“Call Me CEO” is your master-class on innovation, creativity, leadership, and finding YOUR perfect balance between motherhood and entrepreneurship.

Have you ever wondered how you can prepare your young child for their education in the future? In this episode, Camille welcomes Dr. Mary Duncan, a specialized doctor in early education, whose mission is to equip mothers of young children with tools that they can use to help prepare their young children for school readiness in the five main subject areas.

Teachers can build on the foundation that a mother starts, but a mother is the first and most important teacher.

— Dr. Mary Duncan

Dr. Mary shares her advice on how mothers can support their child’s emotional and mental growth by doing engaging activities that can make an impact on their child’s learning. She also shares her resources on ways that you can build your child’s learning foundation using simple things around your home.

By becoming a student of our child, we can help to compensate for their weaknesses by figuring other ways to help them learn in the area that they learn best.

— Dr. Mary Duncan

If you’d like to learn more about preparing your young child for school readiness, tune into this episode to learn more about Dr. Mary’s advice and experience raising her son and feel free to check out her books and the Time for Us journal linked below.

I’m not advocating to pull up another computer software or something like that, my idea is simple things that are around the home, engaging with the mom for a few minutes, and it impacts a life.

— Dr. Mary Duncan


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As you begin that relationship with them at a young age, that continues to grow with them. Like I was just sharing with you earlier, my son is in his early 30s and he's still the pride and joy of my life. And of all the things I've ever done in life, being a mother is my greatest accomplishment. It's been my greatest privilege to do. And our clothes will fade with the fashions, our cars will get rusty and old, but the children that we have will live on and the lives that we impact, the influence that we pour into our child, that not only impacts them, but it impacts future generations that we've not even seen yet.



So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.


CAMILLE [1:14]

Just this week, I was thinking about motherhood and how tricky it can be to know if you're doing the right things now to prep your child for their education in the future. My guest on today's show is a specialized doctor of preparing your child for early education. Her name is Dr. Mary Duncan and her passion is to help mothers know that they are the primary teacher of their child's life and that it will change the trajectory of education forever of what they experience with learning and their love for it as well, even the growth of their brain. So, let's dive into this episode.

Welcome back everyone to another episode of Call Me CEO. This is Camille Walker and today I am here with Dr. Mary Duncan who is the author of 7 Strategies Mom Can Use To Support School Readiness For The Young Child. And I don't know about you, but as a young mom and in the world that we have today, I feel like we are bombarded more than ever with the world and the influence it has on our lives and the lives of our children, but also overwhelm of the business of motherhood and all the roles that we share and the hats that we wear. So today, we're specifically going to be talking to Dr. Mary about how we can bee impactful with those small moments and how we can do that in a real way. So, thank you so much, Dr. Duncan for being with us today.

MARY [2:42]

My pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me and what a wonderful title, Call Me CEO. Mothers are the head of their household so many times and they have such a tremendous impact on the lives of their children. Research shows that a mother can impact the size of their child's brain by 20%-30% which sounds incredible, but daily, even 15 minutes a day of one-on-one time with your young child using simple things from around the home can help to make an incredible impact when your child starts school. So, I’m looking forward to talking with you.

CAMILLE [3:19]

Yeah. I'm really excited to hear more about this. I have four young ones and my youngest is a kindergartener and it's so interesting to see how each one of them has been so unique in their development as well as had strengths and weaknesses. But for sure, the number one thing that stayed consistent is that taking time to connect with them on their level and taking time to bond with them has always made their ability to learn that much stronger. Would you agree with that?

MARY [3:47]

That is probably the most important thing is capturing your child's heart and bonding with them because as you begin that relationship with them at a young age, that continues to grow with them. Like I was just sharing with you earlier, my son is in his early 30s and he's still the pride and joy of my life. And of all the things I've ever done in life, being a mother is my greatest accomplishment. It's been my greatest privilege to do. And our clothes will fade with the fashions, our cars will get rusty and old but the children that we have will live on and the lives that we impact, the influence that we pour into our child, that not only impacts them, but it impacts future generations that we've not even seen yet.

So, long after I'm gone, the books that I've written, like I was sharing with you earlier, these are things that I've been sharing with young moms, groups, for a little over 30 years and my son said, "Mom, you have to get those off the shelf and get them out there." And at first, I thought, "I'll just keep sharing them one church at a time, one organization at a time, one mom at a time." But he said, "No, you've got to get it out there to impact more."

And my husband and I will be married 40 years coming up this May. And so, over life, we realized that not only we're raising our own children, but we're impacting the lives of their friends. And so, the relationship that you're building with them during those early years carries through and anyway, it's so important. So, excellent point to start us with.

CAMILLE [5:37]

Yeah. I really appreciate that. You probably don't know, but I actually created a journal called Time for Us that's for parents and children to do together and it's for kids ages 2 through 12 and it's about spending purposeful time together and connecting our hearts, emotions, and imaginations is what I call it. And I think that that's so hard to do sometimes, but when we take a step back from it, it's really not that hard if we make the process easy. And that's what I love about your book is that it's simple strategies that we can do that don't take a lot of time but have such a huge impact. So, tell us about those strategies that you've implemented and what's changed so many lives for the better.

MARY [6:23]

That's sweet. It's amazing that an ordinary day can be remembered throughout time. And you were talking about the impact that we can make and our brains and I love to look at brain research and how children learn and where exactly can we as moms make that impact. And I can go more into that on how we can do that, but our brains remember moments. They don't remember days. Our brains remember how we felt at a certain time.

Thinking back to my son when he was in 2nd grade and he and a little friend were playing. And they came back to the house and they grabbed a bucket and they ran back out to the yard and we lived, there was a pond. It was behind our house. And so, the two little boys ran out to the pond and they came back and they had this huge bucket full of tadpole eggs, strands of them. And so, we put those in his aquarium that he had in his room and over the next several weeks, we watched the whole development of frogs. And I also learned a very interesting that if you don’t get those frogs out, they will get out anyway because I was vacuuming one day and one hopped out from under his dresser. So, anyway, we look at those now as a 33-year-old man and we have such wonderful memories.

A night that he and I got quilts, I love to make quilts too, we went out and watched a meteor shower. We wrapped in those quilts and sat on the front porch together. It was probably 4:30 in the morning, but those are the memories that we have to cling to. As I get older, those are the things that I do treasure in my heart, so not only are we doing it for our children to help prepare for school readiness and help to build those foundational skills.

As a classroom teacher, my favorite grade was 1st grade and I loved building that foundation, but I kept thinking, okay, if I go younger, I'll be able to even impact them more, if I go younger and younger and younger until I finally realized it's the mother, that's where I need to start. And so, that's when I started doing the research, got my master's and finished up with my doctorate so that I could equip the mother. Because if I can equip the mother, she then can impact two, three, four children that she has and then those radiate out to multiple generations.

So, you talk about the multiplication process, it starts with the mom. She makes the greatest impact. Teachers in the classroom can make an incredible impact. Teachers, I also teach graduate school too, to teachers. So, teachers can build on the foundation that a mother starts, but a mother is the first and most important teacher.

CAMILLE [9:26]

I agree with that. It's interesting too. I actually have an education degree as well and early childhood education is a piece of that because I am a family consumer education teacher. And so, child development and all of those pieces of how it's sequential and a child can't learn how to skip until they learn to walk and they can't learn how to go up a stair every other foot until they learn how to go one at a time. And I think that it's so fascinating that it's line upon line.

And so, as a mother, if we know that, that each line upon line process that we teach them is making such an impact, I think that that emboldens us to want to know more and to have more resources. What do you think is your number one maybe misconception or something that's an aha moment that you're able to teach mothers that really make such an impact in the home in those early years?

MARY [10:31]

I think when mothers realize how they impact their child's brain on a moment just doing a simple activity on the floor with them. What it does is when our children learn, the process goes through the five senses through taste, touch, hear, smell, and see. So, as our children experience Legos, blocks, putting clothes on their baby dolls and snapping them, building with blocks, playing with sand, measure it, putting it in a cup and measuring it out and it has the volume is full, all of those concepts solidify in the brain as a chemical reaction. As the activity is repeated over and over, a myelin sheath hardens and allows that thought process to go through quicker and quicker and quicker until finally they learn how to ride a bike until it becomes second nature.

But they have to practice something over and over and over again until they master it. And when they master it, there's a feeling of self-confidence and pride in a job well done. So, I would say that if a mother realizes where she impacts, it can be just a few seconds here or there and realize that she can build that foundation like you're talking about.

For example, as a classroom teacher trying to teach one of my first graders, and I remember this just she's a nurse now. She's well into her upper 20s, almost 30s, but I remember when she was a little girl. Her mother was a dear friend of mine, but I remember when she began addition, trying to teach her addition. She could not understand the concept that the number two meant something like two little bears. She had no idea what a number two meant. So, for me to build on the concept of what addition was two plus one would equal three, she couldn't grasp it. So, I had to back down into the concept of one bear plus two bears equal how many bears? So, for her, the learning process was slower.

And so, that's what I would love to help equip mothers to understand that if you can help your child arrive at school at a level that they are achieving and learning at one of the more accelerated levels, that's the peg that they stay on for the next 12 years and then the emotional impact of where that peg is that they're on lasts a lifetime. So, your time invested in your child 15 minutes a day impacts their whole life literally.

And so, it's not to overwhelm moms with the magnitude of the pressure because moms nowadays, there's too much pressure. What I want them to understand is that it can be done into broken down into simple things, using things they have around the house with a few minutes each day and this is what the book covers. I give them ideas and if they don't have let's say toothpicks for something, what do you have? Sticks in the backyard, perfect. Let's use sticks in the backyard.

I want to be that coach. I want to be that cheerleader in the sidelines that helps equip the mom and then cheer her on so that she can cheer her child on. And if we can help to build our America, our world and help to equip children, then they can think better for themselves, they can problem solve, they can those creative ideas because it goes down to play and I'm not advocating to pull up another computer software or something like that, my idea is simple things that are around the home, engaging with the mom for a few minutes, and it impacts a life.

CAMILLE [15:10]

I agree with that. I think that our learning process is so fundamental and our joy and love of learning is equipped in us so early on. I started my education at a private school. I had an older brother who was learning to read and really struggling. And so, I ended up going to a Montessori school with him my first few years of learning and it changed my life forever. I knew nothing different at that point because I was a kindergartener and first grader, but when I look back to those years of learning how to read and learning how the world works and my teachers were actually from Guatemala and El Salvador, so I had a Spanish happening too.

And when I look back at it, I just remember having fun. It was explorative and it was intuitive and I think that there are so much of that in our society with education now that has been lost, that intuitive play. And so, I love that you're saying, take it back to the basics because it's through exploration that kids really develop and thrive and have that trajectory of educational success.

MARY [16:24]

I couldn't agree with you more. Learning to love learning, enticing that curiosity. For example, I remember my son was about 3 years old and we used to love on certain days of the week, I would cook some bacon and we would love these Eggo waffles. And so, I pop them in the toaster and I'd cook some bacon and I'd put him on the counter next to me.

And we always had in the counter, in the cabinet there, I had a white egg carton plastic egg carton and then I had they're like these little test tubes and I would put water with red, one with yellow, and one with blue. And then, I taught him how to mix the colors in the white egg carton sections. And we would add a little bit more red with the yellow, "Wait a minute, that's orange! How did you do that? I thought you had red and yellow."

And just the thrill of seeing those things happen before their eyes, those are treasured moments as a teacher, as a parent. Obviously as an educator, those are the things that we live for, those first times that they're walking, first time that we see a little tooth popping up, first time they turn over, all those things are cherished moments and those are things that as moms, we can enjoy along the way.

I also talk about ways to save those moments and things you can make and put in a scrapbook. And yes, I still have my son's first McDonald's happy meal box in a scrapbook, just little things like that or little books that you make. As your child looks back, they know that they were cherished and it helps them to become more of the person they were meant to be. They know they're loved.

Obviously, they're going to have their weaknesses as well, but as a mom, you're going to know your child better than anyone else. You may think, "My child will be better off with a teacher." Teachers are wonderful. I was a teacher. I teach teachers. I understand. Teachers are wonderful. Moms are that first teacher and we can make that impact. And we are the ones that will know our child the best. We can advocate for our child especially if they have some type of a disability or some type of weakness that we need to compensate and we're the ones that are going to know what their strengths are, what their color is.

If I introduced a new activity, I would always start off with something that's orange. He loved orange. That was his favorite color. So, with orange was what I was going to do, I wanted to show him how to use Tinkertoys or we would draw something or make something. If I used an orange marker, then I knew that that would bring a little bit more joy to him and have him a little bit more involved in the activity. So, yes, sorry I keep going on and on.

CAMILLE [19:33]

No, I love it so much. When you say the magic of the moment, I was just reading with my son this week who's 5 and he was really frustrated because he couldn't figure out how to read the word "the" and phonetically the word "the" is really hard. It really is a sight word because it doesn't make a whole of sense. And so, I told my son that. I said, "It's really the word 'she' but it has a tricky T. You got to remember that tricky T because you know how to spell 'she' and you replace the S with the T." And that was the one thing that it flipped the switch where he was like it is the tricky T.

And so, it was this discovery and he was able to get it right on his spelling test and he was so excited. And I think that it was moments like that as a mom. And if he said, "I'm not good at this, I'm not good at this," I say, "Yeah, you're good at this. You're just new. And it takes practice." And I think that those are the life lessons that we can instill in the education process even as adults. We want to give up and say, "I'm no good at this." It's not that you're not good at this. You're new at this and you're trying. So, I think that those are the magic moments that we as mothers can claim and they really are beautiful if we can slow down and take the time to embrace them.

MARY [20:57]

I love that. You're talking about sight words and as mothers, as we begin to become a student of our child and we look at what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are, let's just say, for example, a child struggles with spelling words and spelling is difficult for them. Let's say my son loves orange. So, if I were to take a cake pan and I took a box of orange Jell-O and I opened up the package and I sprinkle it on the bottom part of the pan and I show him how he could lick his finger and he could draw his spelling words in the dust of the powdered Jell-O.

And then, he's smelling the letters, he's tasting it as he's writing it, so the idea's taste, touch, smell, and see. The more of his five senses that he's experiencing, the more parts of the brain that it's impacting, and then when he's done spelling that word all he has to do is shake it and then he does the next word or he does that same word over and over. By becoming a student of our child, we can help to compensate for their weaknesses by figuring other ways to help them learn in the area that they learn best. And I love what you were just talking about with the tricky T. He's going to say that and he'll never forget that. That's a cool little jingle to help him remember that. That was awesome.

CAMILLE [22:25]

Thank you, yeah. I'm inspired. This has been so inspiring to hear all of these ideas of how we can connect and share with our children. Please tell everyone where they can find your book and learn more from you. You have so many wonderful tips to share.

MARY [22:40]

You're a dear. Thank you. Tools for Motherhood Resource Guide: 1000+ School Readiness Activities Moms Can Use with Their Young Child 0-5 Years of Age to Build Toward School Success. What I've got, I've got it broken down into math, science, social studies, writing and reading and then I've got it broken into age groups: 0-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5, and 5-6, so that it's very easy for moms to follow. Now, the book before that is You Really Can Make A Difference!: 7 Strategies Mom Can Use To Support School Readiness For The Young Child. And again, this is more of the foundational book. It talks about brain research, attention span, how long is a child's attention span, and also what can you do during the different cycles of a child's day depending on how old they are? All right, so those two books.

I've got another one coming out here in another month. So, anyway, to keep you updated, I've got, it's a website called toolsformotherhood.org and I've got a lot of fun things that I share that's just free strategies because my goal is to empower mothers so that they can make a difference in their young child's life. It's by passion. It's what I created to do and I absolutely love doing it.

CAMILLE [24:04]

Wow. We're so grateful that you were able to come and share that passion with us today. And I really appreciate you being here.

MARY [24:10]

Thank you so much, loved being here. Appreciate it.


CAMILLE [24:15]

This episode is brought to you by Station Park who believes in women-led businesses that are changing the world. If you want a place to come and visit to dine, shop or connect with your loved ones, Station Park is only 20 minutes away from downtown Salt Lake City and has a gorgeous outdoor dining and shopping experience that you can walk among the shops and create memories that will last forever. If you happen to be in the middle of the square, Twigs Restaurant is right there in the middle, one of my very favorites. You’ve got to get the pesto margarita chicken and end the night with the dipping donuts. Trust me. Tell them I sent you. It will change your life.

Hey, if you're listening to this episode and thinking that it's something that you want to learn more about, Dr. Mary Duncan has books available that are linked below as well as I want to tell you about my Time for Us Journal which is now available on Amazon. It is created for children 2-12 and it's meant to be done side by side mother and child.

So, let me show you a little bit what it looks like inside. There are questions to talk about the weather, their mood, and creative questions each day that are unique prompts and also an activity page on the opposite side. So, what's really special about this book is that it helps children identify emotions, to have an emotional health, and to be able to talk about how they're feeling and it's also really fun to talk about creative ways that you can explore together. There are two volumes on Amazon. They're available right now and they're under $10. So, I hope you'll go to check them out. You can see the link to them below. Please subscribe if you liked this episode and feel free to leave a review. I love hearing from you. You can reach out to me on Instagram @callmeceopodcast or @camillewalker.co. I'll see you next time!


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