Play More…Play is for grown ups too.

playmore-logoPlay More is a series of posts presenting the value of play.  Play, for both children and adults, is as essential to health as are eating well, exercising and diet. Integrating play into the family unit, increases emotional bonds, a sense of well being, and is an element of successful navigation in an ever growing complex world.

This post is based on, “The Healing Potential of Adults at Play”, by Dottie Ward-Wimmer https://www.psychceu.com/Schaefer/intro.pdf retrieved 2/16/2017

When at play, both our analytical and creative mind interacts in a symbiotic, relaxed nature that increases the flow of creativity and elicits a feeling of a relaxed state.  In this relaxed state of being our body is able to better support the biological needs such as breathing, digestion, and heart functions.  Play allows the “unwinding” of stress that attacks the immune system.  There are several books about increasing outdoor activities and getting involved in a sport and although this is strongly supported, not many talk about the health aspects of simple play.  No competition (not even with yourself), no rules, just simple play as found in coloring, tinkering, toy cars, action figures or dolls.

Dottie writes, “Play can increase our self esteem.  It invites access to states of well-being and calm as well as stillness and joy.  When released in play, we often have an increased capacity for empathy and intimacy.”  She goes on to support the premise for adult play therapy stating that it releases stress, increases confidence, and connects adults to the joy projected on the things loved in childhood.  “Play is a natural and enduring behavior in adults.  It has healing powers for the mind and spirit that we are only beginning to appreciate and learn to use.”

Take the time to Play More.  You have earned it; your mind and body need it.

A Halloween Story by Alexis and Elena

Forward

From the outside the house was weathered; paint cracking and faded, the once green grass now brown, weeds growing so tall they looked intended and dirt caked over the windows like a thick brown frosting.  The house was just four years new and settled in a cul-de-sac just down the street of our neighborhood in São Palo, Brazil.  Mom, Dad and I would often walk past the house during our ritual evening family time.  We live next to a wildlife preserve so it was natural to see wild dogs roaming about and enormous black birds fly overhead.  What made this house so spooky was that the birds seemed to claim the house as their own.  At night the coyotes would howl in the spookiest way.  It was fun to pretend that the house was haunted.  For fun, Elena and I would ride our bikes to the deserted house then sit across the street and make up stories of what might have happened to the family that once lived there.  We wondered why they would have left so suddenly–leaving their house to sit empty.  This is one of our best stories:

Alex and Elena testOur Spooky Story–
A story of ghostly friendship

By Alex (Alexis) and Elena

It started with the first stone. The street wound through a housing track built on the edge of town, nestled up to miles and miles of burnt yellow grass hills with scattered old oak trees.  At the very end of the street was a house unlike all the rest. The new house had an old style making it look like it had lived peacefully with the burnt yellow grass hills for centuries.  A family had recently moved into the house and was in the process of putting in a new yard.  To keep with the old country look of the new house, the family had stepping stones shipped all the way from Transylvania, half way across the world, to place in their yard—Transylvania is home to some of the spookiest things in the world!  The night of the placement of the first stone in the yard a large black bird came to visit and sat on the roof of the house.  The yellowed eye black bird’s head tilted down and then tilted to the left and again to the right as if it were inspecting the stone’s placement in the new yard.  As the days went by more Transylvania stones were laid in the yard as if they were recreating an old path and sitting wall.  It was as if that path and wall had already existed for centuries.

Each night one more black bird came to watch the construction of the old looking yard, quietly, as if they didn’t want anyone to know they were there, watching. One night—the night of the first full moon to shine on the completed Transylvania yard—something strange happened…a white mist rose out of one of the stones.  The mist formed into an image of girl.  The girl floated and came to sit on the wall as if it was her own.  She didn’t look very scary, but instead she looked a bit confused.  As the ghost girl rose and floated up and down the newly laid stone path, the black birds seemed to surround her like the blue birds that follow a Disney princess.  Elena and I secretly watched the ghost girl as she inspected her new home from behind a thick old oak tree growing across the street from the house.  As she continued to moved across the yard, her brow furrowed and the delicate corners of her mouth turned downward making a sad, confused frown—I don’t think she liked the new path or the new house very much.

The ghost girl had big beautiful, black colored eyes and long black hair that tumbled down to the floor in soft waves. If she had skin, the color would be like that of a cool white, ivory. She didn’t look very scary but rather pretty, in a spooky sort of way. Elena and I whispered to each other as we watched the ghost girl carefully.  Her smoky grey dress came down to her knees and swayed back and forth as she stood next to a newly transplanted olive tree.  Elena and I wanted to stay and watch all night but we knew it was getting late. If we didn’t get home soon, our moms would surely worry about us.  So we quietly attempted to tip-toe out from behind the tree from which we had been hiding. Eeek, Screech, Eeek… the black birds started to holler as if to warn the ghost girl of our presence.  We froze in our steps, goose-bumps raised on our arms and if our hair could stand straight up, I’m sure it would have!  We swung around quickly and in a moment she was gone.

Lights flashed on inside the house, each window glowed a soft yellow. The front door of the house swung open and out came the owners of the house with brooms lifted up behind their heads and gripped tightly in their hands as if they were to attack.  Elena and I quickly ran back behind the tree as it was too far to run all the way home without being seen.  We thought this house must be full of witches!  But as they waved the brooms bottom up into the air, we realized they were just trying to get rid of the birds who were so loudly screeching, creating the spookiest concert of noises we had ever heard.

Comforted by the thought the owners must be normal people like us, we laughed and started to talk about the ghost girl. “Where do you think she came from?  How old was she?  Where are her parents?  Is she friendly?”…we jabbered on with excited energy caused by the scare.

“I come from Transylvania, I’m eight years old, and I’m looking for my parents,” said a small voice.  Elena and I looked at each other with our eyes as large as saucers and bright with fear.  We grabbed each other’s hands and then slowly turned around.  There she was, the ghost girl, floating right next to us.

But when we looked into her worried eyes we were no longer afraid. We felt sadness for her. The ghost girl went on to say that she didn’t know where she was or why she can no longer find her family and friends.

“I’m lonely and I miss my parents so very much.” the ghost girl said.

“We can be your friends. I’m Alex and this is Elena. We live just down the street.” I said.

But the ghost girl’s sad eyes lit up only a little. “Thank you for your kindness and for not running away when you saw me.” The ghost girl continued, “Can you help me get back home?”

“We can try.” Elena and I said at the same time, now looking at each other for support.  “But we have to go home right now because our parents will soon be looking for us.  We promise to come back tomorrow and help make a plan to get you back home.”  With that, the ghost girl nodded, took two steps back and then vanished into the cool night air.

Wow, that was so cool! We said to each other now looking face to face and tightly holding each other’s hands. We couldn’t believe what we just experienced.  Giggling with excitement we jumped on our bikes and quickly rode home.

Elena lives in the house right next to mine so just as I got upstairs to my room and turned on the light I heard Elena on the can phone. The can phone is a science project Elena and I have that goes from my bedroom window to hers.  It is two cans connected by wire; she speaks in one side and I listen on the other.  I can hear her talking in her room anyway so I’m not sure if the can phone really works or not.  Elena tells me to log-on to our secured chat room so we can develop a plan to help the ghost girl.  We have our own chat room setup online so we can talk to each other even when we are not together.  We recounted the night and tried to figure out how to help the ghost girl until late in the night.  The chat only ended because I fell asleep with my hands still on my keyboard and my face smooshed on top of them.  Dad later scooped me up and placed me in my bed where I continued to try to find a way to help the ghost girl in my dreams.

Everyday we rode our bikes to meet with the ghost girl and became great friends. After awhile, she was not as sad as when we first met her, but she still missed her family very much.  By now there must have been at least 40 black birds that came to the now haunted house to keep the ghost girl company.  The people who lived in the house were not very happy about their uninvited bird guests.  They would chase them with brooms and bang tin cans together to make loud crashing noises in hopes the birds would go away…but the birds would not.  Instead, more and more birds came to visit the ghost princess–we named the ghost girl that because only princesses could talk to birds.

We discovered that the stones from Transylvania were taken from the ghost princess’s house. She use to run up and down the path daily and since becoming a ghost she kept that ritual not knowing that she was now a ghost girl.  Only since she met Elena and me, did she realize she was no longer a little girl.  But it was no matter to her whether she was a girl or a ghost.  All she wanted was to find her family so they could all be together again.

Elena and I tried, and tried to find a way to send the ghost princess home. None of our ideas seemed to work, save one.

One day we knocked on the door of the haunted house. A kind looking woman answered the door and we began to tell her the story of the Transylvania stone and the ghost princess.  She listened to us for at least an hour as we told her everything we knew and begged her to find a way to take the ghost princess back to Transylvania to be with her family.  The kind woman’s eyes looked compassionate and without even a word she nodded and slowly closed the door.  Elena and I looked at each other with questions in our faces. What was the woman going to do?  Did she listen to us at all?

Later that evening we met with the ghost princess and told her what we had done. “We’re sorry.” we said, “We have tried everything we could think of to get you back home.”  “But you can be part of our families…we can be sisters…all three of us!” Elena said.  We all looked at each other and knew this was already true—we would be sisters-friends forever.  But sadly that was not enough.  Even though we had each other, the ghost princess needed her family.

The next night was a full moon. It was so bright that it looked like a big flashlight had been hung in the sky.  Elena and I went to the same tree we had gone to each night before to meet the ghost princess, but this time it felt different.  Not one black bird was at the haunted house.  None sitting on the fence.  None were sitting on the house or the mailbox or even in the olive tree…they were all gone.  The house was dark, not even the porch light glowed as it had every night before.  We walked across the street to take a closer look.  There were no cars in the driveway and the evening paper was still on the porch.  We decided to knock on the door.  Knock, knock, knock.  No answer.  No sound.  Nothing.  Knock, knock, knock, we repeated.  Still nothing.  We turn around and headed down the hand-laid path of Transylvania stone and noticed, one stone was missing.

Elena and I look at each other and our hearts filled with happiness. We knew at that moment the ghost princess was on her way home to her family.  The nice woman who owned the house did listen and did care.  Just as we got on our bikes to ride back home a warm wind blew through the leaves of the olive tree.  We looked over our shoulders towards the sound of the rustling leaves to find the ghost princess sitting on the wall under the tree.  We were so excited to see her that we dropped our bikes and ran back towards the tree.

“I wanted to say thank you and let you know that I will always be your friend…no, I mean your sister.” The ghost princess said warmly.

“I wish I could hug you goodbye.” said Elena “Me too!” I said feeling happy and sad at the same time.

“Maybe we can…maybe we can do a group hug…all three of us.” The ghost princess continued, “Elena, grab Alex’s hands…O.K….now both or you close your eyes and I will enter into the space between the both of you.” I looked at Elena and then grabbed both her hands with mine, not knowing what to expect next.  We then looked at each other and with anticipation closed our eyes at the same time.  It was then we felt a warm touch and a whisper, “Thank you, I promise to visit and never forget how you helped me get back home to my family.”  When we opened our eyes all Elena and I saw was each other’s smile…the ghost princess was gone.

The End

Even though a new family has moved into the once deserted house that inspired Elena and me to write Our Spooky Story, every Halloween we sit across from the house and read Our Spooky Story again.  We had so much fun writing it that it makes for great Halloween fun every year!  What is your best spooky story?  I’d love to read it!  You can send it to me at Alexis@Via-E.com.  Write to me soon!AlexElena2

Have fun this coming Halloween!

Your best dollfriend,

Alexis

Copyright 10/31/2009 all rights reserved Via-E, Inc.

Why a full open smile?

RoleModel

Why not a closed mouth or partly open beauty smile like the rest of the doll community?

Because Alexis was not designed to be a doll.  Alexis was created to be a friend and a positive impact in the worlds of all who behold her.

Every inch of Alexis was designed with purpose…not beauty, although beauty was achieved, but instead the goal was emotional, psychological, and intellectual.  Via E is a quest to provide amazing fun that builds strong minds.  In a world where fun has moved to the “naughty side” of human behavior, Alexis’ charter counters the trend with a focus on learning and understanding others.  Caring and compassion are nice words but to build these attributes one must be involved in understanding and seeking out information about the people around them.  Right here in the United States we have several different cultures with their own unique roots to other lands and thinking.  The same is true in Europe, South America…everywhere.  To love we also need to understand.

Alexis is a revolution.  She stands to shake up the world of dolls.  The goal is to teach loving of differences vs. loving of our own image.  Self confidence comes from within the mind not the mirror like commercialism would like us to believe. A true smile spreads happiness.  I too love beauty smiles, but instead of inspiring beauty Alexis’ desire is to spread joy and understanding.  So when you look at that broad smile (science calls it a Duchenne smile) know that it was designed for you with all my love and caring so that we may together lay a foundation down that can support a purposeful, fulfilling and happy life.

Below are several articles and a YouTube video on the health benefits of a Duchenne smile (Alexis’ smile.)  I send this post off with hopes that you will allow many, many smiles into your world and then return twice as many. 🙂

 

Psycological Sicence

Some researchers now believe that genuine smiles are not transient sparks of emotion but rather clear windows into a person’s core disposition.

We now know that genuine smiles may indeed reflect a “sweet soul.” The intensity of a true grin can predict marital happiness, personal well-being, and even longevity

The neural data revealed that Duchenne smiles produced greater activity in the brain’s left anterior temporal region, an area with clear connections to positive affect.

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2010/december-10/the-psychological-study-of-smiling.html

 

Psychology Today

Your smile is a powerful tool. Most people think that we smile because we feel happy, but it can go the other way as well: we feel happy because we smile.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201207/smile-powerful-tool

 

Science How Stuff Works

Evidence That Smiling Causes Happiness.
Most other studies on the topic note the cause-and-effect relationship without having a definitive explanation for it. The reason why Dr. Zajonc’s research is so significant in the field is because he proposes a detailed, physiology-based explanation for the cause-and-effect relationship. According to his hypothesis, the facial changes involved in smiling have direct effects on certain brain activities associated with happiness.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/smiling-happy1.htm

There’s Magic In Your Smile–How Smiling Affects Your Brain

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/smiling-happy1.htm

 

Forbes

The Untapped Power Of Smiling
Because smiling is evolutionarily contagious and we have a subconscious innate drive to smile when we see one. This occurs even among strangers when we have no intention to connect or affiliate with the other person. Mimicking a smile and experiencing it physically helps us interpret how genuine a smile is, so that we can understand the real emotional state of the smiler.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2011/03/22/the-untapped-power-of-smiling/

 

Positive Psychology News

Emotional Contagion

This process is also known as emotional contagion[4]. That is, emotions are contagious. Feeling good is infectious, and so is feeling crummy. With this in mind, what change do you want trigger in the world?

Health Benefits of Smiling

<img src=”http://positivepsychologynews.com/ppnd_wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/emiliya.jpg” align=”right” alt=”Emiliya” />

Therefore, when you smile at someone else, they smile and you are causing physiological changes within their bodies. Frequent smiling has many therapeutic and health benefits [5], particularly when the smile is a Duchenne smile [6].

According to Dr. Mark Stibich, smiling:

  1. Boosts the immune system
  2. Increases positive affect
  3. Reduces stress
  4. Lowers blood pressure
  5. Enhances other people’s perception of you

Duchenne Smiles

Duchenne smiles are known as authentic smiles because they consistently co-occur with positive emotions [7]. Duchenne smiles are marked by wrinkles in the eyes that resemble crows feet and are associated with feeling excitement, amusement, interest, happiness and joy [8]. (See image on the right in which the top image is neutral, middle picture is non-genuine/mouth only, and the bottom picture is Duchenne/eyes and mouth engaged).

http://positivepsychologynews.com/news/emiliya-zhivotovskaya/200809271036

 

3 Great Apps to Help Children with Emotional or Social Issues

http://www.melbournechildpsychology.com.au/blog/3-great-apps-for-children/

TED

Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live — and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior. Check out this short Youtube video of his TED conference presentation.

 

Via E White Paper

Via_E_LogoChildren Learn What They Play
A clinical look at how the play environment impacts value development.

(This paper contains research material on the development of the brain and memory.  The first half is explaining the science and the second is discussing the impact on child development.)

“O.K. now sit still while I buckle your seat belt.  I love you and want to keep you safe.”  Sally only four years old says kindly to her doll-friend.  Bang! Bang! Bang!  Startled, Sally’s locks of curly amber colored hair whip around as she quickly looks over her right shoulder.  With his child’s Home Depot hammer in hand and tool belt swung on his slender hips like a modern day home improvement warrior, Sam looks up at his father and says, “Dad can I help you?  I can do it, see…look at me!”

Each of us has stories and memories of our children at play.  It warms our hearts and makes us smile.  But what is play?  We define it as fun, free time where imaginations and energy move in a flurry of laughter and social bonding. Though this definition holds true, let’s look beyond the surface and into the working of your child’s mind. The claim to be proven is: playtime is actually the rehearsal of who your child(ren) will ultimately become.

The Science
The study of the brain as anatomy combined with the mind through psychology and fields of linguistics, information science, and philosophy has evolved into today’s cognitive science.  The now famous Dr. Spock of our parents has been joined by legions of professionals to unwrap motivations and the why of what we do.  When I teach adult professionals business skills or the masses fitness moves, I always start with the fundamentals and build out from this point.  I suppose this passion for the development of skills is what drives me to research and write about what fundamentals are being programmed into our children while at “play.”

Let’s start with the basics of Cognitive Science (I’ll try to make this as interesting as possible!)  The first principle has been pondered since before the days of Plato and Socrates.  Nativism—how our brains are wired at birth and how the environment either nurtures or distorts it by withholding nurturance such as food, shelter, warmth, touch, affection, attention, values and so on.  The mind of an infant is amazing. Studies show that  in as early as four months old a baby can detect statistical patterns in sound.  At six months they have developed the ability to tell helpful people apart from the non helpful.  During this early stage our children are developing their “neuronal workspace”—kind of like a desktop on your computer–each program arranged in a space where it can later be utilized.

Unity is a principle of Cognitive Science that states the mind and the body are interconnected.  Meaning, a change in one will create a change in the other.  Think of your own experiences if you wish to challenge this tenant.  When you are feeling sad or depressed, what are the physical characteristics played out in your body?  Feeling achy, low energy, sleepy…etc?  On the other hand when you exercise and eat well there is an increase in optimism, confidence and energy.  Yes, our children’s sense of wellbeing is directly dependant on our understanding of the mind-body connection.

Remember that mental desktop or neuronal workspace mentioned above?  What good would the building of fundamentals do if you could not build or connect them into higher skills?  The principle of Connectivity states our ability to connect new with prior learning is the essence of growth and development.  It is this principle along with the principle of Interconnectivity that forms the basis of the theory that “play time” is in fact the rehearsal of who our children will become—what values, attitudes, problem solving skills and temperaments they ultimately carrying with them throughout life.

The last principle of Cognitive Science is Control.  The degree in which we feel in control of our situation directly impacts health and performance.  With less perceived control there is a correlated reduction in health and performance, with greater perceived control the reverse is true.  I highlight the word perceived because this is a critical element in the statements made.  We often associate a negative feeling toward the word control.  Wars of men, children and parents have been waged over who has the right to be in control.  Since this article is about children and parenting, I’ll address the issue in this context.  We are gifted our children by God to guide and bring them up to be healthy, value-centered people who contribute to society—not to control them.

Responsibility cannot be taught without the understanding that our children control their own behavior. So, in parenting we must utilize various tools to help guide our children while creating an environment where making the right choices yield the greatest reward.  Reward being defined not by “things” but by experiencing positive results.  When a child remains in “control,” it helps to build a healthy mind.

Parenting Application
Now that we have the fundamentals down let us talk about how we can make all this come together for the good of our children.  I mention rehearsal above so let me define it in the relevance of this topic.  Rehearsal is the act of repeating behaviors, assimilating environmental conditions such that it forms a lasting biological connection in the brain from which the child will draw to facilitate higher level cognitive behaviors throughout their lifetime.  It does not require a Ph.D. to recognize, as the famous poem writes, Children Learn What They Live.

My mother had this poem hanging life-sized when I was a young girl.  I remember many times stopping and looking at the child-friendly wall hanging and reading it over and over again.  I would pick out the lines from the poem that represented how I wanted to be when I grew up.  I bet you, to this day, my mother does not know how this wall hanging encouraged the values she sought to instill in me.  I point this out because it is not one thing that we do with our children, it is a million little things that we do knowingly and unknowingly that build the foundations of who our children are going to grow up to be.

It is said that peer group influence is greatest between the ages of 8 and 25 years old.  Think about this—we have fewer than eight years before the values we have taught our children are challenged by groups we often know very little about!  Even our best attempts to get to know our children’s friends and their moms, teachers and other influencers will fall short in the end.  Thus we must utilize every moment to help build the foundations for which our children’s independent decisions will ultimately be made.  Dr. Dobson writes in his book, “Bringing Up Girls,” of the estrogen driven need for girls to love, be social and to bond.  This virtue becomes a weakness when waged against a society where girls are encouraged to be women before their time.  In the absence of guidance even girls of well balanced families can get lost in today’s society of lust and power.

Helping children find their center, or sense of self will be the greatest tool you can provide.  A strong sense of self becomes the shield from which conflicting values will be fended off.  If a girl believes herself to be compassionate, she will act with compassion.  If a girl believes her value is only found in the beauty of her flesh, she will become sexual.  It is this simple.  Parents can build their girl’s sense of self by rehearsing the values that will define who she will become.

Dolls.  Why do I love dolls? When I look into the eyes of a beautiful doll my hear melts.  In this moment I’m not thinking of my MBA studies, building a business, paying bills…my mind has teleported me to a world of simplicity, caring, creativity and warmth.  Amazing, the power of memories!  In one moment that simple toy does what medical science cannot prescribe.  The funny thing is any doll will do.  My childhood dolls were long ago donated to needy girls by my father—little did he know he was committing a cardinal sin!  My point is the doll is a key to unlock emotion and memories from the past.  In order for this to be true the memories must become a permanent biological record developed through many days and experiences with my doll-friends.

When I was a child we did not have computer games so my sisters and I spent hours creating different things to do with our dolls.  Today’s world is a technological wonder where our children are experiencing computerized toys from birth–even hand-wound swings for infants are now computerized chairs that gyrate slowly in multiple directions.  Yes, computerization is here to stay and is crowding out traditional value shaping toys of the past.  Toy industry statistics tell us that the time girls spend with dolls is shrinking—five short years was the last estimate.  I’m not saying that computerized toys cannot enhance learning, but I am claiming that the time girls spend simply loving, caring, creatively developing their own stories are a set of experiences that are fundamental to the development of life skills.

Learning is defined as the establishment of new neural networks composed of synaptic connection and their associated chemotaxic patterns according to Pierce Howard, Ph.D. in his book titled, “The Owner’s Manual for the Brain.”  What this means is there is a biological process that takes place in the brain when we learn a new task or create a new memory.  Memory has three stages:  Immediate memory holds data for two seconds or less.  Short-term also known as working memory will diminish over time if it is not reinforced.  Long-term memory involves a cellular change that becomes permanent.  Once it is created it cannot be erased.

Research has determined that it takes five to six hours rehearsing a new motor skill for the brain to create permanent storage of the new skill.  The process of creating non-motor memories still requires much more research before it can be quantified.   However, the repetitive nature of building a motor skill memory underscores the impact of rehearsing in regards to building neuro networks.  These networks later form the foundations of how we analyze and make decisions.

A good example of this concept is Mind Mapping—words, ideas, tasks or other items such as sensory data of all four senses are linked and arranged around a central key idea.  In other words, our children are constantly building associations through their everyday interaction with their world.  Our parenting efforts can help children build the library from which they will draw their conclusions—from which they will judge right or wrong.

The toys that children play with are tools just like a piano is a tool to create music.  They learn “notes” of behavior and then compile these notes into play scenarios.  Each time they rehearse these scenarios the behavior is strengthened until it becomes a habit or mental recording.  You and the world as observed around them become the inspiration or “building” material for their memories and subsequent behavior patterns.  Thus the reason why parent should guide play time and provide toys (tools) that nurture and grow.

Why Via E
Via E has developed a support structure for parents and girls such that they are exposed to wholesome values.  We create rewards systems to encourage reading, writing, creativity, social awareness and academic excellence.  Learning is best when learning is fun, so we integrate Dollfriends® such that they become more than just a form to dress every now and then but a tool to rehearse values of compassion, love, caring and social interaction.  Each time a girl picks up a Dollfriend® she is rehearsing wholesome values.  As girls grow, learning grows and she becomes more interested in creating and building–learning how to sew and designing clothing, write and publish books, develop musical talents, photography, etc.—only her imagination and ingenuity will stop her.

Via E is not a company; it is an effort.  It is an active effort to utilize all its resources to make today as fun as it can be while always holding to the principals of learning and building healthy, capable young minds.

 

Resources for this article:

One of the books I read when researching this topic, “Mind in the Making—The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs” written by Ellen Galinsky and published by HaperCollins discusses the building blocks of early learning and gives parents wonderful ideas of how to create a rich environment to facilitate a well-balanced mind.

Also recommended is “Bringing up Girls” by Dr. James Dobson and published by Tyndale House.

For those of you with a mind for science, I recommend, “The Owner’s Manual for the Brain” by Pierce Howard, Ph.D. and published by Bard Press.

More information on Mental Maps can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

A similar approach using a Radial Tree can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radial_tree

Alexis Letter to Friends — June

Image

June2014

Every Day is Father’s Day!

I have a wonderful Father’s Day story for you this year!  Since Via E is about healthy and educational play for girls, it seems that my eyes can’t help but glimpse precious girl moments everywhere I go. One Saturday, I arrived with my husband and son to a local school yard where we meet with a running coach who is helping my son compete in one of the toughest football leagues in California.  As we approached the track, I saw a set of pig-tails streaming behind a girl who could not be more than seven years old.   She was running that track as if she was a mini Olympian.  As she came around the track, my eyes found a proud father who was apparently coaching her.  It was priceless to see them together.

photo 3Another week went by and this time as I passed the big shade tree that often sheltered parents during the training sessions my son participates in, there were four little girls talking and giggling under the tree.  I thought to myself…I wish I had some coloring books for them to help keep them busy while they wait for their brothers to finish training.  But much to my surprise all four of them got up and chased each other onto the track.  Joining them were three proud Papas!

On your mark, get set…go!  And they were off!  Brooklyn, Sadie, Regan, and Maya raced around the track.  photo 1Maya and Sadie led the group as they added their footsteps to the kaleidoscope of footprints made with each pass.  I couldn’t help but to participate by secretly cheering each of them around the track.  I finally rose from the camping chair that my husband sat out for me to ensure my comfort during my son’s two hour training session and walked over to the circle of fathers to ask if I could tell their story.  At first I think they thought I was a bit crazy, but after reviewing our blog they agreed to let me share this father’s day story to you.  The best part is that this story keeps writing new adventures every day…you can see the evidence of this when observing the way each girl looks at her father.photo 2

Here’s to fathers everywhere and all of their wonderful times being the best dad ever.

Happy Father’s Day!