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Friday, June 26, 2009

Help your child in developing problem solving skills

Problem solving skill can lead to success in practical life where we need problem solving and creativity in each and every step. As parents and teachers we can help in developing problem solving skills among our kids/children. Normally every child is born with this skill but with proper encouragement and taking few practical but simple steps can help develop this skill very easily.

All parents and teachers have seen the unique ability of toddlers to use toys and materials in unexpected ways. One child may turn a cup into a hammer or a basket into a hat. Another toddler may stand on a riding truck to try to reach a toy or pull over a chair to climb onto a bookshelf. Observant adults recognize these innovations as signs that children are learning to use their thinking skills to solve problems.

Experiences in problem solving help children develop curiosity and patience, along with thinking skills such as flexibility, and understanding of cause and effect. They learn to work toward achieving a goal, and gain confidence in their ability to reach a solution. Even very young children make discoveries on their own. An
infant who accidentally creates a noise with a rattle may then make the sound again and again on purpose. An older infant discovers that by looking under a blanket, he can find a hidden toy. A toddler who cannot pull a wagon up a hill by herself learns that she and a friend can push it up from behind.

By not rushing in and rescuing young children who are facing minor everyday problems, adults can help infants and toddlers develop confidence and increase their thinking abilities.

It's also helpful for parents and teachers to provide materials that encourage children to explore. Some toys, such as jack-in-the-boxes and busy boxes, provide opportunities to explore simple cause-and-effect relationships. Other common materials like empty cardboard boxes, plastic bowls, or scarves can provide open-ended experiences through which toddlers can make choices and decisions, and
find different ways to manipulate the materials.

Other activities can involve materials such as clear plastic tubing (such as the tubing used for aquariums) which children can fill with bright materials, and watch the materials move as they shake the tubes. If you provide inclines or ramps of wooden blocks, a toddler can watch what happens as objects roll down inside the tubes. She may discover that some objects roll faster than others. He may learn about
actions and reactions when he sets plastic bottles at the bottom of the ramp to create a unique bowling game.
(Whatever materials you provide to help children experiment with problem solving, remember to be very careful about choking hazards.)

These everyday materials are fun, and can hold children interest for long periods. They also help children experiment with cause and effect and with gravity and physics. In addition to supporting cognitive development, problem-solving activities help in the social arena as well. Groups of children engaged in these activities negotiate with their friends and learn how to solve interpersonal problems.\

By providing interesting materials and enthusiastically reinforcing children attempts to explore and solve problems, parents and teachers can stimulate children development, promote advanced critical thinking, and help children take pride in their own abilities to find out more about how their world works.

Excerpted from "Using Everyday Materials to Promote Problem
Solving in Toddlers" by Laura Segatti, Judy Brown-DuPaul, and Tracy L.
Keyes - an article in the NAEYC journal.
Link: Helping toddlers become problem solvers

Monday, June 22, 2009

TV watching may cause psychological distress among children

Watching tv for long hours regularly may cause behaviour problems among children and according to a new research study, it may increase psychological distress in young children.

'Higher levels of television and screen entertainment time and low physical activity levels interact to increase psychological distress in young children.'

Most of you probably saw a wave of news media reports about a recent study showing that television exposure in infancy and early childhood may lead to a delay in language development. In a recent study also published in Pediatrics, a group of researchers from the University college London in the UK examined the effects of television viewing and physical activity on psychological distress among children of various ages. This study is very interesting, not only because of the provocative findings, but because it opens the door for a discussion of the concept of “Prodrome.”

The authors examined data from the Scottish Health Survey, a nationally representative study of multiple psychosocial factors. The data for this analysis included 1,486 Children age 4 to 12 with a mean age of 8.5, who were assessed in 2003. The Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire was used to assess for psychological distress. Specifically, the total difficulties score incorporates responses to sub scales that examine hyperactivity, emotional distress, conduct problems, and peer problems. The authors also obtained the parents’ reports of the kids’ total weekly hours of television viewing, and the frequency of sports or active play during the week. The authors were primarily interested in exploring whether TV viewing and/or activity level were associated with psychological distress.

The results:

1. On average, kids watched a total of 2.4 hours of television per day
2. Television viewing was associated with sports activity in that those who watched most television were also those with the lowest level of sports activity.
3. Those with the highest levels of television viewing also had the lowest level of fruit intake, and the highest levels of sweets and sugar drink intake.
4. High levels of Television viewing and low levels of physical were both independently associated with psychological distress.
5. An additive effect was found in that the combination of high television viewing and low physical activity was associated with the highest levels of psychological distress.

We can write entire books and a year worth of blog posts discussing the many possible explanations for these findings. The most salient, but not necessarily correct, is that television viewing likely limits other behaviors that are associated with psychological well-being, and that physical activity also promotes psychological well-being directly (physiologically) and indirectly (through the effects on the kid’s social development). Yet, it is possible that these two findings do not cause distress, but are a reflection of distress. For example, relatively recently, researchers have began to extend the concept of prodrome from general medicine to psychiatric disorders. Prodrome refers to a conglomeration of symptoms that reflect the disease process at an early stage, usually before it displays the symptoms that we usually associate with the disease. A prodrome is not a symptom that leads to the disease. The prodrome is the disease itself already evolving.

I’m currently working with Dr. Maria Kovacs on a upcoming invited theoretical paper on prodromes in child depression, and during the writing process I’ve been considering the implications of prodromes to past longitudinal and cross-sectional “predictive” research. That is, how many of the factors that have been found to predict a condition are actually not predictors (causes) of the condition but the condition itself?

Back to the TV viewing/physical activity study; the authors found significantly elevated levels of psychological distress in 4% of the sample. Yet these were not clinical cases with specific diagnoses. It is possible then that the authors were tapping at a subgroup of kids with specific psychiatric problems at the prodrome level (depression for example) which would result in increased levels of anhedonia and reduced motor mobility. This would in turn lead to more ‘just laying on the couch staring at the TV’ and reduced interest in outside sporting events.

Related posts:

ESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Television reduces verbal interaction between parents and infants, which could delay children's language development, says a U.S. study that challenges claims that certain infant-targeted DVDs actually benefit youngsters.
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The researchers studied 329 children, aged 2 months to 48 months, and found that for each additional hour of television exposure, there was a decrease of 770 words (7 percent) heard from an adult by the children. The study also found that the more hours spent watching television, the fewer vocalizations infants made when adults talked to them.

"Some of these reductions are likely due to children being left alone in front of the television screen, but others likely reflect situations in which adults, though present, are distracted by the screen and not interacting with their infant in a discernible manner," wrote Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, of Seattle Children Hospital, and colleagues.

"At first blush, these findings may seem entirely intuitive. However, these findings must be interpreted in light of the fact that purveyors of infant DVDs claim that their products are designed to give parents and children a chance to interact with one another, an assertion that lacks empirical evidence," they noted.

The researchers added that their results may help explain previous findings of a link between television viewing and delayed language development.

"Given the critical role that adult caregivers play in children's linguistic development, whether they talk to their child while the screen is on may be critical and explain the effects that are attributed to content or even amount of television watched," the team wrote. "That is, whether parents talk less (or not at all) during some types of programs or at some times of the day may be as important in this age group as what is being watched."

The study appears in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

link: TV Interferes With Infants' Language Development

Link: Television viewing, psychological distress and thoughts on Prodromes

More links:

* Source link: TV viewing associated with psychological distress

* How addiction of Watching TV is affecting our lives?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Safe internet use for your child

Internet is a world of interactive and informative sites but it is our responsibility to teach our child 'safe use of internet'. These tips would help the parents and teachers for the safe and wise use of internet.

1. Be aware and involved. It's up to us to teach kids how to use the Internet — and all media — safely and responsibly. Just as we teach them how to eat properly and drive safely, we must teach them how to be safe, responsible and respectful on the Internet.

2. Do your homework. Check out sites, investigate ratings, explore safety and privacy tools, and parental control features. Don't be intimidated by the Internet.

3. Talk to your kids. Ask them questions about where they're going online and who their buddies are.

4. Teach safety. Make sure your kids know how to avoid dangers. No party postings, no personal information, no meeting strangers — ever.

5. Set rules. Time limits, place limits, codes of conduct. Try to keep computers with Internet access in a central room in your house if younger kids are online.

6. Report suspicious activity to your Internet service provider or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

7. Help kids view online information with a critical eye. Not everything that appears on the Web is true. Teach them to be savvy consumers of Internet information.

8. View your own online habits with a critical eye. Our kids watch everything we do.
If you don't want your kid doing what you're doing online you might want to think twice about your own habits.

9. Embrace their world. Download music, IM your kids, play an online game, visit MySpace. Not only will your kids appreciate it, you'll know what you're dealing with!
Remember, the Internet is here to stay. It's our job to help our kids be Internet safe and Internet smart.

By: Common Sense Media

How to choose age appropriate toys for children?

Last year a parent asked me to suggest the toys for her 5 year old daughter with some learning disability symptoms. I personally prefer to provide blocks, and other educational toys for that specif age because my son enjoyed playing with blocks for hours and it definitely helped him in skill development. This article would help you choose age appropriate toys for your children and this guide is also useful to select and buy gifts for children.

Selecting toys for young children is an important task that involves decisions about the kinds of interests, motivation, and skills we want children to develop. Any toy given to a child should match his or her developmental age and individual needs.

When choosing a toy, careful attention should be paid to safety and durability--materials should have lasting play value and help provide a foundation for future development.

Following are some ideas for inexpensive, and most important, fun play materials for the early years:

Birth through six months

Toys for young infants should promote their interest in looking, listening, sucking, and grasping. Well-secured, unbreakable crib mirrors, rag dolls, stuffed toys and simple hand puppets moved by an adult are all age appropriate gifts that can either be made or purchased for a minimal amount of money.

6 to 12 months

Infants from 6-12 months are able to enjoy a wider variety of toys which support their social, cognitive, and physical development. Floating objects for bath play, construction materials, simple puzzles, cloth and board books, and balls are durable options for young children at this stage.
1 to 2 years

Toddlers are increasingly mobile and independent. Dressing, lacing, and stringing materials, picture and nursery rhyme books, nontoxic crayons for scribbling, and stacking materials will be enjoyed by one-year-olds, while role-playing toys, pegboards, and large balls to kick, throw, and catch are good choices for older toddlers.

3 to 5 years

Three- to five-year-olds often find enjoyment from materials that promote pretend play and foster their language and social skills. A large variety of books suitable for this age are available, as well as an assortment of blocks, dress-up clothes and simple games, including dominoes, bingo boards, and card games.

6 through 8 years

Primary-school age children show interest in and benefit from a number of specific skill-development toys. They can spend hours with art and crafts materials, particularly washable paints, clay, collage equipment, and small beads for jewelry making. Books and more complex games with rules and turn-taking are also appropriate, and natural objects (stones and shells) can pique an interest in science and the environment.

Keep in mind that the holiday season can also be stressful for children. It isn't necessary to give a child a room full of toys in order for him to have fun. Sometimes the simplest pleasures are the most enjoyable.

Link: Simple Gift Giving For The Early Years

Monday, June 8, 2009

'Child Psychology Research Blog' helping us understand child behavior

It is sometimes very difficult to understand child behavior until we get some experience of dealing with children from some time. As an educator our teaching experience helps us understand the child development and its complications but still we need to learn more about our children. Research based child psychology posts or articles are really helpful for parents and educators in dealing with the children.

Child Psychology Research Blog offers research based commentary on child psychology.

The author of the blog is 'Nestor L. Lopez-Duran, PhD.' who is a clinical child psychologist and neuroscience researcher working at a large Midwest University. She currently conduct research on mood disorders in children and adolescents, and she is the editor of Child-Psych, where she discusses the latest research findings on parenting, child disorders, and child development.

More about the 'Child Psychology Research Blog:

It is a research-based informational blog about child psychology, parenting, and childhood disorders. It provides reviews of the latest scientific findings on a number of psychiatric and neuro developmental disorders in a style that is accessible to parents, educations, and clinicians.

Their mission is to become the most comprehensive online resource of science-supported information on child psychology. They provide a framework that helps readers understand the studies and provide information on how each study fits within previous research.

Follow them at 'twitter'

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Keep your kids busy with 'free learning games'

Mainly video games are played to have fun 'either they are played at PCs, hand held or play station type gaming devices. As a parent or teacher we discourage our kids to play offline or online video games as these activities kill a large amount of time and when kids are addict to these games, usually their studies are affected. This post is mainly about useful links and resources about educational or learning games. These links offer free leaning games so you only need to check the links, bookmark your favorite ones and let your child have fun while learning.

* Browser-based, Free Learning Games: '36 Learning Games to Change the World'

* Educational Games at 'Nobel Prize organization' site. These games and simulations, based on Nobel Prize-awarded achievements, will teach and inspire you while you're having FUN!

Top 10 most visited educational games are:

* 1. The Laser Challenge Game
* 2. The Blood Typing Game
* 3. The Pavlov's Dog Game
* 4. The DNA - the Double Helix Game
* 5. The Lord of the Flies Game
* 6. The Electrocardiogram Game
* 7. The Control of the Cell Cycle Game
* 8. The Peace Doves Game
* 9. The Immune System Game
* 10. The Split Brain Experiments Game

* 'Educational Games Research' is a blog which discusses the research based studies concerning instructional video games.

John Rice is an educator, author and speaker specializing in educational technology and instructional gaming. He serves as technology director for a school district in Texas and is a doctoral student in educational computing at University of North Texas. Among the several published articles and conference papers he has written, many have dealt with the subject of educational video games. The topic remains his primary research interest.

Top posts are:
* The Top 10 Most Influential Educational Video Games from the 1980s
* 10 Great Sites for Finding Free Educational Games
* The Top 10 Free Educational Video Games
* Educational Uses for the Nintendo DS
* Latest Nielsen Findings Show Interesting Video Game Statistics

* '88 Free EduGames to Spice Up Your Course!'

Friday, June 5, 2009

'Zaid Learn' - An educational blog

Zaid Learn is a learning blog which is created by 'Zaid Ali Alsagoff' from Malaysia, who is from education field and an 'e-Learning Researcher'.

More about Zaid in his own words:

'I am an e-learning manager and researcher. I have done research in several key e-learning areas, including educational gaming, role-play simulation, virtual classrooms, learning (content) management systems, e-learning standards, instructional design and courseware development. In addition, I have two (2) years experience in courseware development (as an ID), and an educational background in Psychology and IT management. My strengths include creative and critical thinking, content development, instructional design, system analysis (and visualization), analytical thinking, writing e-learning proposals, conducting workshops, giving presentations, interpersonal communication and pro-activeness.'

His career and interests are reflected at his blogs posts. Blog is about 3 years old but quality of articles and research proves that it has got google page rank 5. I personally found many links and resources at his blog. There are many articles about other resources as well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Helping you learn 'Mission to learn'

Mission to learn is another educational blog. You can read articles on a wide range of learning resources, insights about what it means to be a lifelong learner on the social Web, and news about topics like open education, serious games, brain science, and more.

Blog posts are really informative and valuable

35+ Free Online Business Education Sites
26 Learning Games to Change the World
More Than 100 Free Places to Learn Online - And Counting
More Than 50 Web Widgets for Your Learning Mix

Another post 'Is Your Brain in a Box?' is very unique on 'learning and brain plasticity' topic which might be interesting for the teachers who want to know more about the brain and learning.

* Mission to Learn Blog - Postings 2-3 times per week on new learning resources, news, and insights about learning.

* Radio Free Learning - An occasional (aiming for one to two times per month) podcast in which I interview thinkers and doers in the world of lifelong learning. Subscribe to the Radio Free Learning Podcast via RSS or with iTunes.

You can also explore each of the channels to get a better feel for what they offer. Check our the Free Learning Monitor archives, listen to some of the recent Radio Free Learning podcasts.

Best way to get informed about the updated post is to subscribe to the blog newsletter. You would receive a monthly digest of free and low-cost online courses, tutorials, videos, podcasts, games, and blogs.

Get free subscription of their newsletter: 'free learning monitor'
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