Aug 24, 2012

I guess games can make kids smarter

In the last five years, the use of video-game-like math software in K-12 educational programs has grown exponentially. Every day, more studies are released regarding whether or not the use of software is actually making an appreciable difference in the mathematical skills of children and young adults. The findings are wide-ranging, and the results often seem to have more to do with how the software is incorporated into the current curriculum as opposed to the software itself. However, this statistical variability regarding efficacy has not stopped a number of companies from releasing their own educational software, and some companies have found alternative ways of packaging their products.

Programs like DimensionU have been especially successful. Part math software, part video game, the equation-based product requires students to solve Algebra puzzles to advance. It can be played against other teams all over the world via the Internet, and is currently used in a number of junior high and high school classes around the world. In Hawaii, it is currently being used at Waipahu High School, and since its implementation, 80% of the students have increased their math scores. As Waipahu High is the only school in Hawaii using the program, it has provided a highly focused sample of whether the software is having the desired affect. In this case, the answer is clear.

Kids spend a tremendous amount of time playing video games; according to a Kaiser Family Foundation Study, an average of 1:13 min per day. Think of the impact if this time were redirected towards education. But will a math video game every be as fun as blowing away zombies or flying your very own x-wing? That remains to be seen.

Original pot by FastFig Blog

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May 8, 2012

Treat the Children Affectionately

Only 29 countries in the world explicitly ban all forms of violence by law. It’s surprising, but the idea that a slap is the solution to lots of problems is still widely accepted. Truthfully, do we treat our children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren with affection? Is the way in which we relate to them free from violence?

It is essential to educate with affection, without violence. And it is also possible. It is vital in order to guarantee our children’s development and a future of fairer and more peaceful societies. Fathers, mothers, institutions and organisations must develop a common approach: one which satisfies each and every need for each phase of a child’s development, and the respect for the rights described in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

As adults and guardians of our children this is the path that should be followed, the only one. We must protect our boys and girls, care for and cuddle them, but also provide them with the tools and capacities they need to develop and reach their full potential. In short, offer them the opportunity to have a better future. But how do we go about it?

The main thing is to integrate and incorporate these guidelines into our daily routines, social policies, and encourage them in the interpersonal relationships between children and their day-to-day at school, at home, or during extracurricular activities. High expectations and not enough affection and communication? Lower expectations and more affection and communication? Neither. It is about finding a balance. Finding the exact dose of affection and expectation, combined in a responsible way, and prioritising the best interests of the child, respecting his or her right to participate and express views freely in relation to the aspects that affect him or her.

Positive parenting is based on the rights of children and involves establishing the necessary limits so that they can develop their full potential as a member of the family and the community they live in. Positive parenting means respecting their rights and educating them, without resorting to physical punishment or any other kind of violence.

It is our obligation and responsibility to ensure that children grow up in a family environment that gives them security, love and understanding. This is the best way to guarantee a child’s full physical, emotional and social development. However, it is still a considerable challenge in many parts of the world and the statistics from some countries do not leave one indifferent.

Fathers and mothers need support in order to exercise their roles in a responsible and positive way. In order to carry out their educational and social task they need more policies and programs that promote an education based on good treatment and affection, and favour the social, employment and financial conditions needed to be able to do so. It is vital to promote and favour positive parenting, as it is the best way to prevent abuse and child exclusion.

Educating and imposing discipline without using violence, without resorting to punishment, be it physical or psychological, is possible.

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Mar 6, 2012

Ata BeLibi - You're in My Heart


You are in my heart
You are the child I bore from love, with love
I dreamed of raising you in a world of tranquility
I hoped to always keep a tear away from you

You are in my heart,
you are the flower that smiles in my soul,
in my soul.
You flow in my blood and in every breath
And for me you will be a chick even when you grow up

G'd, guard the light of my eyes *
Guard my children that blossom
Look over them, and guard them for me
What is my life without them
G'd, guard the light of my eyes....

You are in my heart,
you penetrate from my throat,
weaved in my songs, in adversities
My heart goes out to you in difficult times
For me you will be a chick even when you are in uniform

So much in my heart,
You will learn the hard way, to make mistakes and pay their price
The pain will be yours
If I could only fail instead of you
How will I make sure you will be happy tomorrow

G'd, guard the light of my eyes...*

Singers, Oma and Moshe Datz
Thanks to Phill Moss and Chana Shuvaly (Words translated by Phil Moss of Chicago-USA, assisted by Chana Shuvaly of Melbourne-Australia).

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Feb 12, 2012

Bilingualism Gives Kids an Advantage

Study finds all bilingualism gives kids an advantage

All bilingual children – regardless of the languages they speak – show cognitive advantages over their English-only peers, although they may experience weakness in areas like vocabulary acquisition, says a new study by York University researchers.

The study, published today in the journal Child Development, examined the effects of specific language pairings on children’s verbal and non-verbal development, taking into account language similarities, cultural background and educational experiences.

Researchers compared more than 100 six-year-old monolingual and bilingual children (English monolinguals, Chinese-English bilinguals, French-English bilinguals and Spanish-English bilinguals), measuring their verbal and non-verbal cognitive development. The children were all public school students from the Greater Toronto Area and of similar socio-economic background.

The study reports that bilingual children differ from each other and from monolingual children in how they develop language and cognitive skills through the early school years. Children who grow up speaking two languages generally have slower language acquisition in each language than children raised speaking just one language. However, they have better “metalinguistic” development that gives them a deeper understanding of the structure of language, a skill that’s important for literacy. They also perform better on tests of non-verbal executive control, which measure the ability to focus attention where necessary without being distracted, and to shift attention when required.

“Our research shows that it doesn’t matter what the other language is – all bilingual children have an equal advantage over monolinguals in terms of non-verbal cognitive control,” says study co-author Ellen Bialystok, DistinguishedResearch Professor in York’s Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health.

Study co-author Ellen Bialystok

“People always ask if the languages themselves matter – and now we can definitively say, ‘no.’”

In terms of language acquisition, however, the study shows that some types of bilingualism – particularly where the languages are similar in origin – may have slight advantages over others. For example, Spanish-English bilinguals outperformed Chinese-English bilinguals and monolinguals on a test of English phonological awareness.

“There is really no generalized verbal outcome of bilingualism,” says Bialystok. “In terms of the language consequences of bilingualism, we found it matters very much what the other language is, what language is used in school and likely other factors as well,” she says.

Even though bilingual children may be somewhat slower in learning the vocabulary of each of their languages, Bialystok emphasizes that the benefits of speaking more than one language far outweigh any drawbacks. In previous studies, she and other researchers established that bilingualism postpones symptoms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“The benefits of bilingualism are evident in every stage of life, from early childhood through to one’s senior years. If children are in a position to learn and speak another language, parents should definitely do everything to encourage that,” she says.

The study, “Bilingual Effects on Cognitive and Linguistic Development: Role of Language, Cultural Background and Education”, is co-authored by Raluca Barac, a PhD student in York’s Faculty of Health. The research is supported by the US National Institutes of Health.

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Feb 6, 2012

Tu B'Shevat: New Year of The Trees

This Year (5772 / 2012), Tu (the 15th) B'Shvat, the Rosh Hashana (New Year) of the Trees, falls on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. As all Jewish Holidays do, Tu B'Shvat begins sundown Tuesday evening, February 7, 2012 and ends at nightfall on Wednesday, February 8, 2012.

Tu B'Shvat is a celebration of continuity. After all, what says "I am here for you just as I was here for your fathers, and I will be here for your children just as I am here for you" like a tree. In some cases, it takes longer than one lifetime for a tree to come to "fruition."

The Talmud tells us that by this point in the year, the majority of the rainfall to come during the year has already arrived. Therefore, the trees have already started to grow, and this is the time when fruits begin forming on the trees. Because the fruits begin to grow at this time, it is fitting that we start the New Year for the tree (which has significance to the fruits produced and the gifts the fruit are subject to) at this time.

In Eretz Yisroel, the 15th of Shvat is the day when new sap starts to rise in the trees. It is a time of rejuvenation. It teaches us the important lesson that even in times that seem darkest, there is new life, in times of sorrow there is hope, and in times of Galut, (exile) there is the light of Moshiach.

There are varied customs regarding eating fruit on Tu B'Shvat. Some have the custom to eat the seven species of fruits that grow in Eretz Yisroel. This "Top Seven" selection is based on a verse in Devarim: (8,8) "...a land of WHEAT and BARLEY and (GRAPE) VINES and FIG trees and POMEGRANATES, a land of OLIVE trees and (DATE) honey." Others have a custom of eating fifteen species of fruit (the "top 7" and eight more). In today’s "global fruitopia," where fruits from all over the world are available from our grocers, we mix it up: starting with the "top 7", we move on to local fruity favorites and throw in a "new fruit" (that we haven't eaten this year) in order to be able to make the Bracha (blessing) of Shehechiyanu.

What better way to celebrate the birthday of trees than to actually plant a tree. There are all kinds of organizations and groups that are dedicated to planting trees in the forests of Eretz Yisroel. You can also plant a tree in your own neck of the woods if you want to. Tu B'Shvat is the perfect time to protest deforestation and the shrinking of the rain forests, although there's no particular mitzvah to do so.

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Feb 4, 2012

Until Tomorrow

This song is for everyone, children or not, who are concerned about tomorrow. Our children will be those who will lead the world in the future, we must give love to them, protect them from evil and the concerns, to grow without fear with gentle character.

UNTIL TOMORROW - Ad Machar (Eviatar Banai - Israeli Musician)

You should not think
When you're so tired,
Go for a walk at sunrise.

Far from home
The trail that leads back is cleared
Walking on a Wire (tightrope)

The nights are long,
Without knowing why,
You're running and there is no pursuer.

Until tomorrow,
In a little while
A child runs to you,
and embraces you.

We will circulate in the park,
Just stop thinking,
The people are tired of running in the street.

We've been here before,
In a role reversal (when we were kids),
A quick walk to wear out the body.

Until tomorrow,
In a little while
A child runs to you,
Embraces you.

There's a hole in the fence
Among the vines,
Among the vine,
only foxes cause damage.
The fear and the lamentations go away.

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Dec 8, 2011

Developmental Activities - 2 to age 3

What should you expect of children from 2 to 3 years old? Children this age are

- Becoming more aware of others and their own feelings.
- Often stubborn and may have temper tantrums.
- Developing a great interest in other children and enjoy being near them (although they are usually self-centered).
- Able to jump, hop, roll, and climb.
- Developing an interest in pretend play--playing at keeping house, for example, or pretending to cook and care for a baby.
- Expanding their vocabularies (from about 250 to 1,000 words during the year).
- Putting together 2, 3, and 4-word sentences.

What do 2 to 3 year old children need? Children this age require opportunities to
- Develop hand coordination (with puzzles or large beads to string or by scribbling, for example).
- Do more things for themselves, such as putting on clothing.
- Sing, talk, and develop their language.
- Play with other children.
- Try out different ways to move their bodies.
- Do things in the community, such as taking walks and visiting libraries, museums, informal restaurants, parks, beaches, and zoos.

Article Source - U.S. Department of Education

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Nov 8, 2011

Always happy and rejoicing!

All rights Mauricio de Sousa
Who would say that my baby would take care of all my time?

Incredible, after my little baby started to walk, she do not stop one second - always happy and rejoicing!. Walk everywhere, looking around the house all objects that exist within, making discoveries. Along with the pathfinders rides follow questions: - What is it Mom? What does it do? Why?

I think I'll just take her to school "maternal" or pre-school when she 3 years old. Hannah already doing swimming, walks on the beach and plays with her toys in the sand and sea water, a comfort that we have right in front of our apartment. Such activities means that She is constantly along with other children.

As my husband and I speaking more than one language, we are teaching her to be a polyglot. But it is not easy for her to listen and learn two differents sounds for the same thing or object.

Talking to people skilled in the task of teaching language and, reading a lot about the studies, I discovered that she has one more year to better capture the meaning of things because since she often mixes up in one short sentence. For the 18 months of life is natural.

Now, she sits on my lap when I go to the front of my notebook, looking for with her fingers touch the keys and screen. I lets she choose the profile pictures for me on Facebook and Google recently, she chose an interesting design, it looks at the drawing and says, "you" and sometimes says, "I am!"

But she leaves me every night and goes to find her dad. It's your more enjoyable activity all nights. With her father she flies, runs, jumps over, pulling his hair, plays up against him. I feel she is happy and knows how to divide your time.

Then, I think and pray; My L-rd, our Creator, thanks for making us so happy. I want 99 percent of our happiness to distribute to other people anywhere in the world. Only one percent of all happiness in my family it would be enough for us, by His grace and mercy.

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Oct 17, 2011

I'm a Child

Do not be afraid to be firm with me, I prefer that, makes me feel safer.

I can not have everything I want. Don't let me get with the bad habits, I depend of you to know what is right or wrong.

Do not correct me in anger and nor in the presence of strangers (I do not want be constrained). I will learn much more if you talk to me quietly and in privately.

Do not protect me all the time from the consequences of my mistakes, sometimes I prefer to learn the road rougher.

Do not take too seriously my little-crying, sometimes I need it to get the attention to my desires.

Do not be harsh to correct me, because I can do the opposite of what you tell me just to prove I think I'm right.

Do not make me promise if you can not do to me, this makes me deeply disappointed.

Do not be harsh with me when I need teaching, because I can go to the streets in search of replies that I not find in my house.

Do not show me how you is perfect and infallible, I'll be shocked when I discovered any error in you.

Do not say that my fears are silly, help me to understand them.

Do not say you can not control myself, I can think I'm stronger than you.

Do not treat me like a person without personality, remember that I'm alive and I am what I am.

Do not aim the defects of the people around me, this will create in me an early intolerant spirit.

Do not forget that I like to try things out alone, but never give up teaching me the right thing, even if I do not seems learn.

In the future you will see in me the fruit of what you planted.

And always, always teach me to smile even in difficult moments of life.

Do not tell me that G'd is harsh and vindictive, I have to trust in G'd, He will be good for me.

Thank you.

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Oct 12, 2011

Sukkot for Children

The Yom Tov (festive day) of Sukkot (booths) begins at sundown of the 14th day of Tishrei, five days after Yom Kippur. And what a change it is. We go from the most solemn day of the year to one of the most joyous times.

This year (2011), Sukkot, also called Zman Simchateinu, (the time of our gladness), starts at sundown, Wednesday, October 12th, and lasts for seven days. Sukkot is immediately followed by two separate Yomim Tovim (holidays), Shemini Atzeret on Thursday, October 20th, and Simchat Torah on Friday, October 21st, but we commonly think of them as part of Sukkot.

In Eretz Israel, The Yom Tov of Sukkot lasts for seven days followed by one separate Yom Tov, - Shemini Atzeret on Thursday, October 20th.

"Sukkot" means "booths" and refers to the temporary dwellings that HaShem commands us to live in during this Yom Tov ( see Vayikra, Parshat Emor 23:42-43) as our ancestors, the Bnei Yisroel wandered through the desert for forty years, living in temporary shelters.

The covering (roof) of the Sukkah, or the S'chach (literally, covering) must be a material that grew from the earth, was cut off from the earth, and not susceptible to Tumah (contamination). This includes tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, and sticks. But metals, leather, growing trees and foodstuffs are excluded. S'chach must be left loose, not bundled together or tied down. S'chach must be placed sparsely enough that rain can get in, and preferably sparsely enough that the stars can be seen, but not so sparsely that there is more sunlight than shade, and not more than ten inches open at any point. The covering must be put on last.

It is a Mitzvah (obligation), and of course, a lot of fun, decorating the Sukkah. A favorite decoration is drawings or charts of the Ushpizin (guests), the seven eminent biblical guests we invite to honor us by visiting our Sukkah. They are: Avraham, Yitzchok, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosaif and David.

Others hang live fruit like apples and grapes from the S'chach. Bees like to visit the Sukkah too. Honor the Sukkah by bringing in your finest utensils, but never any pots and pans. A Sukkah must be treated with respect.

Learn more about Sukkot in the Torah Tots site

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Oct 7, 2011

Yom Kippur for Children

Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, falls on the eve of the tenth day of Tishrei. That’s when the fast begins too. It’s a big one… twenty-five+ hours!. This year (2011), Yom Kippur starts at sundown, Friday, October 7th, and ends Shabbat evening, October 8th with the sound of the Shofar.

Jews all over the world, even those who do not observe any other Jewish custom will (hopefully) refrain from work, fast and go to shul (synagogue) on Yom Kippur.
The holiday is mentioned in Vayikra Ch. 23:26 (et seq). It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. In The Story of Rosh Hashana, we mention the "Books" in which Hashem inscribes all of our names. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these "books" is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

Learn all about the Yom Kippur - Story - Coloring Pages - Cards - Fun & Games

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