Posts tagged ‘communication’

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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GROWING AND CHANGING

The Adventures of Tweet Tweet: A really awesome Penguin

Written and illustrated by Eleanor Wint and Lois Wint-Rose

This sweet little story is coauthored by a grandmother and nine-year-old granddaughter. It is based on a stuffed penguin who is personified in this tale.

Tweet-Tweet, the young penguin, brings beginning readers on a journey that explains how he broke his wing. Along the way, readers learn a bit about life in the Arctic, how penguins move and communicate, and an accident that lands Tweet-Tweet in the hospital.

Children learn about family bonds, adapting to change, and being resilient. The color illustrations add charm to the story. Readers will enjoy the dialogue format and personification of the characters. Two more books are in progress to continue Tweet-Tweet’s adventures.

Recommended especially for children ages five through eight.

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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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OCEAN PLAYMATES

DOLPHINS: Fun Facts and Amazing Photos of Animals in Nature

Written by Emma Child

I have read several of the amazing animals books written by this author. Who can resist looking at the face of a dolphin? Child begins by describing the general features of dolphins like smooth skin and bottlenoses and then goes on to explain there are many variations. I had never heard of the dalmatian dolphin and was surprised to learn that dolphins migrate each year.

Child’s discussion of the way dolphins communicate by echolocation and a whistle sound that is unique to each dolphin is fascinating. I learned that dolphins use sea sponges to protect their mouths from spiny fish and that some dolphins have more than one hundred teeth. Children will be surprised to learn that dolphins live in families like theirs and that they delight in playing with each other. The dolphins’ intelligence level is second only to that of a human and they are good problem solvers.

This book is informative and a great research tool for children in the elementary or middle grades. Only one thing disappointed me. The photos on the Kindle can be enlarged by double-clicking, but this was not simple to do and once enlarged some of the photos looked blurry.

Recommended for dolphin lovers everywhere regardless of age.

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A SYMBOL OF PRIDE

African Wild Dogs: Amazing Facts and Fun Photos About African Wild Dogs

Written by Rita Terry

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An interesting picture book for elementary school children and all those who are interested in unusual animals. African wild dogs are related to canines and wolves. Unlike domesticated dogs they have four claws instead of five. Like wolves they live in packs. They are carnivores and their hunting habits require a rather large habitat area of 1,500 square kilometers. African wild dogs are sometimes called painted dogs because they are covered with patches of red, black, white, yellow, and brown patches. Today their habitat has been largely reduced to South Africa due to rabies, vehicle accidents and the rapid encroachment of farmers upon their territory.

Terry discusses how these creatures communicate and the rituals they perform before the hunt. She explains how the pack is dominated by an alpha male and female, but stresses the fact that all members of the pack understand their roles and are protected and maintained by the rest of the family. The inside photographs are excellent; they capture the spirit and character of the animal. The print is large and easy to read for the younger reader, and the text well-written for the most part. Nice book to put on a classroom reference shelf for those interested in animals or dogs in particular. The author has written other nonfiction books about many other animals living in the past and present. Available in kindle and print format.

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FURRY FRIENDS

Guinea Pig Books for Kids Amazing Pictures and Interesting Facts

Written by Susie Eli

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Guinea pigs are lovable, furry, easy to maintain pets. This nonfiction book contains lots of interesting information about the creatures as well as instructions on their care.

No one knows for sure how they got their name. These creatures belong to the mammal class, though they are actually rodents. At one time they might have been transported through New Guinea or a thriving species in Guiana in South America. Others theorize that Europeans who bought them as pets paid a coin called a guinea to make their purchase. Today the largest population in the wild lives in various parts of South America

Males are called boars; females are named sows. These animals are herbivores, preferring fruits and vegetables. Average lifespan is five years. They have poor eyesight, but a keen sense of smell. Guinea pigs communicate by squealing, and prefer living in small groups. In the wild they are common prey for larger animals. These small creatures grow up to ten inches and weight two to three pounds. If kept as pets, they require little more than a clean cage with soft bedding, separate bowls for food and water, and enough room for moderate exercise.

This book is perfect for the beginning reader who is thinking about a pet, loves animals, or is seeking to build up a library of information about animals. Adorable photos of these cuddly creatures are a bonus.

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SIGNS OF SUCCESS

Raising a Happy Child: Easy Techniques for Better Communication With Your Baby and Toddler

Written by Barb Asselin

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This book focuses on using American Sign Language with babies and young children in an effort to provide a means for parents to better answer the communication needs of their children. Learning and using ASL allows a child to communicate with parents before they are able to use spoken language.

Asselin bases the book on her own experiences with her two girls. She begins by explaining what American Sign Language is composed of and the types of populations for which it was designed. The author provides some history of its use. While ASL is used primarily with the deaf, Down’s Syndrome or Learning Disabled children, parents and caregivers have learned that babies can easily learn the basic signs to use for communication. She lists the 50 plus signs that are most common, milk, again and more are often starting points. Asselin cautions parents not to overdo or force learning, but to gradually build up a set of vocabulary words. Once you have begun to communicate with your child, the next step is to introduce the program to caregivers and teachers. Finally, the author provides a comprehensive list of resources for reference and additional support in using the program.

I have a nephew whose parents have introduced him to sign language. He is quite adept and comfortable with basic sign and takes to it naturally. This book is a good tool for any parent who is interested in exploring earlier and better communication with a child and is willing to take the time to invest in mastering it. I would recommend all parents and prospective parents to take a look at it.

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HORSING AROUND

Horses: Amazing Pictures & Fun Facts on Animals in Nature

Written by Kay de Silva

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This book is a must for a child interested in horses or for an adult who wants to know more about these beautiful animals that have played such an important part in history. It is well organized and illustrated with color photographs. The author explores the family and habits of horses, their anatomy, how horses communicate, the types of breeds, and relationship to man.

Here are a few interesting facts that I discovered. A horse lies down for only 45 minutes a day, and when it does, others in the herd keep watch. A horse’s eyes are the largest of all the land mammals. Horses have baby teeth like humans. You are able to tell a horse’s age by looking at its teeth. Older horses have yellow teeth and other pattern markings. That is where the expression that it is rude to look a gift horse in the mouth originated! I learned that a horse’s height is measured in hands (each measures four inches or ten centimeters).

One of the most interesting sections discussed temperament. Horses are classified as hot blooded, warm blooded or cold blooded. Hot blooded horses are quick to learn and have lots of energy; many are race horses. Warm blooded horses are calmer and are more suitable to be riding horses. The cold blooded horses are heavier and more muscular. They are very calm and suited to work like working on farms. Today horses are involved in sporting events like horse racing and individual equestrian events. Earlier in our history, horses were used in warfare.

The author packs a lot of information in this book of less than sixty pages. Whether the reader is a horse enthusiast or just an admirer, the book and its illustrations are pleasing and informative. It is written in simple language. Recommended for children and adults ages eight and up. If you admire these beautiful animals, I don’t think you will be disappointed in this book.

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FROG FEST

Frogs for Kids: The Amazing and Wonderful World of Frogs Book (Reptiles and Amphibians)

Written by Betty Olsen

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Did you realize that there are many species of frogs and that each of them has unique characteristics? In this kindle book, children and adults will have the opportunity to learn about every aspect of their lives. Olsen defines the word amphibian and traces the life cycle of the frog, the food they eat, their anatomy and skin characteristics, how they use camouflage, how they move and communicate, where they live, and how they can be dangerous to humans. Each description is accompanied by a photograph of that frog.

Most people know that frogs develop from eggs laid in the water and later develop lungs and breathe air on land. Are you aware that the age of a frog can be determined by the rings in its bones, and that some frogs live as long as forty years? I learned that not all frogs croak but some chirp, ribbit, whistle, bark or grunt. Their calls have been heard as far as a mile away from their location. The Golden Poison Frog can kill as many as twenty humans or one thousand mice! Olsen mentions toads, but does not go into detail about how they are different from frogs. She also reminds us that we need to keep our waterways clean so that frogs will have a place to lay eggs and prosper.

This book is an ideal beginning tool for a child who is interested in frogs or wants to learn basic information for a science project. As such, it is a good resource for elementary school science bookshelves or libraries. I thought the book failed to elaborate on the topics of environment and toads, but perhaps the author plans to expand these subjects at a later date. Overall, the book is well done and the photographs enhance the details. I would recommend reading it on the cloud or in PDF format.

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A DAY WITH THE DOLPHINS

Dolphins! Dolphin Facts for Kids:Amazing Pictures and Fun

Written by Valerie L. Cross

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Dolphins have been in the news a lot lately with most of the controversy centering around whether they should be raised in captivity. Children and adults everywhere are intrigued by these friendly and intelligent animals.

This book is a fine resource for a home, classroom or public library. The author uses photographs to illustrate her information. She begins by explaining that dolphins come in all shapes and sizes belonging to a family of mammals known as cetaceans. The Orca or killer whale is the largest though it is not a whale at all but a dolphin. This beautiful animal species have been swimming in the oceans for approximately 50 million years.

Cross presents information on their colors, foods and unique method of communication known as echolocation. She discusses their anatomy mentioning the facts that they can move their eyes in many directions even backwards and in opposite directions. Their hearing is ten times better than that of a human. You can discover the age of a dolphin by counting the rings on the inside of their teeth. The reader is treated to a short profile of each type of dolphin and the habitats in which they live. Did you know that some dolphins live in rivers rather than oceans? Dolphins are social animals who live together in groups known as pods. Each dolphin has a unique sound different from others. Dolphins recognize voices just as humans can. Dolphins swim, dance and breathe with lungs as do humans. They love interacting and performing tricks with humans.

This book is recommended for children who love animals, parents and teachers needing a reference on dolphins, and any age reader who enjoys reading about this delightful mammal.

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