, educators, and behavioral scientists. Brain development through literacy is the most powerful tool in defining a child’s future success in school and life, and literacy development begins in the earliest months of a baby’s life, preparing them for a formal educational environment.

EduCare is available to moms and caregivers, delivering age-appropriate content and activities that coincide with baby’s birth date. Content includes health and literacy resources correlated to key growth and development milestones that guide them through early childhood development.

 

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise…not necessarily.

 

Waking up at an arbitrary time won’t help you succeed. Making a thoughtful decision to wake up at the time that’s most productive for YOU is all that matters.

Apple CEO Tim Cook starts his morning routine — not just his morning, his morning routine — at 3:45. General Motors CEO Mary Barra gets to the office by 6 a.m. Best-selling author Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) gets up at 4 a.m., has a smoothie and a cup of bulletproof coffee, and then grinds away. Ben Franklin of course woke at 6:30 each day and coined the phrase, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man health, ealthy, and wise.”

Clearly, waking up early works for them. 

But not for everyone.

As Adam Grant says, “The world’s most successful people aren’t worried about what time others wake up. They wake and work on the schedule that works for them.”

What seems right for early birds may not be right for you, because what time you start your day has nothing to do with your level of success.

Success is all about what you accomplish and, just as important, how you choose to accomplish it.

Early Birds.

Most people who choose to get up early do so because they can take advantage of a few hours of solitude. Fewer interruptions. Fewer emails. Fewer phone calls. Starting work earlier than everyone else lets you be proactive, not reactive, and lets you set the agenda for the day instead of having one set for you.

Others choose to get up early so they make sure they get their workout in and take advantage of the mood-boosting effect of exercise. (Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise boosts your mood for the next 12 hours). 

Or maybe they just get up early because The Wall Street Journal says that 4 a.m. may be the most productive time of the day.

Later Birds

If you decide to start your workday at, say, 9 a.m., you can still structure your day in the most productive way possible for you. Simply create a routine that allows you to hit the ground running the way you want to run.

Maybe that means locking yourself away for a couple of hours. Maybe that means working from home, and then heading to the office. Or maybe that means shifting your quiet hours to the evening. No one says you have to start work before everyone else, you can just as easily finish work after everyone else.

Maybe that means training everyone around you to understand that the first two hours are your hours.

While that might sound impossible, don’t forget that everything you do “trains” people to treat you a certain way. Let employees interrupt your meetings or phone calls whenever they like, and people will naturally do so. Drop what you’re doing every time someone calls, and people will naturally always expect your immediate attention. Return emails immediately, and people will naturally expect you to immediately respond.

How you act and react “trains” people to treat you the way they wish, so start “retraining” them so you can work the way you work best.

The Most Successful Birds

When you start working doesn’t matter. When you stop working doesn’t matter. What matters is what you accomplish during the hours you work — and that means making an intentional decision about what time you get up and what time you start work.

Don’t get up at a certain time just because Tim Cook does. Don’t start work at a certain time just because Sallie Krawcheck does. 

It’s well known that many famous persons have had unusual sleep habits, da Vinci, Edison, Churchill, Clinton and even P Diddy. Recently I read a legend about da Vinci never sleeping more than 20 minutes at a time in any 24 hour period. The brain needs at least 90 minutes of sleep to go through the necessary phases to maintain health.

This system of sleeping (aka da Vinci sleep or Uberman sleep) is called Polyphasic Sleep. It uses short naps to reduce total sleep time to 2-5 hours a day. This is achieved by implementing many 20-30 minute naps throughout the day. Advocates say that polyphasic sleep allows for more productive awake hours. Heck even Google has power nap pods in their offices.540e44016da811784ef5facc-750-563

Though there are many variations of this form of sleep, a common schedule would be: 30 minute naps every fourth hour.

The reason many folks attempt to follow this alternate sleeping pattern is to increase their total waking hours. By decreasing sleep to only a few hours a day, these schedules do achieve that goal. In a year a “Poly” sleeper could gain an extra 45 days!

The main con to adapting an alternate sleep pattern includes being out of sync with the rest of the world, and difficulties maintaining such a rigid schedule.

Figure out what works best for you.

Success has nothing to do with what time you start. Or what time you finish. Success is all about what you accomplish.

Make a conscious decision about what time to get up. Not a reflexive choice or a copycat choice but a thoughtful, smart, and logical decision — based on what will make you most successful.

I think as I get older I will go with the da Vinci method.

Babies Who Get Cuddled More Seem to Have Their Genetics Changed For Years Afterwards

Screen shot 2019-02-10 at 10.38.02 AM

The amount of close and comforting contact that young infants get doesn’t just keep them warm, snug, and loved.

A 2017 study says it can actually affect babies at the molecular level, and the effects can last for years.

Based on the study, babies who get less physical contact and are more distressed at a young age, end up with changes in molecular processes that affect gene expression.

The team from the University of British Columbia in Canada emphasises that it’s still very early days for this research, and it’s not clear exactly what’s causing the change.

But it could give scientists some useful insights into how touching affects the epigenome-the biochemical changes that influence gene expression in the body.

During the study, parents of 94 babies were asked to keep diaries of their touching and cuddling habits from five weeks after birth, as well as logging the behaviour of the infants – sleeping, crying, and so on.

Four-and-a-half years later, DNA swabs were taken of the kids to analyse a biochemical modification called DNA methylation.

It’s an epigenetic mechanism in which some parts of the chromosome are tagged with small carbon and hydrogen molecules, often changing how genes function and affecting their expression.

The researchers found DNA methylation differences between “high-contact” children and “low-contact” children at five specific DNA sites, two of which were within genes: one related to the immune system, and one to the metabolic system.

DNA methylation also acts as a marker for normal biological development and the processes that go along with it, and it can be influenced by external, environmental factors as well.

Then there was the epigenetic age, the biological ageing of blood and tissue. This marker was lower than expected in the kids who hadn’t had much contact as babies, and had experienced more distress in their early years, compared with their actual age.

“In children, we think slower epigenetic ageing could reflect less favourable developmental progress,” said one team member, Michael Kobor.

Gaps between epigenetic age and chronological age have been linked to health problems in the past, but again it’s too soon to draw those kind of conclusions: the scientists readily admit they don’t yet know how this will affect the kids later in life.

We are also talking about less than 100 babies in the study, but it does seem that close contact and cuddles do somehow change the body at a genetic level.

Of course it’s well accepted that human touch is good for us and our development in all kinds of ways, but this is the first study to look at how it might be changing the epigenetics of human babies.

It will be the job of further studies to work out why, and to investigate whether any long-term changes in health might appear as a consequence.

“We plan to follow up on whether the ‘biological immaturity’ we saw in these children carries broad implications for their health, especially their psychological development,” said one of the researchers, Sarah Moore.

“If further research confirms this initial finding, it will underscore the importance of providing physical contact, especially for distressed infants.”

The research was published in Development and Psychopathology.