Turn On Your Senses a few months back and loved – not only the name – but the message their founder Dawn Brauer was sending: Let kids play! I just had to talk with her. And when I did, I was struck by her dedication to children and passion for her work.
Dawn says “Play is becoming a lost art form” and I agree with her. We as parents seem to like the word ‘therapy’ more than ‘play’, but really, when therapy is play, our kids are eager to participate – and it stands to reason that children who are engaged in their own therapy are more successful. Mastering challenges, learning new skills and enjoying the art of play give our kids an optimistic outlook on life – one of the most valuable things for any child to learn.
So, you remember how to play, right? Between all of the appointments, conferences and Google searches, you may just have forgotten (I sure have). But Dawn is here to remind us of the value of play for our kids and give us some fresh new ideas to add a little something new to the same old games.
Oh, and she has also offered to give away FOUR free puzzles from Melissa and Doug – and you KNOW how awesome those are, right? The more winners, the better -- that's what I say! A big THANK YOU to Dawn for her generosity!
Now, as the playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
So, let’s turn back the clock, shall we?
Please welcome Dawn to HLW3B! I am thrilled to have you here today! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your background and your passion for children?
I am a pediatric Physical Therapist on Long Island, NY. I am currently working with the Early Intervention and Preschool populations, but I have worked with school age children and I started my career at United Cerebral Palsy in Commack. I treat all pediatric diagnoses, but I have come to embrace those children with sensorimotor processing issues and I have a strong background in this arena. I have 4 of my own beautiful children – my son, C.J. who is 7 years old, the twins, Alexandra and Tyler who are 4 years old, and my newest little addition, my son Jordan who is 7 months old.
After coming across the book, The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman, my world changed. I felt that this book was one of the biggest hidden secrets in the child raising world. If you found a book where the cover read – The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children against Depression and build Lifelong Resilience, what would your reaction be? We want to give our children the very best of everything. How about giving your children tools to help them create the life of their dreams? You cannot buy that in any store! My life’s purpose, which I am blessed to have discovered, is to educate parents/caregivers on the importance of play, how to choose toys effectively, and how to instill a sense of optimism, resilience, and emotional awareness in their children.
Thank you for recommending a book to help us empower our kids! I will check it out! As parents it seems we are always investing in a new tool or toy of some sort, but the ability to use something in multiple ways – like the puzzles you are giving away – gives deeper value to each item. Can you give my readers 3 new therapeutic activities that they can use a puzzle for – besides just putting it together?! : )
My biggest piece of advice is to “Be the change that you want to see in the world” – Ghandi.
So, ask yourself, when you are in the car with your children, and you do not make the light, what are the thoughts in your head and/or what are you verbalizing in front of your kids? Are you angry that you missed the light, or that someone in front of you did not go as fast as you would have liked? Do they hear you say things like... “I never make this light!” That is a globally pessimistic statement, and I am sure if you think about it, you have made that light at some point in the past, just not right now. Teach your child optimism, by BEING optimistic. You could also try this activity. If a friend is coming over and they are late, but you have not received a phone call as to the reason, you could guess why they are late.
For example, “Maybe his/her mommy had to run and buy milk before coming over”, or “Maybe they forgot to let their dog in before they left the house”, or “Maybe they hit traffic”. What this teaches the child is this, and we have all been there. You have a friend who you typically hear from at least once or twice per week. A week goes by and you have not heard from them and you start the chatter in your head…”Did I say something to make that person mad at me? What did I do wrong?” etc. etc. You internalize a scenario that probably has nothing to do with you. Maybe your friend received surprise guests from out of town that require their attention, or maybe they have to tend to a very important family matter that is important and taking up all of their time. Just as easy as it is to make up the negative stories in our head, it is just as easy to think of other possible reasons that have nothing to do with us.
This skill teaches them to think of other reasons that something has taken place that has nothing to do with them. So, when a friend at school is not suddenly calling them on the phone, it might not be because of something that they did. At the end of the day, I also ask my children what their favorite part of the day was in an effort to have them go to sleep thinking about the positives of their day which will help them to start off their next day with a great start!
We talk about the positives at the end of our day too! We call it our "High" for the day. Great tip! Will you tell us about your website -- What can we find there? What makes it different?
I want to start off by saying that although our website is still under construction, you could purchase toys and contact me directly for a personal consultation on what toys we have to offer and what toys would be best suited for your objectives and goals. My partner and I, who is an Applied Behavior Analysis supervisor/speech teacher/vision teacher, have specifically chosen toys from various companies such as Melissa & Doug, Fisher Price, Goosie Cards, Chewy Tubes, Moon Sand, Crayola, Discovery Toys, etc. that are great toys for typically developing children as well as children who are receiving some type of service.
We also have sensory toys such as weighted balls, bean bags, theraputty, etc.. The toys that we choose are multi-faceted, engaging, and promote optimal child development in various areas, such as gross motor, fine motor, speech and oral motor development, social-emotional, behavioral, sensorimotor, etc. We are a different toy company because our objective is to educate and empower customers on how to choose toys effectively for future purchases whether through us or somewhere else, the importance of free play, and how to offer tools to your children that will facilitate development of a sense of optimism, self confidence, and fortitude. That is our main objective, we just also love playing with toys!! Take a look at our books section as we really encourage the education of our customers and supporters.
One last thing……Randy Pausch in his book, The Last Lecture, said this, “As I see it, a parent’s job is to encourage kids to develop a joy for life and a great urge to follow their own dreams. The best we can do is to help them develop a personal set of tools for the task.”
Great quote! Especially for kids that have challenges; overcoming those challenges has to do with learning the tools they need. Thank you Dawn for taking the time to speak with me here on HLW3B, it has TRULY been a pleasure! Now, I’m off to play!
Now for the free part!
Dawn is graciously giving away 1 free puzzle -- from Melissa & Doug (some of my favorite toys ever!) to 4 lucky HLW3B winners.
Here is how you can can be one of the lucky:
2. Post a comment for Dawn -- tell us how you'd use your new Melissa & Doug puzzle or how you help teach your child to be more optomistic -- and lastly,
3. Leave your email address so I can contact you.
OK, once you have joined and commented, you are officially entered.
The contest will run from Monday 6/07/10 to Friday 6/11/10 and will end at 7pm PST. The winner will be selected by random drawing, and emailed directly. If you do not respond, a new winner will be drawn.