Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are you Getting what you Want in Life?

I love read articles from Time Magazine because they usually deal with "hot" or controversial topics. You know, those kind of topics that make you think about fundamental life issues. Well, I've just read one of those articles,  "How Can I get What I Want in Life". 


According to this article, there are two reasons why you haven’t done the stuff you ‘want’ to do in life:

1. You can't because of something external, 
or
2. You won't because of something internal

Which one is your reason?

Well, here is the interesting thing proposed by this article. It appears that successful people generally believe that their success is due to something internal (reason #2). However, those who fail always assume it’s not their fault (reason #1). 

In other words, this article suggests that if you are failing to get what you want in life, you probably think that is due to external reasons (reason #1).  

According to this article, if you believe that reason #1 is the cause of your failures, then "your ego is forever letting itself off the hook. You can’t learn from your experiences, except maybe that you shouldn’t have even tried, because – well – that big bad world was just super-mean to you again". Big statement, don't you think.

"We" are the Problem

Although is it true that sometimes we are involved in situations that we cannot control all the factors/variables, it is also possible that sometimes we just want to make excuses. Our failure to get what we want in life may be simply associated with our inability to take responsibility for our acts.

According to Dr. Phil.com,"every choice you make — including the thoughts you think — has consequences. When you choose the behavior or thought, you choose the consequences"

The key of the problem is that if we are unwilling or unable to identify and consciously acknowledge are negative behaviours, characteristics or life patterns, then we cannot simply change them. The reality is that we cannot change what we don't acknowledge. 

Personally, I find that I often tell my children, students and even my husband that is crucial to assume the consequences of our actions. But, how often do I apply it to myself? 

Life is managed; it is not cured. It is up to us to learn to take charge of our life. "Whenever you hit a wall: find what you can do about it, do it, and forget anything else." And, don't forget to assume the consequences.

We are the drivers of our lives every single day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Running Reduces Risk of Death Even If You’re Super Slow









I just read an article that made by day!

According to the Time Magazine, researchers recently examined data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study to evaluate if there was a correlation between running and longevity. This research followed more than 55,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 over a period of 15 years, recording their daily activity, including running.

Apparently, the benefits of running were the same regardless of sex, age, weight, health conditions and substance-use history, with all runners showing a 30% lower risk of death from all causes, and a 45% lower risk of death from a heart attack or stroke. 

If you are like me, a slow runner, you will find this other finding even more interesting. According to Dr. DC Lee (lead author of the study and assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University), "runners who ran less than an hour per week had the same longevity benefits as runner who clock more than 3 hours a week". Isn't this finding just amazing and great for slow runners!

Although it is true that Dr. Lee also found that runners who ran more consistently over a period of six years benefited most, it is fantastic to know that even if you are a tortoise when running, you are significantly increasing your longevity!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Pros and Cons of Children Having Cell Phones - Is your Child ready?

My stepson is almost 13 years old and has recently started to ask for a cell phone. When we asked him why he wanted one, he simply said "all my friends are getting cell phones". Interesting answer, but not very informative, we told him!

Of course, we told him that the fact that his friends have cell phones is not enough reason for him to have one. Although the conversation with him regarding the pros and cons of cell phones lasted for at least 15 minutes, I am certain that he was not convinced.

Cell phones are a great way to stay in touch anytime, anywhere (assuming that you remember to charge it!). But is my stepson responsible enough to have one? Does he understand what is involved in terms of the use and responsibilities associated with having a cell phone? How much does he know about the medical problems that have been associated with cell phones?

If we want to convince my stepson that he doesn't really need a cell phone now, we first have to make certain that we, ourselves, have a pretty good idea of the pros and cons of cell phones. Furthermore, we cannot just say YES to him without making certain that he understand both the positive and negative sides of the use of cell phones.  

Pros and Cons of Cell Phones

I tried to find information regarding cell phones and children, and I have to tell you that there is a lot of information in the web. Clearly, we can write pages and pages about the subject. 

Pros
From what I read, there are three fundamental advantages of cell phones for children:

1. You can call or text him to find out where he is and what he's doing and inform him of your own plans.

2. In an emergency, a cell phone can be crucial if your child needs to reach you -- or vice versa.

3. Having to look after a cell phone and using it with care will teach your child about the importance of responsibility, especially if your child is partially (or totally) responsible for the costs associated with the usage of the phone.

Cons
In general, most parents consider that the downsides associated with cell phones are:


1. Instead of doing their chores or homework, some kids may spend most of their time sending text messages to friends, or may be overusing non-educational apps (e.g., games).

2. Children may use their cell phones during class time to send or receive text messages or to play games, causing both distraction and disruption.

3. If web access is provided with the cell phone, then children could visit websites at their own judgment. This may or may not be a problem depending upon the child.

4. There is growing evidence suggesting that cell phones, especially those that allow kids to text, can disrupt children's sleep patterns. 

5. Although is still a little bit controversial, several studies have associated various medical problems or conditions to the overuse of cell phones.

So, what to do if your child ask you for a cell phone?

One of the websites regarding the use of cell phones by children that was particularly informative was the one of Dr. Laura Markham's Aha! Parenting Website.


Dr. Markham indicates that "research shows that when kids have problems with technology of any kind, it’s because they’re having problems that go beyond technology, and those problems will show up in the rest of their life. So if your child is mostly responsible, considerate and happy, he or she is probably responsible with technology, too".

I found this statement particularly useful. None knows our children better than us. So, if you know that your child is having trouble with responsibilities (e.g., chores), perhaps he/she is not ready yet for a cell phone. 

Here are a couple of other recommendations made by Dr. Markham that are also useful.

1. Don't give your child a cell phone too early. The younger your child when she gets the cell phone, the more you're asking of her, because it will just be harder for her to act responsibly with it.

2. Agree to rules, before that first cell phone. Most parents think a "contract" with their child is unnecessary and silly. But a written agreement is a great way for your child to step into this new responsibility without you "over-parenting."

3. Scaffold. Don't just buy a cell phone, give a lecture, and hope for the best. Instead, see this as a year-long project. In the beginning, you'll talk with your child every night about his mobile use. Evaluate the situation from time to time and be prepared to make modifications if necessary. 

4. Talk, and listen. At the dinner table, comment on news stories that involve cell phones, from sexting to dangerous apps to driving deaths. Ask questions about what your child thinks, and listen more.

What do you think about this issue? Recommendations?



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

20 Awesome Cheap Summer Activities for the Whole Family

This year, we decided that we will stay on Prince Edward Island for the entire summer. No big trips to Quebec, Ontario or anywhere else for us!



We recently adopted a beautiful Chocolate Labrador puppy, and both my husband and I felt that it was better for the dog if we stay near home during the adjustment period. The kids are fine with the idea, so we are all happy!

We live on a beautiful island that is visited by thousands of tourists during the summer. Prince Edward Island is located in Atlantic Canada. Thus, we figured that we should take advantage of our awesome location. After all, not because we decided to stay here, it means that we could not have fun. 

We have not finished yet, but have made a list of fun activities that we can do on the Island. They are all short-term and budget-friendly activities that can be done almost anywhere. Most activities can be done with the children, but others are for adults only.

1. Boat fishing

2. Petting zoo

3. Attend summer parades

4. Attend free outdoor family movies

5. Visit a farm

6. Socializing with the neighbours

7. Take advantage of special events organized by the city and/or local organizations

8.  Tour the local ice cream factory

9.  Arts and crafts

10.  Read books at the park

11.  Picnic at a local park or at the beach

12. Have coffee at a cafe

13. Have lunches or meals at unique places

14. Go for bike rides or hikes

15. Have a glass of wine on the deck at least 3 times per week

16. Drink the morning coffee on the deck

17. Go to the beach as often as possible

18. Go for long walks

19. Go camping

20. Go to the drive-in theatre

We did a couple of these activities today, and it was just wonderful. We took the afternoon off and had lunch at a restaurant that is surrounded by water and an amazing garden. It was just perfect. Below are some pictures.







Do you have other ideas for fun family summer activities?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Would Step-parenting Be Easier Without the Spouse's Ex Around?

Blended families are never easy!

I believe that I have a pretty good relationship with my stepson who I know for most of his life. I think he knows that I am not trying to replace his mother, but that I am just trying to help taking care of him the best that I can. I sincerely think that there is not only mutual respect between the two of us, but there is also a lot of love.


But, I have to admit that sometimes I wish my husband's ex would not be there. It's a fantasy that probably many people in my position have entertained at a certain point of their life. Of course, this is the type of thing that we never say it out loud -- I am feeling terribly guilty for saying it here -- but, things would be so different, even easier perhaps, if my husband's ex would be in another country, or city. 

It's not that I wish that something bad happens to her, it's just that I feel that life would be easier if we were not a blended family. I don't want to be too negative because things are generally fine with her. But, I don't think that too many people would disagree with me if I say that "solving a problem, it's always easy when there is less parameters in the equation"! This how I feel many times when we deal with family issues or situations regarding my stepson.

So, sometimes, I find myself dreaming about our lives without my husband's ex around. 

(1)  There will not be different house rules. It will facilitate (probably not solve all the issues) many things with my stepson with respect to chores and school-related issues.

 (2) No more differences in terms of religious and spiritual principles. My husband is Jewish and I am Catholic.  Although there are fundamental differences between these two religions, we both believe in God and believe in the importance of celebrating religious holidays together. We don't go to the church or the synagogue every week, but we teach our young 4 3/4 year-old son about God and the spiritual sides of both Catholicism and Judaism. Although we try to do the same with my stepson, he is exposed to different religious and spiritual principles in both houses. 

(3) Our schedule will only be the one that matters. No more switching of days because of special occasions or social events; no more discussions with respect to who gets to spend Christmas or Thanksgiving with my stepson.

(4) No more differences in terms of life or core principles.  For instance, what is wrong with the idea: "A little bit of competition never hurt anybody"; this is a core principle that we try to teach to our children in our house. Competition forces you to be a little be creative in order to stand out and it also makes you push yourself. Again, my stepson faces differences of opinion with respect to this; and believe me, there are important consequences.

Whether or not life would be easy if my husband's ex would not be there is, I suppose, questionable. The reality is that life is always complicated. Although her presence in our lives makes it sometimes more complicated, I cannot blame her for all the difficulties or issues that we face as a family.

Like anything in life, it's never the issue or situation that is the problem, but the way that we approach it.  



Friday, July 18, 2014

Helping Your Child Conquer His Fears

This week, our little one, Elijah, attended for the first time a day camp.

I guess, as most parents, I was nervous. Not only it was a new experience for him, but none (except for the first day) of his friends would be at the camp. He is normally a shy boy, so I knew that it would not be easy for him to make new friends.

My husband and I thought that this particular day camp would be great for him at this stage of his life. It is a great camp that includes both outdoor and physical activities.  We thought that it would help Elijah develop motor and social skills.



Although Elijah was not against the idea, he was not necessarily very excited with it. It was clear that he was nervous, and not too happy with the fact that none of his friends would be there. I guess, it was probably what anyone would feel when put in an "unknown" environment. 

My husband and I discussed the issue with Elijah a few times during the week. Our main goal was to help him talk about his fears while helping him see the positive sides of the whole experience. Fears are normal, but it's important to learn how to deal with them. We also helped him to see the positive sides of doing something new, including making new friends, learning new sports, visiting new places, etc. Of course, we also let him know that we were, and will always, be very proud of him no matter what. 

Our Elijah is an amazing little boy! Although I am certain he was still fearful when we left him at the camp today, I was so happy to see him smiling and be ready to enjoy the day. It was clear that he was trying to conquer his fears, and he was doing it amazingly well! I am certain that it was not easy for him, but he was trying hard. I am so happy for him because trying to deal with our fears is a very important, and not easy, exercise. The skills that he will develop through this experience will help him to deal with other difficult situations in life.

Helping our children conquer their fears can be difficult work. But, you will find that things go better when you first help your children to recognize and talk about their fears. Then, you need to make certain they know that you are there to help deal with their fears. Finally, they need to know that you will always be very proud of them. 

Celebrate the Summer with Champagne!

One of my favorite drinks is champagne. I would have a glass of champagne any time of the year, but I have to admit that a glass of champagne on a warm summer day, it's just perfect. 



At home, we buy champagne from time to time to celebrate special events, but also just for the fun to drink a glass of champagne.  For instance, last Sunday, my husband bought a bottle of Spanish Cava (which is the name that we give to sparkling wines in Northern Spain) because we were hoping to celebrate the victory of Argentina in the final of the World Cup. Unfortunately, as wel all know now, Germany won the final, so we did not have any Cava on Sunday night. 

But, a bottle of Cava doesn't last for too many days in our fridge. My husband and I did drink our bottle of Cava a few days after to celebrate not a big event, but just the fact that we were together that day!


History of Champagne

Those who know me, probably know that I love history. This morning, I was thinking, how much do I know about this bubbling drink called Champagne or Cava? How it differs from other wines? 

Well, I did a little research this morning and found a couple of interesting articles regarding the origins and processes associated with the light sparkling wine called Champagne. Most of the information below comes from a great article (click here to read it) posted in Flamboyant Eats. It's a great article, I highly recommend you read it.

Champagne is only made in the Champagne region of northeastern France which includes the area around Reims and Epernay. In the early years of Champagne production, grapes were only planted in an area covering 84,000 acres around those cities. Today, cities as far north as Burgundy have been authorized to plant the fine grapes that make the famous French wine and call it Champagne.

Of all the grapes that commonly used to make wines, there are only three that are used to make Champagne. Each one bears its own characteristics:
  • Pinot noir: strong body
  • Pinot Meunier: mildly spicy flavor
  • Chardonnay: delicate aroma, fruity flavor
Chardonnay is the only all-white grape of the three. If you’re a Champagne drinker, you may have noticed that most of them are white. That’s because the pulp of dark or black grapes is actually white. These grapes are pressed gently to extract the juice before they have matured enough to produce darker juice. This gently pressed juice, coupled with the naturally white Chardonnay, results in a white wine called Blanc de Blancs (white of whites).
Although most Champagnes are white, there are also rosé or pink versions of Champagne. Winemakers use more of the skin from the black grapes to give the wine a pinker hue. Depending on the producer, a fully matured red wine may also be added to the blend before the second fermentation to make a Champagne rosé. Its colours range from pale pink to a rusty yellow.
Here is another interesting thing about Champagnes. Apparently, if you can remove the wire in five and a half twists, you are about to open a top quality bottle- "the real thing".  Another thing, it's not necessary to remove the wire in order to pop the cork.  Simply loosen the wire and grip the head of the cork with the opener, then gently twist back and forth. 


Some words about the Spanish Cava

Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine similar to Champagne that is almost exclusively produced in the Northern Spanish region of Catalonia. Although Cava may not be referred to as the Spanish champagne, some people still refer to the drink as 'champán' or 'champaña'. Cava has become an important part of Catalan and Spanish family traditions and tends to be consumed on special occasions from weddings to parties. Cava is also very popular in Latino America where is also consumed around Christmas.

According to some experts, the types of Cava may be classified by the amount of sugar added to them, leading to the following classes:
  • Brut Nature - up to 3 grams of sugar, not added sugar
  • Extra Brut - up to 6 grams of sugar per litre
  • Brut - up to 12 grams of sugar per litre
  • Extra Seco (extra dry) - between 12 and 17 grams of sugar per litre
  • Seco (dry) - between 17 and 32 grams of sugar per litre
  • Semiseco (semi-dry) - between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per litre
  • Dulce (sweet) - more than 50 grams of sugar per litre

Things Not To Do with Champagne or Cava
  • Do not over chill it.
  • Do not under fill the ice bucket: you'll wind up chilling only half the bottle; add cold water to ice cubes to make sure the bottle is well submerged; this also makes it easier to put the bottle back into the bucket.
  • Do not try to chill two bottles in a bucket; it is better to leave the second bottle in the refrigerator in an insulated container.
  • Do not chill the glasses ahead of time; it will have a negative effect on the release of the bubbles and the bouquet of the champagne.

Now, that you know a little bit more about all that you need to do is enjoy a glass of your favorite Champagne or Cava...and, Santé! Salud!



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Best Audiobooks for your Next Big Trip According to Oprah's Book Club

About a week ago, I was talking about the advantages audiobooks when you have trouble finding time to read books. 

Here, I propose you a very interesting list of audiobooks put together by Oprah's Book Club People.






The list includes a good variety of audiobooks for all kind of readers.  For instance, there is:

(1) The Snow Queen  by Michael Cunningham with Claire Danes as narrator.

(2) I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban  by Malala Yousafzai with Archie Panjabi as narrator.

Listening time for these audiobooks varies between 3 to about 11.5 hours. Here is the link (click here) for Oprah's suggestions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

6 Powerful Questions for a Life Review

Today, I got inspired by a newsletter that I read from one of my favorite motivational coaches, Cheryl Richardson. This particularly newsletter is entitled "Life Review: Inventory your Successes". 

It's the middle of July, so we are past the middle of the year 2014. Of course, the year is not over, but a good part of the year is now in the past. Thus, it is a good moment to take the time to reflect about the year, and the positive changes that we have made so far in our lives. Or, even better, it is perhaps the time to ask ourselves whether or not we have made any changes to make our lives better this year? 


If you have a few minutes today, take the time to think about the questions below:

1. What positive changes have you made to your life? to your environment?

2.  How are you taking better care of yourself? your body? your mind?

3.  What have you done to protect your sensitivity? to protect your personal time?

4.  Have you been able to disappoint people gracefully to honour your needs?

5.  How have you been a better parent, partner, spouse, friend or co-worker?

6.  How are you taking care of your finances or financial situation?

Now, write your answers in your personal journal, or create a file in your computer (called this file "Life Review" or "Personal Successes" or something similar). Myself, I will be taking sometime today to answer these questions. If you don't have too much today, work at least on one question.

Just think about it, it is July and there is still several months before the end of the year. So, there is still time to work on some the issues directly or indirectly suggested by these questions. 

After answering these questions, I suggest that you identify 1-2 small changes for each question, and make the commitment to work on them during the rest of the year. I am not an expert on this, but I know that if we start with small changes, it's always possible to succeed.

We need to remember that it's never too late to work on ways to improve our lives! START NOW!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

10 Habits of Unhappy People and Ways to Fix Them

Have you ever felt that something was missing in your life? Yes; but, who hasn't? 


Here, I propose you to read this very inspirational article about the habits of unhappy people. This article was published in one of my favorite websites, Tiny Buddha.

In this article, the author presents the 10 most common habits of unhappy people as well as ways to change these habits. I highly recommend you read the article; it is filled with excellent ideas. For instance, this is an extract of this article that I find particularly powerful:

  "I’d look at other people and wonder what they had that I didn’t. I was sick of living my life. And being sick of it was the tipping point that changed it all. It’s what got me moving in the direction of what made my heart sing....As I moved forward, I discovered that what was making me miserable wasn’t outside of me, but the habits I had built up over the years".

Habits of Unhappy People and Ways to Fix Them

Out of the 10 habits presented in the article, I was particularly attracted or interested in the 5 listed below. Why? I have to admit, these are some of my habits.
  • Seeking permission from others --> FIX: Don't look to someone else for validation; go after your dreams! 
  • Taking your thoughts seriously --> FIX: Experiment with taking your thinking less seriously for sixty seconds at a time. See what happens and how you feel.
  • Playing things safe --> FIX: Become aware of the fact that being outside of your comfort zone is simply believing a different set of thoughts. You can always listen to your heart, and take the next step.
  • Focusing on lack --> FIX: Notice your tendency to focus on the thoughts that tell you something is wrong. Rest your attention in the witness of those thoughts. You are not them. You can observe them, and breathe.
  • Neglecting your calling --> FIX: Let go of what you think your life should be, and let it become what it was meant to be. Live life one moment at a time. It’s all you can do anyway.

Are these some of your habits too? Click here to read this article.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Commissions instead of Allowances: Teaching Children about Financial Responsibilities

Have you ever tried to teach your children about money or financial responsibilities? It's not an easy task, but it's something that as parents we all need to do. 

This is an excellent article on teaching children about financial responsibilities. What I like from this article is that it uses the idea of "commissions" instead of "allowances" to teach kids about responsibilities and money. The author also proposes ways to use different categories for responsibilities, as well as bonuses and even fines.

 "The money our daughter earns is referred to as commission. We don’t call it an allowance. She earns commission for the work she completes, just like adults experience in the real world...We created a chart which works for us based upon our system of rewards. Our chart includes categories for responsibilities, bonuses and fines. Here is how we apply each one". 

It's an excellent article, I certainly recommend to read it. Click here to read more about this article from Penny Pinchin' Mom.

3 Things to Know Before you Get a Puppy

"Ay Lola Lolita Lola" is a famous Spanish song that was popularized by one of the most famous Spanish singer, Lola Flores. Well, in this case, I will not be talking about Lola Flores or her song, but about the new addition to our family, Lola. She is a chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy that we have recently adopted. She was born in Quebec on Mother's day 2014 (my son keeps telling everybody this; I think he loves the idea that Lola was born on this particular day). Myself, I love the fact that we called her Lola (or Lola, Lolita Lola!).

Although Lola doesn't not necessarily appear too brown in this picture, she is actually a beautiful dark-brown little puppy. She is almost 9 weeks old and is already showing the temperament that characterizes Labrador Retrievers. She is very active, playful and also very kind with kids.

So far, it has been a wonderful experience to have Lola in our lives. It's so fun to watch her playing with her toys and whatever she can find on the floor or the backyard. Although we keep trying to hide from her our shoes and sandals, she seems to be particularly attracted to them. I have to admit that I am secretly enjoying seeing her trying to eat my sandals when I take her out! Lola is simply adorable, and we all feel, and already treat her as a family member.

What have we learned so far?
Although Lola is a wonderful little puppy, as expected, the last two weeks have been challenging for both my husband and I. Of course, we have done most of the caring of Lola, especially cleaning after her peep and poop accidents. 

Although only two weeks have already past, we have learned three important things regarding dog/puppy adoptions.  
  1. Prepare your House: Make certain that you and your house are prepared for this new family member. It is really like having a baby, your house and life have to be prepared for this new living thing. 
  2. Take time off from work: Adopting a puppy (or a dog) is a great responsibility and a lot of work. Both my husband and I took some days off from work to stay with Lola and make certain that she was fine and her basic needs were properly taken care. 
  3. Having a puppy/dog is a family affair: All family members should be in agreement about this new responsibility, including children. Although children would generally adore the idea of having a puppy or dog, I don't think that they completely understand all that is involved in taking care of an animal. We have already have some discussions with our 12-year old son who is still a little bit unhappy with the idea of carrying a dog poop baggy or taking the dog out when he would prefer reading a book. The more your child is involved in the care of your animal, the more he/she will learn about responsibility. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Preparing your Child for Kindergarten: Social, Academic and Motor Skills

It’s the middle of July, but I am already starting to think about September and the new school year.  My son will be starting kindergarten in a French immersion program, and I want him to be well prepared for this important step in his life.  I really don’t want him to come back from school saying “I hate school; I don’t want to go back there”.  

I realize that I may be thinking too much about this issue, but I want my son to start the school year with the idea that school is fun, exciting and that is a fact of life.  

But, can school be fun? I know, most kids (and adults) would probably say no.  I prefer to believe that school can be fun, and that kids can have fun while learning and exploring new things.  I know that we can probably have long discussions on the topic “can school be fun?” (perhaps, the subject for a different post?), but all that is important for me right now is that my little one enjoys his first year in the school system. 

Is your child prepared for kindergarten?
What do we do when we want to start something new? Well, I don’t know you, but when I start something new or different, I always feel that it helps me if I do a bit of preparation. I try to get basic information, I see if I can practice or I ask questions to other people.

Of course, my son does not know anything about "preparation", but I do and feel that it helps with new, and challenging situations.  So, I figure that if I want to help him be prepared for kindergarten, it may be a good idea if I make certain that he possesses the basic preparation or expected skills needed when beginning kindergarten.  As most experts say, getting ready for kindergarten involves more than just learning the ABCs. Along with juggling learning letters, sounds, numbers, and rhymes, new social experiences like taking turns and going to school for an entire day need to be considered as well. 

Tasks such as holding a pencil and listening to a story with a group are some of the vital skills that children entering kindergarten will be expected to know at the beginning of the school year. Thus, it is important that we consider exposing our children to these types of experiences during the year before kindergarten so they will become familiar with them.  Experts suggests different ways to achieve this, including joining a play group, attending story hour at the local library, and encouraging interaction with new friends. If your child has been at a day-care center or a pre-school center, he is already familiar with most of these activities.


Basic Skills
Although each child is unique and develops at his or her own pace, most educators and developmental experts agree upon a certain set of social and “academic” skills as essential tools for further development and achievement in school.

Here is a checklist that I put together using information from various websites.  Overall, the idea is that a child should have a certain exposure to, or knowledge (not need to be an expert!) of these skills before entering kindergarten. 

Social Skills
·        Uses words to solve problems or conflicts
·        Uses words such as please, thank you and excuse me (i.e., good manners)
·        Adjusts to new situations: attempts new tasks knowing it’s okay to make mistakes
·        Follows a simple direction
·        Play independently or focus on one activity with a friend for up to 10 minutes
·        Asks for help
·        Interacts appropriately with adults and peers
·        Works cooperatively (listens to others, shares and takes turns)
·        Participates in clean-up activities
·        Takes responsibility for own belongings (lunch, coat, etc.)
·        Dress him- or herself
·        Uses appropriate bathroom skills
·        Follows simple safety rules
·        Separates from parents easily

Academic & Concept-development Skills
  • Repeat his full name, address, phone number, and birthday
  •  Identify some letters of the alphabet
  • Write his first name using upper- and lowercase letters, if possible
  • Count and recognizes some numbers (1 to 10)
·       Matches or groups objects according to size, shape or color
·       Shows an understanding of "place" words, or prepositions, such as "under," "above," "beside," and "through," as well as words that describe time, such as "before" and "after."
·       Experiments enthusiastically with new games and toys, sometimes in a trial-and-error manner
·       Describes how objects are the same or different
  • Talks in sentences
·       Uses descriptive language; creates his/her own stories (shows creativity)
·       Compares the size of groups of objects using language such as “more,” “less” and “same as”
·       Arranges objects in size order (big to small, or small to big)
·       Uses comparison words, like "bigger," "smaller," "heavier," etc.
·       Identifies and draws a square, circle and triangle
·       Recognizes some numbers, 1 – 10
·       Can distinguish numbers from letters, and understands that numbers relate to quantity

Motor Skills
·          Use scissors, glue, paint, and other art materials with relative ease
·          Grip a pencil, crayon, or marker correctly (with the thumb and forefinger supporting the tip)
·          Bounce a ball
·          Puts puzzles together
·          Builds using blocks
·          Tries to tie own shoes
·          Bounces, kicks, throws and catches a ball


Finally, more important than anything listed above, I think that it is crucial that we show them our unconditional love during this important step of their life!

Monday, July 7, 2014

5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting Is in Crisis, According to a British Nanny

Here is an article that will make you "meditate" about your own parenting style. It was written by a British Nanny who has over 20 years of experience working with children and parents from two different continents.  


According to her, these are the greatest problems that she sees in today's children: 

  1. A fear of our children
  2. A lowered bar
  3. We've lost the village
  4. A reliance on shortcuts
  5. Parents put their children's needs ahead of their own

Excellent article -- click here if you want to read it. By the way, this article was suggested to me by Bethany Vessey from Synergy Fitness & Nutrition.