A child's drawing made with straws.

Did someone mention Rio?

The Olympics is upon us and we are told the best sportsmen start their training when they are young. For us parents, every one of us is preparing their own child for later life, whatever path it may take.  One of Tots Town’s experts who specialises in child development, recently gave me an article about Dopamine.   It’s the main chemical your child’s brain secretes in response to stimulation; it’s key to developing their ‘seeking’ ability to generate new ideas and see them through to completion. Just like an athlete’s muscles and skills, the brain’s seeking system needs practice – the more it is exposed to stimulating activities that allow imagination and exploration senses to thrive, the stronger this skill becomes. In contrast, lack of stimulation at a young age can lead to low levels of Dopamine and then procrastination, and difficulty with thinking creatively later in life.

With my knowledge refreshed, I encouraged my 4 year old do some art on the kitchen table without influencing her. Glue, felt tip pens, straws and scissors normally equate to mess in my mind, but now determined to let her seeking system engage in some pre-Olympic opening ceremony practice, I let her take the lead while I took the part of ‘able assistant’ following her orders to cut, fetch, and mix anything she needed. Twenty minutes later, the masterpiece was complete…… ‘A caterpillar!’ I exclaimed – the resultant Tut and disapproving glare suggested I was misguided.

Want to know more about a child’s brain development? There’s a great book written by Margot Sutherland, the Director of Education and Training in the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, entitled ‘What every parent needs to know’. https://www.childmentalhealthcentre.org/shop/what-every-parent-needs-to-know

By the way, and it was obvious in hindsight, the artwork was actually Incy Wincy spider, a raincloud, a sun and the famous drainpipe. Training complete for another day and not a drop of mess. Result.