{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Posts Tagged ‘technology for children’

10 Random Acts of Social Media Kindness to Do With Your Kids

download (1).png

Teach them how to wield the internet for good.

With the mere words “social media” striking fear in most parents’ hearts, it’s easy to get mired in the dark side of the internet: bullying and trolling and wasting time … oh my! We can’t keep our children off social media forever, however, so why not show them how to use the powerful communication tool to make people actually feel good about themselves? An act of kindness often leads to gratitude—and even scientists agree there are many benefits of that, including greater happiness, stronger relationships and an improved ability to deal with adversity. And what better time to start spreading online kindness and gratitude than National Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17? To help you kick it off, here are 10 social media ideas you can easily do with your kids.

1. Leave a positive comment. There is no shortage of toxic remarks from faceless strangers, emboldened by their anonymity, left on social media posts. Combat that negativity and lift somebody’s spirits—whether it’s a family member, friend or a boy who happens to enjoy posting makeup tutorials—by taking the time to offer a heartfelt compliment.

2. Create an upbeat post. Social media is a popular place to commiserate about everyday frustrations. While that can be therapeutic, the sheer volume of frustrations we come across can also become tiresome. Inject some positivity by brainstorming a post that inspires hope, happiness and/or a giggle, whether it’s a quote or an original drawing, and creating it with your child to share with your followers.

3. Send an e-card. This might seem old school, sure, but most e-card sites (such as JibJab and Hallmark) also allow you to send a card via Facebook—a sweet way to let somebody know you’re thinking of them.

4. Write a glowing review. Maybe your family enjoyed a fantastic meal at that new Italian place down the street. Or the local dry cleaner went above and beyond to have your favorite dress ready by the next day. Posting a complimentary review on Yelp or Facebook can go a long way in bolstering small businesses. You can even ask your kids what their favorite local hangout is and write a complimentary review together.

5. Donate toys and clothes. Although it can be hard to pry old stuffies and shirts that have been long outgrown from the hands of little ones, work together to set aside some items to donate and post them on a neighborhood Facebook page and/or a page that supports local foster families (a quick search by city usually reveals them, if available). As a certain famous organizing expert would say, give them to somebody for whom they’ll spark joy!

6. Start a pay-it-forward chain. Perform a random act of kindness offline—such as putting coins in an expired parking meter or leaving coupons in front of corresponding products at a store—and post about it, encouraging others to pay it forward and share how they did so in your comments. Hopefully, they’ll encourage their social media communities to follow suit. And boom! Pay-it-forward chain: activated.

7. Support a cause. Talk with your kids about the importance of supporting charities and nonprofits, which are increasingly relying on social media for donations, and select a worthwhile cause that’s near and dear to your hearts to help by sharing their mission and/or donating. Perhaps go a step further and hold a lemonade sale—which you and the kids can advertise to neighbors on social media—and donate the proceeds to that charity online. We’d raise a cup of lemonade to that!

8. Express how much your teacher rocks. You don’t have to wait until Teacher Appreciation Week to shout your love from the rooftops. Encourage your kid to drop a sweet comment about his/her teacher on the school’s Instagram account or sing the teacher’s praises in an e-mail to the principal. Because every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day.

9. Share a blog post. If you’re a fan of a lesser-known blogger, raise their visibility by sharing your favorite blog post. It can be hard for bloggers to gain traction in a World Wide Web overflowing with animal videos and car rants, and you’d be doing them a solid by helping them break through the clutter. Try to pick a post you can discuss with your kids, if possible, and explain why you enjoy it—potentially igniting a dialogue about what kinds of online content make them happy (and try not to roll your eyes if they enthusiastically launch into why they can’t get enough of watching kids open Kinder Eggs on YouTube).

10. Thank a service member. Search for #veteran on Instagram, and you’ll find many public profiles of brave men and women who’ve served in the military. Let them know how much you value their sacrifice and selfless service to our country with a simple, appreciative note.

 

This article was written by Candy Kirby from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Mindfulness and Meditation Apps for Kids

klkl.png

Our kids are busier than ever, and practicing mindfulness can help reduce their anxiety, improve focus and memory, and make falling asleep easier, research suggests. These apps will chill your child out and teach him to learn the basics of meditation.

1. Headspace for Kids

The popular adult mindfulness app now has a kids’ series of breathing exercises, visualizations, and meditations grouped into five categories: kindness, focus, sleep, calm, and wake-up. Choose the one that best suits your child’s needs. 5 and under, 6 to 8, 9 to 12; $8 per month.

2. Mindfulness for Children

Developed by a Danish psychologist, this audio-only app offers easy-to-follow breathing exercises for your kid to use any time she’s feeling stressed. Other activities like the body scan will help her relax, and soothing nature sounds can lull her to sleep. 5+ years; $5 for premium.

3. Thrive Global

Here’s another skill set from Amazon Echo. If your kid needs help quieting his mind during the day, he can say, “Alexa, open Thrive” and ask for a meditation. On nights when he can’t sleep, a “power down” will do the trick—and keep screens out of the bedroom. Download for free.

4. Smiling Mind

This app offers mindfulness sessions, developed by a team of psychologists, that start with a quick series of questions to focus the mind followed by simple, easy-to-follow meditation exercises. Download for free.

5. Sleep Meditations for Kids

Perfect app to incorporate into your bedtime routine. Has four bedtime stories that are transformed into guided meditations designed to promote relaxation and contentment. Download for free.

 

This article was written by Jeana Lee Tahnk from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The 3 Biggest Ways Tech Will Change Millennial Parenting in 2018

tech.jpg

Be prepared for these big innovations that will reshape our lives.

In an era where we are told that technology is making us not just lonelier, but also less kind, it has always felt important to me to find the antidote to that—to find and use technology that makes us more connected to each other and to our world.

When I started my career, dating by using technology received at best, a raised eyebrow, and at worst, a lot of negative attention. I was part of that full 360, running Badoo (a large dating European dating platform), and was part of Bumble, the seminal Millennial dating product. Watching how attitudes changed was not only exciting, it was fascinating. Tables turned, taboos were broken, and new industries were born. It was this experience which highlighted most clearly how my newly occupied arena, motherhood, was in need of a technological shakeup.

At one point when I was out on maternity leave with my son in 2013, I found myself trawling baby advice blogs at 2 a.m. and I realized there had to be a better way, a new social shift, a new taboo to bust. And that was the start of Peanut, which uses everything I had learned about technology to connect like-minded mothers (to make us less lonely) and enable them to communicate (to be kind). That was around 10 months ago, and since then, I’ve relished every opportunity to use tech to enrich our lives as mothers.

As my son grows up, we are sort of navigating technology together. This year, there are so many things I am excited to show him, and I think we are going to see a lot more how it will make our lives easier. (I’ll take all the help I can get!) Here are some of my favorites:

Virtual Reality

We already know VR is everywhere, but advancements in this field create the potential for it to go beyond gaming and “sunbathing” on a beach, to help us educate our children. I recently attended an event where a children’s charity used VR to transport you to Africa, walking alongside a schoolgirl on her morning pursuit to collect clean water before school. It made such an impact on me, and as advancements are made in this space, it could end up being an important tool to have to teach our children—we won’t have to just tell them, we can show them.

For example, Discovery VR can allow our children to swim with the sharks in the depths of the oceans or play with pandas in China, all from the seats of their desks. My son Finlay is very into bats right now, so this is an amazing way for him to see them and interact with them safely. Another great one is Star Chart, which maps out constellations and allows children to explore the planets in our solar system while also being able to time shift 10,000 years back and forward, to see what our planet once looked like, and how it may possibly evolve in the future. That’s better than any science textbook I ever had!

Virtual Health

Every parent knows how intimately you become acquainted with your medical practitioner, and how important it is to have immediate access to those professionals. Tech to make those medical appointments easier, more accessible, in real time will be a huge asset for busy parents who need immediate, expert advice. Apps like Heal, DoctorsOnDemand, HealthTap are doing such cool things in this space to make life easier. But Maven has really stolen it for me here. I met the founder recently. She told me 80 percent of women are making decisions about healthcare in their families, and yet the current system is not exactly female friendly (trying to get to that appointment during your workday, or collect your kiddo from school to get them there). The ability to use video appointments and direct messaging for peace of mind? That is what every mother needs.

YouTube Kids (with better regulation)

We’ve all read the stories and have been horrified by what our children may see by accident. We know that YouTube is looking more carefully at moderating the content posted to their channel, and 2018 will likely bring increased regulation and more child-friendly streaming services. There is still a way for all of the wonderful content that exists online to enrich our children’s world, to give them access and opportunity to content we had to access through dusty encyclopedias, and let’s be honest, to give us 20 minutes respite whilst we’re trying to juggle a million other balls. However, until regulations and moderation are where we need them to be, perhaps the solution is watching together.


Michelle Kennedy is the CEO and co-founder of Peanut. Available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., Peanut is a free Android and iOS app that uses a smart algorithm to connect like-minded women who are mothers. Michelle started her career as an M&A lawyer at leading international law firm Mishcon de Reya. She later joined dating app, Badoo, where she rose to the role of Deputy CEO. She is also a mama to her 4-year-old Peanut, Finlay.

 

This article was written by Michelle Kennedy from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Early Learning and Technology Part Five: Social Interaction and Collaborative Learning

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
This piece was originally published on 03/15/2015 on the 
HMH blog.

We know that relationships are essential to healthy child development. We can observe organic collaborative Girl at Computerbehaviors even in very young children, who often explore their worlds and gather information while they play independently, but then eventually come together to learn and share experiences with others. 

Technology offers unique opportunities to cultivate the innate human instinct to collaborate. Educators and developers have embraced these possibilities by creating platforms and projects designed to facilitate learning experiences and communication–between peer groups, teachers and students, and school communities and families–and to expand virtual space for cross-cultural education.

Let’s take a closer look at how technology can support collaborative learning:

1) Extending Access

In 2001, education researcher Dr. Sugata Mitra launched a unique experiment he called the “Hole-in-the-Wall.”Mitra installed a public computer in a remote village in India. Young children in the village quickly discovered how to scroll, seek out information, learn English and more. In short, Mitra witnessed young children teaching themselves and one another via the computer’s resources.

The Hole-in the Wall project cracked open the concept of a school “in the cloud” that children can access anywhere, anytime.  The community computer and its content enabled a natural learning environment to grow, complete with encouragement from mentors, teachers, family and friends.

As Dr. Mitra’s work demonstrates, technology’s potential to extend access to learning content far and wide is huge. In the last decade, partnerships between educators, ministries and organizations have helped to deliver content and training across the globe, from reading on mobile phones in developing countries to professional development seminars that can be viewed offline for communities lacking internet connections.

2) Creating “Blended” Learning Environments

An approach commonly called a “blended” learning model encourages classroom collaboration, and technology can provide a wonderful support system for the experience. For example, students may be organized into small clusters based on shared learning styles, abilities or interests. This organization allows teachers to focus carefully on individual students and to craft dynamic learning scenarios for an individual child or small group. Technology’s capacity to support personalized learning pathways allows for individually tailored pacing and practice, in turn promoting subject or skill mastery. As a result, students feel confident and are proud to share their knowledge.

3) Learning by Playing

Digital games powered by quality content can improve attention, focus and reaction time. Whether there are two players or many, gamers acquire pro-social skills through healthy competition, which then translate to other relationships and aspects of life.

Consult KQED’s Mindshift’s Guide to Digital Games and Learning for recommendations on digital learning tools.

4) Making Global Connections 

Increased connectivity can offer children real-world insight into communities and cultures around the globe. There are a number of exciting collaborative projects and platforms that create space for teachers, students and parents to communicate and learn from one another, regardless of geography.

For example, ePals uses web-based tools to bring diverse learners together in virtual classrooms. Over 4.4 million students and teachers are currently participating in cross-cultural exchange on the platform.

Look out for projects and competitions that bring kids together to reach common goals via online collaboration, like the Give Something Back Project’s Virtual Classroom.

5) Bridging Home and the Classroom 

There are also many free apps to connect teachers, parents and students in order to support timely and confidential communication. Check outGoogle Apps for Education. This free suite of productivity tools helps keep parents in the loop on their children’s progress in class. Parents can log into Google Drive and see what their kids have been up to in any class and communicate with teachers.

Whether you are encouraging technology-enabled collaboration at home or in the classroom, remember to balance screen time with face-to-face conversation and interaction.Encourage kids to think about digital citizenship and to act as positive role models for others in all social interactions, whether on-screen or off. Happy collaborating!

Technology and Early Learning: Part Four Grey Matter: Child Development and Technology

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
This piece was originally published on 02/25/2015 on the 
HMH blog.

At the beginning of this year, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center published Ten for ’15: Education Reform for a Shared Promethean BoardFuture, a list of ten takeaways and resolutions designed to give educators inspiration as they plan for a successful 2015.

Number five on that list is a call to rethink the brain. It may sound like a strange concept, but new, cutting-edge research on early brain development can help us gain a deeper understanding of early literacy and related behaviors.

So, let’s rethink the brain today.

First, some brain basics: Beginning in the prenatal period, the brain develops in a predictable sequence, accommodating a range of functions from the most basic to the most complex, from the birth of new nerve cells to the formation of intricate networks of transmitters that allow those cells to communicate.

The brain undergoes astonishing growth during early life. In fact, it doubles in size during a child’s first year, and by age three, the brain reaches 80 percent of its adult volume. We also know that genetic inheritance and interaction with the environment, including human interactions with family and others, profoundly impact the wiring of the brain. This, in turn, impacts a child’s developing sense of resilience and his or her cognitive abilities, achievements, health and happiness.

Dr. Patricia Kuhl, Co-Director of the Institute for Learning & Brain Science at the University of Washington, is currently expanding our knowledge about how young brains develop. She has been studying the period between eight and ten months of age — a critical time for early brain development — focusing specifically on language acquisition.

Her research confirms that by the time that babies are eight months old, they can discriminate all sounds of all languages. They are truly “citizens of the world.” Then, at around ten months of age, there is an important shift. They start to become “culture bound” listeners.

In a TED talk on the subject, Dr. Kuhl explains that as babies are busy collecting information about the world, human contact is essential for translating that data into language. Put simply, human interaction — the social brain function — plays a dramatic role in language acquisition. Very young children need human contact for learning and communicating. They won’t learn from a screen.

The research leads us to important questions: How exactly does technology impact developing brains, especially in the earliest years? What are the long-term implications as children grow? Is it too soon to tell?

Gary Small, M.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UCLA has noted that the brains of digital natives are “wired to use [technology] elegantly.”  But he also cautions that young people between the ages of eight and 18, many of whom spend 11.5 hours a day on digital devices, are lacking in ability to use human technology.  They may struggle with face to face conversations, non-verbal cues and eye contact – the same type of human interactions that are so critical for initial language acquisition.

Technology isn’t going anywhere. To ensure healthy developmental growth for little ones, balance is key. Here are a few tips to help families find that equilibrium:

  • Seek Expert Advice: The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests avoiding television and other forms of electronic entertainment for infants and children under the age of two.
  • Go Screen-Free: Create screen-free zones in your home, and use them! Create areas to read books, draw, play board games, dance and perform plays and music, and schedule time outside for physical activities.
  • Make Family Time Count: Avoid using digital devices during family meals, especially dinner; use family time for real-time, face-to-face communication.
  • Maintain a Digital Diet: Be thoughtful about the digital content your children consume. Check out our previously recommended resources to help select quality digital content.
  • Be a Role Model: Remember that children model YOUR behavior. Are you distracted by digital devices when you’re with your children? Do the majority of your family interactions include a screen? Plan an unplugged weekend! Be aware if you are using technology as a babysitter — such habits can creep in quickly.

When it comes to screen-time for kids, the choice of apps, games and films may seem endless. But just a little knowledge about the developing brain provides a golden rule – above all, human interaction and connection are the greatest learning tools we have.

Technology

As we know, technology is changing at an unbelievable rate. When we were little, modern devices were just a dream.Smart Table Now, technology makes more inventions possible, and it is constantly changing. Technology is very exciting, but have you ever asked what it is?

According to Merriam-Webster, technology is the “practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area.” (“Technology,” 2015) Technology makes things so much easier and more convenient. Think of the items that have been created in science to make life easier and better. Devices, such as pacemakers and bionic legs, have been invented to improve our quality of life. Devices can also help make car rides with children more pleasurable or calmer, and other devices can make cooking easier. As technology improves, schools will include more technology at every level of education. These may include interactive boards, computers, digital cameras and tablets just to name a few.

However, remember that even though technology makes things easier, real hands-on experiences cannot be replaced. Technology cannot replace the feel of hugs, dirty hands, paint, and the wind in your hair; the sights of the brightness of the sun or a child’s smile; or the smell of hot dogs cooking on the grill. Therefore, remember to use technology to enhance learning at home, not to replace real-life experiences.

Technology [Def. 1a]. (2015).  In Merriam-Webster., Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/technology.