Posts from the ‘Home Environment’ Category

HOW TO CUT THROUGH THE NOISE – TEACHING OUR CHILDREN TO BE CRITICAL THINKERS

About 64 million Americans get their news from social media. The reliance on newspapers, radio, and television news segments have been diminished or disappeared. Even broadcasts advertised as the “breaking news” rely on panels of “experts” to relay information. The days of a journalist simply reporting the facts without attaching opinions are gone.

Our children probably rely on social media to an even greater degree. How can we teach them to cut through the noise, sift through the mire, and uncover the objective truth? I have a few suggestions.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

Make it a point to watch and listen to many different stations and social media outlets. Show your children how different outlets and reporters present information. Do they show both sides of an issue? Are certain people and groups ignored? Tell children they need to hear and see both sides of an issue before judging it authentic. Ask them if the information was reported fairly. Did they get the whole picture?

EVERY STORY HAS MANY ANGLES

Explain how different people look at the same situation differently. Use examples of how family members like different foods, play different sports, and choose different friends. Even mom and dad sometimes argue about preferences. The same applies to news issues. Adults can choose different media outlets and reporters to illustrate how there can be a multitude of different views about the same topic in the news.

IS THAT A FACT?

Use everyday situations to illustrate the difference between a fact and opinion. I am wearing a red shirt today. That is a fact. When you say, that red shirt is ugly, you are issuing your opinion. Facebook and Twitter are littered with opinions. What do people share or retweet? They share and comment on the opinions with which they strongly agree or disagree. Social media outlets do not report the news, they display the opinions of those followers who have decided to reject or endorse them. Children need to understand that reality does not coincide with the majority of social media opinion. Point of view on an issue does not necessarily make what is communicated true. In fact, the reality might be something completely different.

YOU BE THE JUDGE

Adults and children can have fun and learn a lot by analyzing the ads seen in print and on TV. Study that boring commercial and think deeply about the message that is being communicated. How are the actors dressed? What do their gestures tell you? What words do they use? Do they exaggerate the benefits of the product? How are they trying to manipulate you into buying something you don’t really need?

After doing this a few times, take what you learned and apply it to the commentators, reporters, and “expert panels” that you see reporting the news. You will learn a lot about how much opinion is introduced into what is being reported as factual news. This knowledge will go a long way in developing critical thinking skills that will benefit children as they mature and develop the life skills they will need in future careers.

SEEING IS NOT BELIEVING

It’s okay to be critical. In the world of modern technology in which we can press a button to order in minutes, see ourselves in virtual reality, and communicate with friends, family, and co-workers instantly, it has never been more important to be vigilant and careful. We worry about computer hackers, but often neglect to train our own brains to filter out the noise and the mixed messages that seek to distract and deceive us.

BE SMART AND RESPONSIBLE

Watch this quick video to learn how.

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HOORAY FOR HALLOWEEN

ADDISON’S HALLOWEEN: a collection about festivals and celebrations around the world, and of fashion

Wriiten by Ana Alvarez

llustrated by Andrés Balcázar

This book is part of a series of picture books that feature multicultural festivals and celebrations. In Book 5, Addison eagerly anticipates celebrating Halloween in the United States. She brings readers with her as she shows them decorations around her house, a play at school, her family’s preparations for their Halloween party, her friends and their Halloween costumes enjoying food and friendship at her party, and finally the whole group trick or treating in the neighborhood. At the end of the story, readers receive a bonus. They may choose a link to dress Addison in several different paper costumes.

This book contains lots of fun illustrations and suggestions for enjoying the Halloween holiday. I highly suggest it as a read aloud for children, especially those ages three through eight.

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A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE

How The Cockroach Lost Its Voice: After Dinner Conversations

Written by Samuel Reifler

This book certainly will provoke unique discussions. The protagonists are two cockroaches who venture on a journey to the top of the refrigerator. They carry on a conversation about the squishy humans with three eyes. The third eye is their brain. Unfortunately, their brain allows them to focus on the past and the future as well as the present. That makes them unable to appreciate the beauty around them.

The book contains approximately 17 pages. While I found the plot interesting, it ended rather abruptly and left me wanting to hear more. Readers are provided with discussion questions and a link to a podcast group.

I believe families and couples might enjoy these books to stimulate interesting conversations. Recommended for children and adults ages eight and older.

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MONSTERS BEGONE

The Night the Monsters Came: A Fun Way to Teach Kids Healthy Habits as Part of Their Bedtime Routine

Written by Junia Wonders

Illustrated by Lisa Ciccone

Siblings Jack and Joy are getting ready for bed when Jack warns his sister, the monsters are outside and hungry. He dresses as a wizard and Joy puts on her fairy dress and crown.

As the monsters barge through the door, the children are steadfast. They warn the monsters they are not appealing targets because they follow good hygiene. Why does that turn the monsters off? Read the book to find out.

The rhymes are clever with extensive use of onomatopoeia and bright colors outlining new vocabulary. Illustrations are appropriate and colorful. I highly recommend the book for toddlers and primary grade children.

A QUICK OVERVIEW OF ONLINE TEACHING

Teaching in the Years of the Corona Virus

Written by Kostas Pan

This book is a brief overview of the history and implementation of online teaching. While college students have been using it in one form or another for a while, the concept has been thrust into the limelight as education on all levels has been shut down during the pandemic.

For traditional teachers, especially those in elementary and middle-grade classrooms, using the computer as a teaching tool has been a supplement up to this point. Now teachers are suddenly faced with the task of taking all their lesson plans and finding a way to deliver them virtually. Notwithstanding the problems of students and schools who do not have adequate bandwidth or hardware, there is the issue of appropriate software.

Pan points out some advantages of online learning. It is flexible, and today’s software programs allow for interactive student discussions, quizzes, and teacher-student direct interaction. It can be accessed at home or by mobile device. If teachers plan their lessons well ahead, they can input measures of accountability. Teachers must prepare parents in advance. They need to ask parents to participate, encourage and supervise the younger students.

There will be a period of transition when the method seems difficult, but with time and practice students and teachers become responsible and practiced with the techniques. There is no doubt in person instruction is a crucial and necessary component of education, but online teaching has emerged due to necessity and will not disappear from the educational landscape.

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#HOW TO TEACH LEADERSHIP SKILLS IN CHILDREN # 7 – A Short List

So you have attempted to provide a nurturing environment, set up good examples, and encouraged leadership qualities in your children.

Whether you are a teacher, parent, or other type of caregiver, you have probably heard about the importance of instilling leadership. But how? What skills? Following is a basic list of leadership skills you can teach kids. They are not numbered because each is equally important.

INDEPENDENT THINKING

Help your child break out of a “cookie cutter” mindset by teaching him/her to think independently. Ask for your child’s opinions on many different subjects, without judging or stating your opinion. Be open-minded. Listen so that no opinion is “wrong” or valueless. You might then share your own opinion respectfully, and if it differs, that’s okay – part of independent thinking is hearing many sides of an issue and coming to your own conclusions.

RESPONSIBILITY

Age-appropriate responsibilities are important stepping stones on the ladder of skills necessary for building leadership. Give your child responsibilities as preschoolers, and have him deal with the consequences if those responsibilities are not met. Of course, your child will require guidance; but once your explain what the consequences will be, it’s best to let them play out.

FAIRNESS

Leaders need to be fair and just. Being too rigid and unbending is not the best way to teach your kids about fairness, but being too permissive encourages a child to put himself first. Help them to understand what is fair and what isn’t, and how sometimes being fair means being firm even when your child or others might get upset.

NEGOTIATION

Have you thought about the importance of negotiation skills in leadership? Leaders understand the necessity for give and take and that often means compromise, Think about it: government leaders, particularly the president, need to be well-versed in the art of negotiation. It’s okay to discuss your child’s wants and desires. – Allow your children to present a convincing argument as to why they think they should have whatever it is, or participate in an activity. Be prepared to allow yourself to be “talked into” something now and then!

ORGANIZATION

Being organized is essential to good leadership. Teach your children how to prioritize tasks and organize their time. Explain how to use calendars to keep things straight, and show how time can be organized in different ways when prioritizing tasks.

Children need to be taught how to organize priorities in terms of immediate and future goals. In the category of organization is also the concept of making lists. Have your children make lists of what tasks they plan to complete each day and then in one week. This also helps break tasks down into steps – maybe your child has a book report or research paper due one or two weeks from now. Helping your child break that down into weekly and daily steps can be useful- not only in accomplishing the completing of the task, but also in instilling the leadership skill of organization.

COMMUNICATION

This is a vital skill for leadership. Leaders must express their goals and their vision for whatever project or task they are leading or coordinating. They can’t expect others to read their minds or carry out instructions without direction. Teach your kids good communication and listening skills by encouraging them to share their thoughts even if you disagree, and by actively listening yourself. Both you and your child will be happier and more successful.

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A DIFFICULT JOURNEY

Sagas of Anya

Written by Kirsten Mbawa

Anya is only thirteen. She lives in Cardiff, and her life has been difficult. Tad, her alcoholic father, has spiraled into alcoholism and depression. Unable to support himself and his daughter, he secures a position as a scullery maid in London for her.

Anya’s adventure begins with a train ride on a contraption she has never laid eyes on. When she disembarks at Paddington Station, the sights and smells of Victorian England surround her. She has no idea of what to expect. When she meets her boss, Mrs. Axton, her fears escalate.

But as Anya settles into a life of drudgery, more trouble looms before her. Anya has secured a few friendships, but she has also made many enemies. The novel traces her struggle to clear her name. This young Victorian girl is determined to obtain a measure of happiness and find a family to accept and love her.

The book is a fast-moving historical fiction adventure that is perfect for middle-grade readers.

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#How To Foster Leadership Skills in Children – 6 #Personality Traits That Indicate Leadership Skills

Personality Characteristics of Effective Leaders

Whether you think that leaders are born or made, some characteristics that distinguish leaders from others stand out.

Have you wondered if you or someone you know is a natural leader? Are you interested in learning why they become leaders? Here are some personality characteristics that seem to go with effective leaders.

Task-Oriented

Are you the kind of person who likes to get things done? Do people come to you and ask you to do something for them and know you’ll do it? Not everyone is task-oriented, but those who are may end up being effective leaders. Being task-oriented means being a “doer,” the kind of person who focuses on getting something done and not stopping until the task is finished.

Task-oriented people generally follow through. This is important in a leader, because leaders have definite goals to reach and people to lead, and people will stop following you if you don’t get things finished.

Also, task-oriented leaders do not need “babysitting” to get something done. They can take initiative on their own – the task itself is motivation.

Honest Self-Image

Leaders tend to be pretty honest about their weaknesses and strengths, but not to the point of letting either one take over. For instance, a leader can balance between recognizing his weakness and not letting that stop him/her, and a leader can see his/her strengths without getting conceited. Those in leadership positions may find that they garner more respect when they are honest and “transparent” about their flaws than if they pretend to be perfect.

People Person

A leader tends to be a people person – someone who derives lots of energy from being around people. Such extroverted personalities make great leaders, but introverts are not barred from leadership, either. You can have a love for people and be introverted; you just respond differently to interacting with others.

In other words, you can be a “people person” even if you find yourself tired of leading at the end of a day. Extroverts and introverts can both be motivated by a love for people and their wellbeing.

“Infectious” Joy

Have you ever been around someone who just seems happy with life in general? If a person shares an idea or thought and seems really happy about it, do you feel like joining him or her? Leaders tend to exhibit this kind of infectious joy that draws other people to them. Positive-thinking leaders have a zest for life that compels other people to join them.

The general consensus is, characteristics of a good leader can be in-born or learned, or a bit of both. If you don’t have all of these traits naturally, you can learn many of them. No two leaders are the same.

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TENDER AND SWEET

Mama Loves You Always

Written by Lindsey Coker Luckey

Illustrated by Tanya Matikiv

The illustrations say it all. Soft colors and exquisite expressions portray the emotions set out in the rhymes. Most of the rhymes are on the mark, perhaps a couple stretch the meaning of the words.

Toddlers and preschoolers will get the message clearly by looking at the images. I think the book would have made an even greater impression if a few human examples of mother and child were included. Luckey gives specific examples of why a mother’s love is so deep and truly everlasting.

This book would be an excellent gift for a new mother. Grandmothers and caretakers will also enjoy reading it aloud or as a bedtime story.

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#HOW TO FOSTER LEADERSHIP SKILLS IN CHILDREN #5 – SIGNS YOUR CHILD MAY BE A STRONG LEADER

Is your child a strong leader? Do you suspect that he or she might grow up to be an effective and proactive leader? Maybe you aren’t sure what to look for. Does it matter if you discover leadership abilities early? Actually, some sources say it does matter. Observing leadership qualities early means parents, teachers and caregivers can work to develop those talents so they do not fall by the wayside.

If you want to make sure you develop your child’s leadership qualities, here are some signs to watch for. Some of them may surprise you!

Talkative

Does it sometimes drive you crazy that your child talks so much? Actually, being talkative may be a sign of things to come. A chatty nature indicates a child with excellent verbal skills, which are necessary for good leaders. Did your child talk early and proficiently? This may be a sign that he or she will be a good leader.

Treats Others with Respect

If you notice that your child seems to end up in responsible positions – team captain or band director – and you know he didn’t get that position because of “muscling” his way to the top or bullying others, then this may be a sign of leadership ability. Notice if others seem to “gravitate” toward her and wish to emulate her. Observe whether or not this is due to respectful treatment. If it is, you may have a strong leader on your hands.

Sees Both Sides

Some kids display an ability to understand both sides of an issue. They tend to be peace keepers, helping two arguing kids or adults to see reason, for example.

In the Know

Does your child always know what’s going on? Is he or she always aware of the latest events at school or in the family? This is not the same as being a gossip (that’s not a good leadership quality), but it does mean that he or she is paying attention and interested in what’s going on with others.

Inquisitive

A good leader is not afraid to ask questions, but he/she is not afraid to go looking for answers on his own. Too much questioning may indicate self-doubt – your child is always trying to make sure about things. On the other hand, healthy questions that spring from a real desire to know more about something may be a sign of leadership ability.

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