One thing that has become evident during the recent epidemic is that parents are on their own as far as their children’s education is concerned. In reality education has always been the parents’ responsibility; but without the help of the classroom teacher for their child, parents are finding the problems of education insurmountable. This is true, especially when both parents work.

Parents have concerns and they should have. Research indicates children are already falling months behind. Virtual learning (online) does not work for many children. It is also a new way of learning for many teachers, and makes it even more difficult for them to interact with the individual student.

Parents need to be aware that the most vulnerable child, and the one that could easily be forgotten in a family of several children, is the child between the ages of 0-6. This is the period of time that a child’s brain is the most open for learning. The foundation for all future learning is laid during this crucial period. This is a critical time for learning. These early years are a natural once-in-a-lifetime “window of learning opportunity” that, once closed, is lost forever. For your preschooler, kindergartener, and first graders, the damage done during this period is irreversible. This does not mean that your child can’t learn in later years, but it means he/she could be left with learning difficulties. It also cannot be emphasized enough how important this period of time is for children with any type of learning disability. Many learning disabilities can be corrected during this period.

Coming soon – ​My Experience Teaching an Autistic Child

Donna Blevins has been a life-long educator. She has taught both on the elementary and secondary level and has often been a guest speaker to educational graduate students on the topic of curricula for the early years. For the past 30 years, she researched and developed the nationally recognized program ​Be Smart Kids​ which addresses early brain development. Thousands of students across the nation have benefited from ​Be Smart Kids​.

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Download Be Smart Kids: Cloud

Be Smart Kids just got better for you with the new “Cloud” app for Windows and Mac. For the past year you’ve had to deal with browser warnings about using Adobe Flash. We are happy to announce that this will be a thing of the past.

You can now download our new Be Smart Kids: Cloud app and continue to use Be Smart Kids anywhere you install the app. The app is free, and new users get a free month of access.

You can download Be Smart Kids: Cloud by following the following link below:

Download Be Smart Kids: Cloud
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The Right Way to Educate

For twenty years, Be Smart Kids has seen groundbreaking success in teaching young minds to soar. The proof is in the research. Kids who participate in our program are regularly two and three grade levels above their peers. Autistic and special needs children have seen enormous benefits, some even graduating at the top of their class years later!

Terra Nova Test Data: Random Sample of Be Smart Kids Students

  • No other program or app has this much potential.
  • No other program comes with the years of experience and research to prove our claims.
  • No other program makes it this easy to give a child a head start in life.

Leveraging on Nature

Brain Graphic

The brain is a super computer that will eventually contain more connections than there are stars in our galaxy.

Researchers have discovered children even at 6 months of age are able to do adding and subtracting, work grammatical and understand concepts of physics without ever being taught! These areas of the brain are setup from birth to think and work in specific ways.


Early education helps guarantee those connections get prime real estate in the brain. The young mind starts off with few connections between these areas, and develops them over time. We connect these areas at an early age, wiring the brain so it is efficient and fast. This makes learning come natural.

The Right Way to Educate – Do Traditional Educational Methods Work?

Early education may sound straight forward. There are traditional methods for education that were used on us all… but there are still children that struggle in school and get left behind. The question becomes, “Do these traditional methods work?”

The truth is, for a young mind, there are several methods that have a regressive effect. Drilling, rehearsal, even many educational games can result in a struggling child years later. Parents can become frustrated with the short attention span, and some never bother to begin early education, thus missing out on an  incredible opportunity for their child.


There is a delicate balance, and Be Smart Kids nails it. Look at the research, this program has figured out the equilibrium. What is most amazing of all is how this methodology can be wrapped into a single program! When you teach with Be Smart Kids, you only need to follow the steps laid out for you and the learning becomes natural. It is a step by step process, and if you follow the steps, your child will excel above and beyond.

Remember, the research shows the incredible benefits to the Be Smart Kids way of education… This way works, and incredibly,  it requires only one session/week. Additional sessions are neither needed nor desired, this methodology really works!


Confidence is key in education.  Confident children learn more naturally, succeed on tests and struggle less with new material. Confidence comes from a solid foundation, and Be Smart Kids gives that to children.

When you have a child in the Be Smart Kids program, you are building up confidence while introducing them to all the areas of education, including:

Language & Vocabulary
Math & Logic
Spatial/Visual Arts
Motor Skills
Second Language

What’s in the “Box?”

Be Smart Kids offers:

  • 750+ learning activities & 4 levels.
  • Designed to provide many years of learning
  • Activities for Motor skills
  • Spatial/Visual skills
  • Activities for Memory
  • Activities that improve direction following and attention span
  • Social/Emotional skills
  • Phonics – Vocabulary – Second language and sign language
  • Science, Math, Logic and Problem Solving
  • History

Children learn at their own pace. Research shows “Be Smart Kids” perform an average of 3 grades levels above their peers.

Why Wait?


The window of opportunity is from birth to ages 6. This is because as a child gets older new connections in the brain are made less often. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for your child to get these connections, making school frustrating and an up hill battle.

Don’t go at it alone or waste this opportunity. Don’t be stuck later in life having long hours of study and drills. Make learning easier. Do it now, when it only requires a short lesson every week!

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Experts’ Thoughts

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By the age of three, much of the child’s brain growth and density is complete. What started as a relatively small number of connections now number in the trillions. By the end of this period, the critical periods for some skills such as speech begin to close, so vocabulary building is very important. At the end of this stage, brain patterns for music begin to develop. By the age of three, the neurological network that will guide a child’s development is already well established; however, it does not mean that learning for the young child is over.

For a parent of caregiver it is important to remember to interact with your child daily with love, praise, play, conversation song and discipline. Discipline is a huge factor during this period of development. We have all heard of the “Terrible Twos”.

Here are tips to enhance your child’s intellectual development from age 2 to 3.

  • Find a scheduled time to read to your child every day. Choose books with big pictures, sturdy pages, and simple story lines. Remember, most children have short-attention spans during this period.
  • A child will be improving her knowledge of words and sentence structure during this period. Let her hear the correct word order, but don’t demand that she imitate you. For example, if she says “mote juice,” say, “Jane wants more juice.”
  • Encourage him to identify noises. “Do you hear that dog barking?”
  • Let the child help with chores. “Let’s pick up all our toys and put them in the toy box. Can you bring blue bear and put him in the box?” She’ll love helping with laundry. “Let’s count all the socks as we put them in the washing machine—1, 2, 3, 4, 5.” Math development is very important during this stage too.
  • Add new information to what a child is saying. “Yes, that’s a blanket, a soft, warm blanket.” Children wire through experiences, so take time to let him feel that the blanket is soft and warm.
  • Give your toddler clear and simple choices. “Do you want to wear the blue or green socks? Do you want milk or juice?”
  • Know how to handle a temper tantrum.
    1. Don’t yell or hit the child,
    2. Remain calm,
    3. Talking in soothing tones,
    4. Being consistent, having a schedule, setting limits, and providing limited choices are very important.
  • Development of creative expressive is very important during this stage. Provide newspaper, flattened grocery sacks, and commuter scraps for drawing and painting. Provide plenty of praise for his accomplishments.
  • Give your child the opportunity to learn about cause and effect by giving her many opportunities to fill, dump, collect, gather, give, hide, and seek. Toddlers love messy play. Encourage sand, mud, clay, and water play.
  • Provide space where your toddler can spend time alone. An old cardboard box or a blanket over a card table works great.
  • Provide safe outlets for physical activity and space exploration like small steps, boxes, barrels, tires, pulling and pushing toys, and ride-on and ride-in toys.
  • Don’t forget play between the two of you. Fun and bonding between the two of you is very important to learning. Songs like “Old MacDonald” explain sequences. Songs and rhymes are very important to the development of vocabulary and language.
  • Don’t pressure your child to be right or left-handed. A few two-year-olds will begin to show a preference for one hand, but many will continue to use both hands for a year or two.

The Be Smart Kids Learning program develops these skills for 2 to 3-year-olds:

language development, speech development, vocabulary, math & logic, spatial/visual skills, fine motor skills, social & emotional skills, reasoning skills, creative expression, attention span, sign language, Spanish, character-building, and a love for learning.

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With the exception of sight, most of the critical periods of human brain development are open during this stage.  At no other time in a person’s life is the brain more receptive and responsive to its environment.  During this time and over the next two years, many of the neurological foundations that govern a lifetime of skills and potential will be determined.  In other words, how a child learns and processes information for the rest of his/her life is going to be determined.

“Wow, you might say, this puts a tremendous burden on me.  I’m no teacher or scientist.  I want to do the best for my child, but I’m not sure I’m capable.”  I say to you that virtually every parent is capable, and it takes very little of your time to enhance your child’s intellectual development.

As human beings, we instinctively know what to do to advance intelligence and have down through the ages.  Parents have interacted with their baby with love, praise, play, conversation, and song as far back as we know.   Today, with all of our science and educational research, we know these things are still basic.  However, over the last 3 decades, we have learned many simple things that we can work into our everyday life that will enhance the child’s intellectual development.

Remember that it is very important to provide a positive learning environment because children develop their brain through experiences.  Bad negative experiences can badly damage a child’s learning ability.

Below are a few tips to enhance your child’s intellectual development.

  1. Enhance the child’s language development by being a chatty, always explaining mom/caregiver.  Talk, talk, talk, and then talk some more.  “This is your red ball.  This is your yellow duck.  We’re going to wear our red dress and red socks today.  You will look so pretty.”  Not only will your child learn to identify things but will learn colors as naturally as she learns to talk.
  2. Provide appropriate, simple picture books.  I prefer books that have a simple picture and a word description (picture of cat with word “cat” in big letters).
  3. Many parents are aware of the importance of language development, but are not as aware of the importance of math during this critical period.  When bathing your child, you can count the fingers on his hand. “Let’s count our fingers.  We have 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on this hand and … on this hand.”  You can count the toys in his play area. “Let’s pick up our toys.  We have one yellow duck, blue bear makes two, and black cat makes three.”  Young children can develop math skills as naturally as they can the language skills.
  4. Have fun with a variety of music, games (peek-a-boo, roll a ball back and forth), and rhythms. These fun things can develop so many things like language, vocabulary, math, music, attention span, spatial/visual skills, and social/emotional skills.  The greatest gift is the bonding between adult and child.  This has a tremendous impact on a child’s learning.
  5. Allow your child to explore his surroundings.  Do not keep your child penned-up in a swing or playpen all the time.  It is important that he has time by himself to explore.  Corner off a larger safe area for her.  Put together an “everyday junk box” of items to feel, poke, and squeeze.   You might have measuring cups of different sizes, pans, spoons, cups, tissue paper, egg cartons, shoe box, and favorite toys.
  6. Around 18 months, a child may get anxious and clinging about being separated from parents and caregivers.  This behavior is normal.  If possible, minimize separations and stick to consistent routines.

Donna D. Blevins, Founder of Be Smart Kids

Be Smart Kids is a system of 30-minute weekly lesson plans for children, ages 1-6, that enhances the intellectual development of children.  (See research)

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The critical window for sight was primarily established in the first 6 months.  The critical windows for brain development from 6 to 12 months of age are speech and emotional development, although these two areas began in the first 6 months.  Language capacity grows tremendously during this period, and this is a good time to introduce the natural sounds of other languages.

As a parent you only have to remember five words in order to enhance these two areas.  They are love, praise, sing, read, and play.  Below are listed some tips for enhancing the building blocks for speech and emotional development for future learning.

  1. Provide plenty of love and care (hold , cuddle, kiss).  Affectionate touch is especially important during the early months.  Being held and cuddled frequently is extremely important in the development of a baby’s sense of self-worth and security.
  2. Talk constantly with your child.  It will build vocabulary, develop patterns for learning        language, and help create a special bond between parent and child.  Face infants when talking to them so they can see and smile with you.  Talk about what you are doing, familiar objects, or people.  You may even want to babble back or echo sounds your baby makes much as you would in a regular conservation.  Even though an infant cannot understand everything you say, he will be learning many words that will form the basis for language later on.
  3. Read aloud to your child during the day.  Establish some specific routines such as reading after meals or bedtime.  Telling the same stories and singing the same songs over and over may feel boring to you, but not to your child.  Children learn through repetition, repetition, repetition.  This principle applies to more than language.
  4. Play music; sing for and with your child.  Have fun.
  5. Play with your child.  Get down on the floor to meet her at her level.  Play peek-a-boo and other games such as hiding something out of sight and finding it.
  6. Provide opportunities for your child to explore his or her environment.  Do not keep him caged in a playpen or swing.  Provide a bigger safe space for him to explore.  Children will learn by doing.  That is how they learn best.   Older infants need space and time to practice crawling, creeping, pulling up, and walking.
  7. Praise your child; build self-esteem.  When a child master the challenges of everyday life, she feels good about herself, especially when you acknowledge her accomplishments with specific praise.  “Wow!”  “You’re standing!”  “Yea!”  Clap to show your enthusiasm.
  8. Listen and respond to your child.  Give your child your undivided attention.  It will make him a secure and confident learner.  You will not spoil a child by responding to his needs.
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What Parents Can Do – Birth to 6 Months

Whether you are breast-feeding or bottle-feeding your baby, changing diapers, giving a bath, or softly singing as you rock your baby to sleep, know that this is a special time!

These everyday moments, these simple loving encounters, are providing essential nourishment. Just as their bodies need food to grow, science now tells us that the positive emotional, physical, and intellectual experiences that babies have in the earliest years are equally necessary for the growth of a healthy brain.  Here are some ways that you can enhance your baby’s brain development:

Hug and cuddle your baby.  Make feeding time a special time.  Being held and cuddled frequently is extremely important in the building of baby’s sense of self-worth and will encourage them to try new things.

Hold your baby when feeding. The baby’s vision is most clear at about 10 inches–the distance between your eyes and hers when feeding.

Providing stimulation for a baby’s vision is very important.  Expose babies to bright colored pictures, moving objects, and toys.  Hang mobiles over the crib and play area.  Provide crib gyms, and objects for them to grab at or kick.

Talk and sing to your baby during bath, feeding, and play time. When your baby makes a sound, repeat it.  Smile and talk about the things you’re doing together.  Hearing your voice helps your baby begin to learn language.

Read aloud to your child.  Babies enjoy cuddling on your lap, looking at colorful picture books, and hearing the rhythm of your voice. Introduce cardboard or washable cloth books with brightly colored pictures.  At this point, your baby might enjoy chewing the books more than being read to!

Provide an environment rich with sound.  Help infants learn to identify and name such things as a vacuum cleaner, radio, clock, tea kettle, or doorbell.

Play music during the day.  Expose your baby to many different musical selections of various styles. If you play an instrument, practice when your baby is nearby. But keep the volume moderate.

Provide interesting objects for infants to feel, touch, mouth, and explore.  Keep easy-to-swallow objects out of infant’s reach.

Play peek-a-boo.  It teaches that you come back when you go away.

Respond to your baby’s needs and do not worry about spoiling your child at this stage.

Have your baby’s hearing checked.   Babies with hearing problems don’t get the language experience they need. If your baby has a hearing loss, he or she may need a specialist’s help. The earlier hearing problems are identified and corrected, the better.

And remember that brain development begins before birth. Nutrition makes a big difference in brain development even before the baby is born. Women who are pregnant should eat nutritious foods, avoid alcohol and other drugs, and have regular prenatal care to help ensure that their babies are born healthy.

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Since the 1990 there has been a massive amount of research that confirms a child’s early years are critical to his intellectual development.  “Windows of opportunity” have been identified as particular time periods in which a child can best learn or enhance particular skills or even correct learning deficiencies.  One thing everyone agrees on is the early years have a tremendous impact on how a child learns and processes information the rest of his life.

As parents and caregivers, your earliest interactions with the child have an influence on her brain development.   You may not be aware, but many of the things to enhance brain development you do instinctively as loving parents.   However, there may be things that are critical in which you are totally unaware.     It is very important for you to educate yourself on the critical stages of brain development because the “windows of opportunity” are so short and once closed are closed forever.

The first stage of development is from BIRTH TO 6 MONTHS.  Brain growth during this period is unmatched.  The most critical windows during this stage are vision, hearing, language, and emotional development.  It is important to pay attention to vision and emotions during this period because the windows shut so early.  For example, certain eye problems not corrected in the first six months can cause permanent impairment.

Donna Blevins, Teacher & Founder of Be Smart Kids

The Be Smart Kids Process was built to address the various stages of brain development.

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Human beings are unique among the world of animal species.  Most life comes into this world genetically programmed for survival; cattle stand and walk within minutes if not hours of being born; most birds are flying within six weeks of hatching; and other species are born with teeth and claws.  We all have experienced the fun of watching a kitten at play stalking and attacking a sibling or a ball of yarn as if it was some prey in the wild.  I once had an Australian Shepherd dog that I would take jogging with me.  Even as a pup, it would lower its head and “snake” back and forth as though nipping at the heels of the cattle it was bred to herd.

Humans, on the other hand, come into this world almost completely defenseless.  A blob of flesh with no teeth, almost blind, and it seems that all a newborn can do is eat, poop, and cry.  It takes a baby some time to learn how to roll over, then to crawl, about ten to twelve months to learn to walk, and about a year to learn to say a few words.  And we celebrate every milestone!  The key point here is that the baby is “learning” these things.  Some parents feel they can accelerate the process and try to “teach” their child to talk or walk.  If they are intense about it, they find that it can be like the old saying about “teaching a pig to sing” – it just annoys the pig and frustrates you.

The fact is children are learning at a rapid rate.   They are using all their senses: seeing, listening, tasting, smelling, and touching, to learn about the new world they are in and the people that occupy it.  As they do, they are strengthening neural networks or neural pathways and forming new ones.  The development of networks is going on mostly unseen by parents and caregivers, but happening none the less.  It is common to hear parents proudly boast about their child who “just started to talk” and right away they were saying eight to ten new words.  The reality is the child had learned those words and many more but hadn’t yet to possessed the oral skill to be able to voice them.

Sometimes I think that God has a sense of humor.  He gave humans the greatest anatomical gift imaginable, the human brain, and then sat back and watched in amusement as we tried to figure out how to use it.  And we, seeing ourselves as physical beings, another species of animal, have learned a great deal about our bodies and our physical world, but only recently have we begun to focus on understanding the workings of the human brain.

Last week, I was studying at a picture of the human eye on the wall of my eye doctor’s office and was intrigued by the detail in the display.  All those “tiny” parts – lens, muscles, blood vessels, and nerve systems – will keep functioning to supply blood and send signals to the brain, for our entire lives.  We continue to make discoveries and increase our knowledge of how to keep our bodies running smoothly and how we can combat illness and disease.  However, the brain, that marvelous gift, has remained a mystery.

Until the last century or so, all that we knew about the brain we learned from autopsies and experiments on animals.  Recently, because of advances in technology and the transition to the “information age,” we are beginning to study and learn more and more about the enormous capacity of the human brain and how it works.

One of the major outgrowths of this learning is the discovery of how important the first few years are for establishing the foundations for all future learning. The implications that has for early childhood development and our responsibilities as parents is tremendous.

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It is critically important for every parent to know that the early years are the most important learning years in their child’s life.  It is a time that determines how a child learns and processes information for the rest of her life.

Here is how it works!  Your child is born with 100 billion neurons in the brain.  When the neurons fire often enough, a permanent connection is made.  This is what scientist call “hard-wiring the brain.”  The more connections become permanent, the more work the brain can do.  But, this window of opportunity is brief.  The brain operates on a “use it or lose it” basis.  As harsh as the news may seem, if deprived of early positive experiences, the child can intellectually struggle for the rest of his live.

This does not mean that your child cannot learn in later years.  However, these early years have already determined how your child will learn and to what degree.  This is a critical time, a window of opportunity, to give your child the boost she will need to do well in life.   The best time for learning begins early and last a lifetime.

There is plenty of evidence to support the benefits of early learning and the effect it has on learning and emotional stability.  An example is the Rumania babies that were tied to their baby beds in orphanages.  They lived in filthy conditions and received no stimulation.  Later research confirmed that even the children who were in these places for less than a year were found to have emotional problems (being very aggressive) and learning disabilities.

It is extremely important for parents to become knowledgeable about the stages of critical brain development and the simple things they can do to insure a positive impact on their child’s emotional development, learning skills and how they function later in live.

In the next blog, I will be discussing the 1st stage of critical brain development, birth to 6 months.

Donna Blevins, Founder of Be Smart Kids

Donna Blevins has been researching and developing her early brain development educational product since 1991.  See research at

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