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26 ideas to help build smart little people

November 15, 2013
Finished product

This past week, we had parents day at Owen’s school.  I love parent’s day!  We get to stay with the kids for a bit and have them show us their room, their toys, their activities, their buddies.  Then, they take the parents into the library to hear some announcements and a speaker.  This time, we learned about executive function.  All I wanted to share in this post was a list of the great ideas they gave us to help improve and strengthen these skills … not all the details and science behind what exactly executive function is (google it later?).

This is definitely not a typical post for me.  I don’t think I’ve ever shared ‘parenting advice’, probably because I think of myself as the one needing advice (and I’m very far from an expert).  As I read through these 26 ideas that they handed us on Tuesday, I thought … why not share?  Some of these ideas seem common-sense (at least to me), but some of these ideas are great, simple, and all are free!  Why not pick a couple to try this month?  I know this list has motivated me to make a point of integrating at least several of these into our lives and schedule.

So … here they are …


My favorites?

  • Number 14 … We say “I love you” in all kinds of ways, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever said it just like that … that I love being your mom.  LOVE IT!
  • Number 4 … apparently, preschools should fully be able to set the table each night.  Hmmm … guess we need to test that one out.
  • Number 8 and 9.  Getting out and exercising.  Always good goals.
  • Number 3.  It’s good (and slightly intimidating) that we have such a powerful influence over our little ones … at least until they’re 14.

Our goals for the next month or so?

  1. Make an effort to eat at the kitchen table (rather than our normal seats at the counter).  This way we will all face each other, all start eating at the same time, teach manners, and instill responsibilities and chores during set up and clean up.
  2. Establish a ‘home command’ center and teach the boys organization (right after I teach myself…).  Owen loves to know, “what are we doing tomorrow/after nap/next week.”  and “when do I go to preschool next? Sunday School? Gymnastics? Soccer?”  He loves to know what’s going on, what’s coming next … he loves structure.  I’d love to create a calendar that we all can see and one that we can keep track of our activities.  It will have to be in a spot that we see a lot, and one that we can talk about for a couple minutes everyday.  We also desperately need a place to organize paperwork, artwork, notes, keys, etc.  Our command center will help us all!  Plus, there’s tons of awesome pins out there for some extra motivation.
  3.  Work on puzzles and activities that encourage thinking in a different way … to promote cognitive flexibility.  Hmmm…sounds fancy.   Our speaker recommended the game Blank and the game Spot it (or Spot it, Jr.).  Both force the players to switch off auto pilot and think about multiple things at one time … matching colors OR numbers OR shapes all at the same time.
  4. Make a chores board, and hold everyone (including mom and dad) responsible.

We’ll tackle those first, and then move on to some of the others.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress … wish us luck :)

I hope this list helps or inspires you!

Owen and I at Parent's Day

Owen and I at Parent’s Day

Matt helping Owen build his pinecone turkey.  Such concentration.

Matt helping Owen build his pinecone turkey. Such concentration.


Finished product

Finished product


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  • Reply Jenn January 8, 2014 at 3:21 am

    This is great! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Marissa October 29, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Very useful pointers! Thank you. Am sharing to my sibs with kids, young and old.

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