Category Archives: Life with the Clarks

Understanding Child Brain Development: A Review

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I’m excited to be presenting information about a video called  Understanding Child Brain Development from Family Hope Center. The video is intended to offer hope and understanding to parents whose children struggle with learning or have been diagnosed with any number of conditions from ADHD to autism, dyslexia, Down’s Syndrome, blindness or deafness, and a host of other conditions.

The Good News

The presentation on the video is given by Dr. Newell and his wife, internationally renowned speakers and child brain developmentalists. The premise of the video is this: although these conditions are treated by different sectors of the medical community, and are given labels that seem to have nothing to do with one another, each one stems from the same source: the brain.

The wonderful news about this fact is that given the right conditions, and in some cases, corrective therapies, the brain can heal itself!

Surely everyone knows a child who has been diagnosed with one or more of these conditions. This video is intended to show how each of the areas of the brain develops under ideal conditions, and give a hint as to some of the conditions which are not ideal which can cause the brain to function at less than its full capacity. From there, it is possible to identify where the brain’s neurological programming went wrong, and what to do about it.

Based in Research and Personal Experience

 photo CBD-DCover_zps23501872.gifThe information shared in the video was hard fought for by the Newells, whose own daughter was unable to read for years and suffered rather profound brain injury (however, at the time of filming, she was reported to be a concert violinist and honors student).

As both husband and wife came from therapeutic backgrounds, they were determined to search out and find the solutions to help their child. The information was applied again when they adopted a child who also had learning and developmental challenges.

Our Personal Experience with this Video

This video was full of eye-opening information, and it made sense of so many things for me. I have shared previously about the battle we had with our daughter and ADHD. This video affirmed some things we had stumbled upon such as switching to a gluten-free diet and removing dairy from the diet.

But it also opened my eyes to a number of things that had remained mysteries to me. For example, my daughter has always found unpleasant smells pleasant. I noticed this early on, and made this observation to a few people, but those I noted it to kind of shrugged, as if to say, “Life’s a mystery,” or looked at me a little askance, and I won’t speculate as to what they may have been thinking. :)Understanding Child Brain Development

However, Dr. Newell specifically talks about this issue, connecting it to improper “organization” in the limbic area of the brain, and connecting it as well to areas of empathy, affection, and whether or not a child is a picky eater! Bells were going off all over the place while I watched this video!

Other areas of the brain are connected to things like bladder control, something that led to night terrors for our daughter, so that after she finally began sleeping through the night at 18 months or so, she began waking with night terrors. After hours of Googling, I finally hit upon a suggestion that she needed to go to the bathroom, and these night terrors were her body’s way of trying to wake her up. She wakes up in the night to use the bathroom to this day, although, thankfully, the night terrors are gone.

But I couldn’t help thinking about the implications for families whose children had much more profound issues than our own. Our major challenges have all but completely resolved, but I am acquainted with many families whose children struggle daily with learning and social problems.

Sources and Solutions

The sources of the problem and the solutions to these issues shared in the video were equally astonishing. Newell taught that from babies’ muscular and neurological wiring at birth, they are designed by God to spend much of their time on their bellies. However, in modern society, we have designed a host of carriers and seats that leave babies on their backs most of the time. He shared how these “conveniences” are depriving babies of the stimulation they need for the brain to develop the way it is supposed to.

There were other factors mentioned as well, some of them equally simple, that ensure baby’s correct development, that we have circumvented in modern society.

One key piece of information that unlocks some of why all of this matters, according to Dr. Newell, is that reading is a neurological process. The ability to read cannot be unlocked unless the brain is organized correctly.

I spent the entire two hours watching the video saying, “wow,” over and over again. It was very enlightening, literally introducing a whole new way to think about a child’s diagnosis and the hope for seeing change. While the Newells don’t talk about “cures,” they do talk about “recovery” and “hope.”

Admittedly, for our family, this video doesn’t answer every question. According to Newell, proper organization of the limbic area of the brain in an infant is dependent on several factors, some of which include drug-free labor and breastfeeding. Since our daughter was born at home and breastfed seventeen months, surely this should have given her the proper start. However, we are aware of some other factors in our situation. A week after labor I became septic and was placed on some pretty powerful antibiotics, that may have interfered with things for her. As Newell says (and as I’ve heard elsewhere), all of our health flows from the gut and our intestinal health.

But this video is intended only as an introduction to child brain development, to point a family to further education or possibly further diagnosis and therapy at Family Hope Center’s facility in Pennsylvania.

For any family dealing with any of these issues, in my opinion, it is two hours and $19.00 well spent. To order the DVD, please call 610-397-1737 or you can order Understanding Child Brain Development from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, facilitators of the production of this video.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

TOS Review Crew


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Homeschool Statistics

Homeschoolers are constantly called upon to defend their educational choices. Here are some very valuable statistics (based on American homeschooling, where it is most prevalent), about test scores, teacher qualifications and social/community engagement, as well as some background on the history of the homeschooling movement.

It may surprise you to realize that public schooling, as we know it is a relatively recent development, beginning in the late 1800s. Prior to that, all parents were responsible for the education of their own children. Although this is not specifically addressed in this presentation, it is also interesting to note that public education did not raise the literacy rate of children. If anything, the opposite occurred.

Perhaps the most interesting statistic from this presentation is how little difference there is between the success of homeschooled children whose parents are trained–or even have college education–and those who have no such training or higher education. So if you feel inadequate for the task, well, join the club, but that can no longer be your excuse not to homeschool :)

Have a look for yourself. Some of the other facts may surprise you, too (sources noted at the bottom):

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up Source:


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Our ChinaAlthough I lived in Hong Kong for a year when I was 18 years old, it was still hard to prepare myself for what to expect when we arrived in China for the first time. One thing that surprised us was how much English was everywhere–from signs on stores, to labels on products we bought in the stores, to clothing–there was English everywhere.

Or something like English.

The most mystifying thing about this “English” is why it’s there at all. There aren’t an overwhelming number of expats in China. Recent stats put the number at somewhere just south of 700,000. In a country of between 1.3 and 1.4 billion people, that’s a drop in the bucket! And while we live in an excellent city with tons of amenities, it isn’t anything like Beijing or Shanghai where foreigners are everywhere. Most cities are like our city. Beijing and Shanghai, though admittedly big, are the exception, not the rule, when it comes to foreign presence.

And it isn’t as though, by and large, the Chinese population is conversant in English. Certainly, the standard of English is gradually rising, but let’s just put it this way: don’t get lost in China and depend on your English to help you find your way home again.

Nevertheless, it’s extremely common to see English words emblazoned all over the place. A friend explained it to me this way: English is associated with things classy, things elite or things special. Perhaps much like North Americans would treat something with French written on it.

That being the case, it’s further mystifying why someone wouldn’t take the time to get it right. We’ll often see shirts with a bunch of English words on them, few having any relationship whatever to the ones adjacent to them. Here’s one that almost got it right–I think–although I’m not at all sure what the intent might have been:

English in China

And here’s another–a sign advertising a new apartment complex being built in the heart of the city. Apparently, there is “inner peace in the flourishing” (!?!)

English in China

When I ask my friends who do speak English well about this phenomenon, they don’t seem to see my point. Even our Chinese teacher, whose English is very good, will wear a T-shirt with nonsense written on it. I suppose it’s no different from the phenomenon of “Westerners” sporting Chinese characters as tattoos:

Bad Chinese Tattoo

Photo source:

Yes, something like that. Only less permanent. :)


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