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Monday, December 14, 2020

How to Keep the Spirit of Play Alive During Distance Learning

Photo by 5712495 (Pixabay)

How to Keep the Spirit of Play Alive During Distance Learning

"Learning" and "fun" aren't always viewed as synonymous. In the eyes of many educators and parents, class time is for learning, and playtime is for fun. I would argue, however, that combining learning with play maximizes the positive effects of both. It's been scientifically proven that when a child is having fun, they are far more likely to retain the information that they took in at that time. Just think back to your own childhood. What captured your attention more as a child: a dry, hour-long lecture about fractions, or a Jeopardy!-style math game where your team had to solve problems first to win?

It's even more critical to be able to combine learning and play nowadays, as so many kids are attending school in the same place they play: at home. My girls have struggled to focus on schoolwork amid the distractions of home, as have their peers. Just ask any parent or teacher and they will tell you that keeping a child's attention on a computer screen for a full school day is no simple task. But just because they're doing remote learning doesn't mean that they have to stay in their chair all day listening to their teachers talk. Try these ideas to add more play to the school day.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

10 Ways That Play Builds Future Pioneers

Photo by 5712495 (Pixabay)

10 Ways That Play Builds Future Pioneers

If you want your kids to grow into responsible and successful adults, you should encourage them to play more. That sounds a little counterintuitive, but it's through play that kids learn the necessary skills to succeed on their path through life and become the world's future pioneers. This has become perfectly apparent to me after watching my two daughters play together over the years and seeing firsthand just how valuable unstructured playtime can be to their development.

My girls have recently fallen in love with playing hide and seek, and I mean LOVE. It's become an almost-daily activity in our household, and they're getting pretty good at it. The other day, my oldest got the idea to remove some clothes from the hamper, get in, and then pile the discarded clothes back on top of her. The illusion was so well done that we spent almost a half-hour searching for her. (In truth, I actually began to worry a bit before we found her.) For context, this is the same girl who just a few months earlier had attempted to conceal herself behind a curtain that only covered her from the knees up. By playing hide and seek, she practiced problem-solving and learned how to outwit her opponent, honing valuable skills she'll need throughout life.

Here are just a few ways that play can help turn your child into a pioneer.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Play Helps Children Become Smart and Happy Adults: Here's How

Photo by StartUpStockPhotos (Pixabay)

Play Helps Children Become Smart and Happy Adults: Here's How

Predicting potential professions for their children is a favorite pastime of many parents. Maybe you foresee your daughter becoming a top brain surgeon, or your son's got one heck of an arm and is going to be the starting pitcher for the Cubs someday. Whatever the case, every parent has at least some hopes and dreams for their child's future.

When it comes to my girls, anytime someone has asked me what I want for them in life, my answer has always been same: "I just want them to be smart and happy."

To me, what they end up doing is far less important than how they feel about what they end up doing. As long as they find a career path that makes them feel content and fulfilled, it doesn't matter to me what they choose.

This is why I place such a high value on my daughters' playtime. Unstructured playtime has real-world repercussions that can impact their lives for years and years to come. It's through play that children discover and develop the necessary skills to become happy and smart adults.

Monday, November 23, 2020

10 Virtual Field Trips That Are Fun and Educational for Kids

Photo by EdiNugraha (Pixabay)

Friday, August 7, 2020

7 Ways to Enjoy Summer While Social Distancing

In the past, the arrival of the summer season was a cause for celebration. It meant the start of pool parties, warm weather, and backyard barbecues. But amid the coronavirus pandemic the world finds itself in and all the social distancing guidelines that have been put into effect to keep people safe, it's easy to feel like it's passing you by. That doesn't have to be the case, though. Here are 7 ways to make the most of your sunny summer.

1: Go for a Hike

A man enjoying a hike. 

Photo by 5688709 (Hermann)
With all the social distancing and quarantine rules in effect, there's a good chance you've felt pretty cooped up these past few months. Why not change it up and get outside while staying safe by taking a hike. Taking a stroll through the woods or up a mountain is a perfect way to get a good dose of that sunshine you've been missing while still avoiding large crowds. Plus, taking in the vista from a mountain top is a surefire way to help take your mind off the problems of the world, at least for a while.

Friday, July 31, 2020

7 Tips for Handling Your Children's Questions About Coronavirus

Photo by 5688709 (lenahelfinger)

Every generation has some sort of cultural crisis or touchstone that defines their childhoods. September 11th, the Challenger Explosion, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the attack on Pearl Harbor were defining events for previous generations. For this generation? It's certainly going to be COVID-19. It's impacted every part of their lives. Since the beginning of the year, the way children go to school, see their extended family, or even play with their friends have changed dramatically. Naturally, they have questions about what's going on. Here's some helpful hints to answering their questions in an age-appropriate manner that won't add to their anxiety.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

8 Tips for Helping Your Pet Adjust When You Stop Working From Home

Photo by 5688709 (pixabay)

2020 has been an unusual year for many. A lot of people spent significant time working from home, avoiding socializing, and in general spending the majority of their time at home. The rapid change in lifestyle wasn't easy for a lot of us. Children and adults all struggled to come to terms with the new normal. One group that enjoyed the new normal? Our pets. Most pets love nothing more than being with their humans, and the requirements of social distancing meant most humans were home more than ever before. As society reopens and people start going back to work and resuming a more typical schedule, it will be our animals who struggle to adjust to a normal that doesn't include their favorite people ready to take them for a romp on the playground equipment whenever they wished.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

9 Reasons to Read Bedtime Stories to Your Children

Photo by jarmoluk (pixabay)

It's never too early - or too late - to start reading to your children. When they are babies, you can snuggle them after their bath and enjoy quiet moments with a sweet picture book. Once they get older and start reading themselves, don't give up on bedtime stories. Reid Lyon, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, stated "Neural research shows that when parents and caregivers interact verbally with children - which includes reading to them - kids learn a great deal more than we ever thought possible." Children get so much out of being read to by their parents. So, after a long day of activities and spending time outside getting energy out on playground, here are nine great reasons to make books part of your family's bedtime routine.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

7 Reasons Why This Chaotic, Unstructured Time Can Benefit Your Child

Photo by qimono (pixabay)

Parenting is primarily made up of daily tasks like making sure that homework is done, chores are completed, and everyone gets to bed on time. However, parenting usually has a lot of external structure: The parents leave home to work or go to appointments, and children go to school and activities. These daily doings give our lives external structure and create a built-in rhythm to our days. The standard advice after an emergency, like a hurricane or earthquake, is to get into a new routine as quickly as possible. The structure of routine helps children feel reassured and gives them a sense of consistency.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is a crisis that's unprecedented. Some states don't know when school will reopen as normal. Parents and children accustomed to leaving home for portions of the day now have long stretches of days when no family member leaves home. The good news, though, is that while your children may not be going to school, being idle at home can be good for them, too.

Monday, June 1, 2020

National Lyme Disease Awareness Month: How to Protect Yourself, Loved Ones, and Pets

Photo by Mabel Amber (pixabay)

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Spread by infected ticks via biting, the CDC estimates that about 300,000 infections are reported annually. Do you spend time in grassy or wooded areas? If so, you are at risk of being bitten by a tick carrying the disease. People who live or visit the Mid-Atlantic states, New England, and the upper Midwest are the most significant risk. However, ticks carrying the disease are also found in neighboring states, and some areas of California, Washington, and Oregon. No matter your location, you can take preventions to ensure that a fun afternoon spent on playground equipment doesn't result in a bite by an infected tick.