23People the world over are living longer, with many countries experiencing increasingly ageing populations. This means that more children are growing up knowing their grandparents, and in some cases their great-grandparents.

In Singapore, one in three people over the age of 55 look after grandchildren on a regular basis, with one in four households with children under the age of 12 relying on grandparents as the main caregiver (Health Promotion Board, 2013). Multi generations sharing a home make both logistical and economic sense whilst being typical of many Asian cultures.

For parents who both work full time, having one or more grandparent care for their children ensures a familial anchor remains in charge, providing a reassuring level of love, care and stability. But whether grandparents take on this role specifically or not, the benefits of healthy intergenerational bonding are potentially wide-ranging for everyone.

...continue reading

22What is sensory development? In general, it refers to the maturing of the five familiar senses: hearing, smell, taste, touch, and vision. It also involves the way your baby or child’s nervous system receives input from these senses and then forms an appropriate motor or behavioral response. This is known as sensory processing or sensory integration.

Besides organizing the input from the five basic senses, sensory processing also focuses on the sensation of movement. Your baby explores and discovers the world through her senses. Babies are born with most of these senses nearly fully developed. But some subtle changes occur through the end of a child’s second year.

A problem with just one sensory system can greatly affect your child’s overall health and development. For example, when a baby’s hearing is not optimal and remains uncorrected, her speech and language development, communication, and learning may be delayed. You will want to understand how your child’s sensory systems develop. And be aware of any signs of concern. This will help ensure your child reaches her full potential.

...continue reading

21An early childhood surrounded by books and educational toys will leave positive fingerprints on a person's brain well into their late teens, a two-decade-long research study has shown.

Scientists found that the more mental stimulation a child gets around the age of four, the more developed the parts of their brains dedicated to language and cognition will be in the decades ahead.

It is known that childhood experience influences brain development but the only evidence scientists have had for this has usually come from extreme cases such as children who had been abused or suffered trauma. Martha Farah, director of the centre for neuroscience and society at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the latest study, wanted to find out how a normal range of experiences in childhood might influence the development of the brain.

...continue reading

20A small face looms out of the gloom, bringing his red scooter to a halt just before the road. The boy, five, is on his own. Seconds later, he's off again, calling over his shoulder, 'I'll meet you after the bike tunnel.' I find him, breathing heavily, by the school gate, beaming with pride not at beating me but making the journey (more or less) alone. But his bubble is soon pricked: his face crumples after a classmate calls his exploits 'naughty'. And heaven knows what his grandma would say!

For parents, this is the dilemma of everyday life in the urban jungle: do we keep our children on a metaphorical umbilical cord or cut them free? It's little wonder that kids are growing up afraid to take risks when we're so scared of letting them live for themselves. And admit it, if you're a parent, you are scared, your heart beating a little faster at every headline of woe or tree they climb. Even, or perhaps especially, when we're paying someone else to look after them. Thus a working mum grabbing lunch in a café calls to check up on her child. First eavesdropped question, "Is the playground nice?" Then, "Is it soft underneath?"

We like our playgrounds cushioned and our children accounted for: they're signed up to music lessons, drama classes and organised sports as soon as they can walk and talk – the latest being mini rugby clubs for tots as young as two. "The dominant parental norm is that being a good parent is being a controlling parent," says Tim Gill, author of No Fear, which critiques our risk-averse society. But at what cost? And what's the alternative? And most importantly, when are we letting them play?

...continue reading

19Researchers affirm what Christian families have known intuitively for years: Families that eat together, pray together and play together are stronger. But today’s crazy schedules and priorities make it more difficult for families to do this. So Focus on the Family has made it easier for you to invest a bit of time each week to have devotions with your family.

Meaningful mealtimes

Join the Adventures in Odyssey team to teach about the Christian life. Devotions are set up to help encourage family conversation about your faith at mealtimes. In this excerpt download, you’ll get seven free family devotions from the Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions book!

...continue reading