Dr Baker, you’re a child development expert and ‘mumpreneur’. What else do we need to know about you?
Well, I have recently taken up running and ran my very first London Marathon in April this year. I have never felt more physically challenged, but the sense of achievement when I crossed that finish line was phenomenal.
Why did you decide to go down the entrepreneurial path?
I wanted a flexible job which would work around my children, so I could be there in the school holidays. I was also desperate to do something which I was really passionate about, and the entrepreneurial route seemed to be the best option. I also loved the idea of being able to shape my own destiny.
How did you fund Brainboost Box?
As well as Brainboost I run my own consultancy working with children and parents, so I used money from this business to fund Brainboost, until it was able to support itself. I also did some part-time salaried work at the very beginning to build up some spare cash.
Brainboost Box takes a very scientific approach to play in terms of the child gaining the most benefit from it, why did you take this approach?
The idea for Brainboost came from my PhD research, which took a very scientific approach to understanding child development. I used standardised assessment tests, much like psychometric testing, to understand how certain skills developed in children. All I did with Brainboost was turn the assessment process on its head, and asked if we know children who are emotionally intelligent exhibit these behaviours, how can we promote these behaviours through play?
All of your boxes are customised to suit the needs of the individual child, how important is it that a child’s individuality is nurtured from a young age?
I think it is critically important to recognise and nurture children’s individuality from a young age. Children develop at different rates, show different strengths and areas of development. If we fail to recognise these then we end up putting such enormous pressure on them to conform to a standard mold, which isn’t good for anyone. The wider world we live in needs all sort of different talents from creative to scientists. As parents we should nurture and celebrate our child’s unique qualities.
How best can parents support the learning and development of their children?
Play, play, play. It really is that simple. Use a combination of adult-directed play using a game or activity, which guides what you do with your child, and child-directed play where your child’s leads the order of play. This might mean having a tea party with their teddies, fighting baddies, or being a patient in your child’s hospital.
Play is a child’s work and they learn so much, and provides us with the opportunity to connect. Children are most likely to talk about their worries, aspirations, and much more whilst they are playing. Play also sows the all too important seeds for an open dialogue with your children when they get older and have to negotiate the difficult teenage years. If you’ve invested early the rewards you reap are enormous later.
As a new business, what challenges have you faced and what have you learnt from them?
My biggest challenge to be honest has been spreading the word about Brainboost. Whilst subscriptions boxes aren’t a new concept our mission to focus on children’s development more holistically through skills such as Emotional Intelligence, Communication and Creativity is new. In the beginning I foolishly thought I all I had to do was put a few posts out on social media and parents would come flocking to our website. The reality has been very different. It’s taught me that building a brand through social media is a long-term activity.
How do you juggle being a mummy and ‘mumpreneur’?
With great difficulty if I am honest. Some days are easier than others. I have two simple rules, which I try and stick to; we always eat together, and I dedicate one to one time every day with each of my two children. Sometimes it’s a cuddle on the sofa, sometimes we cook together, or we go off together for a few hours. For me it’s so important to keep the lines of communication open.
As a ‘mumpreneur’, how do you take a step back from your roles as mother and business woman?
I really struggle to do this. I don’t appear to have an ‘off’ button! It is something which I know I need to work on, and in some ways my running and dog walking is my way of trying to fulfill this but I know I need to do more.
How do you unwind after a long and stressful week at work and at home?
The children and I are huge film fans so we tend to sit together and watch a film or we play board games; the children’s favourite is Risk as they both gang up on me!
Where would you like to see Brainboost Box in the next 5 years?
I’d like to see us as a worldwide business and the ‘go to’ for all parents who want to encourage a more holistic approach to their child’s development.
Brainboost Box is an O2 Business ambassador.