Newsletter #26 for Internationally Adopting Parents
August 5, 2006
PAL Center Inc.

In this issue
Q: I am searching for ways to help my daughter (almost 9). I have read about the SmartStart program in FRUA's newsletters. I have borrowed a copy of BrightStart. How similar are the two programs? Do you feel the programs are more beneficial for home or school use?
A: The SmartStart and the BrightStart programs are very different though they both attempt to help children develop their cognitive skills through varies activities.

The BrightStart (see details at is meant to be mediated to families by a trained professional and as such can be qualified as an outside service vs. family or school activity. You will need to find such a professional if you want to use this program, or participate in some training course yourself to be proficient with it.

The SmartStart (see details at is primarily a family activity, does not require any special training on the parent's part; it's meant to be entertaining and fun-filled daily experience with the child while enhancing the child's cognitive skills and building academic language base that might have been inadequately developed due to institutionalization and educational deprivation in orphanages, as well as the abrupt native language loss on arrival. Internationally adopted children in most cases have to catch up developmentally. They may have significant gaps in actual knowledge and cognitive skills, assumed to be present in children of their age. These may easily go unnoticed until formal schooling begins; so every bit of help with language and cognitive stimulation should be used to enhance their cognitive language progress. The earlier the work begins the better.

Though the SmartStart program is meant for young children ages 3-8, it's still possible and beneficial to use it with older children as a guideline for the directions that the family support needs to take and as a reference for the approximate vocabulary of abstract notions the child needs to acquire in various cognitive domains. There are a lot of typical activities described in this program, but the goal is not to play them all as is, but to follow the concepts and create your own activities, to introduce meaning and developmental depth into everything you encounter in the family interactions.

The SmartStart program CD or an online course with the explanation of activities are not expensive to purchase, but they do require your full involvement and understanding of what and why you do what you do with the child, because only your involvement and efforts can create the intensity, necessary for your child to reverse the process of gradually lagging behind into gradually catching up and advancing in step with the peers.
Dr. Boris Gindis

You receive this newsletter as a former client of the Center for Cognitive-Developmental Assessment & Remediation, or a former student of the Bgcenter Online School, or a user of the International Adoption Articles Directory.


Latest Articles
from the

International Adoption Articles Directory


Special Education,

Robert K. Crabtree, Esq.
Managing your documents under IDEA: Part I - What documents should you keep?
Parents of children with special educational needs can easily be overwhelmed by paper in a short time. From the beginning of school to the time their child either graduates or “ages out” of entitlement to special education services, the accumulation of IEPs, evaluations, progress reports, correspondence, notes, journals, samples of the child’s work, medical records and so forth can fill several drawers of a file cabinet or several feet of shelf space.

Some may be tempted to throw out documents when they become too cumbersome to manage easily, but it may be a mistake to do so. Even the oldest documents in a child’s history can sometimes help parents make a case for increased or different services for their child under IDEA.

Special Circumstances,

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Whose Day Is It Today???
Keeping track of children’s residential schedules is often a source of conflict between separated parents. So too is communicating simple things such as doctor’s appointments, parent-teachers meetings and the like. Changes to children’s residential schedules and missed appointments often serve as a flash point particularly with separated parents who hold resentment between each other. As the anger for miss-communications on these matters escalates, the children then become the emissaries and messengers between their parents as they are positioned to deliver messages back and forth. The children’s anxiety raises proportionate to the temper and anger of the parents. Their ability to concentrate on tasks such as schoolwork is compromised as their concern turns to their parents’ distress.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
How long does it take to rebuild trust?
Sometimes it’s couples where one partner has had an affair. Other times it’s between parents and a teen where the teen has stolen, lied or has been doing drugs. The issue is trust and the question is, “How long does it take to rebuild trust when broken?”

Trust refers to being able to > rely, depend or have confidence in someone or something. It is not simply based upon a statement of intention given at some place or time. It’s certainly more than a promise, which too is a statement of intent, but perhaps asserted with greater intensity giving the impression of greater meaning. Between people, real trust is an outcome of observed behaviour over time where one’s commitments are consistently met.

Harry Johnson
The Crucial Parent-Teen Relationship
Enjoy them now, they'll soon be teenagers!" Warnings like this from friends and relatives, together with media images of adolescents as irresponsible, rebellious troublemakers, can lead parents to expect trouble as their children enter puberty. Parenting teens includes many challenges as well as joys.

Special Children

Mrinal Dutta
Shy and Withdrawn Teens
Social withdrawal is fear of, or withdrawal from, people or social situations. Shyness becomes a problem when it interferes with relationships with others, in social situations, or other aspect's of a child's life. Problems with shyness are usually evident by the time a child is three years old.


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