Lifelong Learning:

It’s Essential


Building brains to understand the lifelong impacts of early childhood

What can you do with pipe cleaners, drinking straws, dice, wooden beads and paperclips?  Build a brain, of course! 

My brain building exercise was part of a great workshop that I attended called “Let’s Talk About the Early Years – Early Brain Development & Family Literacy” at the Centre for Family Literacy’s Family Literacy Training Institute in Calgary in May.  The workshop helped us understand the importance of building a solid foundation for a child’s lifelong development via healthy brain building. 

We were given a scenario in which we randomly chose cards that described possible events in a child’s life.  If the event was positive, then we could reinforce our pipe cleaner with a drinking straw when we built our brain higher.  If the event was toxic stress, then our brain was weighed down with a wooden bead.  If the child had tolerable stress, then we used an unreinforced pipe cleaner.

The brain building exercise was just one of many great workshops offered at the conference.

Each year, someone from the NWT Literacy Council attends the week of training, and we often bring family literacy providers from the communities as part of our mentorship program.  This year, Sabrina McLeod from Dezoah Undaa Etleh Koke Aboriginal Head Start in Fort Providence, and Myra and Arial Sanguez from Jean Marie River First Nation traveled to Calgary.  We had a terrific time!

Sabrina, Arial and Myra all began the week with the Introduction to Family Literacy two day workshop (a prerequisite for first time attendees), and then participated in workshops such as: Books for Babies, Magic Carpet Ride, Storysacks and Rhymes that Bind.  We can’t wait to hear how they integrate their new ideas into their programs!

Calgary was a lot of fun, a lot of learning and a lot of laughs.  We climbed the Calgary tower, shopped a bit, and white knuckled it on the Deerfoot Trail, all while strengthening family literacy knowledge in the NWT.

--Kathryn Barry Paddock


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