A Good Start in Life: Understanding Your Child's Brain and Behavior

Overview

There are lots of child development books on the market. But how do readers – especially parents – find practical answers they can trust? A Good Start in Life provides just that.

We all want to do the best we can for our children. Nature has equipped us with an instinct to protect and nurture. Unfortunately, we have not been provided with universal rules of parenting. So we look to experts to fill that void. But there’s just so much information out there – and it often looks ...

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A Good Start in Life: Understanding Your Child's Brain and Behavior

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Overview

There are lots of child development books on the market. But how do readers – especially parents – find practical answers they can trust? A Good Start in Life provides just that.

We all want to do the best we can for our children. Nature has equipped us with an instinct to protect and nurture. Unfortunately, we have not been provided with universal rules of parenting. So we look to experts to fill that void. But there’s just so much information out there – and it often looks like half of it appears to be filled with contradictory advice while the other half is mired in scientific jargon that most parents have trouble deciphering. This is especially true of the data on the intricate workings of the developing brain. It’s a daunting task to figure out just what a parent should do. The key is to listen carefully to what science is telling us. Finally, we have sensible guides to interpret the information in straightforward and practical ways.

Dr. Norbert Herschkowitz, a Swiss pediatrician and neuroscientist, and his wife, Elinore Chapman Herschkowitz, an American educator, have teamed up to write this warm, friendly book to guide parents through the formative years of their child’s life. With a specific focus on the brain, we follow the path of early childhood development from gestation to birth to six years old. Each chapter deals with a particular phase of development.

We begin with “Life in the Womb – What Are You Doing In There?” and “Newborn – Here I am!” As parents add candles to the birthday cake, new chapters prepare them for what lies ahead. Best of all, each chapter is accompanied by a section called, “To Think About…” These sections address practical topics like good night rituals, testing limits, coping with conflict, reading books together, the value of piano lessons, evaluating day care options, and encouraging “why” questions.

Although there are scores of books that deal with early childhood development, few – if any – so artfully combine solid, reliable science with logical, clear-cut information and advice. Parents need no longer worry about missing special “windows” of learning opportunity. They don’t have to deal with lingering doubts about the “right” way or the “best” way to bring up their child. They won’t be left with that niggling feeling that they just didn’t do something essential. With science – and the Herschkowitz’s – by their side, the process of bringing up baby just got a whole lot easier.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Herschkowitz, a Swiss pediatrician and neuroscientist, and Chapman Herschkowitz, his American educator wife, use a novel device to tackle an oft-discussed subject child development. Directing their text at the educated parents of newborns to six year olds, the authors devise fictitious children of differing temperaments, which allows readers to connect with the text. As these children relate to their parents and one another, their activities at developmental milestones are described. A question-and-answer section closes each chapter. Concerns about what the parent should do in various situations are briefly answered by referring to a scientific explanation, though in several sections the discussion of a topic seems to end abruptly. Although slightly dated, Lise Eliot's What's Going on in There?, Kyle Pruett's Me, Myself, and I: How Children Build Their Sense of Self, and Craig T. and Sharon L. Ramey's Right from Birth are more complete. Still, with a glossary of technical terms and a fairly current bibliography, this remains a solid entry in a crowded field. Purchase for large public library collections. Margaret Cardwell, Christian Brothers Univ. Lib., Memphis Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Dr. Norbert Herschkowitz, a Swiss pediatrician and neuroscientist, and his wife, Elinore Chapman Herschkowitz, an American educator, join forces in this guide for parents on childhood development from gestation to birth to six years of age. Focused on the brain and its role in learning and socializing, the text incorporates the most recent psychological and biological knowledge. Each chapter deals with a particular phase of personal and social development, and concludes with a question-and-answer section of questions typically raised by parents, such as the issue of early schooling, sibling differences, testing limits, coping with conflict, reading books together, evaluating day care options, and encouraging "why" questions. This is a seriously written book useful for parents as well as professionals involved with children. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Guy McKhann
"This delightfully written book is not merely a ho-to book, but a book about understanding how a child truly grows."

-Guy McKhann, M.D., professor of neurology and neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Rosemarie Truglio
"A must read...a gift to all parents."

-Rosemarie T. Truglio, Ph.D., vice president, education and research, Sesame Workshop
Charles Nelson
"The answers to these and other pressing...questions are skillfully and elegantly answered in this wonderful book, which I enthusiastically recommend."

-Charles A. Nelson, Ph.D., Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Child Psychology, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics of University of Minnesota
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780309076395
  • Publisher: National Academies Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/2002
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Norbert Herschkowitz, M.D., is professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Berne, Switzerland, where he chaired the Department for Developmental Disorders at Children’s Hospital. A neuroscientist who specializes in the interaction of brain and behavior throughout the lifespan, he has collaborated with leading American pediatric neuroscientists.
Elinore Chapman Herschkowitz holds an M.A. in German from Stanford University. She taught English for 14 years at the Bern State Teachers' College and is the author of Feeling at Home in Bern
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Jerome Kagan

Acknowledgements

Introduction


Part One Getting Ready

Life in the Womb

The Brain Takes Shape as It Goes to Work
First Movements
Feeling My Way Around: The Sense of Touch
Can You Hear Me in There?
The View from Inside
What's for Dinner?
Learning in the Womb?
Prenatal Stimulation?
Does a Mother's Stress Affect the Baby?
Signs of Individuality
Ready to Go
To Think About

Birth
The Brainstem's Big Moment
First Things First
The Newborn's Senses
Muscles in Action
A Personalized Nervous System
Ready to Learn
An Interest in People
To Think About


Part Two The First Year

Getting Started
Less Crying and Irritability
Rock-a-bye-Baby
A Welcome Relief
First Visit to the Doctor
How Different Babies Can Be!
Temperament and Parenting
To Think About

Exploring
A World of New Impressions
"Make Way for Baby!"
Memory and Learning
The Appearance of Fear
To Think About

Comfort and Communication
Song without Words
From Sounds to Words
To Think About

Maps and Milestones
The Cerebral Cortex
Beneath the Cortex
Nerve Cells Make Connections
From Perception to Action
Gross Motor Milestones
Fine Motor Milestones
Language Milestones
Play and Daily Milestones


Part Three The Second Year

Two Candles for Emily

Discovering
Getting Around and Getting Into
The Language Explosion
Playing
To Think About

Me and You
It's Me!
How Others Think and Feel
A Budding Idea of Right and Wrong
Linking the Hemispheres
Toddlers and Temperament
To Think About


Part Four Three to Six Years

Six Candles for Emily

Gaining Competence
Mobility and Dexterity
From Scribbling to Writing
Executive Functions
The Starring Role of the Prefrontal Cortex
Memory Has Different Forms
Imagination
The Cortical Areas Communicate
The Big "M": Motivation
To Think About

Living Together
Belonging to a Group
Taking Over the Controls
The Hemispheres Work Together
To Think About

Paths to Personality
Temperament
Gifts in the Cradle: Multiple Intelligences
Nature-Nurture
To Think About

Ten Guideposts for Parents

Glossary

References

Index

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