Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Books week: Book List, Video and More!

Benjamin Franklin said: "Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech."

Banned Books Week 2008 is the twenty-seventh annual celebration of the freedom to read. Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Association of College Stores. The Library of Congress Center for the Book endorses it.

You can find Videos on Banned Book Week in Kidsfreesouls You Tube. Find the books Top 10 books banned in 2007 and Top 50 Books banned from 1990-2000.

This year, as ALA celebrates the week from September 27-4th October, you can find some banned books picks :

1. Harry Potter Series:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Half Blood PrinceHarry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone.
These books were to ban out of the school libraries, based on a claim they promote witchcraft. The themes of witchcraft and sorcery were inappropriate for a Catholic school. A county school board members said the books were good tools to encourage children to read and to spark creativity and imagination.

2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain, Mark [Samuel L. Clemens]
Challenged, but retained in the Lakeville, Minn. High School (2007) and St. Louis Park High School in Minneapolis, Minn. (2007) as required reading for sophomores. The district will conduct staff training about race issues and revise the way it weighs requests for curriculum changes. The district will also let its staff offer alternative assignments on racially sensitive issues in ways which “students do not feel ostracized because they have opted out of the assignment." Challenged at Richland High School in North Richland Hills, Tex. (2007) because of racial epithets. Challenged at the Manchester, Conn. High School (2007) "because the 'N' word is used in the book 212 times."

3.Rainbow Boys - Sanchez, Alex.
Removed from the Webster, N.Y. Central School District summer reading list for high-school students (2006) after receiving complaints from parents about explicit sexual content. The book won the International Reading Association's 2003 Young Adults' Choice Award, and the American Library Association selected it as a Best Book for Young Adults. A year later the book returned to the list after district officials reviewed the process used to select books on the list.

4. Go Ask Alice. Anonymous.
Challenged as a reading assignment at Hanahan Middle School in Berkeley County, S.C. (2008) because of blatant, explicit language using street terms for sex, talk of worms eating body parts, and blasphemy. The anonymously written 1971 book is about a fifteen-year-old girl who gets caught up in a life of drugs and sex before dying from an overdose. Its explicit references to drugs and sex have been controversial since it was first published.

5. The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens used Writing to Change themselves and the World Around Them
Challenged in the Howell, Mich. High School (2007) along with several other books because of strong sexual content. In response to a request from the president of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education, or LOVE, the county's top law enforcement official reviewed the books to see whether laws against distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors had been broken. "After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic, or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors," the Livingston County prosecutor wrote. "Whether these materials are appropriate for minors is a decision to be made by the school board, but I find that they are not in violation of the criminal laws." The best-selling book has achieved national acclaim and was made into a recent hit movie.

6. Rani by Jaishree Misra
This book is banned for sale and distribution in Uttar Pradesh India.

7. Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner
Challenged as appropriate study in tenth-grade honors English class at Freedom High School in Morganton, N.C. (2008) because the novel depicts a sodomy rape in graphic detail and uses vulgar language.

Well, you can find more books that are Challenged in 2007-2008 here and download a pdf for reading pleasure. Also celebrate Teen Read Week here. You can watch this space more for my Amazon Banned Books Listmania which currently has My Comics World and Childhood Classics with more topics. Meanwhile, here's one for ready reference on Banned Books.

Freedom of speech is at will but Books are challenged and banned for every possible reason. Books are challenged usually, to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. And it might surprise many, Harry Potter Books face a challenge Book category for its focus on wizardy and magic! It is understood that between 1990 and 2000, around 6,364 challenges reported to or recorded by the Office for Intellectual Freedom. Based upon the objections of a person or group, when books are challenged for reading, they are banned! However, Banned Books Week makes it possible for 'Free People Read Freely' concept and the Banned Books week emphasize the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion. Sometimes, silencing the expression of opinion is no good but when the material is unsuitable for age group, offensive language or sexually explicit, Banning is Must! Human Race falls prey easy to the vices and yet, when these challenged books ultimately get banned, this week sure do justice to work that is dumped in cans if the content is good for read!

Its your ticket to freedom. Freedom to read the books that you missed out and freedom to ban a book. Get-set-ready to read Books - Encourage Reading and celebrate Freedom. Make the Banned Books Project in the classroom and dive into the ocean of knowledge.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Muppets return, Forthcoming Disney Movies & Chronicles of Narnia order of books

I was talking to kids and they all mentioned of Hannah Montanna that she's rocking star they like the most. Children almost like to watch the Cartoon Channels and Disney is the favourite channel of kids over here.

Well, Disney is orchestrating the Muppets’s return on several fronts: TV specials, Web videos, a feature film, theme-park attractions and a whole lot of merchandising. You can Read more in New York Times here. Seems the Muppets will be interacting with the High School Musical stars and a stream of comic videos is in production as you can find here on Kidsfreesouls You Tube.

Btw, here's a list of new Disney Movies from Disneyland :

Beverly Hills Chihuahua COMING OCT 3RD 
High School Musical 3 COMING OCT 24TH 

Coming to Disney DVD

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ON DVD DEC. 2ND 
Goal! 2: Living the Dream TBA

Btw, The Chronicles of Narnia are perfect books for children. C. S. Lewis was a brilliant author and theologian and these are wonderful books for children and adults, and can be read again and again as it is a classic of Children's Literature. Reading in Chronological order misses on the surprize and magic. When the books were originally published, it was not numbered. You can read more on Wiki here. So, If you take a session of these stories, you need to read them this way:

1) The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
2) Prince Caspian
3)The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4) The Silver Chair
5) The Horse and His Boy
6) The Magician's Nephew
7) The Last Battle

And here's Cartoon Fun and Cartoon Kids Pages with more resource to find in 'For Kids'page here. Enjoy!

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Monday, September 22, 2008

How much Pocket Money for kids?

I was wondering if you can tell me 'How much pocket money you got as a child?' and now, 'How much Pocket money you think is right to give to your Child?'

I posted this Questions in Q & A at LinkedIn 'Author Book Reviews' Group. You can join in here on my List and opine your views. You can even add to comments here.

Well, Kids pocket money gets a big boost with changing lifestyles. Pocket money give kids a feeling of self dependence. It makes children more responsible and organized in their approach towards money matters. Knowing the value of money is important and makes a child aware of 'How money comes and How it goes' so that they can be careful in their dealing with money to pick up things reasonably fair for them and not spending grandly that they cannot afford. Even, while they get the extra bucks, children can learn how to save in what we call 'piggy bank.'

Like I mentioned in one of my articles in my Book 'Guardian of Angels', Morris Mandel from Jewish Press says, "Four Magic words : We can't afford it", should be a part of every child's education. A child who has never heard these words, or also has never been forced to abide by their meaning, has surely been cheated by his parents. As exercise strengthens the body, frugality strengthens the spirit. Without its occasional discipline, character suffers."

It is very true, today parents are feeling the stress in the money crunch period and many are living on the edge. Children are acutely sensitive to the nuances of their parents' tension and well being. It is important to talk to children on money matters and when pocket money is concerned, I gather, the west is more liberal in providing money even to the younger kids. A weekly allowance of 5$ is quite reasonable whereas some get $1 or even $20 per week. Some parents fulfil the wish of children out of love and demands keep pouring in when they fail to mention "We can't afford".

Children even follow herd mentality. Someone has a new version of ipod or a playstation, they too want it. Here is when parental guidance is required.

Teaching about finance to children is good. Pocket money is a great way to educate children to become financially literate to make informed decisions about their finances. However, draw the lines as to How much should a child get? Second is, How to manage the Pocket money?

So, here's Kidsfreesouls Tips:

How much should a Child Get?

1. Pre-school children can get a $ (Rs.50) per month whereas older children can get a $5 (Rs.200) per month.

2. Money can be given to kids on various occassion like Birthdays, christmas, (Diwali) etc. and let the kids choose their gift from it. (Teach them to keep aside for savings from this)

3. Call for kids to work by helping you around. Later, reward with pocket money with additional few $$ for their help.

4. You can give additional $ apart from pocket money and this should be compulsory for Piggy bank.

5. Give pocket money as your pocket suits and not as demanded by the child. Get an idea of pocket money giving rate and give as suits best to you.

How to Manage the Pocket money:

1. Teach kids about saving and investing

2. Teach about budgeting

3. Save up for things the kids want eg. an ipod. Give extra $ on birthdays, christmas etc. to add to savings and on savings of $$ give bonus add ons.

4. Add compulsory to the Piggy bank by saving some fix $

5. If you've given a mobile to a teenager, let them pay the usage bills from pocket money.

6. Let them have the best experience to shop around for a price.

7. Let kids manage their personal passbook to keep records of their pocket money and its expenditure and savings

8. If a child break a valuable vase or charges occured for mis-handling of their bicycle, let them pay from the pocket money. It may be a mistake but they will learn to be more responsible and know the value of money.

9. Make sure, the pocket money is used for good purpose and that children don't use for things like cigarettes or like.

10. Let them know your Position and how much you can afford. Even if you can afford more, keep a check on emotions. Give as much as others get around and guide the child to manage pocket money by your own examples of managing your own.

Pocket money is an issue that really concerns many of the parents. Even schools take a step on pocket money usage in canteens here in my city as children are fond to binge eating which creates obesity problems and even tempts other children who cannot afford. Many parents do not consider pocket money. Instead provide all that a child needs. However, demands of children are always rising and it is to keep a vigil on expenses by guarding emotions rather than following instincts to make the child happy.

My son Binal says, "I got Rs.20 as pocket money and today, I earn with multiple zeroes added to it yet, my personal experience with Pocket money has taught me to manage my finances and I make practical and logical decisions while I incur expenses."

So, there you go - Be a guide, be a helper. Instill the right moral code of conduct and adopt the four magic words "We can't Afford It" and sure, you will see the results as your child grow up.

- ilaxi patel

Newspaper for kids

Thursday, September 18, 2008

mobile manners

Are you a cell phone mom, teacher or a caretaker? Probably, you need to check your manners while children are around.

Anywhere, at playgrounds, clubs, shopping malls, jogging parks, schools - at home, in kitchen - almost everywhere, we find moms, dads and even caretakers, talking or sending text messages or fiddling with their cell phones - be it nokia, iphone, blackberry and now will be, Google Android! Children are watching and listening too. Such behavior can have serious consequences for children. It's a good way to multi-task but children lag in their development as to their speech skills, manners and even attitude. As adults feverishly fiddle cell phones to answer phone, text or emailing, they often miss to remain mentally present with the child. They are distracted to the point that sometimes, they are hyper with the child and tend to neglect him.

Children today are growing up with cellphones, ipods, video games, computers and all the latest technology. They've a feel for it and so, you are sure to give them a choice to pick up their own personal tech things when you are so fondly using the cool gadgets. As such, a research says, children whose mothers frequently used a cellphone during pregnancy were 80 percent more likely to have emotional, social and behavioral problems, including hyperactivity. These same women use cell phones even after the birth. The researches found that significant levels of electromagnetic radiation from the phones did penetrate the human body, and argued that until more research was done the gadgets should be considered dangerous. children's brains were more susceptible to the radiation than those of adults, and advised parents to ban younger children from using the phones regularly.

However, this is not to be if parents themselves do not understand the seriousness of it.

As for children using cell phones in schools, I hear some schools this year are putting a ban of using cell phones and ipods in schools. Linton-Stockton High School  have taken strict measure as not to electronic device during school hours and that which is not related to educational function.  Children are often found to text msg, chat for long hours and even take pictures out of way. Children were found to be putting notes in ipod and listen to it while taking tests.

So there, we need to follow the mobile manners for own self and as well as children. If a child is using a mobile, he should know mobile manners. It's a use of mobile phone only in time of special/urgent needs only. Set a good example and teach them few things if they are using mobiles (Best is 'No mobiles till 16) and don't let them get attracted for the fancy picks.

Few things children using mobiles should know:

1. Protect the mobile numbers. Do not give your no. to everyone. Do not let others see your number. 
2. Do not respond to unwanted SMS or call back for strangers who sms or ring you.
3. Do not give your information to any caller unless you know the person.
4. Know the etiquettes and follow the right use. 
5. All mobiles cost. Use with responsibility and for right purpose.
6. No mobiles to school. If they have anything at all, they can call from school office.

So goes, for the ipods - Let kids use them while they're free and a strict 'NO' while at school.

There's no denying that we live in a dangerous world and that children are overwhelmingly important. A day when our mobiles go off even for a while, we are used to adjust but the next generation is out with the newer technology and its safety more a concern for them right now. Protect kids from the dangers using mobiles.

Let there be a mobile phone free for a week and enjoy with kids, friends and socialize. I am sure, you will be happier to do so - Just like me, chucking away my Blackberry as I stay tuned on the web!

Btw, Google Android launches on 23rd September 08. Though, it may not be available for another month. Here's where you can find all on the new Google Android. Also in Kidsfreesouls You Tube, an earlier G Android video shows all. Enjoy.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Television - The 'idiot box' - Kids viewing and Impacts

The first programme on Television  in India - 15th SEPTEMBER 1959 

The first Television Programme started in Delhi on 15th September 1959. Since then, the so called ‘Idiot Box’ has attracted mass media, glued to its charm with various programmes.

You can read more on this here in Kidsfreesouls news earlier.

Well, Research at the National Institute of Mental Health conducted by Peter Jensen concluded, "Extensive exposure to television and video games may promote development of brain systems that scan and shift attention at the expense of those that focus attention." In countless homes and classrooms, we see children with more impulsive behaviors, less willing and able to persevere through challenging mental tasks, hyperactive, reactive, with little or no impulse control. Research confirms that children who watch TV or play video games for more than two hours daily will most likely exhibit one or more of these characteristics.

Children below 2 should not watch any television, kids older no more than two hours daily of 'quality' programs and television, should be out from children's bedrooms. Research shows that kids who have TV in bedrooms score lower in Maths and language arts test than children without bedroom TVs. A rise in attention problems and difficulty in reading is found among kids who watch more than 3 hours of television and fail in intelligence test! However, there is positive association between children's Educational TV viewing and subsequent academic achievement where kids are found to fair better progress in schools.

I would like to mention a few positive of Television here:

* Television increase a child's range of interest as it exposes him to a wide variety of activities and ranging from cartoons, science, travel, music, etc.

* Television do increase the general vocabulary of children and enhance their skills of communication.

* Television provide opportunities for children to participate - Thus, strive for excellence with their talents, participate, and if not, get inspired by talents of others, learn and be informed.

* Television makes children to imagine and dream as they watch their own cartoon shows and helps them to build concentration, be focused and stimulate their minds.

However, television has it's impact negatively with influence on children of media violence. More viewing leads to effects on healthy child development and the impacts of advertisements are reflected in their various demands and behavior.  As such, this leads to fear syndrome, impulse and aggressive behavior and more with sleep disorders, low grades in schools, health issues, so on.

A survey speaks, almost 68% children from 8-18 years have television in their bedroom, 63% families watch television during meals, 51% television is on, most of the time and on an average, children spend 4 hours a day, watching television, DVDs or playing video games on television-computers. As such, TV plays a big role in our lives. If TV viewing limits are specified, the negative television effects can be minimized. Violent programming including violent Cartoons has a negative impact on children too.

What parents can do? Limit viewing hours? Temptation to fill leisure hours with TV viewing be avoided? Don't occupy child's mind with lot of education stuff that leads to boredom? Think! There must be sure fire way to lessen the TV viewing hours!

Btw, here's to pull the plug on the Violence shows first and focus on:

1. Set limits. Setting limits on television time is very important.

2. Planning. Set the routine of the child and plan his lesson schedules so that he completes his work to be free for his television shows. If his show time is missed, he won't be able to concentrate in his lessons.

3. Decide. Prioritize the channels and let him select his choice as per your list. Guide him to select and explain why the channel show is good for him to view.

4. Participate. Children learn from parents the most as to how you interpret the TV programs you see together. If you forbid children to watch a certain program, try to communicate your reasons. Watch cartoon shows, educational movies together. Children will love watching with you.

5. Resist CommercialsPoor eating habits can be picked up early and with ease as candy and snack food commercials attract kids. When children request food and toys advertised on television, teach kids how television makes them buy things sometimes they don't necessarily need and how advertisers find way marketing their products.

6. Don't Frustrate. Do not be harsh and severe with kids viewing and plug out the cables with disconnection. This will hurt the child. Explain why setting limits is necessary.

7. Check your own Views. Limit viewing when kids around. This means, sacrificing your fav soap operas or movies when children are together. Not necessarily, all shows provide entertainment; they have a bad influence on you too as they are like slow poison affecting the brain and your attitude.

Express your views while allowing children to select programs of their interest and let them make a choice providing Daily Schedule - include daily allowance (extra 15 mins) or Weekly viewing allowance (extra hours). School going children are overloaded with lessons and even home-work hassles take to stress, a few minutes of relaxing, entertainment and playing outdoor is equally necessary. So why not, Set limits to Television viewing and plan a schedule?

(Related articles: In Counselling column)

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Raold Dahl's Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and writing review Journals

13th September and it's time to take a dip into the world of books by Raold Dahl.

Raold Dahl, a prolific writer of children's stories, adult fiction and film scripts was born on September 13, 1916 in Wales of Norwegian parents. His stories are marked by nightmarish or fantasy elements, grotesque humor and surprise endings. His most popular books for children are Gremlins(1943), James and the Giant Peach (1961) and Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (1964).

Dahl's adult fiction includes the short story collections Kiss Kiss (1960), Tales of the Unexpected (1979) and Raold Dahl's Books of Ghost Stories (1983). He wrote the screen plays for the James Bond film 'You only live Twice' (1967) and the Children's classic 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Raold died in 1990 leaving behind his books that find place on top shelves in kids rooms.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has always remained on Top of Charts in Kidsfreesouls Library & gets stars5.gif (394 bytes)It is cherishing the memories of childhood days and reading the Children's Literature. An all time classic for all ages. Never miss out the fun Reading Raold Dahl and yeah, don't miss to read 'Famous Five' - The Great Enid Blyton too!

Here's the review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
A true star of Children's Literature.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a singular delight, crammed with mad fantasy, childhood justice and revenge, and as much candy as you can eat. Willy Wonka opens the gate of his Chocolate Factory to the five 'Lucky Winners' who finds the golden ticket wrapped in a Wonka Chocolate. Charlie is poor and gets only one Chocolate bar a year! One day he finds a dollar bill in the snow and buys himself a chocolate bar. Luck favours him as this contains the fifth golden ticket. The fantasy tour of Charlie begins with the other four winners - Mike Teaves who lives for TV, Veruca Salt, a brat who lives with bratty parents, Violet Beaguragarde, a girl who love gum and Augustus Gloop who would just eat anything! Dahl portrays incidents with resourcefulness and humour. Violet blows up into a blueberry from sneaking forbidden chewing gum and Agustus Gloops is carried away on the river of chocolate he would not resist. They have great Adventures and in the end, Wonka gives a big 'Surprise' to Charlie. This is an all time Dahl Classic for all Ages. Kidsfreesouls 'Choice Pick' - Especially for 8-12 years:-)

Well, as I mention Raold Dahl, I am sure many children must be reading their fav choice Authors and fairyland stories. We need to encourage children to write 'Weekly review Journal' of stories they've read with a simple jot down in the scrap like:

Name of the Book
Author's Name
Characters in the Book
Best Part I like
Hard Words in the Book, 
My Opinion or Moral of the story
Lastly, Sign of the Student and Teacher's sign.

Once a week, one review writing and you have 52 reviews ready in a year. Even if the child skips writing, at least there will be 25 book reviews written - five may be beginning efforts but the remaining will be written properly with a little bit of help from the parent or teacher. I have students who've submitted 40 reviews + in a year. In the process, the child improves on reading, narrating and even sharpen language skills and handwriting.
 If a student dislike review writing, there should be an option to write a letter to a friend telling about the story. Here's Swagat Page with list of students who've read +25 and +40 reviews. You can submit reviews to Kidsfreesouls and get into Global List of Readers on Kidsfreesouls.

You can also set up a Google site during Internet Project and list down all the stories children have read in the weekly library session. Explain the moral values from stories like Frog King, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Cinderella, Snow White, Princess and the Pea and many many more stories. An interactive session with children is always fun and interesting for kids.

Here's my earlier post on 'Reading Aloud' and choosing books. You can watch the video onKidsfreesouls You Tube. And, here's on 'Encourage Reading' and on stories that reflects Moral Values.  Enjoy!

- ilaxi patel
Newpaper for kids

Friday, September 12, 2008

James Blunt video with songs and manners worksheet

Here's James Blunt video in Kidsfreesouls You Tube, doing a shaper-sized version of his hit song, "Beautiful" – except now he's singing about a triangle:

This shape was brilliant / This shape was pure.
I saw three angles / Of that I'm sure.
And I saw three pointy corners / And then I saw three straight sides.
The top was very narrow / And the base was oh so wide
(Telly says, "Wait that sounds like…")
A Triangle / My triangle
Oh triangle, it's true.
I saw your shape / In a crowded place
Now I don't know what to do.

And here's a parody from Sesame Street about Kidsfreesouls You Tube.

I am sure many of you are fond of Kids Music and maybe music that kids don't like. You can always keep a watch on Kidsfreesouls You Tube as being a Keyboard Player, I taught music to children earlier and you can find my fav music added here. Well, this is the Piano Month and I am sure, a good beginnings goes well with children singing merrily to the tunes they like the most. If you've heard Steven Cravis on Piano, you will sure love to see his new You Tube video on Kidsfreesouls You Tube

Here are some songs for fun and Grammar songs for kids. I will be adding more soon but here's one on 'Manners' and this should be fun singing and role playing, while you can have a 'Manners Session' in the classroom and even circulate a copy of the worksheet here from Grammar Fun-Manners. Here's in Archive also : Manners & kids Games by Hasbro Noodleboro

ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Making Connexions: Parental Guide & Teachers form on 'Child Development Review

New routine and it's time to get the Kids Focused. Make them Set Goals and all about 'Back to School' - managing a bigger role as Guardian of Angels.

John Watson, the American psychologists and father of Behaviorism sets down in his theory saying ‘Learning is conditioning.' The kid is to be motivated to be a Genius and this is where the ‘Temperament style’ of every kid needs a keen observation from the very start. Create a Genius in your child and you find all the answers to 'How' in this article. (In GOA)

Kids have their own dreams and aspirations. Know the child, support them and let them think creatively. Build a bridge of communication with the teacher as most of the hours, the teacher helps the child to learn and grow. The child needs not only the love and affection from parents and teachers but also need to set their goals and fulfill them.

One thing really important for a child is Making connections. Children do make friends on their own but yet, a parental guiding help can add to his positive friendship :

1. Help the child to be friendly. Simply listening or talking, sharing and appreciating the other and even sharing alikeness - for a video game or a even an activity in class.
2. Help the child to compete - In the sense, master the skills the others have and admire. Be it playing a keyboard or guitar, playing sports or arts.
3. Avoid being negative and impulsive. Listen to the child on what he has to say of his friends rather than stop him and showing your distaste of his friend. He may strong feel of his friend that you don't, maybe.
4. Help the child to solve conflicts. Social skills are necessary as they can learn to settle themselves at times of disputes with others.
5. Don't involve in small arguments of children. If they go physical, take your stand. Let the kids work out on their own.
6. Let the kids practice co-operation and understand feelings of others.
7. Help the kids to share, care and be kind and gentle with friends.
8. Know your child's friends. Invite them for play, birthday celebrations, etc.

This way, a parent can know of how well your child's friends are and also learn from their positive ways to help your child set example. If your child has a bad friendship, it makes you alert to guide.

As for the teachers, it's the first few days to be like the acronym, "KISS" - Keep it Simple Stupid! Teachers can adopt innovative ideas at the start of the school and make learning fun. Encourage reading habits on daily basis in the classroom and even at home. Even follow up with a para handwriting practice everyday. This will help weaker children to learn faster. Above all, routinely writing book reviews per week and making journals. Encourage them to write simple jot downs and you can make Kids Blogs with Google sites - a sure fire-way to lift up the spirit of the children.

Teachers can write 'welcome letters to children' and invite parents to describe their child by simply letting them jot down on 'Child Development Review' - some points to fill as below:

1. Describe your child
2. What are your child's strengths
3. What are his hobbies - What he has been doing lately?
4. Does your child have any special problem or disability? Mention.
5. What concerns you have about your child?
6. What other activities does he attend apart from school?
7. Mention what improvement you require in your child.

This will give an insight to know the child, about their learning abilities and methods to adopt while dealing with children. Some kids are fast learners whereas some are branded as slow snail learners. What is required is to identify their weaker areas and diagnose their learning disabilities to apply strategies to combat difficulties.

More, it's to be friendly with kids. Keep the communication live and keep the perfect 'Discipline' in own self as well as the Class.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Grandparents Day: ‘Let the Kids Think’

First sunday after Labor Day has been declared as 'Grandparents Day' in the US.

Strong willed individuals formulate new ideas and persist in making them realities. They figuratively move mountains and change courses of rivers to attain their goals. Such a strong willed woman was Ms. Marian Mcquade, a house wife in West Virginia who originated National Grandparents Day with prime motive to champion the cause of elderly people and persuade the grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. 76 year old mother of 15, Grandmother of 40 and great Grandmother of 3, Ms. Marian cheers neglected and lonely patients in Hospitals. Mr. & Mrs. McQuade pay all Grandparents Day expenses, including printing and postage costs for an average of three packets a day sent to people who inquire about the observance. This promotional package included a personal letter, history of the event fact, suggested activities, day’s purposes, copy of ‘Beautitudes for the Friends of the Aged’ and family tree charts. However, it was President Jimmy Carter who proclaimed the observance of National Grandparents Day in 1978 on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

Some people had misimpression that Grandparents day originated as a florist promotion as flower Industry prepare for many request in September for Grandparents. Hall mark cards designed special Grandparents Day cards with permission of Ms.Macquade and offered her royalty which was denied by her. Grandparents day can be observed with demonstrations of talents such as cooking, sculpting, cooking or just family dancing, singing along together, ice cream parties, dinner or compiling of family trees, visiting old parents home or nursing home, etc.

On Grandparents Day, may all the grandparents pass on their wisdom, keep the harmony and build generations. What we miss today is more like the quote: "One who knows how to adjust is one who knows how to Survive" - Well, who are we to advice the elders and tell them, "Build the Family Tree - Be Better Grandparents" (Find article in Guardian of Angels). (Also find Conquer Anxiety )

But than it’s a time to make the real Difference. How to relish the unique role and be cherished. The today’s generation would need the Kidsfreesouls Tips in the coming years when they are grandparents : - ) The changing times have affected the changing lives. A story of a parents concern with their old father is touching and eye opening too. The parents decide to send away the old father and carried him in a basket to leave him to another place. The grand child see this and is quite understanding. He runs to his father and says " Bring the basket back because I will need the same for you " The parents realize their mistake. So, it is a concern for all generations to keep the relations alive and build the Family tree in cooperation.

What we need to remember when we get old is : LET THE GRAND KIDS THINK!!!!

Opportunities for promoting thought behaviour is the need of the hour as we communicate with children. Parents and Grandparents require to pay the attention to the communication levels as:

1. Tone of the voice. A tone that will produce more genuine response but not that is demanding, patronizing, condescending. Children who hear ‘ stupid ideas’ know better that they will never again expose their ideas in open. If children need to develop thoughtfulness, they need to develop the ideas themselves. Grandparents who invite and respect children's ideas will find that children are more willing to offer them. Treating grandchildren and what they say with respect establishes trust and opens lines of communication.

2.Be a good Listener. Don’t interrupt but take interest in what kids need to say and make sure that they know you are listening. They would learn the habit of listening too.

3. Warmth, respect, trust and genuineness are keys to productive talking with children. Keep the attitude of ‘Tell me…I want to know rather than say ‘ I know..You listen’

Television programs, commercials, toys, video games and books are well worth inviting children to think about. The key to such examination is knowing what and how to ask, and avoiding the kind of moralistic preaching that comes so easily to adult lips, and that discourages children from thinking for themselves. We open up unlimited possibilities for children to develop as thoughtful decision makers. By asking children to share their thoughts, we also discover, sometimes with amazement, that children have rich and compelling ideas that reach far beyond what we suspected they knew. Intelligent behavior does not grow through experience alone. It needs cultivation, through reflection on that experience. Kids who watch a movie won't automatically understand its messages; adults have to help them, with thoughtfully worded questions, to find the meanings. Because the world is so rife with choice, one of the most important skills we can teach our grandchildren is the ability to make wise decisions.

Hence, it is more a wise thing to Let the Kids Think’ – Be a guide, not a commander. Teach kids ‘How to Think, not what to Think’. We need to learn this as we grow up as the new Gen-X will be Techno savvy Kids and we need to Change with the Change.

Btw, here's to give an Achievement Certificate to Grandparents in appreciation of their towering strength and being a 'Guiding light'.

And if you are a Grandparent, here are 10 things to Demand. And here are 25 Reasons kids love Grandparents. Btw, Here's Grandparents site that might interest you and watch a video too. I have been routinely visiting here since many years on this day. Here's my first learning site on Tripod where I still have my pages of Freesouls and on Grandparents Day. Enjoy!

Newspaper for Kids

Friday, September 05, 2008

Teacher's Day - ADD/ADHD Problems in children

5th September - Teacher's Day is celebrated as a tribute to Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan on his Birthday, the former President of India, who has been a great teacher and contributor to the cause of Education. This day, teachers of all schools take a break from teaching, while students play teachers and run mock classes.

In 1991, children poured in to Swagat for the 'Reading & Grammar' sessions which included extra-curricular activities and I still continue the journey of teaching at Swagat. Teaching has always been a wonderful journey for me and becomes a memorable experience too. The result is dedicating my Book 'Guardian of Angels' to parents, teachers and children everywhere. Today, many of my ex-students are all with me on my online journey on the web as I explore and find them at places esp. on Facebook. It is amazing for them too, as once they would Google their name in the Search Engine and they end up finding Swagat page.

Well, Dr. Radhakrishnan said once:

"A good teacher must know how to arouse the interest of the pupil in the field of study for which he is responsible. He must himself be a master in the field of study and be in touch with the latest developments in the subject, he must himself be a fellow traveller in the exciting pursuit of knowledge"

A teacher - inspires, motivates, encourages and shapes lives. As a mentor, teachers need to understand the dreams and aspirations of students; be a guiding force in their life. I feel, as teachers when we are honoured as Educators and our contribution is acknowledged, it is our duty to be a 'Guardian Angel' as Guardians, as we are the caretakers in place of parents.
Each child is born and brought up differently, have their own learning abilities and even are extroverts or introverts. Some children are branded as fast learners and some as slow. In the process of their Education, I understand, Teachers often knowingly or unknowingly, are partial to students and parents are found to be reporting and complaining about them. When Teachers call to give reports of the child, the parent of a failing student is faced with abuse, criticism and even hurt the self esteem of the child when he is scolded in front of the mother, who's ego is hurt too.

Recently, I came across a parent who fears to meet the teacher - just because the teacher keeps complaining as the child fails in class. Her child is almost facing Learning disabilities or maybe, ADHD (Attention deficit-Hyperactivity) symptoms. As such, the child lose the study skills effectively, is at a loss to organize, plan or manage time to work out on lessons. Sometimes, children are only Attention deficit or they can be Hyper Active/Impulsive or a mix of both. The teacher should be the first to take note on their attitude as school environment demands more sitting hours, concentration, attention, focus and are aware of their patterns of behavior. Accordingly, find the reasons and be a practical Educator by implementing various Effective Teaching techniques.

If you are a teacher, you probably know this. Children staring out of the class, writing a d instead of b, won't follow instructions, speak endlessly or shout on top of their voice, forget homework book....more on this. Students with the ADD/ADHD present challenges for the teacher with such behavior in class :

1. They often forget to write down homework assignments, do them, or bring completed work to school
2. They have trouble following instructions and don't listen
3. They demand attention by talking out of turn or move around the class
4. They usually have problems with projects where there is no help from the teacher or parent
5. They have difficulty in taking notes and their handwriting is not clear
6. They often have trouble in Maths with long division or solving equations
7. They often don't complete task and shift from one to another
8. They often misplace things and fiddle with rubber, pencils, sharpeners, etc.

All children who behave this way are not necessarily having the ADD/ADHD problems. However, it is the strategies to implement as a teacher by being positive and motivating the child with appreciation and tactfully managing the situation. Do not nag or complaint to the parent but be constructive and creatively work-out with the parent on how to solve the problematic child.

Here's a Help Guide to understand on many mannerisms which might be useful.

And here's wishing "Happy Teacher's Day" to all the online Teachers/Readers who visit kidsfreesouls and who, directly or indirectly are motivating me to continue writing articles and experience my journey as an Educator too - Learning to write and Change with the Change, using Tech learning in classroom too. You can find Teacher's page here 'For Teachers' and also articles by Teachers on 'Teachers Day' page.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Inspirations for Purposeful Living - SQ in kids

Recently, AMA had organised a week on "Inspirations for purposeful living symbolized by Lord Ganesha." Spiritual discourses were held by Swami Anubhavananda and Swami Atmananda. Swami Anubhavananda urged people to be in an 'inspired mode' throughout life and be spiritual by observing, sincere devotion, positive thinking, expression of joy and zero complaints.'

He outlined three ways of god realization:

1. Every action shoud be expression of happiness.
2. Every word uttered is expression of Happiness
3. Every thought within has to be of Happiness

The purpose of life is not to become 'Big' but live a live in devotion, intelligence and grow spiritually.

Swami Atmananda spoke on Ganesha and it's influence on mankind. He focused on Positive thinking and reflective Listening. For the Big mind to develop, one needs to Think. Hence, he told the audience to Think - ideas that pop up in mind turn to desired results as they turn profitable, sets a person free and makes thinking 'positive' with a clear mind.

Well, here's the Ganesh Page (In culture section) on Kidsfreesouls which briefly say all :

Lord Ganesh's BIG HEAD inspires us to 'Think Big' & 'Profitably'
Lord Ganesh's BIG EARS prompt us to listen patiently to new ideas & suggestion
Lord Ganesh's NARROW EYES point to deep concentration needed to finish tasks in hand well and quickly
Lord Ganesh's LONG NOSE tells us to poke around inquisitely to learn more

Lord Ganesh's SMALL MOUTH reminds us to speak less and listen more.

I believe 'utter faith' is need for a spiritual growth and where children are concerned, they need to develop not only the EQ, IQ but also the SQ - the spiritual quotient that often parents neglect. If SQ is inculcated from a very early stage of life, it can prove to be very instrumental in framing the overall personality of a child and sensitizing him/her towards various aspects of life. Every parent or a teacher need to Create a 'Genius in the Child' keeping in mind the IQ, EQ and SQ for which we all need the major 'KQ' (Knowledge Quotient) of spirituality understanding.

So, how do we teach the child for spiritual wisdom? Here's some insights:

1. Identify the values you cherish and your actions are based on beliefs which you pass on. Be specific and clear in your own mind which values you most cherish like some of them could be - Kindness, forgiveness, sincerity and loyalty.

2. Principles of right vs wrong. Actions have consequences and children should learn from your experience and examples to bear responsibility of their actions. Like the 'Ten Commandments' it's more an add of Nurturing commandments of Parenting (In GOA). Simply saying, 'Don't do this or that' is not effective but if a bridge of understanding prevails, it works.

3. Define the real meaning and it's results. Parents speak of words like love, joy, peace, self control, kindness, goodness, patience and more. However, what do these terms mean is not clearly defined. The child need to understand what they really mean with examples or anecdotes. Children are taught self control but specify. eg. Have self control and wait for a piece of cake after dinner without fussing to have it quick. It can be patience - either way. The values need to be understood.

4. Demonstrate your belief in Prayers. We say our daily prayers and let know the kids that you pray for help, guidance and gratitude for giving a wonderful world. We believe in super power and the child should keep the faith too. God is listening and he too, answer your prayers.

5. Teach spiritual songs, tell spiritual stories and go to 'church' or 'temple' or whatever the faith. Hymns are wonderful tools what we call spiritual songs. Children love to sing and daily prayers too, are important - the morning, saying grace at meal times and at night before sleeping. Stories are often interesting in all religions which even call for debate. Gently teach the spiritual principles. Let the child know the biographies of godly people.

6. Communicate. Talk to kids of ethics, values and faith. Stimulate their curiosity and set a good example.

Let there be 'SQ' to Nurture the Genius in your kid but don’t forget the KidsFreesoul Tip “Weave ‘Emotional Literacy’ into the fabric of daily life in you and the kid and take the flight steps to EQ-IQ with the added SQ. It’s the Spiritual quotient, faith that dispels ignorance, faith that moves mountains and faith that is deciding, daring and doing the job.

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for Kids
Author of Guardian of Angels

[ Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival celebrated all over India on 3rd september this year, esp. Maharashtrians and even, 3rd September is the completion of Jain Festive 'Paryushan' - the fasting and offering prayers to god. It's 'Michami Dukdam' which means today we save sorry to all Jains and they revert back saying sorry in case by mistake also we've hurt someone by speech or action. Even the Ramzan festival is ongoing and here's on Pillars of Islam]

Monday, September 01, 2008

Manners & kids Games by Hasbro Noodleboro

Sharing, Listening and manners don't come to naturally to kids... but playing does! - reads the lines on the Hasbro's Noodleboro site as they promote three new games to teach Manners and social skills to children, aged 4 up for 2/3 players. They're Fun Park Game, Picnic Basket Game and Pizza Palace Game.

Fun Park Game: Developing social skills. The story is about a place filled with midway games and carnival fun. In this game, kids play together to collect as many sharing stars as they can before the park closes. It’s all about having fun and helping friends by sharing.

Picnic Basket Game: Value of Manners. It’s hard to have a perfect picnic party when ants keep trying to steal food! Just say “please” and “thank you” to send those pesky ants packing and collect all the items that will make the picnic a success. Rachel refuses to use good manners and see what happens!

Pizza Palace Game: Learning to Listening skills. In this game, it’s important for kids to listen and pay attention to orders before heading into the kitchen. Things may go wrong if they don't listen properly.

The games are the result of more than a year of development work, which included an online survey of moms (and a few dads) around the U.S., according to an executive with Hasbro's games division. Teaching social skills turned out to have surprising importance for the nearly 1,000 people surveyed.

You can find more on Kids page here to check on the game demos on the site.

Well, Manners matter. It has it's own importance and cannot be learnt in a day! Some children are a joy around. They are pleasant, polite and treat others with respect. Whereas, some are rude, naughty and noisy. They are defiant, give back answers or blur out words they shouldn't. Are you bugged with such child who needs to learn good manners?

Parents are the role models and so are the teachers too. Parents often complain that coping with undisciplined child is the most turbulent phase of parenthood. Even teachers call for the parents and complain the child's behavior when they fail to handle a manner-less child. Great kids misbehave too! Children are always in transition. Moving from one development stage to another and it is amidst the process, Parents need to instill moral values in kids. Manners are skills taught to develop social grace. They display respect, care and consideration. Imagine, a child comes and bangs saying, 'Mommy, I will not share my chocolate with my brother' or blue out in from of a guest saying, 'Mommy, I will not allow you to give my biscuits to the aunty'.
In fact, I really came across a child who was rude and rough. The mother got a complain from school and the teacher told her not to send the child if he misbehaves. On hearing this, the child said, 'No problem. Good for me. I won't go to school and watch TV at home all the time.' So, this is really embarassing, isn't it? Here's where we need to draw the lines.

Good manners at home and away from home, makes life pleasant. Knowing how to be polite will give the child the self confidence, build his self esteem as others will respond positively to his good manners. So, what can you do and set initial steps? May be this can help:

1. Talk about Manners and teach social skills. The simple, 'Please', 'Thank You', 'Sorry', are the easy words but to be used often.

2. Set a good example. Children act the way you do. If you tell him to do something and you don't, he too will follow the footsteps.

3. Children don't learn by just playing, seeing or listening. Give them the chance many times over and again to practice social skills.

4. Role play the situations. Let the child be the host and get ready for guests.

5. Teach the proper table manners, Phone manners and even appreciating, caring, sharing and check on proper moral attitudes.

Well, more on this and you can find on the wiki here on a guide to 'How to have Good Manners'. You may find more websites on Manners through Google Search on Kidsfreesouls Here.

Btw, I have routinely held sessions at Swagat on 'Manners' especially on Table Manners and simple outline of social skills and moral values. Here is a worksheet on Don't of Table Manners, supported to this session. I am sure, may parents and teachers will find this helpful to have a supportive class circulation copy while you teach Manners in your classroom/or even hang on clip board in your child's study room/bedroom. Enjoy!

- ilaxi patel
Newspaper for kids
Author of : Guardian of Angels