Early Childhood Development – Dr. Fraser Mustard

“The first six years of life set the stage for lifelong learning, behaviour, health and well-being.” Dr. J Fraser Mustard

Dr. Fraser Mustard, renowned for his work in early human development passed away November 16th, 2011.  I hadn’t heard of him until seeing articles celebrating his life for his unwaivering championing of the importance of early brain development.  But I have certainly felt his impact through the Early Years Centres that I’ve enjoyed using over the years. And I certainly share his passion for the importance of the early years in a child’s life.

Together with Margaret McCain, he co-authored the original Early Learning Report that illustrated the importance of a child’s experiences (of lack thereof) during the first six years of a child’s life. This study impacted how we perceived and valued early learning. As a result, the province of Ontario set up Early Years Centres, made more funding available for various early learning initiatives and in 2010 started phasing in full day kindergarten.

Can I tell you how impressive these Early Years Centre are? I see these centres in cities and towns across our province (there are several location in my town) and the services they provide are incredible – from nursery school classes, parenting seminars, parent and tot activities and on and on. It’s a huge support system for families and judging by the parking lot and wait lists to get into some of the classes it’s a resource that is well used in the community.

I dug a little deeper to learn more about this intriguing man who had six children of his own and found this CBC interview.  In it, he talks about two key factors that can positively improve a child’s development: good nutrition and opportunities for problem based learning. He also discusses the importance of human evolution and parenting as discussed in the book Mothers and Others by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. I’ll definitely be checking that out.

He’s an inspiring man.  He certainly inspired many to carry on his mission. Below are organizations that resulting from inspiration or a direct influence of Dr. Fraser Mustard. RIP.

With the Brain In Mind

Kids Can Fly

Lastly, I need to include this interview in which Dr. Mustard is asked “Why is 6 the magic age? Six and under.. what needs to be done and why?” The answer? The very reason I am so passionate about this topic.

Hallowe’en Jack-o’-lantern Inspiration!

Hallowe’en was a blast! I want to share a bit of inspiration that came over me yesterday as we were carving and decorating our pumpkin at the eleventh hour!

While Violet was at school yesterday afternoon I went out and picked up a pumpkin. (Note to self: next year get a pumpkin early so that you don’t pay a premium at the local overpriced fruit market to get one of the last pumpkins in town.) Before I picked her up from school I did a quick search on Pinterest for Jack-o’-lantern carving ideas. (I’m completely addicted to Pinterest!) Then I came up with an idea that was inspired by a brilliant creative idea from Child’s Own Studio that I heard about last year but saw again here a few days ago: stuffed toys made based on kid’s drawings.

I particularly like what creator, Wendy Tsao, of Child’s Own Studio says about her main inspiration:

…children draw to please themselves. They don’t care if the arms are too long or the legs are too skinny or if the eyes are mismatched. They’re more interested in the message of the drawing. These drawings are often very original. As adults, we can’t draw like children anymore.

Getting back to our pumpkin.. With the idea of letting my child design our Jack-o’-lantern, we pulled out her sketchbook.

She chose the design.  She’s really into drawing V’s and zig zags these days.

We scooped the inside saving the seeds.

Lastly, Violet went to town painting it.

Watching her concentrate on painting the entire pumpkin was amazing. She carefully chose her colours and covered the entire thing.

The final masterpiece! Ta – Da!

We’ll definitely do this again next year. Will be fun to see what she comes up with next!