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Are Two-Year-Olds Ready for Preschool?

Written by Jana Klinderová, Educational Specialist at Lipa Learning

How early is too early to sign your kids up for preschool? Are two-year-olds ready for it? Data exists supporting both sides of the argument, but making sense of it can be intimidating at first. In this case, it’s better to approach the topic from a different angle: there’s no universal truth for each and every child.



Parents are often put into difficult situations where, either from economic reasons or otherwise, they’re forced to return to work early after having children. Some parents have a different motivation: they want to make career choices on their own terms. Every parent needs something a bit different to be satisfied with their career and we can’t judge those who choose to pursue it. After all, a happy and satisfied parent makes the best role model for their children. But can we combine our kids’ needs and our parental needs without neglecting either? (And end up with a clean conscience at the end?)


What plays a role?

There are many factors that can help us decide whether our child is ready for preschool or even a day-care service. One factor is the child’s maturity: mental, physical, and social-emotional, and another factor is the type of preschool: number of children per class, number of teachers, and the amount of time children spend there.

Children’s development follows a pattern. It’s said that 90% of our character is developed in the first three years of life, the so-called crucial time of development. A two-year-old is still forming the important psychological trait of “secure attachment” to the people around them. This process starts roughly in the first year of life and is still in progress by age two. A teacher or a caretaker who has to provide for multiple children at the same time cannot manage this important attachment, since it’s primarily created one-on-one with those closest to the child (parents, siblings, extended family, etc).


Secure attachment

Bowlby’s theory speaks about the importance of establishing a secure attachment to the closest provider—the parent. In this attachment, the child finds physical and emotional satisfaction, as it provides him or her with a sense of security. The experiences from early-in-life relationships help develop the ability to create and maintain relationships later in life. Children naturally seek to be close to people to whom they have this attachment, and displaying emotions—laughing, crying and yelling—are how they express this. Parents’ instinctive reaction is usually to provide care and safety, removing fear and anxiety from the child. If the parents’ behavior is avoidant or inconsistent, an insecure attachment forms instead, causing emotional deprivation and increasing the chance of behavioral dysfunctions.


Preschool and stress

A growing number of studies speaks about an increased level of stress hormones in toddlers who spend a long time with preschool caretakers. Children who spend more than eight hours a day outside home care showed the highest levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). It’s been proven that consistent high cortisol levels lead to sleeping disorders, a weak immune system, or blood sugar abnormalities. On top of that, there’s the emotional deprivation that the child feels during separation, while they’re at preschool.


Different needs

Even though it’s a difference of one year, two-year olds have completely different needs than three-year-olds. On top of higher demands to hygiene, nutrition, or sleep, two-year-olds very often need an individual approach, more support and help, enough time to do an activity, and the teachers’ efforts to understand their mostly non-verbal communication.

As mentioned before, the type of preschool plays into the decision. You can’t compare a class of 8–10 children with two teachers and a class of 20 children with one teacher. No matter how professional and capable a teacher is, they wouldn’t be able to give a two-year-old in that environment the attention and individual care they need.


Are there any positives?

Despite all this, children being away from home in an institution with quality caretaking can have its benefits and push children’s development in the right direction. Children also learn by observing their peers and even though two-year-olds may be too young to engage in group activities, they can still watch and absorb proper social patterns.

Researchers in Norway discovered that there is a minimal correlation between the time spent in preschool and the development of behavioral issues. The research done by the London School of Economics and Oxford University in 2016 showed that children aged two to three were more stimulated by interacting with other children in preschools than with adults, which lead to an improvement in their development. According to the research, singing, painting and crafting (all common preschool activities) have a positive influence on children.


Time spent at preschool

A crucial thing the research didn’t mention was the amount of time children actually spent in preschool. Again, there is a big difference between spending the entire day away from  parents and spending just a couple of hours per week. When we talk about only a couple of hours, it works as a slow training in separation, which the child can manage.

Every child grows up at a different pace and their character requires something different each time. Thanks to the many options we have today, we can always make a choice that is tailored precisely to the needs of our children. We should, however, remember that two-year-olds need more time with their parents, even when the external caretaker is the best there can be. Small groups of children should also be prioritized.

In the end, it’s best to follow your own intuition and not just follow the opinions and advice of others. After all, it is we, the parents, who know best what our child needs.



Zachrisson, H. D., Dearing, E., Lekhal, R. and Toppelberg, C. O. (2013), Little Evidence That Time in Child Care Causes Externalizing Problems During Early Childhood in Norway. Child Dev, 84: 1152–1170

May Britt Drugli, Elisabet Solheim, Stian Lydersen, Vibeke Moe, Lars Smith, Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen. Elevated cortisol levels in Norwegian toddlers in childcareEarly Child Development and Care, 2017

Bowlby, J., Vazba a ztráta (svazek I., Vazba), Portál, 2010

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Written by Payal Malhotra, Lipa Consul for India


Bullying isn’t new.

But just like how our technology has evolved, bullying has evolved.

Thanks to our always-on mobile technology and our nature of sharing everything online, cyberbullying is the new trend.  Cyberbullying is becoming the biggest online concern, already affecting about 35% of children worldwide.

Cyberbullying can be defined as the use of technology to harass, embarrass, or threaten another person. It doesn’t require any kind of physical presence and as cyberbullies can easily benefit from the anonymity of the Internet and hide their true identity, it can take place 24/7. Cyberbullying can have a huge impact on people and has even gone to the extent of driving people to commit suicide.



Cyberbullying includes

1) Sending mean emails, messages, or texts

2) Spreading gossip and rumors about others online

3) Sharing embarrassing photos and videos about others

Cyberbullying can be done either by individuals or can even be done by a group.


How to find whether our kids are being cyberbullied

At times, it is difficult to learn whether a child is being bullied or not as the child might feel too scared to tell their parents. Cyberbullying causes both physical, as well as emotional issues and there are certain behavioural changes which can help us find out if a child is a victim.

1) Withdrawal: your child might begin to withdraw from their school and friends as well as family members and might change their online habits

2) Inexplicable anxiety or aggression

3) Loss of interest in studies leading to lower marks

4) Eating disorders


Protecting our children from cyberbullying

In today’s world where there is an ever-increasing use of digital technology and online socializing, it’s very important to make our kids aware of cyberbullying. Some kids might be worried about losing their internet privileges and won’t confess to their parents what’s happening, so it’s important that they know they that you’re on the same team.

We need talk to our kids and discuss with them what cyberbullying is, and what they should do if it ever happens to them. It’s also important for us to make our kids aware of the fact that it can be a common thing these days and that they should be open to discuss it and should face it with courage, and that you can find a solution to it together.


Preventing cyberbullying

1) Encourage your kids to tell you about their online activities. Ask them to be aware of all that they do online. You should also encourage them to come and talk to you straightaway in case they are bullied.

2) Encourage the use of security systems and keep their profiles private. They should also know how to block and delete anyone bullying them.

3) Educate your kids about appropriate online behavior, which means you should make them understand that posting things without thinking can lead to hurting themselves or someone else easily and unknowingly.

4) Without invading their personal space, monitor their online and phone activities. Become their friends on social sites, visit the sites explored by them with them and let them show you their favourite things to do and read online.

5) Think about installing online security on all devices. There are lots of security systems available which come with parental locks and controls and thus allow you to keep a check on your kids’ online activities.


If your child is being cyberbullied

We should stay calm and encourage our kids to face any bullying strongly and to not panic. We should ask our kids to not react or respond. Deleting any abusive remarks or messages should not be encouraged, but rather should be preserved as evidence. We can also block or delete the bully. If there is sexual bullying or threats to children, police should be involved immediately. If the bully is someone from school, the school authorities as well as other parents should be taken into confidence and the problem should be sorted out.

It is very important to stand up against and stop cyberbullying, as it is not only an emotional and possibly physical trauma for the person being bullied, but also indicates that the bully needs psychological help too.

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Children and Technologies

Balancing Children and Their Devices

Written by Jitka Fořtíková, Ph.D., Educational Specialist at Lipa

Television was once the newest technology in our homes, and then came videos and computers. Today’s children are growing up in a rapidly changing digital age that is far different from that of their parents and grandparents. When technologies are used wisely, they can support learning and relationships in amazing new ways.



There has been a lot of concern about young children and their use of technological devices, especially in their early development. Many experts discuss the negative effects of time spent by staring at screens as well as the looming impact of children leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Several books appeared discussing the influence of sitting with devices in comparison with an active and sporty lifestyle.

After years of a generally negative mood surrounding this subject, more detailed studies have started to emerge that show the way devices are being used have a bigger impact on children’s development than just screen time exposure.

Life without technology? Unlikely

Technology and interactive media are here to stay. Young children live in a world full of interactive media. They are growing up at ease with digital devices that are rapidly becoming tools for all aspects of life. Technological tools for communication, collaboration, social networking, and user-generated content have transformed our culture. The shift to new media literacies and the need for digital literacy will continue to shape the world in which young children are developing and learning. Young children are excessively exposed to electronic media in their lives; they are spending more and more hours per week in front of and engaged with screens of all kinds, including TVs, smartphones, PCs, tablets, game consoles, and handheld game devices. Multi-touch screens and motion-activated devices have blurred the distinction between the technology, the content, and the user experience.

There are concerns about whether young children should have access to technology and screen media in early childhood programs. Several professional and public health organizations (together with American Academy of Pediatrics – AAP) and child advocacy groups concerned with child development and health issues such as obesity have recommended that passive, non-interactive technology and screen media should not be used in early childhood programs and that there should be absolutely no screen time for infants and toddlers.


All screens created equal?

The proliferation of digital devices with screens means that the precise meaning of “screen time” is elusive and no longer just a matter of how long a young child watches TV, videos, or DVDs. Time spent in front of a TV screen is just one aspect of how screen time needs to be understood and measured. Children and adults now have access to an ever-expanding selection of screens on computers, tablets, smartphones, handheld gaming devices, portable video players, digital cameras, video recorders, and more. Screen time is the total amount of time spent in front of any and all of these screens. As digital technology has expanded in scope beyond linear, non-interactive media to include interactive options, it is evident that each unique screen demands its own criteria for the best usage.

What do experts think?

As was mentioned in one interview with Dr. Brown, “There’s consumption, and there’s creation, and there’s communication. So if you’re looking at children under 2, there’s a big difference between endless hours of watching cartoons on YouTube and video chatting with Grandma.” (Brown et al, 2015).

A 2013 survey by Common Sense Media, in San Francisco, found that 38% of children under the age of 2 had used a mobile device. “Some of the traditional recommendations, like discouraging all screen time before age 2, just don’t fit with reality circa 2015-2016,” said James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, which rates all media content for parents.

In May, the AAP convened a symposium with top researchers and experts in the field of media use and children. Among the studies presented was research showing that when English-speaking 9-month-olds watched a Mandarin teacher on a television screen, there was no benefit, as measured by change in brain activity. When the teacher was in the room, there was a lot of change.

Other studies have highlighted the value of back-and-forth communication for children’s learning. Children between the ages of 24 months and 30 months learned as many new words from a teacher via videochat as they did with live presentation. “The more screen media mimics live interactions, the more educationally valuable it may be,” said Dr. Brown (Wall Street Journal, 2015).


Screen vs paper

Is reading a book with a child on an iPad any different from reading a physical book? Dr. Christakis asks. “The real value of reading to a child isn’t anything magical about the book… The book is providing a platform for a parent and child to interact. The real question is: Does the device promote that kind of back and forth or not? It certainly could. It’s all about how it’s used and how it’s structured.” And as a child develops and begins to engage in independent play, Dr. Christakis adds, is an iPad worse than other toys? The studies haven’t been done, he said, but he suspects it isn’t any worse (Christakis, 2014).

However, there is an interesting outcome about using TV as a background source. Background TV actually disrupts the children’s activities—their play, the parent-child interactions, and it’s related to poorer executive functioning. When it is on, play is not as complex, and that’s a really important part of how a child develops. Screen time can be enhanced by making it interactive. Talk to your child about what they’re watching; expand on it by putting a physical object that they are viewing into their hands. It is advised parents not use screens as a way to calm a child, which can be seen increasingly in a private practice of clinical social workers and pediatricians.

How we see it at Lipa Learning

Since Lipa is a digital company, this issue of balancing digital activities with real-world activities for children is crucial for us. Knowing that, we are offering high-quality digital learning with apps and interactive books, but also a range of physical activities like live games, crafts, experiments, exercises, puzzles, and more. With all these great choices, kids will be encouraged to explore the real world and have meaningful interactions with friends and family. We’re also always on the lookout – for trends in childhood development, scientific & technological breakthroughs, and global conferences that inspire our ideas and connections.



Through recent years there has been an important change in perception of using digital devices with preschool children. With more studies revealing what the benefits of technology could actually be, we know now that it comes down to quality of content and type of usage. To be a responsible parent or teacher, we have to carefully examine which devices fit our children’s early years’ development best, and which real-world activities we should combine with them for maximum overall benefit.

How to use technology appropriately?

1) If you do an activity with a device, combine this time with some physical movement, such as acting out the situations of the digital game.

2) Try to more frequently use the kind of devices that allow better interaction for the child (such as a touch screen over a static television).

3) Pay attention to your child and give them your time when playing together on a device. Ask your child some additional questions, test their comprehension, and train their critical thinking skills.

4) When children are experienced with learning a second language, set the second language on their favorite app and let them play with the additional challenge. Then ask questions for comprehension.

5) Keeping in mind the important process of eye accommodation development in early years, it is recommended to combine screen activity with long distance perceptions. For example, when the children are watching their favorite tale or playing their favorite app, let them observe something that is long distance from them (ideally 10 or more meters away) and encourage them to explain to you the details they see. Eye muscles are in an important stage of development before the age of 6. When it’s trained appropriately, we can help not just to improve children’s vision itself, but prevent further learning disabilities such as dyslexia.



Dimitri A. Christakis,  JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(5):399-400. Interactive Media Use at Younger Than the Age of 2 Years Time to Rethink the American Academy of Pediatrics Guideline?

Ari Brown, Donald L. Shifrin, and David L. Hill, 2015, AAP News: Beyond ‘turn it off’: How to advise families on media use.

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Women in Science

Written by Jitka Fořtíková, Ph.D., Educational Specialist at Lipa

Women have always been a part of the scientific world, but their careers weren’t regarded as positively as the careers of men. Even now, there are many scientific fields where women are underrepresented, even though the number of women and men in the population is balanced. There are multiple reasons for this.



Women have always been and still are firmly tied to taking care of family and children. When they become mothers, they naturally develop a strong bond with their child so that they will take care of it in the first year of its life. Because of this, women in the past usually didn’t pursue the binding career life; this was expected from the father, whose role was to financially support the family.

The 19th century brought changes in understanding the role of women in society. Women began to appear more in public life, receiving more respect than in the past. The 21st century is even more closely connected to women’s emancipation, not only in science but also in politics, culture, and sports. Career is not a “bad word” anymore in connection with women. New types of family environments have appeared, where the family is being taken care of by the man. There are also families created on the basis of registered partnerships, where the parents are two men or two women. Nowadays, career self-realization is an important part of both men’s and women’s lives.

But there is still a significant gap between the number of men and women in the field of Natural Sciences, and fewer women hold management positions in big corporations. Various studies have shown that women in managerial positions receive lower salaries than men in the same positions. One of the many examples of this is a Harvard University study published in 1993, which states that the salaries of women in science and engineering with a doctoral degree are 20% lower than those of men. And there are many studies with similar statements.  


What can we do about it?

A part of the answer lies in social stereotypes. It’s generally presumed that girls are more inclined to study teaching, foreign languages, and social care, and boys are supposed to excel in maths, technical subjects, IT, and craftsmanship. One way to change the current situation would be to not encourage these social stereotypes in our children, but to let them choose their own path independently. We should adopt the same approach when we choose extracurricular activities for our children: for example, if your son likes dance, you shouldn’t steer him towards football instead, but let him learn dance.

Just as men are successful teachers, women are successful in the fields of molecular chemistry or interplanetary research. But they are not given enough attention. When we feel discouraged, we should remember Marie Curie Sklodowska, the first woman to win the Nobel prize for physics and chemistry for her outstanding results in radiation research. It’s these positive examples of successful female scientists that can encourage girls and women to become more interested in male-dominated fields.

At the moment, students’ interest in technical subjects is gradually decreasing, so it’s more important than ever to motivate all young people to pursue science, mathematics, and other careers of the future.

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Divorce: Dos and Don’ts When It Comes to Kids

Written by Jana Klinderová, Educational Specialist at Lipa Learning

Divorce is a very difficult emotional issue and a huge psychological stress—both for parents and for children. Moreover, the child hasn’t developed any defence mechanisms to process emotionally difficult situations or changes yet. Much depends on how the parents themselves behave during and after the divorce. From then on, children have to learn to cope with the situation. Here are some basic tips that we as parents should avoid as well as some other practical advice that should be taken into account to help our children adjust to the new reality.



What behaviors to avoid:


Treating children like therapists

It’s not helpful or healthy to use your children as listening devices for your traumatic experiences concerning the divorce. Complain to your friends or professionals, not to your kids. For them, the divorce is already a traumatic and emotionally stressful experience. Sharing all of the unpleasant details and individual causes of it, which are often supplemented by spicy details that a child’s ear is not ready to hear, is too much for them. Children cannot help us—adults’ problems and our emotional experience are tremendous burdens that a child cannot carry and handle.

Distancing children from divorce

The other extreme is to completely isolate the children from all of the action around a divorce. Children can feel out in the cold or they may feel that their parents make decisions about their lives without them. Often they imagine unrealistic reasons why their parents are getting divorced and may even blame themselves. Even if the cause of the divorce is unpleasant, it’s not worth concealing absolutely everything from the children, but rather keep them informed with brief and honest details.

Denigration of the other parent

Slander and cursing of one parent by the other may have a negative impact on the child’s relationship with both parents, leading to a loss of confidence and having an impact on the child’s self-esteem. No matter how good or bad the other parent is, the child is always half of the one and half of the other. If we speak badly about one of the parents, we aren’t just speaking badly about our partner, but also about part of the child; we reject part of them and as a result reduce their self-esteem, which may be negatively reflected in their development.

Banning children from talking about the other parent

Children need to talk about their lives. Naturally they need to talk about their parents, the one they do not live with, how they are, what’s new, and what they experienced when they met. Do not repel the child from talking; try to avoid sarcastic comments and a devaluation of the other side. Divorce is not the problem of the child, but of the parents. The child has a right to be with both parents; they should thus suffer the least.

Avoiding family events

There are times when even after a divorce parents may meet. It is usually occasions and celebrations where you are invited by friends or later on opportunities that relate directly to your child (graduation, wedding). Try to attend. For a child of any age it is a very rewarding experience when they see their parents communicating with each other decently despite the fact that they have divorced. However, the situation where the child has to choose whether to invite one or the other parent to a birthday party or other celebration is challenging, frustrating, and often associated with feelings of guilt towards one or the other parent.

Preventing or reproaching a meeting with the other parent

Banning contact or reproaching the child for spending more time with the other parent can cause a lot of confusion and guilt in a child. It is completely unacceptable to blame the child or emphasise that one will feel alone when the kid leaves to visit the other parent—it is a kind of emotional abuse. The child should still feel that he or she has both parents. The parents’ problem should not be the child’s problem.

Using the child as a mediator

In situations when parents are no longer able to communicate together properly, the situation can appear that the child is used as an intermediary through which one parent announces various unpleasant things to the other parent. It is always a better option to try to communicate directly, if the situation requires it. In the case that it really does not work, then you need to use a third neutral person such as a lawyer or mediator, but never a child.



What to do instead:


Be honest to the child, do not lie to them about a divorce or its circumstances.

Reassure the child that you still both love them and that you will take care of them together.

Tell the child about the changes that will happen. Tell them what will stay the same as well.

Be available when kids want to talk about their concerns and feelings, but do not force them to confide in you when they don’t feel like it.

Let the child talk about their experiences and feelings which they are having with the other parent, and even though it might not be pleasant for you, keep from saying any negative comments.

Never criticise the other parent in front of the child.

Remember that a child has a right to regular contact and privacy in a relationship with the other parent.

Do not question and do not send messages through the child.

If that is too much for you, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Although the divorce rate is quite high and has become a common phenomenon nowadays, it is still an emotionally painful event and even though you should be careful around your kids, you still deserve to get help for yourself and be heard by a professional.

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