Parenting

BrainPower conference: Enhancing childhood development

Karine wonders if our kids have more learning challenges or if we are just more aware of various issues than previous generations of parents.

Tomorrow (May 3rd) I have the privilege of hosting the morning session of the annual “BrainPower” conference in Toronto. In a nutshell, this is a two-day event showcasing a series of renowned presenters, like Dr. Sylvain Moreno, lead scientist at Baycrest’s Centre for Brain Fitness and Dr. Ellen Bialystok, psychologist and researcher at York University (among other esteemed titles). According to the literature, the BrainPower Initiative was formed, “to bring together scientists, teachers, researchers and parents to enhance childhood development by recognizing that the capacity to learn can be as critical as what is taught.”

This comes at such an interesting time for me personally: If you read my blog last week, or have seen my recent tweets (@karine_ewart), you know that one of my four kids is struggling at school. Theo is in Grade One, and I have always known he learns a bit differently than his twin brother and two other siblings. In my head I’ve called it his “glitch.” All my children are in French Immersion, so it’s very handy that I will be moderating a panel tomorrow with Dr. John Godfrey, Headmaster at Toronto French School. We will be discussing how the recent findings in neuroscience affect the policies and procedures (and teachers and parents!) in the classroom. But I am selfishly hoping I can bend his ear about Theo and his “glitch.”

Earlier this week, I took Theo to Dr. Teresa Brassard, an audiologist specializing in auditory processing, and he completed the first of two sessions. (Each session is about an hour and a half and involves a series of listening exercises.) I don’t have the results yet, but I found it fascinating to see how Theo’s brain seemed to have no trouble computing numbers, but the minute letters or sounds were used, his little eyebrows furrowed, his eyes squinted with effort, and my heart started to hurt.

I feel like this is just the beginning of our journey, but have already found incredible support from so many friends and colleagues who can relate to what we are going through. Does anyone else wonder if our kids have more learning challenges, or are we just more aware of various issues than previous generations of parents? Regardless, what I think unifies us most, is our complete dedication to helping our kids find their way through these early years, so they will hopefully have coping mechanisms in place for what’s coming their way. (And, of course, so we can all sleep well at the end of the day!)