Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Importance of Healthy Child Development: Informative Speech Script

The following is an excerpt / version of my outline for my dual credit speech class. (Yes, this is how I make time for blogposts now, by posting school-related things!)

This is my little sister, Alexandra, who is nearly 3 years old. She is the one who inspired me to revolutionize parenting in America to become more child-development-centered. Ever since she was born, I’ve been mesmerized by this idea that her brain is new, untouched, and what nature and nurture can offer to her is at my fingertips and her parents’.

Healthy childhood development is extremely important, and therefore, as if parenting wasn't hard enough, it should be something that parents are educated on and focus on when it comes to the way that they raise their children. After all, they’re responsible. Unfortunately, I can’t cover all the amazing things about child development. However, during my speech, I will discuss three main branches of child development, emotional, cognitive, and social, while highlighting their importance.

The first is perhaps the most important but the least understood. That is that our brain is molded by love, and there are important emotional milestones and developments that occur in the early stages of childhood. How? Well there are several different theories that explain the emotional development of children, one of them being the attachment theory.
As researcher Erika Bocknek put it in her article, published in the academic journal of Family Process in 2012, the attachment theory states “that children derive meanings about themselves through parent–child interactions, determining co-constructed paradigms of self and self in relationships.” [1] This means that the understandings you have developed of yourselves and how you relate with others stem from the interactions that you have had with your parents since you were babies. Especially at younger ages, these interactions can be as simple as how soon a diaper was changed and how often the baby was fed, -- or who changed the diaper and fed the baby for that matter.
Last year, Jonathan Cohn, a political journalist, wrote in an article for the New Republic magazine that, “Kids who grow up in nurturing, interactive environments tend to develop the skills they need to thrive as adults.” However, “Kids who grow up without that kind of attention tend to lack impulse control and have more emotional outbursts.” [2] This puts the kids at risk to eventually struggling in school or even with the law, and that’s where it gets very serious.

So, children are in dire need of emotional nurturing, love, and interaction. They’re also in need of intellectual stimulus, meaning that children need a strong foundation cognitively, yielding a successful future of learning and development. When age-appropriate academic education is provided early on, it gives the child a head start in his or her overall cognitive development. That is why parents should educate themselves on the stages of learning at which their child is at. This way, the child’s cognitive development may be as efficient as possible.
When we set a strong foundation for babies in their cognitive processes, they are able to move more easily from one complex learning stage to the next. Just this past month, a Harvard director, Jack Shonkoff, put it this way in an article of the State Legislature: “It’s just harder and less effective to build on a weak foundation than it is to get development right the first time.” [3]

Finally, in addition to there being important emotional and cognitive developments in young children, there is the social aspect as well.The social development in young children is also important. Last year, published an article, titled “Children’s Social Development,” which states that, “Children’s earliest and most extensive learning about social relationships occurs in the family. Parents and carers can support positive social development when they treat children with respect and consideration and encourage children to be similarly respectful in all their relationships.” [4]
In just the first few years of a child’s life, the child develops his or her own social identity and how they fit into society though relationships with others. As if combining elements of the emotional and cognitive developments, our social development depends greatly on nurturing, positive interactions as well as a strong foundation. The strong foundation tends to be the overall theme when it comes to the importance of healthy child development. When we set a good foundation for our children by working to evoke successful development, we prepare them, and future generations for the future.

In conclusion, you now know probably a lot more about children, their development, and how that should play a role in our parenting, than you did in the first place. Parents are, by nature, given the responsibility of ensuring that healthy child development is taking place, and therefore, it should be something that parents are educated on and focus on when it comes to the way that they raise their children. Scientists conclude that the most rapid period of brain development and learning happens in just the first few years of your life. They refer to this time as “the two year window” [5], when our emotional, cognitive, and social processes are shaped and developed for the first time. 

Now, most of us are young and do not have kids yet. However, the day will come, and our modern day American society’s parenting will not be sufficient for successful child development, which you now know is crucial. Or maybe you’re like me, and you have a brother or sister whom you can help get a better understanding of the world. I even started to “tutor” my little sister for three hours every Sunday, helping her in any way I can. I hope that you’ll also share the wisdom, yielding better parents and a brighter future. Thank you.

[1] Bocknek, Erika L., et al. "Maternal Psychological Absence And Toddlers' Social-Emotional Development: Interpretations From The Perspective Of Boundary Ambiguity Theory." Family Process 51.4 (2012): 527-541. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. - Bowlby, J. (1969, 1973, 1980). Attachment and loss (Vol. 1–3). New York: Basic Books
[2] Cohn, Jonathan. "The Hell Of American Day Care. (Cover Story)." New Republic 244.6 (2013): 20-27. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
[3] Lipkowitz, Robyn, and Julie Poppe. "Brain Matters." State Legislatures 40.1 (2014): 24-26. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
[4] KidsMatter. Children's Social Development. 2013. 11 Feb 2014
[5] Cohn, Jonathan. "The Two Year Window. (Cover Story)." New Republic 242.18 (2011): 10-13. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.

Monday, February 3, 2014

We're into that Kinfolk thing now.


This time between applying to colleges and getting accepted -- or denied -- into colleges is so nerve-wracking and uneventful, it seems like. I've been told that my status should be updated later this month, so that's really exciting. And by really exciting, I mean even more nerve-wracking and incredible.

At least I've been able to distract myself with things like this weekend's retreat, school work, hanging out with my grandma and sister, photography, and... Hockey. It's definitely a part of the Finn in me. Since my uncle Ilkka, who works for a Finnish sports agency, came to visit, I got to go to three Dallas Stars games in the span of two weeks. (To be fair, one of those games was with my stepdad who also gets tickets every now and then. Thanks Sami!) It was so amazing!

As you can see, Gavin got to come with us as well.

Me, Ile, Mikael Granlund, Daniel, and Gavin

Daniel, Valeri Nichushkin, and I

Me, Jussi Jokinen, and Daniel
Kiitos Ile tosi paljon! Thanks for those awesome opportunities! Love you!

Here are some pictures from other recent events.

Leena-mummi (grandma Leena) and Alexandra @ Dallas Zoo

Sister love. <3

Bebe Jami is growing so fast.

Sky Ranch Winter Retreat 2014 - Senior Girls \m/

One more thing: Please keep the Heidtke family in your prayers. "Knowing Sandy was, indeed, God's blessing to each of us. She is remembered as a woman who lived life to the fullest, showed kindness and respect to all, laughed easily and loved her God." -- [3]