Archive for the ‘What can Dr. Doug do for you?’ Category

Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte Twenty Three Years Later

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
Being Digital

Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte Twenty Three Years Later – It’s amazing how his vision at the time matches today’s reality. If you are looking for something cool to read, you won’t be disappointed with this classic that is still available online.

Introduction

  • In 1995 Nicholas Negroponte, the founding director of the MIT Media Lab, published Being Digital. While reorganizing my library recently I picked it up and started reading it again. As I read I was amazed at how prescient his thinking was at the time. I felt that he had a very clear vision of where advances in computer technology and the Internet would take us. Much of what he predicted has come to pass while some of what he predicted has yet to happen. If he got anything wrong, I couldn’t find it to any significant degree.

Death of the Videocassette

  • He saw the death of the videocassette and its associated rental businesses. He also saw services like Netflix coming due to the bandwidth of fiber and how it would be a game changer in terms of delivering content with copper serving as a stepping stone. He saw that advertising would be personalized as well. He also foresaw computers that would resemble thick pieces of paper like modern tablet computers.
  • He was sad that most of the research directed at the advance of television was aimed at refining the display and increasing sizes as opposed to improving the artistry of content. He saw no reason not to expect 10,000 lines of resolution. He also predicted that computers and televisions would merge into a single device, which they have for many people as they are no longer dependent on the time of day when they want to watch something. He understood that using a lot of different fonts was a bad idea. In this case, less is more.

As For Schools

  • He saw schools changing to become more like museums and playgrounds where children would assemble ideas and socialize with other children all over the world. While I’ve seen bits of this in some innovative schools, for the most part, we have a way to go to realize this vision.
  • The Internet would create a totally new, global social fabric. With the Internet, schools could spend less time shoving facts into kids’ minds and more time engaging them in designing and building like they do in the maker spaces found in innovative schools. He decried the force-feeding of students’ left brains in schools that diminish the arts and other extracurriculars. Unfortunately, this has only gotten worse thanks to test-based reforms forced on schools by the federal government.

From Bits to Atoms

  • He thought it was amusing that when ink is squeezed on to dead trees bits become atoms again. He saw the then-burgeoning field of multimedia as bridging the gap between science and art. He saw a day when most adults would also be computer literate. He predicted that virtual reality would allow you to put your arms around the Milky Way, swim in the human bloodstream, or visit Alice in Wonderland.
  • He foresaw digital appliances with no edge at all like high-end cellphones and tablets. He saw that size would be driven by the size of pockets and watches. He said the wristwatch would migrate from a timepiece to a mobile command-and-control center as it has on my wrist thanks to my Apple Watch.
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How Teachers Should Educate Students About Vaccinations by Amanda Winstead

Saturday, October 30th, 2021

Teach About Vaccines
How Teachers Should Educate Students About Vaccinations by Amanda Winstead is a resource that all teachers can use as they work to build vaccine awareness and knowledge. Since this is such a hot topic, students will likely have a level of interest that you can leverage to help them learn and grow in many ways. Thanks, Amanda.

Introduction

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted various areas of education. The most prevalent is how to safeguard students’ and teachers’ health while maintaining in-school teaching. Thankfully, the rollout of vaccines is starting to provide a tool to support this. These are available at the moment to adults and as such are primarily keeping teachers and students over 12 from experiencing the worst effects of the virus. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing vaccines for children. These are likely to become a reality for all students soon.
  • All this means vaccines are a timely topic for discussion in schools. There is a toxic culture of misinformation surrounding the efficacy and safety of these important health tools. While current levels of cynicism have reached new heights, this is nothing new. The anti-vax movement has long cast unnecessary and inaccurate doubt on vaccines of all kinds. It’s vital, therefore, that teachers become reliable sources of factual and scientific information on vaccines in general.
  • Let’s look into a few of the approaches you can use to have a positive impact on students during this time.

Vaccine

Use the Curriculum

  • Students are being surrounded by all kinds of information outside of school. What they don’t need from educators is another opinion on the subject. They need facts to help inform their knowledge about the efficacy and usage of the vaccine. A good way to approach this is by framing it within the context of their usual curriculum.
  • Biology classes are an important forum to present the scientific case for vaccination. Talk about the basics of how vaccines work as a way to prepare the body for the presence of a virus. Introduce them to the range of vaccines provided as standard for most children. Explore the role vaccines have in addressing illnesses like measles, tetanus, and polio. For slightly older students, it can be interesting to introduce the process of vaccine development. Go through testing and approval. This not only gives them a scientific understanding of vaccines but also helps to dispel fears about any risks involved.
  • However, science-based classes are not the only area of curriculum you can provide vaccine information. History classes exploring the development of the first vaccines by Edward Jenner can provide both background knowledge and perspectives of the way vaccines have improved our society. This doesn’t require you to rely on opinions about efficacy. There are objective facts you can provide about mortality and illness rates before and after the introduction of vaccines. Consider not just how to provide better vaccine information to your students but also how to incorporate it as part of their wider learning.

Make It a Discussion

  • Let’s face it, students rarely like to be dictated to. It doesn’t matter whether this comes from teachers, parents, or other authority figures. In all cases, it can elicit a frustrating sense of belittlement. It’s no different when it comes to the subject of vaccines. Instead of approaching vaccine education as something simply to be lectured on, get them involved in a more collaborative discussion.
  • As with any debate, it’s important to set boundaries. Provide clarity on respecting viewpoints and giving one another chances to speak. Make it clear that you will be facilitating their thoughts and ideas while not offering opinions of your own. It can be a wise option to clarify that the discussion is about vaccines in general. This can ease the tension of contemporary issues and open the floor to a wider discussion. Alternatively, you can provide a platform for questions to be submitted anonymously. Use a physical question box or online collaborative classroom software. Use these as the grounds to start structured debates to provide purely fact-based responses.
  • One of the most important uses of this type of discussion is it can highlight where the problematic areas of their vaccine knowledge are. The types of questions, arguments, and opinions offered can pinpoint what the most important areas of educational focus are. It tells you where additional factual resources might be required to give students the data they need to make informed decisions. It also gives you insights into their fears and what types of reassurance they might need.

Give Them the Tools

  • At its most effective, education is about empowering students to be arbiters of their learning. Sometimes the best gift you can give your students is the resources to follow their curiosity. The same approach applies to vaccine education.
  • One of the most important resources you can provide here is access to experts. Invite local public health professionals into the classroom to participate in discussions. Epidemiologists, in particular, have expertise in the analysis of the state of public health events, communicate protocols and factual data clearly, and often choose to specialize in infectious diseases. They will have access to the latest data on various illnesses and current vaccine safety information. As they are committed to improving public health, they are likely keen to engage with your students in meaningful and scientifically supported ways.
  • Alongside introducing them to sources of information, you should teach them to treat the information they gather appropriately. Show them responsible research techniques. Introduce them to activities to help them recognize credible sources of news and information. Highlight the questions they should be asking before trusting an article, research paper, or a statement by a public figure. Make sure they don’t just apply these in the outside world but in the classroom. Encourage them to question you if they feel the scientific or factual information in lessons isn’t solid. In essence, help them to become more discerning citizens.

Conclusion

  • Vaccines are among our most important health tools, even aside from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to make sure students receive practical and accurate education on the topic. Work to make it a relevant part of the current curriculum and wherever possible encourage discussions on the matter. It is important to help your students to become more empowered researchers so they can make informed decisions going forward. As a teacher, you are uniquely positioned to make a positive difference in your students’ lives.

Amanda Winstead

  • Amanda is a freelance writer out of Portland focusing on many topics including educational technology. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
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How to Be Connected With Your Students by Christine Allen

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

How to Be Connected With Your Students by Christine Allen will help all teachers strengthen the relationships with students that are vital to their success.
Relationships

Introduction

  • Some of us were lucky to meet teachers who managed to build a strong connection with them. Those who did meet them, know that teaching doesn’t have to be all about giving tests and lecturing. Teachers who manage to build a connection with their students, are able to inspire, to motivate, and to help them. And that’s an amazing thing.
    It is important for a good teacher to become connected with their students. This is probably the easiest and pleasant way to shape young peoples’ minds and to help them change their lives. For some students, school is a place that allows them to escape their unpleasant lives at home and to believe that things can get better. A good teacher can support them in that effort.
  • Moreover, if you know more about your students, you can understand why some of them fall behind in the class, why some of them don’t have time to do their homework, among other things. It is very important for the teacher to see the whole situation before starting to judge their students. However, despite the fact that many teachers understand the importance of building a connection with their students, only some of them actually know how to create and support this connection. This is easier than it seems. All you need is to follow a few simple tips.

1. Take time to talk with your students

  • Even if you spend five minutes of your class talking with students, this can still work wonders. Ask them about their interests, hobbies, discuss new music hits or TV shows, and talk with them about their day and their plans for the future. The only important thing here is to be really interested in what they are saying. This way they’ll slowly learn to trust you. If you think that some of your students have problems, try talking with them in private. However, it’s important not to rush this conversation. Start only when you are sure that your students trust you enough to share private things.

2. Start class discussions

  • Most of the information in class comes from teacher. It can, however, be changed from time to time. A class discussion will allow students to communicate both with a teacher and with each other, to speak in front of an audience to express their points of view and to support them with arguments, to be the center of attention, and to learn more about their fellow classmates. You can discuss possible topics of such discussions with students. This way they’ll talk about things that interest them and you will learn more about them.

3. Go to see the events your students participate in.

  • Not every teacher has enough time and desire to pay attention to what their students are doing after classes. However, it’s one of the best ways to build a connection with them. If they like you, they will be happy to see you and to receive your support. Moreover, this way you will show them that you are really interested in them and in things they do. This way you may also be able to meet (or at least see) their families, to talk to them and to learn more about them. Parents too will see that you care about their children. This usually encourages them to communicate and to cooperate with teachers more. Even if you are very busy, you can add some events to your schedule from time to time. Just be sure to plan them as early as possible so you won’t miss them.

4. Show students that you are available.

  • This doesn’t mean that you have to stay after school talking with your students. These measures are required only in emergency situations. You can still show them that you are available during your working hours. Encourage them to come to you if they need something or just want to spend their break somewhere where it’s quiet. Tell them that you can help them both with their homework and their problems if they want to. And be sure to keep this promise. After all, if you want your students to rely on you, you have to become really reliable. I hope these tips will help you to gain students’ trust and to build a strong connection with them.

Christine Allen

    C Allen
  • Christine Allen from Chicago, USA, is young writer and blogger at essaystorm.com. She believes that you can get everything that you want. You just need to be sure in what you really want and be patient. You can follow her on Facebook and Google+.
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How To Know if a Computer Science Career Is Right for You by Craig Middleton

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

Comp Sci Career
How To Know if a Computer Science Career Is Right for You by Craig Middleton is a reality check for students considering a career in this field. It’s a field where you can typically work anywhere and make good money as long as you can deal with the stress of deadlines. Share this with students you know who are good in math and science.

Introduction

  • Computer science is a field of study that can lead to some pretty appealing careers. However, pursuing this career path requires an immense amount of effort. In order to make the right choice as you enter the field of higher education, it helps to have an idea of what computer science education and careers are actually like and what it takes to make it. Here’s what you need to know in order to make the most informed choice possible.

The Tech Job Market

  • Computer science careers are associated with a paycheck that’s potentially quite high, and that makes pursuing that kind of career a fairly easy choice on paper. More importantly, specializing in computer science can all but guarantee you job opportunities after college graduation. With recent advancements in technology, modern businesses of all kinds and many entrepreneurs need skilled computer science specialists. This ensures that your skills will always be in demand. This kind of expertise, in particular, is so valuable because these skills don’t typically come naturally. This means that fewer people have developed the knowledge and skill required to manage modern technology at a professional level.
  • Taking the necessary steps to make yourself an indispensable asset in this way will be difficult, but it will be well worth it in time. There are plenty of resources online to build up your skills, that in return, will help you stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs. You can take free courses about computer science found at codecademy or open culture. Exploring these options will lead you to a better understanding of yourself and your career goals. If you find that you have a passion and interest in these beginner courses, then you’ll likely gain even more passion for it as you advance through your education and career.

The Importance of Cybersecurity

  • Modern businesses rely on the internet for a variety of increasingly essential purposes. Companies depend on an online presence to maintain a competitive level of marketing, for starters, and online retail is a natural extension of the reach of any retail business. All of these online interactions open up companies to the risk of cyber-attacks because businesses are often targeted by hackers as a result of a perceived financial opportunity or simply a high profile target that can give them some clout in the hacker community. With the rise of apps for every brand under the sun, network and API security are an essential part of protecting not only the business in question but also the users of these apps.
  • Cloud storage is becoming a staple of modern businesses, and this style of file storage, while it’s generally more secure, requires additional cybersecurity protocols. Cybersecurity entails a number of tools and best practices used in tandem, making this field even more inaccessible to the average person, and that makes this kind of skill set indispensable in today’s job market. This role requires not only knowledge and skill, but also the ability to keep calm under pressure, because cyberattacks can be tremendously detrimental and need to be solved quickly.

The Rise of the IT Department

  • The increased dependence of modern businesses on complex technology, both online and off, has led to an increase in the importance and representation of the IT worker. IT, or information technology, workers are a fundamental part of any digital-age business, because these professionals are those tasked with maintaining the various systems at play concerning data. This means that IT workers are on the front lines when and if malfunctions occur, and this is more important now than ever.
  • In many modern companies, malfunctions of all kinds can lead to the loss of valuable time, and it falls to the IT department to resolve these issues quickly and effectively. This requires expertise in understanding the how and why of technical difficulties regarding computers, modems, routers, and networks, and that knowledge can be put to use both to solve problems and to prevent them.
  • As businesses continue to lean on their IT workers, these qualified professionals continue to have job security and often fairly substantial pay. However, the tradeoff is that the job can be quite stressful. The study of computer science is akin to that of medicine. While the subject matter is inherently different, both of these disciplines require an immense amount of knowledge and the ability to put that knowledge to use in high-stakes situations. If you can handle that responsibility and have an innate interest in technology, pursuing this career path can be incredibly lucrative for you.

Another Career Guide and Doug’s Comments

  • Here is a computer network career guide that may also be helpful. As a former High School computer science teacher I have seen students enter and succeed in this field. The best went beyond expectations and branched out to learn programming languages on their own. If you can learn to program using online courses at your own pace you might have what it takes. If you get lost in programming challenges and lose track of time, that’s a good sign that you have the passion required. Thanks, Craig
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Making Homeschool PE Class Fun by Craig Middleton

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Disc Golf
Making Homeschool PE Class Fun by Craig Middleton offers ideas for parents who homeschool their children by choice. His suggestions are also good for parents who want to add exercise options beyond what their kids get at school. His advice on nutrition is also good for all parents. Remember, all parents are teachers weather they homeschool or not.

Introduction

  • Homeschooling is becoming more popular and can be both stressful and rewarding. (Doug: During the pandemic, many more parents have been homeschooling, but not by choice.) In addition to the core subjects of math, reading, and writing, an often overlooked requirement is Physical Education. Not all states require an organized PE curriculum, but any well-rounded education includes some form of the subject.
  • Going outside to play is a fantastic way to fulfill your state’s requirements while still teaching your children safe behaviors. There’s no need for a formal schedule or events. All you have to do now is get your kids going and have some fun while doing it.
  • Go outside and play with your kids if you live in the country or a neighborhood with playgrounds or popular play areas, or if you have a large yard. Yes, you can send your kids outside to play if they’re old enough, but setting a good example by going outside and being involved with them is even better. To be frank, adults need to get out and exercise more as well. It’s good for mental health and overall health, and it sets a good example for your children. Here are a few ideas to keep things interesting during your home PE sessions.

Indoor Activities

  • If you are a homeschooler of an older child, you can do more focused activities such as weight lifting, yoga, meditation, and nutritional meal planning. You can even investigate the possible benefits of supplements like protein powder, spices, and vitamins. For the younger kids, think more along the line of games like hopscotch, hot lava, or an obstacle course. Beginning yoga is a fun way to get kids to stretch and control movement. Simon Says a classic that involves listening skills and movement. Sometimes, a good old-fashioned pillow fight will leave you all breathless and in fits of laughter.
  • Don’t skimp on nutritional activities with the younger ones either. Let them help you plan and make simple meals. Hands-on activities will cement the message and teach lasting skills. You don’t necessarily have to stay home either. If it’s a rainy day, consider a trip to the local bowling alley or roller rink. Many towns also have indoor play areas set up with safe games and activities that should be opening soon. They may even offer homeschooler discounts on group admissions.

Outdoor Activities

  • Everybody needs fresh air. Options for outdoor activities for PE classes are almost endless. Pretty much anything that gets you moving is fair game. Riding bikes can be a great way to get exercise and teach the rules of the road. Relay races and obstacle courses are other favorites with kids of all ages. An excellent way to teach conservation and get some fresh air is to go for a hike in the woods. Have them collect objects like rocks, nuts, or leaves to examine later. Trips to parks or lakes are other fun options. Just remember to practice safety on the water. Don’t forget to take your frisbees and sports gear for impromptu games. You also might find disc golf courses where you live.

Co-op Activities

  • Most communities have organizations that offer cooperative homeschooling activities, including PE classes. These can be official organizations or simply a few families that get together to play games. These afford more opportunities for team activities like basketball, baseball, and soccer. Many times, recreation centers may offer their spaces free of charge to homeschoolers, giving access to equipment that may be challenging to obtain otherwise. Co-ops are excellent places for you and your kids to make friends and socialize while fulfilling an important educational requirement.

Organized Sports

  • Most states and communities allow homeschooled children to participate in organized sports through their local school systems. They will still be subject to any tryouts or requirements, but these programs could be a good way to play sports that most homeschoolers can’t provide. They also will fulfill the necessary PE requirements. If the local schools aren’t an option, most cities also offer intermural sports organizations kids can participate in that aren’t associated with public schools. AAU teams also accept homeschooled students.

Final Thoughts

  • When developing your homeschool curriculum, it’s important to remember some of the non-core subjects like PE, art, and music. Homeschooling can be very rewarding and a great way to give a wonderful education to your children. Make it fun!

Craig Middleton

  • Craig is a New York City-based retired business consultant, who is an expert in education and cultural trends. He has a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters in Education from St. Johns and loves sharing his knowledge on the side through his writing. If you have any questions or comments you can direct them to Craig at craigmiddleton18@gmail.com.
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Medical Binder Printables to Keep Your Health Records Organized by Cristina Thorson

Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Basic Health Info
Medical Binder Printables to Keep Your Health Records Organized by Cristina Thorson offers forms you can use to keep track of your medical information so you can easily share it with your physicians rather than just talking about how you feel and neglecting what you can’t remember. Thanks, Cristina.

Introduction

  • Whether you’re suffering from a chronic condition, wanting to keep your health information in order, or are somewhere in between, keeping a medical binder on hand can be beneficial. Having a medical binder not only helps you stay more organized, but it can also act as the single source of truth in case of an emergency.
  • Thinking about possible “what-ifs” is never fun to do, but making sure you’re prepared for emergencies can make a worst-case scenario a little easier to manage. Use the medical binder printables to start putting together your own health binder. It might save your life one day.

Basic Health Information Sheet

  • On a basic health information sheet, you should include the standard information that you might need to receive medical treatment. Usually, when you go in for an appointment, the healthcare clinic will need to have this information on file before you receive treatment.
  • The information needed is your full name, emergency contact information, allergies, date of birth, blood type, and any immunization records. Keeping this information up to date and on file can save time if you decide to transfer doctors, or if you start going to a specialized healthcare professional.

Medication Tracker

  • According to WebMD, about half the American population takes an average of four prescription pills. Some medications have conflicting effects which can have deadly consequences. If you keep track of your own medications, it will make it easier for doctors to ensure that they won’t prescribe anything that will have adverse effects on your health.
  • Documenting your own medications can also help you and your doctor figure out what has worked in the past, and what hasn’t. It can help you avoid repeating medications, especially if you work with a new doctor or you haven’t been to a medical professional in a while.
  • Keeping track of your blood pressure can save you a world of problems. Hypertension (or high blood pressure) has damaging effects over time, and many are unaware that they even have it. To record your own blood pressure, you should purchase a home blood pressure monitor.
  • It’s best to avoid caffeine and exercise at least 30 minutes before you measure, and try to measure at the same time every day. Self-monitoring is actually recommended by the American Heart Association for people with high blood pressure treatments. Even though home monitoring isn’t an adequate substitute for visits, it can be helpful when healthcare professionals are trying to gauge the effectiveness of their treatments.
  • Blood Pressure Log

  • It’s useful to be aware of your own medical conditions before a big life transition, like moving homes, leaving for college, or even planning for retirement. The temporary instability during these time periods may cause medical conditions to flare up. These changes may also influence your healthcare provider or the access to healthcare that you receive.
  • Start surveying the information in advance of these changes so you’re not overwhelmed during the transitionary period. Make sure your information is up-to-date and easily understood. Many use their smartwatches or their phones to log health information, but you could also try an alternative tracking method, like our printable sheets.

Cristina Thorson

  • Cristina is a part-time content writing intern at Siege and a full-time student at Boston University. She enjoys exploring new pockets of cities, culture, and cat websites (as well as alliterative expressions). In her spare time, she can be found reading books, commenting on movies, and writing anything from advertising copy to feminist satire.
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Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement by Daniel Kahneman, Oliver Sibony, & Cass Sunstein

Sunday, September 5th, 2021
Noise

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement by Daniel Kahneman, Oliver Sibony, and Cass Sunstein details how noise and bias result in errors in judgment. From our courts to fields as diverse as medicine and insurance they show how noise leads to unfair and harmful results. They also provide ways to identify noise and techniques that any organization can use to reduce it. This book is a must for any professional development library. (10-15 minute read)

Introducion: Two Kinds of Error

  • Whenever you look at human judgments, you are likely to find noise. From the courtroom to medicine to forecasts to forensics and personal decisions our lives are full of noise. This book will help you recognize it and give some tips for getting rid of at least some of it. Start with an analogy that features targets and groups of shooters to see the difference between noise and bias If shots are scattered all over the target, that’s noise. It the shot are all in the lower right, that’s bias.

Part I: Finding Noise

1. Crime and Noisy Punishment

  • We start with the noise associated with crime and the sentencing of the guilty parties. In 1973, Marvin Frankel, a famous judge, realized that people committing the same crime were getting vastly different sentences depending on who the judge was. Judges gave harsher sentences when they were hungry and the day after their team lost. Blacks got harsher sentences and people are less likely to be granted asylum when it’s hot. The sentencing reform act of 1984 helped narrow the differences, but the Supreme Court struck it down in 2005 and discrepancies increased again. Female and Democrat judges are more lenient.

2. A Noisy System

  • Here we encounter he basic tool called the noise audit that all organizations need to consider. Its essence is to have many people look at the same information and make independent judgments. The variance in these judgments will give you a sense of the magnitude of the noise in the system. The authors use the median difference from the mean in the audit as a measure of noise. Keep in mind that errors do not cancel out, they add up. In many cases, the person making a judgment might as well be chosen by lottery. It’s important not to confuse judgment with taste or opinion. It’s important to have people with different perspectives when you are trying to solve a problem.

3. Singular Decisions

  • Singular decisions are those that don’t recur with any great frequency. Getting married or buying a house are examples. While they are not free from the factors that produce noise, the definition of noise does not apply and you can’t do a noise audit. Practices that reduce error for recurrent decisions should be just as effective when it comes to singular decisions.
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Relocating: Helping Your Children Learn in a New Environment by Amanda Winstead

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

Child 3
Relocating: Helping Your Children Learn in a New Environment by Amanda Winstead offers great advice for parents who have to move. It’s now easy for children, but here are some things to ease the pain. Thanks. Amanda.

Introduction

  • Moving can be the beginning of a new adventure. It can be a chance to start fresh. It can also be an opportunity to expand your network of friends and colleagues. Moving to a new location holds all sorts of potential — it is what you make of it.
  • Unfortunately, many kids don’t see moving in that light. For many, the idea of moving to a new place is terrifying. It is taking them away from something they know and are comfortable with and putting them into a completely new situation. This means a new bedroom, a new school, and new friends. Starting over is enough to make any child struggle.
  • Thankfully, there is a lot parents can do to help make the transition a bit easier. Helping children adapt quickly and successfully to their new home and life is key to keeping kids on the right track. Taking the time to help them work through the emotions associated with such a large change can also help everyone in the family begin to adapt to a new home.

Preparing for a Big Move

  • Perhaps one of the most important things you can do as a parent to help your child adjust to a big move and a new school is to start the conversation early. Just like adults, children need time to process the idea of a big change in their lives. Surprising them with something like that and not allowing time for the news to really sink in is asking for trouble and anxiety in your kid.
  • Moving is stressful — there’s no doubt about that — but kids are extremely perceptive when it comes to your emotional well-being. If you want them to have a positive attitude about the move, you must do as well. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you avoid talking about the things that make them nervous or that will be hard, but it does mean trying to focus on the things that won’t change such as still having recess or a packed lunch and the benefits of moving like choosing their own bedroom.
  • As with most adults, the core of a child’s fear about moving tends to be related to a lack of control in the situation. Do your best to give them whatever control you can and help them feel involved in the decision-making process. This can be as simple as letting them choose how they decorate their new bedroom or picking out their backpack and extracurricular activities. It can also mean getting them involved with packing their things and deciding if there are toys or clothing they don’t want to take with them to the new place.
Child 4

Making the Time to Make it Home

  • If you can choose where you are moving, it will be worth taking the opportunity to look into the quality of the schools in the area. It may come as a surprise, but children are frequently more successful in school districts that have a smaller number of students. Smaller towns rather than big metro areas can provide more one-on-one interaction opportunities between students and teachers because the classroom sizes are typically smaller.
  • To help relieve some of the anxiety associated with going to a new school, try to take some of the mystery out of it before the first day. Take your children to explore the school, the playground, and what their walk home from school will be like if you’re close enough for that. Likewise, set up a meeting with teachers and school administration staff. Anything that helps the new location feel more familiar to your child and gives them an idea of what to expect will be a benefit on the first day.
  • As your child starts their new school, it is valuable to stay involved and assess how things are going. Set aside time after school every day to see how their day went and listen closely to the things they have to say. Ask questions to keep them talking. If there are opportunities, see if they are interested in inviting some of the new kids they’ve met for a playdate which can help facilitate them making new friends.

Other Moving Opportunities

  • Depending upon the age of your child, there may be an abundance of other ways to help them get involved. For instance, maybe you are moving to a new area where there are more types of extracurricular activities outside of school than there were previously. For instance, maybe the nearby city pool has a swim team they can get involved in or the library has a children’s book club. Although some of these activities aren’t directly tied to the school, they can help your children settle into the new place and make friends more quickly.
  • Some older students may want to opt out of doing the new school thing altogether. If you feel that it would be a good fit for your child, you could look into e-learning. Doing school online can open up several opportunities to take different or more challenging courses than what is offered at the new school. Of course, going online isn’t for every student — it is important to evaluate whether or not your high school-aged child would be successful or flounder in this environment before making that decision.
  • Moving to a new area and starting your child in a new school can be hard on everyone. Helping your children adjust is an important step in successfully adapting to a new school. Doing things such as giving them time to prepare, showing them around the school before the first day, and helping them get involved in activities can make a huge difference.

Amanda Winstead

  • Amanda is a freelance writer out of Portland focusing on many topics including educational technology. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
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Safe Ways to Encourage Kids to Play and Explore Outdoors by Emily Graham

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Play Outdoors
Safe Ways to Encourage Kids to Play and Explore Outdoors by Emily Graham offers excellent advice for parents and teachers about getting kids outdoors for fresh air and exercise. It’s easy to just let them sit around inside and play computer games or watch TV, but with a little effort and this advice, you can make them healthier and more vibrant. Thanks, Emily.

Introduction

  • Research shows that more of today’s modern kids are spending their time inside, and parents get to see this firsthand. Today’s kids are busy with their video games, computers, and gadgets, and they’re not getting the fresh air, sunshine, and physical activity they need as a result. Dr. Doug Green shares some ways to encourage your kids to get outside and play safely, and get them out of the house.

Help Them Hunt for Treasure

  • Turn outdoor exploration into a fun treasure hunt and make a game out of it. Try an idea from Momtastic and make a list of flowers, plants, trees, birds, and bugs that can be found in your own backyard or in close proximity. Have kids take a photo or draw a sketch of each of these items to add it to their list of found treasures. This is an observation-only event, so kids can use just their eyes to find treasures rather than poking their fingers into strange holes or trying to pluck plants. Kids will end up learning more about the natural world, and have fun doing it.

Stage a Backyard Camping Trip

  • You don’t have to go on a road trip to enjoy camping. Set up a tent in your own backyard, lay out some sleeping bags and stage a fun camping adventure that will be much simpler than actually heading out on the road to find a campsite. You can easily keep an eye on the kids while they have their backyard adventure. Give them some fun snack items like trail mix, and stuff to play with like balls and jump ropes. This will keep kids outside instead of glued to their video games.

Just Add Bubbles

  • Pretty much every kid loves to play with bubbles, and they can stay busy for hours outdoors having fun with this activity. Mix up your own bubble solution using ordinary dishwashing soap and glycerin, according to What to Expect. Make a bubble wand out of a bent coat hanger, and kids can make enormous bubbles for hours and hours. They’ll have fun blowing bubbles, chasing them around, and seeing how many bubbles they can make.

Build Some DIY Bird Feeders Together

  • Make some bird feeders with the kids, and encourage them to watch the birds that come to enjoy your DYI project. You can even turn this into a learning project, and get your kids a book on different birds so they can look up the feathered friends who visit. You don’t need much to make a bird feeder. In fact, an old shoe will work. Take the shoe and nail it directly to a tree or a post. Fill it with birdseed, and watch your avian visitors enjoy their meals. If you’re more creative, you can make a bird feeder out of almost anything, from an old cup and saucer to a used wine bottle.

Outside Safety Tips

  • Keep kids safe when they play outdoors by taking some simple safety measures. First, don’t get a trampoline. They cause horrible accidents frequently and should only be used under careful supervision for training and exercise — not recreation. Second, don’t let your kids wear drawstring clothing. Drawstrings are accidents begging to happen because they can come untied and get snagged, cause kids to trip, and get hung up on toys and playground equipment. Thirdly, make sure all your playground equipment is totally safe. It should only be on a soft surface, not hard decking or concrete, and safely away from tall buildings, trees and structures.
  • Make sure your kids stay on your property by installing a fence to surround your yard. Fence companies charge an average of $4,500 to install a fence, but peace of mind is priceless. Before hiring a fence installer, it’s a good idea to review customer feedback and ratings. Always get three estimates and make sure the company is insured and licensed.
  • Most importantly, keep an eye on your kids when they’re outside. Outdoor play is healthy and good for children, but it can be dangerous. Monitor your kids and take steps to make sure they’re staying safe. You can’t prevent every accident, but there is a lot you can do to make sure your kids avoid accidents and injuries when they’re outside. (Doug: Consider getting a camera or two so you can see your backyard from a TV or computer.)

Photo Credit Pexels.com

Emily Graham

  • Emily is the creator of MightyMoms.Net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family. You can email her at emilygraham@mightymoms.net. She lives in Arizona.
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Sensory Play For Toddlers Using Regular Household Items by Herman Samano

Monday, July 5th, 2021

Sensory Play For Toddlers Using Regular Household Items by Herman Samano is a must-read for any parent with young children. This article offers excellent advice for how to help a toddler better adapt to the world around them. Be sure to share with toddler parents you know. Thanks, Herman.

Introduction

  • Growing children rely on their senses from birth onward to explore and make sense of their surrounding world. Through sight, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, and even moving, young children process the information obtained through their senses, which informs their development. By enriching infant’s and young children’s experiences with sensory play activities, families can support their little one’s brain development.
  • Sensory play can take many forms. Parents can use household items or DIY toys to encourage toddlers to understand better and navigate their world. The different forms of sensory play can enhance brain development in many ways, which we’ll explore here. Learn how to engage your child with fun sensory development activities so that you can spur their development and nurture their well-being.

SP 1

What Is Sensory Play?

  • Sensory play refers to virtually any activity that can stimulate a child’s senses. It might involve splashing their hands during bathtime or touching the different textures featured in a “touch and feel” book. Children typically find these types of activities fun without knowing that the sensory information they obtain from these activities helps forge stronger connections in their brains to process and respond to sensory stimulation.
  • Sensory play helps children create a context for their sounds or the textures they come into contact with. They learn what the different sounds are and how to respond or not respond to them. For instance, when a car horn blares outside the home, a toddler might cry the first time they are disturbed by it. But after processing it and realizing this sound does not impede or impact them personally, they may learn to ignore it.
  • Linked to healthy childhood development, sensory play helps introduce children to their world in a safe, fun-filled environment. As kids develop an awareness of different sensations, they may become more excited to build on their developing knowledge base and better explore their surroundings through more playtime fun.

Benefits of Sensory Play for Brain Development

  • By engaging in sensory play with your young children, you can better prepare them for the world. During their initial years of life, children’s brains grow quite rapidly. Parents can support this healthy development by helping children safely explore their world through each of their senses. Some of the key benefits your child is likely to experience through sensory play include the development of Fine and Gross Motor Skills.
  • As we know, children aren’t born with command over their motor skills. It takes time and practice to develop them. Learning how to manipulate their fingers and hands, use their arms for throwing, and their fingers for properly holding a pencil requires practice. The better developed your child’s fine and gross motor skills, the better they’ll be prepared for school or even enjoy playing at the park or with their toys more fully.

Problem-Solving Skills

  • Life is filled with problems and challenges for humans of all ages. Solving them is integral to the human experience. Through play, toddlers can practice interpreting the world using their senses to solve small challenges such as building a block tower that doesn’t fall or sorting items with different shapes or colors. As they develop a knack for solving minor problems, they enhance their ability to solve problems of great difficulty.

Social Interaction

  • Sensory activities can help children develop essential social interaction skills such as making eye contact, reading emotions in faces, or listening to others. By developing strong social skills, children may interact more comfortably and successfully with other children.

Language Development

  • Language development happens gradually, but the more caregivers can promote this development, the better their child’s language skills. Good language skills will allow kids to communicate more effectively as they age. Sensory exploration has a significant impact on language and speaking domains of child development. Receptive and expressive language are some of the areas of language development that can be worked upon when a child engages in Sensory play. You can help your toddler using fun descriptive words while playing to introduce new vocabulary and promote sentence formation. Pretend play can really improve your child’s expressive language skills and verbal expression.

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

  • Sensory processing disorder (SPD) refers to a condition that affects stimuli processing. Children affected by SPD are often susceptible to stimuli, but SPD can have the opposite effect, too; children may require a more significant amount of a particular stimulus before responding to it. SPD can affect many or even just one sense. While adults can have this disorder, they don’t usually exhibit symptoms as they’ve learned how to cope with them.
  • Most often, SPD is a condition seen in children. Some specialists view SPD as a singular condition that can occur independently, while other researchers believe it is more often than not a condition associated with other conditions such as autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
    Symptoms of SPD may include:
    Exhibiting poor balance, coordination, or clumsiness
    Finding sounds to be too loud
    Finding lighting to be too bright
    Bothered to the point of gagging by certain food textures
    Feeling that clothing items are too scratchy
    Becoming upset by sudden movements, touches, or loud noises
  • Although there is no known way to prevent SPD, it is manageable. However, it typically takes time and considerable therapy to help children develop coping strategies to live with this condition. Doctors may recommend sensory integration therapy, occupational therapy, or a sensory diet, which consists of tailored activities that are chosen for a child based on their sensory needs. DISCLAIMER: These tips are based on the personal experience of the writer and are not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare professional. For questions or concerns, please talk to your licensed healthcare provider.

SP 2

How Sensory Play Can Prevent Picky Eating in Children

  • Many children have food aversions based on the textures of foods. This is common among children with SPD, but any child may develop a picky eating habit. Sensory play can reduce the tendency for picky eating, helping kids enjoy healthy eating habits. Often the sense of taste is indeed the deciding factor for whether or not a child will want to eat certain foods, but have you ever witnessed a child refuse to eat something because of the way it looked before they’ve ever tasted it?
    Through sensory play activities, parents can prevent kids from deciding whether or not they will eat a food merely based on its texture or appearance. Food texture aversion can be highly frustrating for both parents and kids. To help your children enjoy exploring new food textures and tastes, you may want to let them enjoy activities like helping you to cook. Their little hands can help form meatballs. You might even let them ‘paint’ with some spices, so they get used to seeing and smelling them. By spending time with ‘food’ in a positive context, they can become more comfortable with different textures and appearances.

SP 3

Creating a Designated Sensory Play Space at Home

  • Parents can create a space indoors and outdoors for sensory play. Consider outfitting your indoor play space with items such as:
    Busy boards (toys with knobs, dials, buttons, etc.)
    Touch and feel books
    Simple puzzles
    Play-Doh
    Building blocks
    Bristle blocks
    Fidget cubes
    Sensory table
    Sensory bins
  • When designing your outdoor sensory play area, you might include a:
    Swing
    Slide
    Sandbox
    Toddler gardening ‘tools’
    Baby pool
    Colorful sidewalk chalk
    T-ball set
    Of course, parents can supervise children in all kinds of ways to explore their world safely. They use many different household items to engage in sensory play. However, always be careful when using small objects with your little ones as they can be choking hazards. And, always, supervise your child around water.

SP 4

5 Sensory Play Activities Using Things You Already Have at Home

  • You may not realize it, but your home is full of a wealth of sensory items that you can feature during sensory playtime with your toddler. Here are just a few to inspire you to get started with sensory play:
    Pasta Pictures
    Pasta comes in all kinds of fun shapes and sizes. All you need are some different pasta shapes such as macaroni, cavatappi, rotini, and some construction paper and non-toxic paste. Encourage your child to paste the pasta to create pictures like a circle, a square, or even more complicated items that you trace for them like a star or a heart.
    Salt Dough Ornaments
    Don’t have Play-Doh? No problem. Using a combination of flour, water, and salt, you can whip up a batch of salt dough to create fun seasonal ornaments. Children will enjoy squishing the dough, rolling it, and forming it into shapes using their hands or cookie cutters. After you bake the ornaments so they’ll harden, you and your children can paint and decorate them with small pom poms, ribbon, or other odds and ends.
    Sensory Bin
    Create a sensory bin with different items and leave it out for daily stimulation. Provide plastic measuring cups and other tools for children to touch and explore on their own. You can swap in new items to keep them interesting. Here are some examples:
    Dry beans
    Edible sand
    Little toys
    Rice
    Cotton balls
    Shredded pieces of paper
    Tea Party
    Unless you’re having high tea with the queen, you don’t need a formal tea service to have a tea party. Plastic cups, some water, and a plate filled with cookies or apple slices will do just fine. The key is to let your child do the hosting. That means it’s their job to fill and refill your glass with ‘tea.’ It’s their job to serve your cookie.
    Pots and Pans Band
    Pots and pans, of course, make great drums. But there are many items around your house that children can use to make sounds. You can hand them a couple of spoons and allow them to make ‘music’ on the kitchen floor using items like pots, plastic colanders, boxes, and more.
  • Keep these ideas in mind as you prepare to engage your child in sensory play. One of the highlights of sensory play that we haven’t yet mentioned, of course, is all the fun you can have as you bond over these different activities. You’re sure to create some fabulous memories, so keep your camera handy.

Hermann Samano

  • Hermann enjoys writing content that helps parents and kids with ideas to explore and learn together. He is passionate about gaming, music, roller skating, and outdoor activities. Seattle WA. You can email him at HermannSamano-t@porch.com.
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