Yoga and Brain Development in Young Children

Studies indicate that yoga leads to increased neuroplasticity.   Neuroplasticity is the scientific study of synapses fired by the nerve cells in the brain and the capacity of alteration of the brain’s potential to create neural pathways.   

The brain, like any other muscle, may be strengthened with use or atrophied and weakened from lack of use. The greater the brain engagement, the stronger the fortification of and creation of neural pathways.  Continued practice of yoga increases resilience to stressful situations while facilitating change and brain growth. 

We incorporate yoga weekly with all of our children, so each child can benefit from the following:

  1. Managing stress
  2. Improving emotional regulation
  3. Boosting self-esteem 
  4. Increasing mindfulness
  5. Improving concentration and memory
  6. Developing strength and flexibility
  7. Reducing impulsivity

Even the youngest toddler can participate in yoga by watching the adults around them.  Start out simply by acting out books, pretending to be  animals, and breathing in unison.

Stay focused on your role as a guide or partner rather than a teacher or parent.  Have fun; breathe deeply!

                                                                NAMASTE!

Importance of Sunblock

Summer is here, but applying sunblock isn’t easy…

While applying sunblock to your infant or child isn’t always easy, the American Academy of
Dermatology, Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics all remind us
that it is important to protect your child’s skin from infancy onward.
Infants

1. Avoid using any sunblock on infants under the age of 6 months.
2. Infants under 6 months should be kept in shaded areas and dressed in lightweight
clothing.
3. Infants over the age of 6 months may have sunscreen applied.
Children
1. Look for a high SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher with broad spectrum
protection.
2. Choose water resistant sunblock .
3. Many dermatologists prefer mineral based sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
This allows the sun rays to be deflected.
4. Avoid chemicals which absorb, rather than deflect the sun’s rays.
5. Choose lotions to ensure proper coverage. Sprays are often not applied properly and
evenly and should be held at least 2 centimeters away from skin. If using a “stick”, be
sure to cover the skin at least 4 times to cover skin thoroughly.
6. Choose fragrance-free and dye-free products to lessen chance of reactions.
7. Choose PABA-free (para-aminobenzoic acid)-a chemical found in some skin products.
8. Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours or after being in water.

 

As always, children learn by example. Be sure to model sunscreen application-whether it be the
initial application or re-applying the sunscreen. Set the stage now for healthy skin for a lifetime!

Nature-Based Education at Newtown Discovery Preschool

The Importance of Nature-Based Education

A Snack Kids Love: Honey Oat Pumpkin Muffins

Posted by Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN on

The health benefits of Pumpkin

low sugar pumpkin muffin

Pumpkin is more than a warming fall flavor. In addition to being packed with plenty of carotenoid antioxidants, which support eye health as well as skin, hair and nails, pumpkin may even calm the digestive tract. Other studies suggest that pumpkin extract can have a hypoglycemic effect, benefiting those with or who are at high risk of diabetes, so ingesting it in it’s whole food form can’t hurt!

The health benefits of Honey

Raw honey has a slightly lower glycemic effect when compared to white sugar, so I try to use it in lieu of white sugar for daily sugar needs. That is not in any way to say I avoid refined sugar, as I’m sure it’s added to some packaged foods I buy and also is the reason frosting exists. However, since I know that blood sugar spikes impact my anxiety, I try to choose lower glycemic options when feasible and pair them with protein, fiber and fat if it isn’t before a workout.

Raw honey also contains higher antioxidant levels when compared to honey that has been heated (most honey on store shelves) and has been shown in research to be just as effective as popular sports gels in supporting endurance activity. 1 ingredient win right there!

 

Recipe

They can be made vegan with a simple swap!
Prep Time 5 mins, Cook Time 17 mins, Total Time 23 mins
Servings: 12 muffins

My favorite ingredients

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax set with 2.5 tbsp water)
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  •  cups pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup soy milk or other non dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup quick or rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda

How to make them

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix all wet ingredients in a bowl with a whisk or hand mixer.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together.
  • Slowly incorporate the dry into the wet mixture, but do not over blend.
  • Pour batter evenly into a standard muffin tin.
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes.
  • Let cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Recipe Notes

  • Flours: Feel free to use a whole wheat pastry flour, sprouted wheat flour, spelt flour, or just plain old wheat or unbleached white. I have not tried the recipe with any gluten-free options, so if you do, please leave a comment and let me know how it goes!
  • Vegan option: While these are called “honey” muffins, you can certainly swap honey for a nice thick, real, maple syrup.
  • Pumpkin pie spices: My go-to’s are Trader Joe’s or Simply Organic’s pumpkin spice blends. If you want to make your own, here’s a recipe I use on occasion and is included in my pumpkin spice energy bite recipe.
    • 1/4 C cinnamon
    • 4 tsp ginger
    • 1/2 tbsp ea: nutmeg and allspice
    • 1 tsp clove

 

Breakfast, lunch and two snacks per day are provided to each child and are included in the tuition fee and are Registered Dietitian approved. At the start of each month, a parent selects these items for their child using Google form. We are a peanut-free facility & vegetarian options are available for every meal!

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