Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hijacking your child;'s education

Here is a mum giving advice to parents about what they need to do to support and prepare their children for their lives. Because you are a parent at ISHCMC the need for you to follow her instructions are not so urgent because most of her advice is covered in school. Why is that? At ISHCMC we are not about teaching students obedience and uniformity we are aiming to encourage our students to innovate and be creative whilst searching for what interests them in the world. However, there is always room for additional support at home and conversations about learning, thinking and creatively as opposed to grades, test and homework.

Some good quotes at the end that create an environment for a a growth mindset:

  • Problems in the world are opportunities
  • Innovation comes from discontent
  • Petty rules stifle creativity so have less rules and more independent thinking
  • If you live inside the box it is hard to think outside of it.

Now you might be thinking its alright for a mum to make such a suggestion but how about the proof. Well here is her son talking on TED about his work regarding pancreatic cancer. As they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating........decide for yourself, do you see her parenting techniques coming through?

If you want to find out more about what Jake Andraka is doing to do there are several more recent video on youtube for you to watch.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Why is Your Teenager Acting So Weird? Let a Neurobiologist Explain

As far as the brain is concerned, the teenage years are a world unto themselves.
As an eminent neurobiologist and single mother of two teenaged boys, Dr. Frances Jensen had a front-row seat to the seemingly contradictory behavior that would allow her sons to ace a test at school yet still make lapses in judgment no sensible adult would. She wrote about these experiences, and the underlying biology that led to them, in her new book, co-authored with science journalist Amy Ellis Nutt, “The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.”

The contradictions Jensen observed occur in part because our brains do not fully mature until we are in our mid- to late-20s, when the frontal lobe, which controls decision-making and risk-taking, develops.
Jensen recently spoke with Michael Krasny, the host of KQED’s Forum radio show, to explain how parents can better understand the biochemical imperatives that make their teens and young adults so emotional and unpredictable, as well as leaving them more vulnerable to addiction and mental disorders.
Here are some excerpts from Jensen’s answers on the show, edited for length and readability.

On the Unpredictable Behavior of Teens
Teenagers do have frontal lobes, which are the seat of our executive, adult-like functioning like impulse control, judgment and empathy. But the frontal lobes haven’t been connected with fast-acting connections yet. The brain actually connects regions from the back of the brain to the front, so the last place to have these fast-acting connections is the frontal lobe.
But there is another part of the brain that is fully active in adolescents, and that’s the limbic system. And that is the seat of risk, reward, impulsivity, sexual behavior and emotion.
So they are built to be novelty-seeking at this point in their lives. Their frontal lobe isn’t able to say, “That’s a bad idea, don’t do that.” That’s not happening to the extent it will in adulthood.
But while that is a weakness, there are strengths of the adolescent brain. Each region of the brain is more active in childhood and adolescence than it will be later in life. They are faster learners, they can build synapses faster.
They’re really like Ferraris with weak brakes. They’re learning machines, but they can learn good and bad things.

Teens’ Extreme Emotional Reactions
Why do they react like it’s an international incident when it’s something you consider a completely innocuous event?
Functional imaging studies have looked at children, adolescents and adults who are given the same emotional stressor, and the adolescents will light up the emotional center — the limbic system — twice as high as children or adults. So they are uniquely experiencing whatever it is as an international incident.
I think we need to remind ourselves that they’re experiencing emotion in Technicolor, whereas we’re experiencing it in black and white. And it makes you understand a bit more why they behave the way they do. Maybe you can count to 10 and not react. Back off and reapproach in a more organized way.

Teens’ Vulnerability to Addiction
Cannabis decreases your cells’ ability to build synapses, which you need for learning. And there’s more substrate for the drug to bind to. So for the same dose, it’s hanging around in teen brains to a greater extent — it might be around for four days in the brain.
Now that’s on a single-dose basis. And what’s quite concerning is the literature that’s starting to come out about chronic, daily cannabis use. That’s what we’re really concerned about. And there are some concerning studies that say your IQ’s going to drop permanently if you are exposed to chronic, daily cannabis through this adolescent window.
We need to think of this window as a very precious window. You need to mind your brain at this stage of your life, and it will mind you later… that’s what I tell adolescents when I am talking to them.
More and more studies are being done, now that it has been realized that the adolescent brain is a specific brain stage. I think parents should make it their business to stay on top of what this research is showing. Your kids are so not going to do what you say just because you tell them to do it… and if you have a few facts in hand, it can help to make you somewhat more credible.

The Impacts of Social Media
The building of the teenaged brain hasn’t changed in eons, but what has changed is the environment around our teens. Right now they’re being bombarded by an unprecedented amount of information. And they’re novelty-seeking. And where else are they going to get novelty? It’s all over the internet. We should have a conversation about the age-inappropriate things they can find on the internet, things that might cause stress. And the effects of social media: How does it feed peer pressure behavior?
It’s really a whole new day and they are really playing with fire -– the schoolyard pranks of yesteryear that are not the same anymore.
Teens are better learners, and stressful things will stay in their brains longer. There’s a conversation we have to have with them: How do you gate yourself with social media? Life is about trial and error, and there needs to be an opportunity for them to rehearse mistakes, including mistakes in the social media domain, before they make them themselves.
There’s a way to guide your child to make decisions independently rather than helicoptering over them.
On How ‘Real’ Teenage Love Is
It feels very real to the person in that moment. It’s bona fide emotion; it’s just not emotion that’s measured like it will be later in life, where you might say, ‘I’m attracted to this person, but there’s a lot of reasons why this may not be.’ It’s real but just feels unbridled. Teens have superheated limbic systems, so the emotional areas, the sexual incentive areas, are on.
When Medication is Appropriate
The onset of mental illness occurs in late teens, early adolescence. Schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, psychosis; they come in this window. And the reason for this is developmental. You need to have your prefrontal cortices at least partially connected in order to have the manifestation of these diseases that you might already have as a genetic predisposition. It’s a biological event.
We need to be aware that one in four people in our society have some form of mental illness, ranging from very mild anxiety to a major affective disorder. And 60 to 80 percent of these people are seeing this happen between the ages of 16 and 26. That is a fact. We need to keep our antennae up to determine: Is this just a moody kid? Or is this mental illness? As a parent, if you think your child is not taking an interest in their appearance, losing their appetite, really becoming more isolated, you need to make sure you’re part of your teen’s life and probe what’s going on.
Dr. Frances Jensen on the teenage brain, in 2015:

The Silent Tragedy Affecting Today’s Children

Here is my new blog post. I encourage every parent who cares about the future of his/her children to read it. I know that many would choose not to hear what I say in the article, but your children need you to hear this message. Even if you disagree with my perspective, please, just follow the recommendations at the end of the article. Once you see the positive changes in your child’s life, you will understand why I say what I say!”
— Victoria Prooday

The silent tragedy affecting today’s children

(and what to do with it)

Write here...
There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels - our children. Through my work with hundreds of children and families as an occupational therapist, I have witnessed this tragedy unfolding right in front of my eyes. Our children are in a devastating emotional state! Talk to teachers and professionals who have been working in the field for the last 15 years. You will hear concerns similar to mine. Moreover, in the past 15 years, researchers have been releasing alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in kids’ mental illness, which is now reaching epidemic proportions:

How much more evidence do we need before we wake up?

No, “increased diagnostics alone” is not the answer!
No, “they all are just born like this” is not the answer!
No, “it is all the school system’s fault” is not the answer!
Yes, as painful as it can be to admit, in many cases, WE, parents, are the answer to many of our kids’ struggles!
 It is scientifically proven that the brain has the capacity to rewire itself through the environment. Unfortunately, with the environment and parenting styles that we are providing to our children, we are rewiring their brains in a wrong direction and contributing to their challenges in everyday life.
Yes, there are and always have been children who are born with disabilities and despite their parents’ best efforts to provide them with a well-balanced environment and parenting, their children continue to struggle. These are NOT the children I am talking about here. 
I am talking about many others whose challenges are greatly shaped by the environmental factors that parents, with their greatest intentions, provide to their children. As I have seen in my practice, the moment parents change their perspective on parenting, these children change.   

What is wrong?

Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:
  • Emotionally available parents
  • Clearly defined limits and guidance
  • Responsibilities
  • Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
  • Movement and outdoors
  • Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom
Instead, children are being served with:
  • Digitally distracted parents
  • Indulgent parents who let kids “Rule the world”
  • Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
  • Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
  • Sedentary indoor lifestyle
  • Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments
Could anyone imagine that it is possible to raise a healthy generation in such an unhealthy environment? Of course not! There are no shortcuts to parenting, and we can’t trick human nature. As we see, the outcomes are devastating. Our children pay for the loss of well-balanced childhood with their emotional well-being.

How to fix it?

If we want our children to grow into happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and go back to the basics. It is still possible! I know this because hundreds of my clients see positive changes in their kids’ emotional state within weeks (and in some cases, even days) of implementing these recommendations:
Set limits and remember that you are your child’s PARENT, not a friend
Offer kids well-balanced lifestyle filled with what kids NEED, not just what they WANT. Don’t be afraid to say “No!” to your kids if what they want is not what they need.

  • Provide nutritious food and limits snacks.
  • Spend one hour a day in green space: biking, hiking, fishing, watching birds/insects
  • Have a daily technology-free family dinner.
  • Play one board game a day. (List of family games)
  • Involve your child in one chore a day (folding laundry, tidying up toys, hanging clothes, unpacking groceries, setting the table etc)
  • Implement consistent sleep routine to ensure that your child gets lots of sleep in a technology-free bedroom
Teach responsibility and independence. Don’t over-protect them from small failures. It trains them the skills needed to overcome greater life’s challenges:
  • Don’t pack your child’s backpack, don’t carry her backpack, don’t bring to school his forgotten lunch box/agenda, and don’t peel a banana for a 5-year-old child. Teach them the skills rather than do it for them.
Teach delayed gratification and provide opportunities for “boredom” as boredom is the time when creativity awakens:
  • Don’t feel responsible for being your child’s entertainment crew.
  • Do not use technology as a cure for boredom.
  • Avoid using technology during meals, in cars, restaurants, malls. Use these moments as opportunities to train their brains to function under “boredom”
  • Help them create a “boredom first aid kit” with activity ideas for “I am bored” times.
Be emotionally available to connect with kids and teach them self-regulation and social skills:
  • Turn off your phones until kids are in bed to avoid digital distraction.
  • Become your child’s emotional coach. Teach them to recognize and deal with frustration and anger.
  • Teach greeting, turn taking, sharing, empathy, table manners, conversation skills,
  • Connect emotionally - Smile, hug, kiss, tickle, read, dance, jump, or crawl with your child.
We must make changes in our kids’ lives before this entire generation of children will be medicated! It is not too late yet, but soon it will be…

Victoria Prooday is a Registered Occupational Therapist, MSc OT (UofT), with extensive experience working with children, parents and teachers. While working with thousands of children and hundreds of teachers, Victoria is alarmed by the drastic decline in children’s social, emotional, and academic functioning and voices serious concerns regarding the future of the entire generation. Her mission is to educate parents about the negative impact of overuse of technology, decline in physical and creative play, emotionally disconnected and limitless parenting style on dysregulating children’s brain and making them less able to deal with real life challenges. She offers practical everyday solutions that have been proven to facilitate tremendous growth and change in children. Victoria is a founder and a clinical director of a multidisciplinary clinic for children with behavioral, attentional, social, emotional and academic challenges. Victoria holds a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the Medical School at University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health Science from York University.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sleep is so important for our secondary students

Teens don't get enough sleep, and it's not because of Snapchat, social lives or hormones — it's because of public policy, says Wendy Troxel. Drawing from her experience as a sleep researcher, clinician and mother of a teenager, Troxel discusses how early school start times deprive adolescents of sleep during the time of their lives when they need it most. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Questioning university being the inevitable next step after school.

What is the value of a university degree? It is no longer the golden ticket to a successful career, but students continue to follow the well trodden path from high school into university, and are paying more and more for their university education every year. Jack Delosa explains how curriculum complacency in our universities, and the enduring expectation that university is the only way is leading to disheartened students, unemployed graduates and skill gaps in our workforce.

Potentially a dangerous person to introduce to any students, Jack Delosa dropped out of university, and never looked back. Without a degree behind him he’s gone on to become an entrepreneur, investor, best-selling author, and the founder and managing director of entrepreneurial educator, The Entourage. Jack is passionate about empowering and supporting budding entrepreneurs to follow his path by forging their own path.

5 Important Ways Moms Influence Kids

5 Important Ways Moms Influence Kids
Media has a huge influence on kids -- and as kids get older, the online world has an even tighter grip on them. You can see it in the way they imitate their favorite TV characters, pretend to be YouTube stars, or beg for T-shirts, backpacks, or comforters emblazoned with logos. But parents still have a huge influence. And moms play a major role in the development and nurturing of kids in a media-filled world. Here are five ways moms can have a positive impact on kids' (media and tech) lives:
Foster positive body image
Kids get lots of iffy messages about appearance from media. Whether your kid is watching sassy tween TV or scrolling through perfect Instagram photos, they're inundated with bikini pics and muscleman heroes. Not only can moms discuss these media images with kids, but they can choose to ban fat talk and body shaming entirely from their homes. Studies show that 
moms who criticize their own bodies can have a major impact on how kids feel about their own.
Insist on device-free dinner
Sure, more dads are in the kitchen than ever before, but 
moms remain the primary person in charge of getting dinner on the table. And that means they can set the tone for the meal -- including insisting that all devices are put away so that families can concentrate on each other. Studies show that sharing meals as a family can help everything from behavior to health.
Choose high-quality media
So often mom are the ones in charge of curating kids' media lives. And we can do a lot to steer kids -- especially little ones -- toward top-notch content, from selecting TV shows that foster 
empathy and other character-building skills for preschoolers to loading up the tablet with educational apps to keep kids busy -- and learning -- during road trips and more.
Stop texting and driving
While both parents drive kids around, it's often moms who spend the most time in the car with kids. And kids are watching when we pick up the phone for a quick text while cruising down the highway. Nix this habit immediately to 
set a good example for your future drivers. (Plus, it's super dangerous!)
Raise media-literate kids
Moms are responsible for the majority of shopping in most households. This means it's mom's job to negotiate with kids about which logos, phrases, and characters can appear on kids' T-shirts, backpacks, and more. While there's no shame in buying kids the occasional branded goodie, it's a good idea to help kids understand a little bit about how marketing works. Understanding how 
media companies make money by selling T-shirts can be one step in teaching kids media literacy.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Suicide and adolescences.

Dear Parents,

Do you know how hard it is growing up as an adolescent in the 21st century? The challenges that technology, social media, friendships, grade based school and examination systems, university entry and finding a job place on the merging generation are huge. Add to this the perceived responsibility for saving the world, creating world peace and ending poverty that many of Generation X and Z have assumed and it is no surprise that depression and anxiety have reached unprecedented levels amongst adolescents today. Many students are ill prepared for these challenges and perceived responsibilities because they have been cocooned from pressures by over active helicopter parents protecting them from failure, responsibility for their choices and decision making at younger ages.

I want to share with you two pieces of information that I think you need to be aware about so that you can support your daughters and sons. Firstly there is on Netflix a series entitled 13 Reason Why. This is about a teenager who committed suicide and left tapes about . Here is a good article from The Atlantic about '13 Reasons Why' and the controversy that it has sparked.

Secondly there is a new game/ challenge, Blue Whale, that is becoming popular and again focuses on suicide as the last challenge in  along series that include self harming. Here is a video about Blue Whale:

As you can see from the embedded articles and the video these two media forms are playing on a vulnerable area for many teenagers in our schools. Depression, anxiety leading to suicide is a major concern for teenagers in our ever changing world regardless of media popularizing it as an acceptable action. Here is a very good site from, the Jason Foundation, that provides information about teenage suicide, signs to recognize and common myths.

In his recent blog post on Growing Leaders, Tim Elmore provided the following questions that can be discussed with children/ students to help them with their thinking.

Questions to Discuss with Your Students

  1. How can people feel lonely when they are never alone and always connected?
  2. Why do kids often feel depressed as they post happy pics on social media?
  3. We know that life is always better than death. But why is that so?
  4. What enables a student to hide their loneliness or angst, and later surprise people with a suicide?
  5. When is it time to “give a friend space” and when must we intrude if we suspect someone is contemplating suicide?
  6. What drives a person over the line when they believe ending their life is better than pushing ahead with life?
  7. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, where should or could you go to get help?
    (Hint: make sure to mention: school counselors, parents, teachers, and administration.

The key is not to over dramatize the situation and to always ensure that your daughters and sons  know that they have someone they can talk to about anything that is troubling them before it becomes too much for them to cope with. Communication, openness and willingness to listen non judgmentally to your children as they grow up is essential for creating trusting relationships in the home that allow children to share their problems.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Why the educational experience needs to change

To prepare for the future, we need to shift from thinking about jobs and careers to thinking about challenges and problems, reports Alina Dizik.

When Jean-Philippe Michel, an Ottawa-based career coach, works with secondary school students, he doesn’t use the word profession. Neither does he focus on helping his young clients figure out what they want to be when they grow up—at least not directly.

For him, there's really no such thing as deciding on a profession to grow up into.

Rather than encouraging each person to choose a profession, say, architect or engineer, he works backwards from the skills that each student wants to acquire. So instead of saying, “I want to be a doctor”, he’ll aim to get students to talk about a goal, in this case “using empathy in a medical setting”.

Students today should focus on a collection of skills, rather than a particular profession, says Jean-Philippe Michel (Credit: Getty Images)

It might seem a bit esoteric, but the twist in language helps boil down real objectives. And sometimes those don’t jibe with a single profession or even the career choice you might have imagined wanting at the start. Instead, Michel says deciding the skills you want to use leads to a career that’s more targeted—and thus more likely to bring you satisfaction. It also might be less a job and more a set of projects and work situations that lead you from one thing to the next.

They need to shift from thinking about jobs and careers to think about challenges and problems

“They need to shift from thinking about jobs and careers to think about challenges and problems,” Michel says. Easier said than done for, say, Gen X or even older millennials, but it’s not so out of the realm of thinking for younger people, who are already narrowing down their university studies.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

How society kills creativity

When it comes to our modern day society, there is no doubt that we are being told how to live and what our lives are supposed to look like. When we are born we have our parents imposing their ideas and beliefs onto us about what is right and what is wrong and then from there we are usually enrolled into the public school system. Here is where a lot of our natural, inherent creative abilities unfortunately come to die.
In many cases, the school system doesn’t celebrate gifts in the realm of art, music, poetry etc. Rather, the more logical analytical ways of knowledge are celebrated, such as math, science, and memorization. Sure, these are important gifts as well and they should be celebrated, but not all people fit into that mould. And then what happens to those gifts that are left untapped and never brought forward into our world for everyone to enjoy? Well, society wants us to believe that those gifts do not fit into our system and we can’t make a living by utilizing them. What a conundrum.
Madrid based animators, Daniel Martinez Lara and Rafa Cano Mendez showcased this issue perfectly by putting together this 7 minute short to teach us a lesson on what happens to your life when you allow your creative abilities and talents to be drowned out by the daily 9-5 grind.
This film also touches on parenthood and how important it is to let go of the idea of a desired outcome for your children and to let them figure out for themselves what it is they would like to do. Of course every parent wants the best for their children, but we have to remember what is our best is not necessarily the best for our children. We need to be able to recognize the level at which we are just succumbing to the pressures of society as well. At some point letting go and trusting can go a long way.

This critically acclaimed short film was made entirely with a type of software called Blender, an open-source 3D rendering program. It was dedicated “to our families, for helping us not to lose our color.” Without further adieu, here is the award-winning short film, Alike, enjoy!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Raise a Reader

How to Raise a Reader

Ten tips for getting your kids hooked on books -- ebooks or the paper kind. By Regan McMahon
How to Raise a Reader
Kids become lifelong readers for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes there's one key book that captures a kid's imagination and opens him or her up to the exciting world of fiction. Other times, a teacher who assigns great books in class sparks a hunger for more big ideas and fine writing. In some cases, parents influence kids' appreciation of books by sharing their own love of literature and modeling reader behavior -- always having a book to read, taking books on vacation, reading before bedtime, making regular trips to the library and bookstore, etc.
Here are our best tips for nurturing a love of reading that can last a lifetime:
Read aloud: This comes naturally to lots of new parents, but it's important to keep it up. Kids will enjoy it longer than you think. When reading to babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and kids in early grade school, it's wonderful to have a kid on your lap, snuggled next to you on the couch, or drifting off to sleep in bed as you enjoy picture books together. You may have to read your kid's favorite a hundred times, but just go with it. Your kid will remember the closeness as well as the story. And try nonfiction for those who are curious about pirates, Vikings, robots, castles, history, sports, biography, animals, whatever. For second through fifth graders, read those rich and meaty books that might be missed otherwise, maybe classics like Treasure Island or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Many parents think that as soon as their kids learn to read on their own, they no longer need to be read to. But kids still love it and benefit from it as they hear the rhythm of the language, learn correct pronunciation, and get to relax and just take it all in. Kids will get the idea that there's something worthwhile in books and that there's something special about time spent with a parent.
Savor the series: It's common for kids to become book lovers for life after getting hooked on a series. And there are lots of good ones that keep kids hungry for the next installment. Some reliable prospects: Ivy and Bean, Judy Moody for beginning readers; Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and the Percy Jackson for middle graders; and The Hunger Games, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and The Raven Cycle for older kids.
Grab onto a genre: Kids go through phases of genres they're passionate about, from girl detectives to science fiction and fantasy. Don't get hung up on whether it's considered great literature (although some genre books are). Be happy that your kid is devouring books one after the other.
Feed the favorite-author addiction: Once your kids find a writer they love, they may want to read all of his or her books -- a great excuse for a trip to the library or an opportunity for book swapping among friends and classmates. Here are some good bets for favorites. Younger kids: Dav Pilkey (The Adventures of Captain Underpants), Beverly Cleary (Beezus and Ramona). Middle grade: Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn-Dixie), Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book). Tweens and teens: Judy Blume (Are You There God, It's Me Margaret) and Sarah Dessen (Just Listen).
Count on the classics: Books are called classics because they continue to engage readers generation after generation. There are no guarantees, but you could try introducing your kids to books you loved as a kid and see which ones click. Some good ones to try are the Dr. Seuss and Narnia books, Charlotte's Web, and The Secret Garden. Check out our Classic Books for Kids list to find more.
Find books about the things your kid loves: If your kid adores horses, try Black Beauty or any of the titles on our list of best Horse Books. If he's wild about cars, trucks and trains, check out our list of Vehicle Books. Librarians, booksellers, and Internet searches will help you find books on any favorite topic.
Funny is fine: Some parents wrestle with letting their kids read Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and other edgy humor books about kids getting in trouble. Talk to your kids about the content, but keep in mind that kids like these books not because they want to imitate the characters' actions but because they can live vicariously through their bad behavior. Humor is a great pathway to book loving.
Comics are OK: Graphic novels are among the hottest trends in children's publishing, and they can get kids hooked on reading. Kids may start with Squish and Babymouse and move on to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. But these series can also lead to more sophisticated fare such as El DeafoBoxers and Saints, and This One Summer. Find other titles in our list of best Graphic Novels.
Engage with ebooks: Kids can cuddle up with a Kindle, Nook, or iPad before naptime or bedtime. Some recent studies say more than half of U.S. kids are reading digital books at least once a week. The electronic format has proved to be especially engaging for boys and reluctant readers, and you can download or access many books on an ereader, which make it a great choice for air travel and car rides.
But note that some studies show that book apps and interactive “enhanced” ebooks, while fun, can be distracting and inhibit reading comprehension. So to promote reading skills and encourage your kid to be a frequent reader, you might want to stick with ebooks that have the look of a bound paper book. Some even have animation that mimics turning the pages.
Make reading a family value: Actions speak louder than words. Take your kids to the library once a week or once a month to get new books, make regular outings to your local bookstore, hunt for low-cost books at used bookstores or second-hand shops, and show kids that finding a good book is like a treasure hunt.
Fit reading into your family lifestyle. Set aside time for reading only -- turning off the TV, computer, and cell phone. Encourage focused reading time, either for independent reading or reading aloud. Take preschoolers to story time hours at libraries and bookstores. For older kids, a parent-kid book club can be fun. Read to kids at bedtime. Provide time and space for your kids to read for pleasure in the car (if they don't get car sick!), on vacation, after homework is done, on their own before bed. Warning: It could be habit-forming!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

All Parents should watch this TED about abuse and the Digital World

We need to talk to kids about the risks they face online, says information security expert Sebastián Bortnik. In this talk, Bortnik discusses the issue of "grooming" — the sexual predation of children by adults on the internet — and outlines the conversations we need to start having about technology to keep our kids safe

This talk is in Spanish but if you go to the cc button you can obtain English subtitles.

Turning School upside down

Anton Oberländer is a persuasive speaker. Last year, when he and a group of friends were short of cash for a camping trip to Cornwall, he managed to talk Germany’s national rail operator into handing them some free tickets. So impressed was the management with his chutzpah that they invited him back to give a motivational speech to 200 of their employees.
Anton, it should be pointed out, is 14 years old.
The Berlin teenager’s self-confidence is largely the product of a unique educational institution that has turned the conventions of traditional teaching radically upside down. At Oberländer’s school, there are no grades until students turn 15, no timetables and no lecture-style instructions. The pupils decide which subjects they want to study for each lesson and when they want to take an exam.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Recently, Tim Elmore was interviewed by pediatrician Dr. Meg Meeker for her podcast. The theme was the topic of my book, Twelve Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid. During the course of their conversation, several concepts were discussed that they felt you’d benefit from in a blog post. 

1. In your book: Twelve Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, you talk about what we parents do that keep our kids from succeeding in life. First of all—what do you consider to be successful parenting?
To me, successful parenting is leading and developing your child so that they can function as well-adjusted adults and reach their potential. This means we must think PREPARE, not just PROTECT. Our “test” is to love them in a healthy manner, so that they can replicate that love as healthy adults themselves. How they turn out is our “report card.” (Certainly, there are unique situations with special needs kids where a different report card should be used, such as higher levels of self-regulation).

2. Parents today work harder to get parenting “right” than I’ve ever seen in 30 years. But sometimes trying so hard makes parents too “good.” You write about Mistake #1- We won’t let our kids fail. Why do they need to fail? This sounds important but from a practical standpoint, tell me specifically what parents should do to let their kids fail. Should they set them up to fail?
Today, we have a large population of parents—millions of us—who “over-function.” We’ve been so intent on nurturing the self-esteem and safety of our children that we did too much. We didn’t want to “mess it up.” In fact, two extremes are happening in our homes today: abandonment and abundance. Adults are not present to mentor their children or they are doing too much, leaving children helpless to know how to do things for themselves. Both extremes leave the young adult ill-equipped for life after childhood. First and foremost is: We won’t let our kids fail.
Why won’t we let them fail?
We feel like WE are a failure as parents when our kids fail.
We are often living out our unlived life through our children.
We assume failure will damage their self-esteem.
We somehow assume that good parents never allow a negative experience to happen to their child. (In actuality—negative experiences foster the most growth. If we raise kids as fragile, they’ll surely become fragile adults).

For example, I’ve seen dozens of parents at Starbucks doing their child’s homework for them. I read about one mom who tried to take a standardized test for her teenage daughter. In 2014, one in twelve Millennials brought their parent to a job interview.
So, what are some steps we can take on this issue? First, parents should not set their kid up for failure. We should never desire our kids to fail. However, most of us would admit that our greatest growth in life occurred when we failed at something. Life will provide tough times and we should not PREVENT those times. But we should PREPARE our kids for them and be there to PROCESS those tough times with them. As they mature, we should loosen the reigns and allow our kids to navigate challenging consequences.
Consider the message we send our kids when we won’t let them deal with a difficult experience: “Bless your heart. You don’t have it in you to handle this. You need me…” Instead, we should observe their growth, encouraging them to take on opportunities that will stretch them—encourage tasks that lie somewhere between STRETCHED and OVERWHELMED. Then, as they mature, its best to lead with questions not imperatives. (Why do you think that happened? How did it make you feel? How could you have handled it differently?)

3. Mistake #3 is one I love: we prioritize happiness. Why shouldn’t raising happy kids be a parenting goal?
I’ve heard countless parents say: “I just want my children to be happy.” It’s only natural. But happiness makes a horrible goal. However, it makes a wonderful by-product. You pursue purpose and find satisfaction. Albert Einstein said: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” When happiness is a goal—we shop for it, we date and marry for it; we try to find it in people and places that can’t provide it. Spouses can’t constantly entertain us. I remember John Maxwell’s wife, Margaret, answering a question from a spouse at a conference: “Does John make you happy?” She shocked everyone by saying, “No, he doesn’t.” Then, she proceeded to say, “I learned a long time ago that I must find a way to be happy without depending on someone else to do it for me…not even my husband. Then, I was able to expect realistic outcomes from my marriage that John could actually fulfill.” That’s brilliant.

4. Many parents realize that disciplining kids is hard—no matter what the child’s age. They know they should be consistent and make consequences stick. Why don’t they? These are two mistakes you write about. What can parents do to make consequences stick? Many feel so overwhelmed with being consistent in discipline.
Yes. Parents often return home from a busy job and they’re already exhausted. If they feel spent they often don’t feel it’s in them to level consequences because it’s WORK. Another reason we aren’t consistent is because we feel our kids need grace. After all, they are overwhelmed too. They’re stressed out. I’ve written before that stress levels in high school students today is equal to that of a psychiatric patient in 1950s.
But the truth is, consistency and steady consequences offer security to kids. Consequences are predictable in an unpredictable world. They provide boundaries in an “anything goes” world and they communicate love because you care enough to follow through. To make consequences stick, stop talking about rules and start enforcing “equations.” If they make THIS choice, there are benefits. Making THAT choice brings consequences. Life is full of equations and we must introduce them to our children early on.

5. Mistake #6 – We lie about their potential. We all see our kids through rose-colored glasses. Isn’t this a good thing? How can we be our child’s #1 fan and be realistic about their potential? What if a parent has a child that isn’t good at anything?

Every kid wants to hear Mom or Dad say they’re “awesome” early in life. But by the time they reach late elementary school and middle school, kids are comparing parents’ comments with peers and others. If Mom is the only one saying, “You’re awesome!” they begin to question our judgment. Or, they stop really believing us. I believe there is a way to affirm our children without being dishonest or exaggerating. Hyperbole is not necessary. We’ve all watched American Idol…where a young person tries to sing and we wonder quietly, “Who are your friends?” I believe we must be honest in our praise and stop all the hyperbole. Instead, Carol Dweck reminds us to affirm variables that are in their control. Instead of saying, “You’re smart.” Say, “I love the strategy you used on that math problem.” Instead of saying: “You’re gorgeous!” Say, “I love how honest and empathetic you are with your friends. You are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Why ISHCMC is ahead of all schools in HCMC

Correlation between air pollution and school performance

Friday, 06 January 2017 15:12

There is a clear correlation between air pollution and pupil performance. There is a clear correlation between air pollution and pupil performance. © Belga
A Belgian study, summarised on Friday in De Morgen, states that pupils underperform in class on days when the air is more polluted.
Researchers went to three Flemish primary schools in Zonhoven, Tirlemont and Hasselt to prove this. They noted that pupils' scores increased when the air was purer. In contrast, this was not the case, for pupils whose home environment had greater levels of pollution.

The Professor in Epidemiology, Tim Nawrot (University of Hasselt or UHasselt), says “The differences are subtle but disruptive for the pupils. The effect of air pollution is almost as much of a determining factor on overall performance as the level of parents' education.”

He went on, “We cannot deny that air quality has consequences on a cognitive level. Given that Flanders is crossed by heavy traffic, we should take urgent action. We have produced a study of schools with relatively unpolluted air. In a densely occupied city, the effects are certainly likely to be more significant.”

Oscar Schneider
The Brussels Times

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Could this be your year of conquering negative thinking?

Kathy Osborn
Here’s a New Year’s challenge for the mind: Make this the year that you quiet all those negative thoughts swirling around your brain.
All humans have a tendency to be a bit more like Eeyore than Tigger, to ruminate more on bad experiences than positive ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that helps us avoid danger and react quickly in a crisis.
But constant negativity can also get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level and ultimately damage our health. And some people are more prone to negative thinking than others. Thinking styles can be genetic or the result of childhood experiences, said Judith Beck, a psychologist and the president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Children may develop negative thinking habits if they have been teased or bullied, or experienced blatant trauma or abuse. Women, overall, are also more likely to ruminate than men, according to a 2013 study.
“We were built to overlearn from negative experiences, but under learn from positive ones,” said Rick Hanson, a psychologist and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.