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4 Things to Know About Hand Sanitizers

Here's the lowdown on hand sanitizer from Allison Aiello, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

By Michelle Crouch 

Updated September 20, 2019


Fact 1: It works.

It can be as effective as soap and water. But soap loosens dirt and bacteria off the skin and helps wash it down the drain; sanitizers kill viruses and bacteria. So if your child has any dirt or grime on his hands, he should wash them instead.

But keep in mind, new research published in mSphere in September 2019 found ethanol-bred disinfectants don't swiftly destroy the influenza A virus. The study found it takes at least four minutes to kill it, and that’s due to the “stronger than expected” mucus surrounding the virus. Only once the mucus is completely dry will the virus die. Hand washing without soap was found to be more effective—it killed the virus within 30 seconds.

Fact 2: The dose is important.

Kids need to cover their hands entirely with a nickel or quarter-size dollop. And they should get some under their nails by scraping their palms. Don't let them wipe any off on their pants; that reduces effectiveness.

Fact 3: Ingredients matter.

Products with any less than 60 percent alcohol aren't effective and may actually encourage bacterial growth. It's best, for now, to stick with traditional alcohol-based gels.

Fact 4: Babies shouldn't use it.

Their skin is very thin and delicate, so the chance of alcohol absorption is high. Still, there are rarely major effects from exposure in kids under 6, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

  • By Michelle Crouch




7 Pink Flags That Could Signal a Behavioral or Emotional Disorder in Your Child

They're not glaring signs of mental illness, but these behaviors could be indicators that there is something going on.  

Written By Kelley King Heyworth


The words mental illness may send a little shiver down your spine, but putting a name to a group of psychological symptoms is important. Insurance reimbursement, special accommodations at school, and successful treatment all depend on it. 

If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, start by discussing them with your pediatrician. “We often talk about these worries as being ‘pink’ instead of red flags,” explains Rahil Briggs, Psy.D. national director of HealthySteps at Zero to Three, in Washington, D.C. “Although they aren’t necessarily glaring signals of a clinical disorder, they can be subtle evidence of a developing problem.” 

These are the most common behaviors to look out for:

  1. Disordered sleep. Beyond babyhood, kids should be getting around ten hours of shut-eye per night. Serious concerns go far beyond the usual gripes. Children with depression sometimes seem excessively sleepy and drawn to bed at odd hours of the day. Those with anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or DMDD often take hours to fall asleep and wake up multiple times every night. Kristin Harlan’s son, who has DMDD, went almost three days with just an hour or two of sleep when he was 6. 
  2. Tummy trouble. Bellyaches are a common kid complaint, but frequent stomach pains that can’t be explained by constipation or a food intolerance might have psychological roots. Research has long linked chronic GI woes in children with both anxiety and depression.
  3. Obsessive thoughts or fears. In kids who may have anxiety, a thought becomes so all-consuming that it interferes with everyday life. Common obsessions, particularly in children who also have OCD, are safety and germs. A child suffering from OCD may be compelled to wash his hands several times a day, often at inconvenient times, to ease his anxieties. Fears can wreck routines too. “A typical kid who gets stung by a bee might try to avoid bees but still play normally,” says Carol Weitzman, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Yale University. “We become concerned when a child’s fear of bees keeps him inside and the whole family starts to organize their plans around that—skipping trips to the park or the pool.” 
  4. Disinterest in Fun. Kids have different passions, but a depressed child doesn’t get excited about much of anything. “It’s common to see an inability to find joy, even in things that used to seem exciting,” says Joan Luby, M.D., director of the early emotional development program at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. 
  5. Guilty conscience.“A child who’s prone to depression may feel absolutely terrible about small transgressions and need an unusual amount of reassurance to feel better,” says Dr. Luby. Recent brain research shows that an area of the brain called the anterior insula is smaller than average in guilt-prone children as well as in depressed adults, suggesting this character trait might be a powerful predictor of later depression.
  6. Explosive anger. Daily tantrums with aggression, destructive behavior, and other signs of abnormal intensity can be symptoms of DMDD, depression, and other concerns.
  7. Dark thoughts. In Dr. Luby’s research on depressed preschoolers, she found that many acted out morbid themes during imaginary play. Even small acts of self-harm can be a harbinger. At age 6, Angie Duray’s son Will, who has depression, would literally beat himself up over a tricky homework assignment. “He’d call himself a stupid idiot and say he’d never learn, and then he’d bang his head on the table. One time he stabbed his hand with a sharp pencil,” Angie remembers. 

Read more from the Parents feature "There's Something Wrong With My Child"

Dealing with Kids' Test Stress

Parenting expert Jan Faull, MEd, gives advice on helping children prepare for tests, and what to do when testing seems to be getting out of hand.

Of the four parental 'feeding styles,' only one is good for kids' health, experts say

Expert advice for dealing with your picky eater
Michigan pediatrician and researcher Dr. Julie Lumeng suggests pairing your picky child with one that is eating a variety of foods. "Children are more likely to be willing to taste a new food if they see another human being tasting that new food," she said. "And it's even more powerful if it's a peer."

Read more →

How to keep your kids from failing

The skills kids need to avoid getting fooled by fake news


Welcome to Small Humans, an ongoing series at Mashable that looks at how to take care of – and deal with – the kids in your life. Because Dr. Spock is nice and all, but it’s 2018 and we have the entire internet to contend with.

One day your kids are learning to walk and the next they're on their own sharing Russian propaganda on YouTube and Facebook.

You might think your great-uncle using an old desktop to "surf the internets" is the person at risk of accidentally spreading "fake news" on social networks, but kids these days aren't always faring so much better. 

A large-scale study by the Stanford Graduate School of Education found that young people at every stage from middle school to college were consistently unable to differentiate news from advertising, or false information from the truth, a state of affairs the researchers described as “bleak.” 

Compounding the problem is the way young people use the internet. Much of the news they do consume comes through intermediaries, chief among them YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, according to research from Common Sense Media. These networks often muddy the source of information or make all outlets look similar, robbing the audience of visual cues to help them differentiate reliable and less-reliable sources. It’s worth remembering that adults have trouble identifying fake news in this environment as well. 

The good news is, parents and caregivers are ideally placed to help. The same Common Sense Media study found that while children aged 10 to 18 were typically skeptical of mainstream media, 66% felt they could trust information from their families. 

So how can you teach kids to spot fake news, rather than be fooled by it?  

The ABCs of media literacy

Common Sense Media’s vice president and editor-in-chief, Jill Murphy, says it starts with basic media literacy, which can be taught from as young as five—for example, telling your child why a show isn’t appropriate for them instead of just shutting it off. Toward the end of elementary school, they can grasp the fact that journalism is a job, which you might illustrate by showing them news stories on the same topic published by different outlets. “It may go against your values to look at the other side of an issue,” says Murphy. “But it's a way for them to absorb the concept that people write to convey a specific message. Learning to question those messages is an important skill.”

However, you don’t want to make them too critical, says Peter Adams, senior vice president of education at non-profit The News Literacy Project. “One mistake a lot of people make is to give the impression that all information is created with an ulterior motive. We don't want kids to be naïve, but we don't want them to be cynical, either.” 

He thinks it’s helpful to be clear about the meaning of “fake news,” especially since the term has become politicized, used to mean anything from propaganda to a view you disagree with. “Fake news is a specific kind of misinformation that is entirely fictional but is designed to look like news, usually with an institutional-sounding name and an institutional-looking masthead.” He wouldn’t include manipulated images or conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones in this definition but sees them as part of a culture of misinformation, which he describes as “an enormous problem.”  

His organization teaches adolescents to ask a series of questions when they look at a news story, especially one that incites an emotional reaction, as fake news is designed to do. If they haven’t heard of the publication before, they should search to see if any recognizable news outlets have covered the story. “Then they can ask more nuanced questions, like: Is this fair? Does it give me everything I need to know? Could it be more objective? The goal is for those steps to become habitual so they have an internal sense of red flags.”

Psychologist David Anderson, PhD is the director of programs at the Child Mind Institute in New York. He says parents who want to talk to their children about fake news should tackle it the same way as any other potentially sensitive subject. “Think about a couple of talking points beforehand and approach the conversation calmly. Then we recommend opening it up and asking what kind of stories they’ve seen where they’ve wondered whether they were real.” He says the best way to know what media your child is consuming is to watch videos or look at social media with them and let them tell you what they like, without judgment. 

Use teenage angst for good

Adams says that teenagers are especially vulnerable to misinformation. They want to develop their own tastes, tend to distrust authority, and YouTube’s algorithms mean that they can easily be exposed to extremist views, whether they seek them out or not. If they believe any of the conspiracy theories they come across, though, he says they can usually be guided to see the truth. “Ask probing questions, like: How is this sourced? How is there no proof that this exists beyond these types of videos? They're connecting these two dots, are they really related?” Just don’t lecture them, advises Anderson. “We tend to listen to those who share our views and discount those who don’t.”

The effect of misinformation on children is hard to measure, but Adams sees equipping them to deal with it as a moral imperative. “Information is the basis of students' civic literacy, civic engagement, and civic empowerment, so to not give them the tools they need to navigate the 21st-century information landscape and make smart decisions is fundamentally disempowering.” 

Of course, adults aren’t immune, and you might need to brush up on your own media literacy alongside your kids. But the key to these conversations is a strong parent-child relationship, says Anderson. “It’s about whether or not kids feel like you have their best interests at heart and can help them think about something without forcing them into a particular perspective.” Peter Adams agrees. His top tip for talking to children about fake news? “Bring it to them. Don't wait for them to bring it to you.” 


Teach your kids about personal finance

Anne-Marie Vettorel  2018-10-02


In a consumer society, teaching children about money is paramount. As Robert Kiyosaki puts it in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, “without financial literacy and the knowledge of how money works, they are not prepared to face the world that awaits them, a world in which spending is emphasized over savings.”


Teach kids the difference between wants and needs

Even preschoolers can distinguish between needs and wants, and as children grow older, they can make more subtle distinctions between the two categories (the lines get blurry, for example, when we look at designer jeans and restaurant spending—technically, yes, clothes and food are needs, but there are deceptive ways that our wants burrow themselves into our needs).

Talking explicitly about wants and needs in a casual but recurring way helps kids learn these lessons early.

Comparison-shop with your kids

The grocery store is the perfect financial literacy classroom. With various versions of the same product, children have the opportunity to weigh the costs and benefits of purchases, and calculate unit prices.

If your family has a favourite brand of something, because it tastes better or is made with better ingredients, this is a good time to talk to your child about how that could be worth a financial trade-off. Looking at the prices of electronics, in flyers and online, could teach kids a different lesson: that it’s sometimes possible to find the exact same item for cheaper after shopping around a little.


Teach them to pay themselves first

Sometimes, kids find themselves in possession of small amounts of money with zero instruction as to how it should be handled. This, personal finance author Neale Godfrey said in an interview with Real Simple, encourages them to “grow up thinking it’s all meant to be spent.”

Instead, use a system of clear jars or piggy banks to help them develop the habit of dividing up their income into categories like “spend,” “give,” and “save.”


Help kids create a “wish list” and a savings plan

Now that your kids are dividing their money up into jars and putting, say, 20 percent into savings, you can talk to them about what they want to save for. Maybe they know exactly what they want, or maybe they need some time to hash it out with you and choose between various options.

At this point, you can talk to them about how much their desires cost and how frequently they’ll need to contribute to their savings in order to earn them.


Give kids an opportunity to earn money

Personal finance writer Dave Ramsey says that kids should be given “commissions, not allowances.” This means that parents should pay their kids for completing household chores, such as mowing the lawn or cleaning their rooms, to teach them that money is earned, rather than giving them weekly allowances that don’t teach them anything.

Open a savings account

A great way to teach kids early lessons about financial responsibility is to help them open a bank account and take them to the bank on a regular basis to deposit and withdraw money.

Visiting a bank branch in person makes the experience of saving tangible, and will help younger kids understand the very concept of the bank—that it holds your money for you and helps it grow.

Explain compound interest

Now that your child has a savings account, he’s probably earning a small amount of interest on his money. Take the time to explain what that number on his statement (or in his bank book) means—that he’s earning interest on both the money he deposits into the account and on past interest.

The amounts on your child’s bank statement are probably quite small, so try doing some hypothetical compound interest calculations with larger numbers so that your child can see what a difference it can make over time.


Explain credit cards and debt

Credit is a more complex topic, but as soon as kids reach their “tween” years, you should start having conversations about it. It’s important that these conversations be nuanced, as the message that “credit cards are bad” is overly simplistic and, in some ways, inaccurate. 

Along with discussing the concepts of borrowing and interest, you should talk about what a credit history is, and how it is built and maintained. If your kids borrow money from you, you may want to impose penalties on any late payments so they learn the consequences of poor planning.


Let kids buy stock, literally or using a simulator

Showing kids how the stock market works (and introducing important concepts like risk, volatility, and diversification) can be done by buying them a little bit of stock in a company they like, so they can see how it fluctuates and (hopefully) grows over time.

As your child develops a more mature understanding of this and learns about boom and bust cycles in her history classes, you can talk about investing in recession-proof industries and how the economy affects financial markets.

If you feel uncomfortable literally buying stocks for your child, you can introduce her to an investing simulator like the Stock Market Game.


Talk to your kids about taxes

First, explain the general concept: kids should know that everyone in the country pays taxes to keep roads paved, schools and libraries running, and parks well-maintained. In Real Simple, Neale Godfrey suggests that, when your child reaches the age of 10 or so, you start taxing the earnings from his chores at a 15 percent rate and voting as a family on how this money will be spent.



Let your children make money mistakes

It’s hard to watch kids mess up—but you have to let them so that they apprehend early the consequences of financial recklessness. If your child wastes money and experiences buyer’s remorse, have a conversation about it instead of swooping in to try to replace the money or soothe feelings of disappointment.



Be transparent about what it costs to run the household

Personal finance writer Suze Orman advocates for sitting down with older children once a month and paying the family bills together. Since those payments likely happen online, Orman suggests handing the mouse or the trackpad over to your child and having them input the payment information so that they learn by “actually doing something.” This teaches kids how bill payments work, and also gives them a sense of how much it costs to run a household.


Consider enrolling your child in a financial literacy program

If you live in the United States, there are plenty of organizations teaching kids how to make sense of money, through means as diverse as tech and the performing arts. If you don’t have access to these programs, Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club teaches financial literacy and entrepreneurship through a series of animated online videos.


Teach kids to think critically about branding and advertising

During trips to the grocery store or the mall, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss branding with your child. Explain to them that just because something is in generic packaging or doesn’t have a flashy logo doesn’t necessarily mean it’s of inferior quality—an important lesson in both financial and media literacy.

 Talking about the “tricks” of advertising with your child will help them engage with media in a more sophisticated way, helping them make smarter spending decisions in the long run.


Encourage kids to start a small business or side hustle

Support your child’s lemonade stand or babysitting business, and encourage him to think of unique ways to earn money before he’s old enough to get a traditional summer job. Crafty kids could open an Etsy store, for example, or sell tickets to a screening of a movie they’ve made—there is a multitude of possibilities, and some could even get kids thinking about creative careers they might enjoy.


Meet kids halfway on larger purchases

Sometimes kids (especially older kids and teenagers) want things that are too expensive for them to conceivably buy for themselves (a band trip, a snowboard, and lessons, etc.). In these cases, you could implement a dollar-for-dollar matching program. The kids will have some skin in the game and will think more critically about how much they value these big-ticket purchases. 

Teach kids to think critically about social comparison

Children pick up a lot from society, including classist messages about how more money makes you a “better” or more attractive person. Personal finance writer Gail Vaz-Oxlade words it strongly: “equating our ‘stuff’ with our self-worth is an illness. Inoculate your kids against this virus.”

This sense of self-assuredness will help kids avoid making purchases just to keep up with the Joneses.

Talk about online shopping, banking, and data protection

More and more, our financial lives are lived online, and it’s important that kids grow up with a basic understanding of cybersecurity so that they don’t expose themselves to fraud and identity theft when they’re older. Start with simple lessons: don’t share passwords, even with friends, and be very careful where you enter your credit card information.

Teach kids that giving back is just as important as spending and saving

Remember the clear jars we set up? One of them was labelled “give,” and it’s already collecting money for charity. Kids are often passionate about world issues, animal rights, the environment, or helping those less fortunate, so help them navigate the non-profit landscape so that they can make a difference with their dollars.

Model good financial habits

Kids pay more attention than parents sometimes realize, so if you’re buying impulsively or living outside your means, eventually, your kids are going to catch on. Modelling good financial behaviour doesn’t mean you have to be perfect in every way, but if you do make a mistake, like miss a payment on something, explain it to your child calmly and discuss your plan to rectify the situation.

What if your child's teacher does not like them?

What do you do if you think your kid’s preschool teacher doesn’t like them?

Julia Pelly 2019-02-04

© Used with permission of / © Rogers Media Inc. 2019. Photo: iStock Photo

When my son was three years old, we bought him a tiny backpack, packed his lunch and sent him off for his first year of full-time daycare. While finding a childcare spot that matched our budget and philosophy was a stressful process, we felt confident that our child would spend his days learning and making friends under the watchful eye of caring teachers.

Four weeks into the year, after witnessing a particularly ungentle moment between my son and his teacher (centred around how quickly my son was putting his shoes on) and hearing daily complaints from my son that the same teacher didn’t like him, we decided that we needed to do something. As parents, we wanted to make sure that the people looking after our child each day would see his positive qualities and build his confidence. Both my husband and I are educators, and we knew how vital it was for our son to have access to compassionate school teachers. This applies to daycare teachers as well—they meet so many of a young child’s physical and emotional needs as they grow and, in many ways, serve as a daytime stand-in for the child’s parent. Providing sensitive care is vital for their development.

If you’re worried that your child’s preschool teacher doesn’t like them—for any reason—or isn’t treating your kid with respect and kindness, here are some of the steps you can take to help improve the situation.

  1. Monitor the situation

Sometimes a preschooler might be having a hard day and report that a teacher they usually like is “mean” to them. While trusting your child’s words is important, it may be necessary to dig a little deeper before jumping to conclusions. Parents can monitor the situation by volunteering in the classroom, stopping by for lunch and checking in with their child periodically.

Ann Douglas, a parenting columnist for CBC Radio and bestselling author of numerous books about parenting, including Happy Parents Happy Kids,  says that you’ll want to see a teacher behaving in a warm, responsive manner toward your child. If this warmth and responsiveness are missing, you might notice that the teacher “seems impatient, distracted or disinterested in your child.”

Opportunities to look for the warmth you hope to see include how the teacher responds when your child needs help with a task or experiences conflict with another child. While behaviour can be telling, Douglas cautions parents not to draw conclusions from one or two less-than-perfect interactions. “Everyone has an off day, so I wouldn’t hit the panic button immediately if the teacher seems a little grumpy or impatient one day,” she says.

But Douglas warns that if you’re ever worried about a more serious situation implying physical abuse (like if your child comes home with bruises or other marks of injury), it’s crucial to act right away and escalate your concerns rather than wait to monitor the situation or have a conversation with the teacher alone.

It’s also important for parents to take note of how the teacher’s treatment affects their child. If it’s clear to a parent that the teacher simply prefers or pays more attention to other students but the child doesn’t seem to notice and is still able to learn, grow and express themselves in meaningful ways, parents may want to press pause before taking any action.

Once I became concerned about my son’s relationship with his teacher, I took a few long lunches to volunteer in the classroom. While I was there, I saw a lot of great interactions, but I also noticed a change in tone when the teacher addressed my son and continued impatience around how quickly he would complete tasks.

  1. Show the teacher some love

According to Lisa Thompson, an early-childhood professional with more than 35 years of experience, parents can help bridge a disconnect between their child and the teacher by sharing their child’s positive perspective with the teacher. “If the child really likes the teacher, the parents can always try sharing all the cute things that the child says,” says Thompson, who now trains early-childhood-education students. “That would have to warm up any teacher with a heart and an ego!” Parents can also share cards, pictures or notes that their child makes for the teacher and might even consider writing a quick note of gratitude themselves.

Parents can also encourage their child to show the teacher their appreciation directly. Jessica Levy lives in Jerusalem and her son goes to school in Hebrew, a second language for him. Early on, Levy says her son’s teacher often seemed short or impatient when he didn’t follow directions or routines as quickly as she liked. “I think his teacher became frustrated with him for having trouble communicating at the beginning,” she says, “so I told him to give her a hug every morning and before he left and she really warmed up to him.”

While some kids are huggers, others might feel more comfortable giving their teachers a high five or saying hello with a special greeting. “Sometimes the best way to get people to love you is to love them,” adds Levy.

  1. Schedule time to talk

If parents have spent time investigating and monitoring how a teacher interacts with their child and are still concerned, they should schedule a time to speak directly with the teacher. While it can be tempting to address the issue as soon as possible, trying to have a productive conversation amid the chaos of drop-off or pickup is often impossible. Scheduling a conference time will ensure that the teacher is able to focus on the conversation without being interrupted and give parents the opportunity to listen and share without disruption.

  1. Identify specific behaviours that are causing concern

Whether parents are concerned about negative comments the teacher has made, the tone of voice the teacher uses with the child or how the teacher responds when their child acts up in developmentally normal ways, identifying the specific concerns they want to address is important. Before my parent-teacher conference, I made a list of troubling behaviours and a note about what I wanted to happen instead. I also tried to brainstorm how to share these ideas in ways that felt collaborative and free of judgment. Instead of saying “Your tone is too harsh,” I chose phrases like “I’ve noticed that my son responds best to instructions when we deliver them in a firm yet warm tone.”

  1. Approach a parent-teacher conference ready to listen

While all parents want to hear great things about their child, it’s important to make room for uncomfortable topics that need to be addressed. “The goal of this initial meeting should be to gather additional information from the teacher and look for a way to solve the problem together, assuming that there is a problem, of course,” says Douglas. It’s not about pointing fingers or assigning blame. “When you head into this meeting, challenge yourself to remain open-minded and assume that the teacher has the best of intentions until proven otherwise,” she adds.

If your child is struggling at daycare socially, emotionally or academically, you’ll want to actually listen to what the teacher says. Sometimes what a child reads as dislike is really a teacher working to help them develop a specific skill, and sometimes what a parent hears as undeserved criticism is a teacher trying to express a valid concern about a child’s development. Parents should also be prepared to listen if a teacher shares that their own behaviour, like dropping a child off after circle time has started or sending mixed messages about daycare and teachers at home (like talking in front of the child about your concerns), is contributing to challenges at school. During my parent-teacher conference, I learned that my “extra hug” at drop-off was disruptive to getting my son settled in class. While it stung a little to learn that I was part of the issue, knowing specifically what I could do better was helpful.

  1. Check your expectations

While a meeting can help bridge the gap between a parent’s wants and a teacher’s behaviour, it’s not likely going to truly change how a teacher feels about a child—and that’s OK. At daycare, just like in the real world, personalities don’t always mesh and, as fantastic as they are, it’s unlikely that everyone will see the same spark in your child that you do. As long as your child’s teacher is meeting their needs in a kind, empathetic way (or stepping aside so that another teacher can), your child probably won’t be negatively affected by their teacher’s preference for other kids. “Many preschool teachers work in teams,” says Thompson. “If one teacher meshes with a child’s personality better than another, then that teacher can work as the primary contact for the child.”

  1. Talk with a director

Hopefully, parents are able to leave a conference feeling confident that a misunderstanding has been resolved and see evidence that their child’s teacher is committed to working toward building a positive relationship with their child. If not, though, involving the centre’s director can be a helpful way to find a solution.

After the conference with my son’s teacher and some internal intervention from the centre’s director, we made a plan as a team and each of us agreed to follow some clear steps. As parents, we would talk very positively about the teacher in question at home, drop the extra cuddles at morning drop-off and encourage our son to follow her directions. At school, the teacher would commit to spending one-on-one time with my son each day and pass along the duties she felt most frustrated by (like helping him clean up his lunch area and pack his bag at the end of the day) to the other teacher in the room. Within just a few weeks, we saw many improvements in how my child’s teacher treated him and how my son responded to her words and actions.

A child’s early educational experience is an important one that can affect the way they think about school as they grow, and the relationship they have with their teachers plays a large part in shaping their experience. While it may have been more difficult and uncomfortable to advocate for my son the way we did, it helped me, my husband and my son learn how to deal with less-than-ideal relationships with grace and understanding—a skill well worth learning at any age.

Read more:What to do if your preschooler won’t stop crying at drop-off8 ways to piss off your kid’s daycare teacher7 things kindergarten teachers want you to know


Youngest Kids in Class Are at a Higher Risk ...

We have recently extended our collection of children personalized storybooks to include Disney and Marvel classics, the popular iSeeMe! brand books, books that can be customized for more than one child, as well as, books that can be customized with your child's OWN photograph.e! brands.

Read more →

Personalized Books Enhance the Word Acquisition of Preschoolers

Personalized Books Enhance the Word Acquisition of Preschoolers

  • NATALIA KUCIRKOVA: My name is Natalia Kucirkova.I'm currently working at the Open University in England. In this video, I'll tell you about a study that was published by First Language in 2014. In the study, we had 18 three-year-old children who were read personalized books in two locations. There were two conditions-- personalized books

  • NATALIA KUCIRKOVA [continued]: and non-personalized books. What we did for the personalized books was to closely collaborate with children's parents, so that we can learn more about children's likes and dislikes, what to do like to do in their free time, what they eat for breakfast, what are the names of their friends. And we inserted this information in the personalized sections

  • NATALIA KUCIRKOVA [continued]: of the books. We then closely matched the personalized content with the non-personalized books, so that we can look at how well children learn new words embedded in these two sections of the same book. Children were read the books on two occasions. And we tested their knowledge of the new words using a picture

  • NATALIA KUCIRKOVA [continued]: comprehension test, a definition test, and an emotional valence test. What we found was that children acquired more new words that appeared in the personalized sections of the book compared to non-personalized sections. Hence, personalization can make a difference to children's word acquisition.


Building Moral Intelligence

It's tough to raise kids of solid character in today's social environment - but it can be done. By Michele Borba

These are troubling times in which to raise good kids. And we don’t need researchers to share fancy statistics to prove it to us; we all know it. There are many reasons, but here’s the simplest one: our kids are being literally bombarded with an unremitting assault of immoral messages from sources such as media, television, movies, the Internet, music, and peers, and it’s taking a toll on their moral growth.

Experts also tell us one-way kids learn character traits best is by watching others do things right. Just recall a few incidents your child has seen lately on national television. Here’s a sampling: professional baseball players spitting in umpire’s faces. Hockey players clubbing their competitors and not being held accountable. Absolute raunchiness on daytime talk-shows. Unsavoury business practices by large corporations. Elected government officials admitting to adultery, drug use, and bribery ...

The breakdown of appropriate role models is not the only reason character is declining, but it certainly is one. And when combined with the other socially toxic influences, it makes it all the more difficult to bring up decent kids. That’s not to say most kids aren’t caring and moral. I’m convinced the majority of them are. My belief in children’s basic goodness grows each time I watch them gently comforting others or read about students unselfishly volunteering or hear stories of kids putting their own needs aside to help others less fortunate. It’s just that our kids don’t hear as much as they should about the compassionate, humane gestures people do for others. Instead, too often they are exposed to images of hate, cruelty, violence, and plain vulgarity.

So can we overcome the forces perpetuating hateful, fearful, uncaring images and still raise kids with caring hearts and decent souls? It’s the question I am asked the most frequently in my workshops by hundreds of parents and teachers each year, and I’m sure it has crossed your mind. And the answer I give them and now you is a resounding: Yes! Parents can make a difference in their kids' moral lives--and it can be significant enough to have long-term effects. Why am I so certain? Because years of research confirms that the traits of strong character such as caring, respect, self-control, sharing, empathy, tolerance, perseverance, giving, comforting, fairness, and conscience are all learned. And that means we can teach them to our children and in doing so nurture the qualities that enhance their moral growth. What do parents have to do with all this? Plenty! After all, you are your child’s first and most powerful moral teacher. Here are four tips from my book "Building Moral Intelligence" to use with your own child:

1. Expect moral behaviour. If you want your child to act morally, then expect and demand moral behaviours from him or her.

2. Use teachable moments. Look for moral issues to talk about as they come up; your child can hear your moral beliefs, and you can assess your child’s moral reasoning then gently stretch him to the next level.

3. Reinforce moral behaviour. Catch your child acting morally and acknowledge her good behaviour by describing what she did right and why you appreciate it.

4. Monitor media consumption.

Take an active stand against influences toxic to your child’s moral development, such as certain TV shows, movies, music, video games, and websites. Then plainly explain your concerns to your child, set stands, and then stick to them. We can no longer sit back and hope our kids grow up to become caring, decent, human beings. We must deliberately and passionately teach and model the traits of strong character so they really can become the best people they can be.

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