Psychotherapist and early childhood education expert Norbeck (Education/McDaniel College) combines research with common-sense advice in his brisk debut offering for parents of very young children.
Norbeck seems to truly understand the hectic, interruption-prone life of parents, as the format of his slim guide—which discusses childhood learning and development through age 6—offers memorable, useful tips in segments that can be read in a short amount of time. Ten rules for parents, such as “Find Toys That Teach,” are divided into chapters with professional research summaries. But readers who cringe at the word “research” can take heart—the book’s language isn’t particularly academic, and many of the studies Norbeck cites are far from boring. For example, in Rule 5 (“Respond to Your Child’s Needs”), he briefly discusses the “shyness gene” researched by the University of Maryland’s Nathan Fox, who concluded that 80 to 85 percent of shyness and anxious behavior in humans is biological, though environmental and social factors can greatly intensify it. Likewise, says Norbeck, early identification and intervention can alter anxious behaviors in a positive way. Chapter research summaries are coupled with practical ideas for everyday life; for example, parents of a shy child are urged to gradually expose the child to new experiences, instead of being overprotective. Some of the author’s advice is familiar, such as his adaptation of a governmental guideline for prenatal care, which urges pregnant women to not smoke. Other ideas, however, may surprise even veteran parents. For example, in Rule 2, (“Talk With Your Baby, A Lot”), Norbeck introduces the idea of learning sign language with babies. The author also provides references and several “Best Media Recommendations,” including Dr. Harvey Karp’s 2002 book The Happiest Baby on the Block, which advises how to calm crying babies. Although specific toys and activities are mentioned, this isn’t an exhaustive list of arts and science projects. Instead, very solid and usable ideas are laid out as a foundation to build a lifetime love of learning.
A handy addition to any first-time parent’s library.