Thursday, May 8, 2014

Parenting Tip - The Marvelous Brain

I just finished the most interesting and enlightening book called, The Spark by Kristine Barnett.

Amazon summarizes the book, in part, this way:
Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.

The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests—moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric—Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.
I LOVED this book and can't stop thinking about it. Two ideas impacted me:

1. My brain is very limited compared to this boy's brain who can picture mathematical equations in 3D and see patterns between them. The brain is marvelous organ and I find it so exciting to learn more about it.
2.  Jake's mother followed her gut reaction to pull him out of special ed and hours of therapy at home, and instead of focusing on what he couldn't do, she focused on his interests and what he could do.  As she allowed him to freely explore his interests, he opened up and was able to acquire the new skills the therapists had failed to help him learn.

Now Jake is 15 years old.  You can see him give a talk at Ted talks here.

All children are special, though naturally not as brilliant as Jacob Barnett.  But can we learn something from his story?  His mother always had her son's best interests in mind.  She fought for what she thought was best for him.  She used her creativity to let him follow his interests, though she went against the system and traditional thinking. 

We can do that with our own children.  Fight for what we know they need.  Give them time to create and explore and let them learn things they way their brain learns best, be it visual, auditory or kinesthetic Explore and learn together as a family.  The author wanted family traditions and fought for and used her energy to provide and maintain those traditions because she felt they were so important.

We can have family traditions, be it looking at the stars in the back yard, as they did, or camping and eating s'mores or playing sports or listening to music or making cookies or whatever!

Enjoy your own little geniuses and marvel at the way they learn and connect information and create.

Thanks for reading,



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