Everyday Entertainment and Education for Kids

Entertaining kids isn’t the hardest thing to do, but it certainly isn’t the easiest either. You can’t just plop them in front of the television every time they’re bored without risking a woefully contagious mental atrophy that can plague them for the rest of their natural life. At the same time, it can be draining and, frankly, intimidating to satisfy the curiosities, the logical probing, the constant “why? Why? Why?” that can accompany every game and lesson. So, how do you maintain your child’s curiosities and your sanity at the same time without planting them like a vegetable on the couch? With creative entertainment.

My friends in education have a term, “Teachable Moments” for those everyday events and situations that can somehow be adapted into learning opportunities. What shape is that ball you just drew? Round. How many crayons did you use to draw it? Ninety. Where did you get so many crayons? The toy store. Why did daddy buy you ninety crayons at the toy store? Because I have discovered a direct correlation between my volume in a public place and the amount of things I leave the place in possession of.

Of course, results may vary with your own child, but I believe that with only a minor adjustment this same method can be applied to entertainment as well as education. Here are two games you may find keep your little one entertained, your bank statement free of extraordinary crayon purchases, and your own sanity well in check. You need little more than a pen, some paper, and a little planning to play either.

The Scavenger Walk

This game has the added benefit of getting both you and your child out for a little exercise which, if you’re like me, you need more than most toddlers anyway. It’s likely that you already have a route you like to follow out on walks, but if you don’t there are lots of options. Consider a path around a nearby park, safe streets winding through your own neighborhood, or even a power-walk around the mall. Before you go, make a list of some landmarks recognizable to someone your child’s age and put general descriptions of them in a short list. The game then becomes for your child to find something while on the walk that matches each description on the list.

Something orange and soft? Maybe it’s those flowers or the cat hiding in them!

Something red with white letters? A Stop sign! Bonus points: what does the sign say?

Something gray and square? The neighbor’s mailbox! Or their car! Or the cinder blocks it’s resting on in their front yard that the neighborhood association won’t do anything about!

Thrifty Shopper Math

This game probably seems a little more like learning, so it might be best to disguise it as a chance to act like an adult, which kids love. Just say, “Hey sweetie, will you help mommy go buy groceries? I need you to hold this list for me.” This list is a near-duplicate of your own shopping list, simplified a little for the sake of your eager helper. As you grab the items ask your child to mark the cost of each item beside the name (both of which, again, are probably best to simplify). In this manner your young assistant will have the opportunity to associate a word with an item as well as add up the total amount of the list. This is a great exercise to eat up time as you are waiting in the checkout queue behind that dude with sixty cans of cat food in the ten items or less lane.

How much was the soup? One dollar. How many cans did we get? Four. So all the soup cost how much? Four dollars! And how much were daddy’s new socks? One dollar. And how much was your ice cream bar for helping with the shopping? One dollar.

For an added challenge, consider shopping somewhere other than the Dollar Store, budget permitting. Regardless of where you shop (or walk for that matter), these games are both easy to prepare and full of great benefits. Education aside, it’s time spend bonding, exercising, and subtly teaching responsibility. And if you’re lucky, your kid will get something out of it as well.

John Abernathy has a lifetime of artistic involvement which led to a degree in film & television production. He owned his own commercial production company and worked on several independent feature-length films before he co-authored the novel “A Question of Character” with his father, which led to book signing tours, speaking engagements, and radio appearances. Most recently he has combined his artistic and literary skills and is producing illustrated children’s books through Starbound Storybooks.

How They Learn Anything is How They Learn Everything

Teaching children to grow into financially responsible adults has proven to be quite a challenge for most parents. You either don’t know how to talk to your kids about money, you haven’t a clue what to say if you could or you don’t realize you’re laying down the foundation for their financial education whether you say anything or not.

You see, if your kids are like most kids, they want stuff. And if you are like most parents, you’d like to be able to give them that stuff. This is as expected in America.

But here’s the catch. Simply giving your child all of the things he wants doesn’t support his progress toward self-reliance doesn’t build up an internal sense of motivation and certainly doesn’t help develop a strong work ethic. Being Walmart for your kids unending desires won’t lend itself to them developing a strong belief that they can actually get whatever they want in life, if they work for it.

If you look at the opposite end of the spectrum, withholding everything the child wants and even perhaps making him work for some of the things he needs, can force a child to be too responsible too soon and this scenario poses issues of its own.

A child in this position sometimes loses touch with their childhood, being forced on many levels to become responsible sooner than perhaps necessary. Although there is certainly nothing wrong with being responsible, there is something to be said for letting children be children. After all, most adults would readily exchange a few of their days toiling in the workplace for a few care-free days in the woods catching frogs or more likely, running around the mall with friends or playing the latest video game on the neighbor’s television.

This doesn’t necessarily include the child, who at seven years old, decides to start a business and is making $1000 a month by the time he or she is ten! This child is internally motivated by some unseen force and should be encouraged. For children who aren’t intrinsically motivated early in life, forcing them into too much responsibility often adds to the other stresses of growing up and can actually cause very negative ramifications in terms of a child’s behavior and choices in life while they are young.

The balance between these two, combined with the intention of giving your children a solid financial education, is what helps create an adult with a sound sense of financial responsibility. The question is…how DO you lay down that solid financial education in those kids of yours in the way best possible for you and the child?

Before we look at how to teach your children about money, we must examine how they learn in the first place. This is because how they learn anything is how they learn everything, so it only makes sense to teach them about money using their own personal learning style.

Have you ever noticed that you have to ‘see’ a map in order to understand the directions someone is giving you? Or that you have to see a picture in order to understand how something goes together or how one thing is related to another? Do you have to be in the front during the class in order to see what the teacher is drawing on the board? Do you use words like see, look, notice and watch? Your primary learning style is what is referred to as Visual.

On the other hand, do you have to close your eyes in order to ‘hear’ what is being said because the visual interferes with your ability to take in and process new information? Do you often sit in the middle or in back at a seminar because you only need to listen to get the information? Do you use words like listen and hear? Your primary learning style is called Auditory.

And finally, do you have to ‘do’ a thing in order to learn it; whether it’s a physical skill, a mental task or an emotional lesson? Do you often stop and check in with your body to see how something feels before you decide whether or not you have learned it or believe it in the first place? Do you use words like feel, gut, body and sense? Then your primary learning style is called Kinesthetic; you learn best through a combination of movement and emotion related to the subject matter.

Most people learn through a combination of two of the learning styles and some people learn through all three, but most have one primary style that they rely on more than the other two. One important note, however, to pay heed to, is that less than 20% of our population are primarily auditory learners. The conundrum here is that most of our schools use primarily auditory forms of instruction.

Let’s apply these three learning styles to teaching your children how money works. If there are three ways for them to learn, they are no doubt learning about money from you in three ways.

This means that they are watching what you do with money, listening to what you say about money and experiencing in their bodies the situations you are experiencing with money.

It is not a new idea that human beings learn best by example. Albert Einstein once said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another; it is the only means.” He was right on the money, pun intended. Before you can teach your child anything about money, you must examine the example that you, as the parent or guardian, are setting for him or her.

This means that before you set any type of allowance in place, start savings and checking accounts for your child, encourage them to start a little business or learn how to trade the latest this and that with friends to learn the value of different things, you must examine your own financial life to see what they are learning directly from you.

This is the most critical, and often painful, part of teaching your child about money. You see, allowances are great, and wanting to empower your children financially is the greatest gift you can gift any child, however, if your own financial life is a mess, your children aren’t going to learn the lessons of proper money management and wealth creation.

If you are living on credit cards, constantly telling other how much you despise money and wish you didn’t have to deal with it, complaining about the cost of living or that you’ll never be able to own a home, what is your child learning? He or she is learning that life is hard and that getting is money is painful. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you want your kids grow up financially savvy, you must first commit to becoming financially savvy yourself, if you aren’t already. Most of us learned a long time ago that the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ form of parenting doesn’t work. Teaching our children how to make, manage and multiply their money wisely falls into that category, just like everything else we want to teach them.

So it’s up to you. Before you attempt to teach your child about saving, investing in assets, using credit wisely, avoiding bad debt and donating to others, you need to be doing these things yourself. Once you have this down, you are ready to begin instilling in your child the one life skill they absolutely must learn in order to live on their own successfully: how to handle and grow their money wisely and responsibly.

Now, if you’re ready to take that first step, get out your magnifying glass and examine your financial life in detail. Ask yourself what you want your child to learn about money and then model that behavior and put your child in the presence of others modeling that behavior. Before long, you’ll have children who are doing the things with their money that financially responsible people do with their money and they’ll be doing it because you are. Good job!

Nutrition Education For Kids

Nutrition class isn’t working; this is no surprise to me. There have been many stories on the AP newswires focusing on the billions of dollars that have been spent on nutrition education that have produced zero results. There seems to be no dent in the growing epidemic of obesity. Kids continue to get sicker and fatter, because they are not changing the way they eat.

The piece mentions the federal pilot program that provides free fruits and veggies to kids saying kids won’t eat these foods. They point to the fast food and coffee drinks available just across the street and even go so far as blaming moms (many who can’t afford to buy better foods) as part of the problem.

Here are some suggestions to fix this predicament. First and foremost, let’s drop the word “nutrition” from our vocabulary. We shouldn’t need to be nutritionists or biochemists to know how to eat. Change the “N” word to the “F” word, FOOD! Food has many more possibilities.

Second, let’s get nutrition out of health class! Most states have standards for health curriculum that put sex and drugs at the top of the list. Nutrition comes in third place behind these two more appealing subjects. If you change nutrition to food, it becomes an interesting topic to integrate into science, math, social studies and English curricula.

Educators know that experiential learning is the most effective way to get a point across. Why not take kids outdoors and let them get their hands dirty? Studies who that kids who are involved with growing food are more likely to eat fruits and veggies that were previously unfamiliar. Growing food not only integrates science ( botany and ecology) but fosters a connection with the earth. These kids will be the stewards of our planet in a few short years. We need to get them out from behind screens and out doors. Leave no child inside!

Another experiential component of learning involves cooking. Kids really do like to cook! It doesn’t have to be cookies! Teach them to slice an onion ( take a peek at the onion cells under a microscope!). Bake a traditional dish from another country ( social studies, history). Teaching kids to cook gives them life skills that they will need to know. It may even inspire them to go into the culinary arts.

We must change the school food environment to support food based learning. More fresh fruits and veggies in our schools are essential. But not just as a handout in the cafeteria. Each day, each week, feature a veggie. Integrate it into the curriculum in the classroom.
Make lunch count!

Einstein once said a problem cannot be solved with the consciousness that created it.
Our packaged processed food industry and our food pyramid will not solve our current crisis in declining children’s health. We need to think out of the pyramid to find innovative food based solutions.

Character Education For Kids

Character education programs for children are being conducted in various schools all over the world and by other NGO’s as well. Character education provides each individual student an opportunity towards achievement of their personal success and develops them into becoming strong individuals themselves at the same time.

Development of a child’s character usually starts with the help course, which teaches the parents who are not familiar with the concept and importance of their kid’s character education. These courses provide and help the kids in gaining many good qualities instead of just learning 1 or 2 good things in their entire lives.

Since these days, the parents are usually very busy people trying to bring about a work-life balance in themselves and in their families, this type of courses and programs help them to cut the time taken in order to learn how to make the kids learn character education at various stages in their lives and how to react to or deal with constantly changing situations and different reactions.

Children need to learn and understand the tremendous value that character education and they have to learn it hands on a daily basis. It is not just learnt directly but also through indirect ways with the kids being taught as to how one must think through different types of situations and react to them in the right way possible.

The kids can be made to understand how they should control and regulate their emotions and react in a mature fashion when faced with frustration or stressful syndromes. They should also learn communication techniques, which will be immensely helpful to them towards their personal empowerment, and be resilient men or women when they grow up. Children should have a feeling of engagement and interest to what they are taught in their Character Education classes if they are to learn anything of value from there.

Children tend to learn a lot in a better way if they are taught with a positive approach, which is also passionate in nature. You need to find out a course, which is simple and easy to understand by itself without making the things more complex for the kids than what is absolutely needed. Parents and teachers alike need to be passionate as children can read your eyes and any attempt to fake it will only encourage indifference in learning and cause dissidence among the kids you teach.

Any character education course or program that helps in building and developing a kid’s confidence level would include showing the children how to set their goals realistically and how they can reach such goals. There could be a lot of small wins which are much better to a child than putting your focus on one big uncertain, unrealistic and an impossible goal. The course should to be kept easy and simple and help the kids in promoting their imagination and action that the kids take for reaching their preset objective. With the achievement of small successes, the children will develop more confidence and will start believing that they can achieve bigger goals.