Raising children is one of the most rewarding and important, yet challenging, endeavors a person can undertake. To lament that babies are born without instruction manuals is a cliché, but it’s a sentiment rooted in the uncertainty many parents feel as they make day-to-day decisions they hope will help their children blossom into healthy, well-adjusted, intelligent adults.
That’s not to say that advice—solicited and otherwise—isn’t plentiful. There are literally thousands of books on the subject and a multitude of websites devoted to parenting. There are also numerous books and articles addressing specific findings from the science of child development. What’s been lacking, however, are sources of reliable advice that bring together the scientific research and its real-world applications.
Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive offers a unique compendium of scientific advice and insight for better parenting. In 24 highly engaging lectures, Professor Peter M. Vishton of The College of William & Mary presents research conducted by an array of cognitive scientists as he illuminates what their findings reveal about the things parents—as well as grandparents, teachers, daycare providers, coaches, and others who work with young people—can actively do to promote children’s long-term development right from birth. As an expert in the cognitive development of early childhood and a parent, he delivers a wealth of practical tips designed to help children reach their full potential intellectually, emotionally, physically, and socially. And he supports it all with careful, systematic research culled from the latest scientific literature.
Unlike books filled with conflicting guidance or purely anecdotal advice from other parents, this course provides you with a trustworthy, evidence-based perspective to parenting children from their first week home through elementary school and beyond.
From the very first lecture, you’ll encounter enlightening information you’ll be eager to share with family and friends. For example, did you know that rewarding a child for doing nice things for others can actually be detrimental to social development? Or that learning a second language can enhance math skills? You’ll learn that the science of child development is endlessly fascinating—and sometimes surprisingly counterintuitive.
A Comprehensive Guide: From Tummy Time to Screen Time
One of the first things this course teaches you is how remarkably aware infants are and just how much parents can do early on to enhance their children’s cognitive development. You’ll hear of research suggesting that five-month-old babies are capable of basic addition and subtraction, and others showing that having relatively high-level “conversations” with your baby and providing a cognitively enriching environment can have an enormous impact on intellectual development. You’ll learn why your pediatrician recommends daily “tummy time,” even though your baby may not seem to appreciate it, and how playing with blocks can pay off in the future. You’ll even pick up some sign language to teach your infant to enhance communication.
In fact, Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive touches on topics regarding nearly every aspect and phase of childrearing. Among the abundance of valuable information you’ll explore are
- the link between sleep and cognitive development;
- techniques for introducing new foods to finicky eaters;
- how to develop a parenting style that is both effective and nurturing;
- the evidence in support of vaccines;
- ways to help your child with homework;
- how to encourage pro-social behaviors; and
- strategies to ensure that kids maintain a healthy self-esteem through adolescence.
You’ll also learn the benefits of a Montessori approach to education and ideas for replicating that learning environment right in your own home, including specific tools and activities your child will enjoy.
Plus, this course addresses some of the classic “should I or shouldn’t I” questions every parent ponders:
- Should I sleep-train my baby by letting her “cry it out”?
- Should I let my infant, toddler, or child watch television—and if so, how much?
- Should I allow my child to play video games?
- Should I pressure my picky eater to finish her vegetables?
- Should I spank my child when he misbehaves?
You’ll even get a clear answer to the question of whether you should permit your child to play football.
Foster Health and Achievement through Science
Every lecture gets right to the point, beginning with at least three scientifically supported tips, which the professor explores in detail through the remainder of the lecture. Along the way, he also discusses theories of child development and the psychology of human interaction; however, he keeps the focus on specific, implementable advice throughout.
Whether the tips revolve around academic achievement, social intelligence, or physical and psychological health, the lessons you learn will pay dividends in both your child’s interactions at home and his relationships with peers and teachers at school.
Professor Vishton never claims to have all the answers; however, he does offer strong recommendations where the evidence supports doing so. Mathematics is one area in which several specific recommendations can be offered, based on a wide array of clear-cut findings. Business and economics research has proven that high grades in math and continuing study of math are significantly correlated with the likelihood of obtaining employment in business—and a higher salary.
This course offers concrete tips for making sure your child gets excited about math and continues to push through to higher-level classes, such as
- helping your young child develop “number sense”;
- playing board games together using cards or dice; and
- ensuring that your child masters fractions and ratios between the ages of 8 and 10.
Beyond detailing methods for giving children an early foundation in subjects such as math and reading, these lectures provide vast amounts of information for improving your child’s overall cognitive abilities. One lecture even offers tips for boosting IQ scores that—while not always representative of true potential—can have a huge impact on the path a child takes.
However, as the professor notes, this course is not about “supercharging” your kids. Rather, it takes a whole-child approach that acknowledges that building social and emotional skills is as central to happiness as anything else that happens during childhood.
It’s Never Too Late to Be a Better Parent
Whether your child is long past the tummy time stage or you’re about to welcome a new baby, you’ll get ideas for enhancing your effectiveness as a parent that can be put into practice immediately to benefit children of any age.
In addition to sharing the most intriguing published studies, Professor Vishton delivers insights from his own experience as a father, as well as his first-hand research, which has been funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the National Science Foundation. An exceptionally dynamic lecturer, he steeps the course in science yet offers advice that is friendly, practical, and thought-provoking.
Whether discussing strategies to modify behavior or ways to encourage children to exercise, he maintains one overarching piece of advice throughout Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive: Have fun with your kids and unlock the amazing potential of children to find their own way.