Teach Your Child To Enjoy A Good Book!

Reading is a lost art in today’s world. With the distractions of TV, Internet, Gaming and Smart phones, nobody has the time or the energy to read anymore. However, books open up an exciting world in a way TV and the World Wide Web never can. But, how to get the next generation to start reading?

Forcing them is never a good way. Forcing children to do something is turning them away from it forever. No, we have to devise other ways to attract them to it, ease them into reading so that they come to this habit willingly.

Children will be children and it’s up to the adults to see that they are guided to the right path of thing. They don’t know it yet, but reading is actually beneficiary for them, much better than TV and gaming put together. So, how to guide them, not force them, into this habit?

Make reading a part of their playtime. Before schools force a reading list, decorate their nurseries with books you have enjoyed as a child. Sit with a book once every day, if only for a few minutes.

See that they regard reading as something to play with, an object just as fun as a new doll or a new fire truck.

Introduce books to them before they can learn to read. Picture books, coloring books, even audio books work well in this cause. Look at a picture book with them and introduce them to what the illustrations mean. Read aloud to them in different voices. Soon enough, they will be eager to read the magic black words themselves.

Try positive reinforcement. Give them a gift or a positive remark once they read each book, or even each page. Compete with your child to see who finishes a book first, and the winner gets a prize.

Reading doesn’t necessary have to mean a book. The newspaper, road signs, restaurant menu, everything can be reading. Just because its comic books, doesn’t mean it’s not literature. It doesn’t matter what kids are reading, as long as they are reading and enjoying it.

Children imitate and learn from their elders. If you yourself are a passionate reader, chances are your children will learn to be one too. It would be a little hypocritical if you force reading on your child when you yourself distaste reading. However, if you are too busy to read, this message should be conveyed to the children so they don’t misunderstand.

There’s no gift better than books, and there’s no need to wait for a formal occasion to make presents of books to your children. Along with toys and candy, buy your kids books regularly.

Keep a track of what your child, teenager or younger, is reading; ask questions about the books, discuss about them if you’ve read it as a kid. Share your views with them, argue or agree, but give honest opinions, or your child can catch it if you’re faking enthusiasm.

Make regular trips to the local library, to a bookstore, to the local book-readings and book signings. Make it a family trip; sit at a café and discuss the books you bought or the stories you heard over coffee and ice-cream. Ask countless questions and give opinions.

Introduce your kids to book series, such as the Anne of Green Gable series, the Narnia Series, the Roald Dahl Collection, according to their age groups. Once they get hooked to the first book, they won’t stop till they finish them all. And after that, it’ll be on to the other books by the same author, or other books in the same genre; you’ll get the rest of your work done for you.

And finally, create an environment of reading around the house. Keep books in the nursery, in the den, in the kitchen and toilets even, always at a height where your children can reach them. Keep the TV off and the phones silent and set aside a family reading time. Discuss books and stories with the members of your family frequently and at any time, ease questions into regular conversations.

Make reading a part of all your lives!

My Sources:
http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/_74
http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/articles/getting-your-child-to-love-reading.htm
http://school.familyeducation.com/top-10-ways/improve-reading-skills/38329.html?page=6

Children with Learning Disabilities

You may either be quick to notice it, or it may take years to surface, either as a parent or a teacher, the difficulties some children have in learning. Though it is not such a social pariah to have learning difficulties now-a-days than it was only a few years back, but it still takes a toll on the parents and the teachers of a kid.

Every child learns at his or her own pace and time, but it should be generally noticeable when a delay in learning becomes serious. An acute eye on a particular child in question would definitely, after a decent interval of trying, tell a parent or teacher whether that child is reluctant, lazy, or is having trouble in learning.

Learning Disabilities does not necessarily mean that a child is unintelligent or unmotivated; he or she may not even be slow or lazy. It just means that their brains functions in a different way than others, and they receive and process information in a different manner.

The symptoms are pretty simple. At the age when reading and writing comes easily to other children, a child with learning disabilities will have trouble pronouncing and locating a word; trouble learning about colors, shapes, alphabets and numbers; coloring or writing within the lines; poor handwriting and spelling, and many more.

There are a number of types of disabilities that refer to different types of learning problems, namely dyspraxia, dysphasia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and such. Other conditions such as ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism are sometimes confused with learning difficulties but they are entirely different.

Possessing one or more of these learning difficulties is not a major concern. If noticed early and accurately, around kindergarten age or before, these disabilities can be easily removed with proper care, a little attention and time. A parent knows their child better than everyone, and with the help from a teacher, it is possible for them to help their child through this period.

Learn the specifics of your child’s disability. Find out all you can about it through research; in today’s age of information, everything you need to know is just a mouse click away. When you’ve pinpointed exactly what your child is suffering from, it’ll be much easier to strategize a solution.

Communicate with your child. If he or she is still young, it will not be possible for them to understand themselves what their learning progress is lacking, and what they are supposed to be able to do or not do at this particular age. Ask them questions about what they understand and don’t understand. Ask frankly and freely without sounding overbearing, criticizing or over concerned.

If you are not familiar with what level of reading or writing your child should be able to be doing at this age, communicate with their teachers. Ask about what other students in the same class are learning about and just how much your child is lagging behind. If you are helping them with their work at home, compare notes to see progress.

If you think your child needs special attention at school, talk to their teachers or the authorities at their school and specifically ask them for their time and help. Very skillfully advocate what your son or daughter needs: some extra time, a personal half-an-hour with the teacher, a private lesson – the solution may be as simple as that.

When children realize they may be having trouble in learning, that they are lagging behind their friends, there is a chance they might become traumatized. Help them make understand that having a learning disability is nothing bad or punishable, and that like any other problem, it will go away too. Do not act upset or anxious regarding it in front of them; rather convince them to treat this disability.

Make learning a fun experience for them. Remove the fear they have of learning and help them through their tasks and homework, slow and steady. Learning doesn’t have to be fearful and hard just because they have a disability, it can be fun for them too.

If you still need help after all this, there are a number of books and courses available to help you and your child through learning disabilities.
Reference:
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/learning_disabilities.htm
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Learning_Disability_Kindergarten/
http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/readingstrategies/a/Reading-And-Learning-Disabilities-Five-Ways-To-Help-Your-Child.htm

College Students and Credit Cards: An Education in Expenses

A college education does not only come from the classroom. It expands to the dorm halls, the cafeteria, and just hanging out with people.

This also includes learning about fiscal responsibility, such as getting and using credit cards.

One card I’ve heard about from college students in the past is from Hello Kitty. Unfortunately, the Hello Kitty credit card is no longer available from Bank of America.

But it looks like Banif Bank, which is now offering the card in 2014, offers designs that feature the cute pink bow on a star-studded white kitty-kat.

Although this classic character’s image is not every cardholders dream, it is a popular design.

It was the brainchild of the Japanese company Sanrio and was first introduced in the United States with the image printed on a vinyl coin purse in 1976.

According to the Wall Street Journal in 2010 Sanrio had groomed the Hello Kitty brand to be a recognizable across the globe and projected to be worth over $5 billion.

The company has continually grown over the past few years with introduction of new products. One product includes a Hello Kitty endorsed credit card company.

Where can I apply for a Hello Kitty credit card?

The Hello Kitty Credit Card Visa is a Platinum Visa card, which is currently offered by Banif — a Maltese bank. It has been discontinued through Bank of America.

Banif’s website indicates you have to get the application form from a Banif branch and that you can’t apply online.

This means applying for the Hello Kitty credit card requires more than a few minutes of your time because of the paper application.

It also means you may not be able to get this card because Banif branches are mainly located in Malta, which is a southern European country out in the Mediterranean sea. Americans are out of luck.

Benefits of Banif’s card

The card’s endorsement by Visa means that it is accepted everywhere Visa is accepted.

Banif’s Hello Kitty card design is bling-bling. It features the classic pink outline and bow but the character is silver on a black background.

It should also be noted that just because the card looks “fun” does not mean it should be used as a toy. Remember, this card allows you to shop buy now and pay later sites (bought on credit concept) but you will have to pay the balance at some time.

Before applying for any credit card it’s important to be well aware of their offerings and requirements, along with their terms and conditions — which you should read.

Benefits include travel and purchase protection insurance, health scheme discounts and Insurance Premia discounts, along with an interest free period which can go up to 51 days.

But the card has a lot fees: They include card fees, cash advance fees, currency exchange fees, miscellaneous fees, and overseas emergency charges.

As with any credit card, the Hello Kitty credit should be used by a disciplined cardholder.

As a college student, it is best to charge a small amount on it each month and pay off the balance in full each month to avoid accumulating any interest. (Ideas to make money right now and keep those monthly bills to a minimum.)

This will educate you on fiscal responsibility and keep you out of credit card debt when you finish college. Of course, you may have education debt, but that is a different story.

If you are a super fan of the Hello Kitty brand and live near a Banif Bank, then this credit card could be the perfect addition to your wallet.

One of the main benefits of is that you are easily identifiable by other lovers of the Hello Kitty brand — due to their designs being clearly visible.

That said, a credit card used responsibility and paid off every month can help your credit score go up but don’t go on crazy shopping sprees.

Done correctly, you will get an education in finances while you are getting an education in history and philosophy or even while working towards that next career.

Helping your Child Behave in School

When a child is behaving badly in school, it may not always be malice or even voluntarily.

Children sometime act up for reasons that is rooted deep inside them, reasons that maybe bothering them mentally or emotionally.

It’s never nice to get ‘the call’ from school, asking you to come down and talk to the Principal. A call like that makes you feel like you yourself is back in school and waiting to go down to the Principal’s office for doing something bad. However, school life for you is over and this is not about you; it’s for your son or daughter, and whatever they are going through is the number one priority.

Generally when a child misbehaves, he or she may be acting up on something that is bothering them in their lives. It may be from school, or from within the home. If you are confident that everything at home is fine, maybe the problem lies at school. Communicate with the teacher to ask if t here’s anything that’s bothering your child at class.

Or better yet, ask your child directly if there’s anything at school bothering or pestering them. Don’t sound criticizing or blaming when you try to talk to them; just ask them matter-of-factly of what’s going on at school and whether everything is okay.

Make an effort to know your child’s friends. Invite them for play dates or overnight stays at your house, and organize small get-togethers. Communicate with their parents too, and try to create a cordial, if not friendly, group among all.

Volunteer regularly at your child’s school if possible; volunteer to help at the library or chaperone at the prom. This will help you get friendly with the teachers and give you little insights into your child’s time at school. It would also give your child some comfort in the knowledge that you are present and nearby.

Sometimes, parents tend to overestimate their children and demand results for them that might prove to be too much. This is human nature, especially for ambitious parents, but it also create pressure on the children. Be realistic about your child’s ability. Every child is unique and has different interests and different talents. Find what your child, not you, is interested in and encourage them on that.

It’s never smart to blame the teachers if your child is misbehaving in school. The teacher is doing their job in caring for your child the best way that they can. Blaming the teacher, or accusing them, especially in from of your child, could allow them to lose respect for them and disobey them in school.

One of the main reasons of misbehaving in class could be ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Because of this, hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention get in the way of their learning. Educating yourself about this disorder is the first and foremost thing to do to help them succeed in school. Spend some personal time with your children every day. Get to know his or her teacher and communicate if they need some special treatment – private sessions, extra class – during or after school. Keep track of whether extra care is helping your child or if they need treatment or counseling.

Other learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysphasia, or such can also mask as inattentive and bad behavior in class. Educate yourself in the symptoms of these complex yet easily curable disorders to help your child.

Discipline your child at home, even if they are being disciplined at school. This will create a balance of behaving themselves in both aspects of their life. Children need some discipline in their lives, as strict as that may sound, and it is up to the parents as well as the teachers o provide a sense of discipline in their lives.

Reference:
http://specialchildren.about.com/od/behavioranddiscipline/qt/stopbehavior.htm
http://www.empoweringparents.com/When-Your-Child-Has-Problems-at-School.php#
http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/how-to-help-your-child-with-adhd-be-successful-in-school
http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/teach-kids-behave-school-3092.html

What Life Skills are Learned in School?

Source for photo:  Sean MacEntee (CC-BY-2.0) on flickr.com/photos/smemon/5371486016

Source for photo: Sean MacEntee (CC-BY-2.0) on flickr.com/photos/smemon/5371486016

School is not only about teaching you to read and write, or the Multiplication Table, or Art and Drama. Beside the basic education, school is the perfect place to prepare children, especially at an impressionable young age, for the outside world. So, are the lessons learned in school really helping the students get ready to face real life?

Many parents think that school only concentrate on the education of their children, ignoring to teach them the realities of life. It is an opinion of the parents that the best person for this is the family of the child himself or herself.

From our very own families, every day of our lives, children learn the simplest of lessons that will help them later in their lives: learn to share, don’t be greedy, ask nicely and you will get it, learn to forgive and forget. So, do schools teach these values too?

Besides their home, school is the place where a child spends a part of their every day. There they meet strangers for the first time in their lives, who can later become friends, enemies or mentors.

Therefore, from a social point of view, perhaps school is a place to meet and know people other than the family one knows from their very birth. This increases their social skills to a great extent to be able to make friends and allies, or to face bullies and enemies.

However, from an academic point of view, are schools only giving us knowledge, rather than skills to advance in life?

The main objectives of schools are to gives lectures that may be important for the exams but completely irrelevant and unnecessary for life. These lectures are to be listened to, learned and memorized, reproduced during exam and forgotten the next moment. Examinations are the key factor in this type of education, not learning; where a simple pass or fail has the power to determine your life.

This type of exam-based learning manages to do one thing for sure – make children lose their curiosity and eagerness to learn new things. Where no one denies the importance of learning reading, writing, history and mathematics in school, the rest of the topics learned, such as literature, geography or social sciences do not come much in use in later life until someone chooses to study more that particular area.

Sometimes schools do shape the person these children eventually become one day. The way they behave as children is the way they remain in their adult lives; the one who can’t share chocolate turn out to be self-obsessed and loners, the shy ones still remain shy and introvert, the bullies become big corporate employees and bully those beneath them. The different characteristics of the children in school flourish later in High School and is separated in forms of Nerds, the Jocks, the Geeks and the Cheerleader; in short, the Popular and the unpopular.

School may give us knowledge and information on a number of topics, it does not teach children ways to survive in a work force, or in the competitive workplace. While real learning should be about skills to handle the responsibilities of real life, most schools teach subjects that are irrelevant.

There are exceptions, especially in college and university. Students in vocational programs, such as nursing, will need relevant info and focus on abstract info as well. Sure, at first those potential nurses may query how long nursing school is or how long does it take to become a nurse? But once they have the foundation information, they can focus on doing.

Human beings, especially adults, are creatures of passion. We do well at whatever we are passionate about. Schools put the same amount of concentration and importance on a number of subjects that are taught, especially ones which are irrelevant to real life, barring a child from searching where his or her real passion lies.

Formal education in school teaches children to be impractical and devoid of life teachings, and this does not help them in real life later.

My references:
http://plpnetwork.com/2013/11/07/obsession-academic-teaching-preparing-kids-life/
http://www.debate.org/opinions/does-school-really-prepare-students-for-adult-life
http://differentmedicalcareers.com/rn-to-md-program/
http://differentmedicalcareers.com/rn-to-pa-program/

How Involved Should a Parent Be in a Child’s Education?

Just after children began school, parents get an unstoppable desire to be involved in this new life that their children are starting. The feeling is natural and universal all over. As hard it is to let the apple of the family’s eyes to spend a couple of hours with someone other than family, all parents should know how much involved to be in one’s children’s school, and more importantly, where to stop.

It is admirable to be interested and concerned in one’s children’s education and progress. With the number of working mother’s rising ever so fast, no one has the time to keep track of their children’s education these days. Even in their busy lives, parents do try their best to know what is going on with their children’s school lives and studies.

Most teachers are happy to communicate with parents about their students’ progress as well as problems. Teachers who have a few years’ experience in teaching younger classes know if some any child is facing any trouble in learning and contact the student’s parents. Communicating with a child’s teacher and keeping a friendly relation with them will therefore keep you knowledgeable about your child’s progress.

Keep up with the monthly or annual parents-teachers conferences in your child’s school. Prepare a list of questions, if you have any, about your child’s progress. Also, if you have any tips or concerns, or even problems, share them with the teacher. Beside educational progress, don’t forget to ask about the other important questions: Are they getting along with other students? Are they attentive in class? Are they active participants or shy and quiet?

If you can manage the time, volunteer to help in the classroom if needed, or chaperone at the next school program, or even volunteer to help the teacher without getting too personal or pushy. Spending a little time at your child’s school with help you get to know their teacher as well as their friends.

The teachers do the best they can for the children. With a large number of students in one class, it may not be possible all the time to take special care of each and every child specially. Therefore, if your child is lagging behind in a subject or failing, it is never okay to blame the teacher for it. As a concerned parent, it is okay to talk to the teacher about the matter, without sounding accusing or offensive.

Though it is a positive approach to take an interest in a child’s education, too much interest can result in a parent doing a child’s homework or science project rather than helping with it. There’s a fine line between the two that every involved parent should know better than to cross.

Again, as a parent, advocating for your child to a teacher comes naturally. But if this turns out to be a rather regular practice where the parent turns up in school almost every day with matters as trivial as ‘Why was my son not allowed to go to the washroom during class yesterday?’ rather than a really serious matter, it will allow the child to regard the teacher as a natural enemy who is stifling him/her at every point.

Unless you have a background in Education, it is unnecessary to blame a teacher or criticize their methods of teaching. Expressing your concern in something or offering tips will be appreciated by the teacher, criticisms and blame-game will most likely not.

From the teachers’ point of view, an involved parent helps them greatly in understanding a child more, and pinpoints any reason if they are having any problems in school or class. Any teacher appreciates a parents’ involvement in their children’s activities and progress in school, as long as they are not stepping over the boundary or forgetting their place.

Many studies show that children’s whose parents, especially mothers, are involved in their education tend to do better in their studies. Most schools and most school programs encourage parent involvement in their child’s growth in school.

My references:
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Ed_Navigating_Teacher/
http://www.education.com/slideshow/teacher-parent-communication-slideshow/
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/succeed/parental.cfm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/06/is-parent-involvement-in-school-really-useful/
http://www.education.com/reference/article/benefits-parent-involvement-research/

Does Force Reading Help Your Child?

Before the era of gaming, TV and Smartphone apps, Reading was the number one pastime of children and adults alike. One of the reasons could be that there were no other activities so enticing to spend one’s time as emerging oneself in a good book. Today’s world holds so many distractions for all that something as native and original as reading don’t stand a chance beside them.

Even though reading habit is still seen among a number of adults today, it is becoming extremely rare among the next generation. This is where Force Reading comes in. Parents or guardians who are worried about their kids not being able to explore the wonderful world of reading, willingly or unwillingly begin to force their children to read, sometimes from a very early age.

But does Force Reading really work? Can you force your children to love reading as you do? Or, does forcing them to read actually do the opposite – turn kids away from reading forever?

Forcing children to read is almost like forcing them to eat vegetables, something that most kids despise. If you force them to do it every day, every meal, every time, always saying just how good and beneficial it is for them, chances are they would refuse to do it. Kids usually tend to do exactly the opposite of what they are asked or advised to do. Telling them something is good for them won’t budge them an inch, unless they decide for themselves that something actually is good for them.

Just like forcing them to eat vegetables, forcing them to read will convince them reading is something as repulsive and and distasteful as eating broccoli or carrots. They will probably end up hating it.

Another reason of kids not wanting to read these days could be forcing them to read something in particular; something that they don’t want to read. If young adults today prefer reading the Harry Potter Series and Twilight, parents shouldn’t force classics and Booker Prize Winners on them, rather encourage the fact that they are actually reading something. Everyone grows up with their own choices and preferences in everything, including preferences in literature, and this individuality should be respected. There’s different sorts of reader groups for every genre, and together they make up the entire reader population.

While some schools draw up reading lists for children in their annual curriculum, these lists should be more of a guideline for students who are looking for one, and not a list to be followed no matter how much they hate it. However, kids quickly form their own opinions. Reading one book quickly leads to reading another, and then another after that. Children’s choices in books should be respected rather than forced up. The bare fact that they are reading something should be celebrated.

Each kid gets ready in their own pace. Forcing them with books, however interesting, before they are ready would make them hate reading. It may create a mental stress in children and eventually hamper the way they will learn other stuff in their lives.

Every child is unique and learns different things in their own time. While some learn to speak themselves early, others learn their ABCs first. Comparing at what level other’s children are reading to one’s own and forcing them to read what other children their age is already reading could cause both disheartenment and illusion in parents and strain in the children.

There’s no such thing as being too late to start reading. Some children began to enjoy reading as soon as they learn their alphabets, other wait till they see their friends reading, and some never do. Forcing them to read at a young age will only divert them towards other things, and turn them off reading as a whole forever.

Force Reading is indeed bad for children, especially at a very young age. It could turn up a disastrous result if force on a youngster, let alone actually encourage them to start reading.

My Sources:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362783/New-Childrens-Laureate-Malorie-Blackman-says-forcing-kids-read-classics-puts-books.html
http://voices.yahoo.com/the-dangers-associated-forcing-young-child-6890802.html?cat=4
http://www.mountainlaurelsudbury.org/reading.asp

Your Child’s Behavior in School

School is not only about learning or education; rather it is a whole new world where your child has to adjust him or herself emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s not enough if they are doing well in their studies, parents should also take notice of the fact whether their child is adjusting well to this new environment.

Preschool or kindergarten in the first time a child is leaving the constant safety of their own houses and entering into a world of strangers, although for a few hours. A child might be frightened or nervous at the idea of starting school, in some cases they may be excited.

Generally, we see two types of children: the shy, introvert type who avoids socializing and the extroverts who are always the belle of the party. Each child bend to new surroundings in their own ways. The introverts may flourish with new acquaintances or become more introvert, and vice versa with the other type.

School will certainly be lonely without friends, and who can forget those childhood best friends that everybody has? It is crucial that your child is able to make friends and socialize with other children, if not immediately, then within a few weeks or months. While the out goers have no problem quickly mingling with their classmates, the shy ones might feel lonely and lost. It is important that children are taught how to hang out with other children beforehand so that they don’t face this problem.

However, if the problem persists after a few months, that is, you child still can’t socialize after attending school for a while, perhaps it’s time to take the matter into your own hands. By communicating with a teacher, it may be arranged to make your child sit next to a similarly shy child who is having trouble of their own, possibly one with similar interests as well, if possible. Then, let nature take its time. Not all great friendships start spontaneously, some have to be engineered.

Since more or less all children start school at a very young age, it might be hard for them to understand and follow the simplest of instructions, sometimes as simple as, “Raise your hand if you want to speak” or “You may go outside to play now”. Since children are only used to instructions from their family, it is sometimes tough for them to follow another.

Some children have a tendency not to answer questions. It may be a result of fear of a stranger, or excessive shyness, but they prefer not to respond when asked a question as simple as ‘What is your name?’ or ‘Do you understand what I am saying?’ The problem is not that the child doesn’t understand the question, just their fear or reluctance in answering.

Bullying is another big problem in schools which affect almost all. To be bullied or to be a part of bullying – children can become involved in both. It is up to the parents and the class teachers to keep a look around if their child is being bullied or is bullying anyone and put an end to it. Being a victim of excessive bullying sometimes causes a child to lose his or her mental balance or become nervous and fearful. Again, bullying other children, or playing an excessive dominant role in the classroom is not a trait to be admired in a child.

Listen to your child. If s/he is having any trouble at school, there is a chance she might come to you for help. Listen to their worries without being judgmental or dismissive, and perhaps a solution will come to you. Hopefully, help from parents and teachers will make this special time in a child’s life even more special.

My references:
http://www.education.com/topic/classroom-behavior/
http://www.babycenter.com/0_what-to-do-if-your-child-is-having-behavior-problems-at-scho_63870.bc

Education’s goal: Critical thinking

Critical thinking is an essential component in education. For those who can’t do it, they rely on others to make decisions for them and need robotic-like instructions to do something. Yep, I believe critical thinking is essential in life. Here’s a nice video about critical thinking. What I like about it is when the speaker starts she understands that her audience is full of students and she uses her own thinking skills to adapt to the audience.