Ole Miss professor creates baby development cards

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – A University of Mississippi professor has created an easy way for parents to monitor the development of their young children.
Maxine Harper, a special education professor at the university, developed the “Boost Your Baby’s Brainpower” card series. The set includes 10 cards arranged by the child’s age, from 2 months to 5 years. On the front of each 6-by-9-inch card is a list of activities that can be done to stimulate brain activity. On the back is a list of milestones.
Harper developed the cards in conjunction with Oxford’s efforts as an Excel By 5 candidate community. Participants in the program must follow a series of guidelines to enhance the education and health of children under age 5.
“The Excel By 5 committee in Oxford-Lafayette County realized the need for a quick and easy way to provide parents and caregivers of infants, toddlers and preschoolers ideas about how to promote their child’s development, have fun with their child and appreciate the milestones they accomplish,” said Harper, who is interim director of the university’s Center for Educational Research and Evaluation. “We looked for such a tool and primarily found only lengthy guides that busy parents might not have time to ponder over.
“Because we could not find exactly what we were looking for, I decided to try to develop these cards.”
The cards are co-sponsored by the United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County and Caterpillar. They will be distributed free to parents through Lafayette County’s Family Resource Center when it opens on Jackson Avenue in November.
They can also be purchased online at www.maxineharper.com.
Harper said she hopes parents will realize that stimulating activities are crucial to developing brain connections that will be needed later in life.
“We also hope that parents will use the cards to discover more and more ways to enjoy their baby and to watch him or her develop,” she said.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com