Raising Brilliant Children

7.27.17 Little Newtons.
I was recently on WCCO to discuss gender stereotypes. Watch the full interview here.

Boys are smart and girls are dumb. It’s not just something kids shout on the playground; it’s something a surprising number of young girls actually believe.

Researchers found that by age six, fewer girls believe members of their gender are “really, really smart” compared with boys. Also at age six, many girls lack self confidence in their intelligence. Girls are less likely to take on activities if they believe they are designed for smart kids.

No matter their gender, I want all children to know they are brilliant! As parents and caregivers, we have a responsibility to reinforce this notion and help kids gain confidence in their brain power and their abilities.

At Little Newtons, our teachers engage children with activities to build their self confidence. One impactful exercise is having kids draw a self portrait on a paper plate. This gives kids an opportunity to reflect on how they see themselves. It gives teachers an opportunity to reinforce the good qualities by pointing out what they’ve drawn.

I have come across several books that help both girls and boys build confidence. I recommend reading some of the following to your little ones:

“The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes,” by Gary Rubinstein and Mark Pett

The message here is that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, even the girl who everyone believes is flawless.

“How Full is Your Bucket For Kids,” by Tom Rath 

This book takes a kid-friendly approach to the adult concept of filling your bucket and what happens when your bucket isn’t full.

“What Do You Do with an Idea?,” by Kobi Yamada

The learning lesson in this book is: just because you start something small, it doesn’t mean you can’t grow it to something big.

“My Day Is Ruined!: A Story Teaching Flexible Thinking,” by Bryan Smith

This book provides a good teaching moment that things often aren’t as bad as they seem.

Everyone has the ability to use their skills and work hard! It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy… all kids need to embrace their brilliance!


Emojis and Education


The world is full of smiles, winks and kissy faces as we celebrate World Emoji Day! Emojis are more than a fun addition to a text, they can help teach little ones how to understand their emotions.

Little Newtons’ Krissy Finco talked with KARE11 on Emoji Day. Click here to watch the story!

Summer Reading List


Would you, could you on a train? In the rain?
On a boat? With a goat?
Reading is fun here or there.
You can take a good book anywhere!

No matter where this summer takes you and your family, be sure to bring a book. Kids can lose two to three months’ worth of skills during summer vacation, and reading is an easy way to fight off brain drain.

If your kiddos are battling against books, there are some ways to keep them engaged:

Change the Scenery
Minnesota’s weather only cooperates a few months out of the year; don’t miss it all by staying indoors! Head to your backyard or a public park with a stack of books. Don’t worry if you don’t get through all of them. You can alternate reading time and playtime to keep your child interested.

Join a Program
Many local libraries, bookstores, even restaurants offer incentives for readers. A free book or pizza is a great motivator for little minds. If your kiddo is too young or you can’t find a program in your area, you can start your own. You could let them choose a meal or a new toy after finishing a certain number of books.

Put on Listening Ears
Audiobooks are a great way to stretch a child’s imagination, and it’s easier on your voice! Kids love listening to books with different character voices – some even add music or sound effects. Audiobooks are a great option for long car rides without turning to a device with a screen.

Add Variety
Picture books, chapter books, rhyming books… keep the options handy! Make a weekly trip to the library and let the kids pick out what they would like to read. Having a variety of books will keep the pages turning! My summer reading list, broken down by age, is below.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” Eric Carle
“Love You Forever,” Robert Munsch
“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?,” Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle
“Goodnight Moon,” Margaret Wise Brown

“Five Little Monkeys,” Eileen Christelow
”If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” Laura Numeroff
“Caps for Sale,” Esphyr Slobodkina
“One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” Dr. Seuss
“Bear Says Thanks,” Karma Wilson
“Cat in the Hat,” Dr. Seuss

“Corduroy,” Don Freeman
“The Snowy Day,” Ezra Jack Keat
“Where the Wild Things Are,” Maurice Sendak
“The Book with No Pictures,” B. J. Novak
“The Little Engine That Could,” Watty Piper
“Green Eggs and Ham,” Dr. Seuss
“The Giving Tree,” Shel Silverstein

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” Judith Viorst
“Hansel and Gretel,” Fairy Tale
“The Rainbow Fish,” Marcus Pfister
“The Velveteen Rabbit,” Margery Williams


No Spin Zone


They’re untested, unproven and, in my opinion, unnecessary. I’m talking about fidget spinners and other devices to keep kids focused during the school day.

I talked with WCCO about Little Newtons’ unique curriculum that engages the mind and body, and why we don’t need fidget spinners in our classrooms. Click here to watch the interview.

Smartphone Ban for Kids?


When are kids old enough for a smartphone? One group says not until age 13. PAUS (Parents Against Underage Smartphones) is trying to pass a law in Colorado that would ban the sale of smartphones to kids 12 and under.

Little Newtons’ Krissy Finco talked with KARE-11 about the effects of too much screen time on kids and why Little Newtons is device-free.

Click here to watch the story.

The Importance of Early Education


Reading, writing and arithmetic are not just for kindergartners anymore! A new national study  shows the benefits of focusing on education in preschool. I was thrilled to share my thoughts on this national study and Little Newtons’ unique academic curriculum with WCCO-TV.

Click here to watch the interview with WCCO.

Click here to read my blog on the benefits of academic preschool.

Ready for Kindergarten

Ready for Kindergarten Pic

All Kids Need to Know….

They won’t learn in kindergarten. Kids can get a strong head start on their education before they step into their kindergarten classroom.

Even if your child has been in preschool, making the transition is a big deal – both for the kiddos and for the parents! Children start kindergarten with such different backgrounds and educational experiences, it can be tough to determine if your child is ready.

At Little Newtons, we teach children from infancy through kindergarten. I have seen the wide range of skills and knowledge among five-year-olds firsthand.

Many kids heading to kindergarten can read on their own. But don’t be discouraged if your child can’t read yet. If he can recognize all of the uppercase letters he’s got a good base. When it comes to math, she should know her numbers well enough to count to 30. Most of our students can count to 100 or even higher – many can count forwards and backwards.

Transitioning to kindergarten is about more than academics. Your child should have the ability to listen to teachers and respect authority. He should also be able to share with friends. This is not something kids are born with; these are skills that need to be learned, and the best way is through experience.

Many parents who aren’t sure if their child is ready are opting to “redshirt” them, or hold them back another year. Studies show kids who are redshirted may get higher scores on standardized tests in their early years, but there is not long-term benefit. By high school, there is not a significant difference in test scores.

If you have concerns about  your preschooler heading off to kindergarten, make education and skill building a priority this summer. Early childhood education programs like Little Newtons don’t follow the September through June calendar; they are in session year-round. Enrolling your child in an academic-focused program is a good way to improve in any areas they’re behind. You can also work with your child at home, utilizing educational books and apps.

Minnesota summers are over in the blink of an eye! Before you know it, you’ll be waving goodbye as the bus pulls away or the classroom door closes. The next three months are a wonderful opportunity to set your kids up for lifelong learning.