Try to estimate how often these or similar words are spoken in your household: I will never manage that. I am not clever enough. That’s good enough, I can’t make it any better anyway. Does it happen quite often? Then your family has likely adopted a fixed mindset and it’s probably time you made some changes.
People with this type of thinking tend to be more pessimistic. They think everything should stay as it is, or that things can’t change (e.g. we are born either clever or stupid and can’t do anything about it). In the past, one of the first primitive men with a fixed mindset may have grumbled that this new “fire” is a strange nuisance that will just burn our skin off, and why would anyone throw your precious meat over it?
The opposite type of thinking is called a Growth Mindset. Its theory is based on neuroscience research which shows that our intelligence is not fixed. On the contrary, we can and should keep expanding it by exercising our brain and striving for improvement.
Motivational Words and Pictures
Let’s rephrase the above stated sentences, so they sound for example like this: Practice makes perfect. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I won’t give up. A bit of brain stretching won’t go amiss. They sound better, don’t they? If you agree, you should make sure that they are spoken in your household so children can hear them often enough.
In case you decide to practice writing with your children as well, you can write some motivational statements on a notice-board and put it on the wall where you can see them every day. Invite children to help you and get creative by adding a few nice pictures. You can teach them about the brain in the process and have a bit of fun. What would an exercising Mr. Brain look like on a picture? Would he be doing weight lifting or yoga?
Stories about People Who Don’t Give Up
Tell or read children stories about people who became successful thanks to their strong will. You can use both real or fictional characters. In case your children are crazy about computers, you can tell them the story about the guys who developed Google, or about Steve Jobs.
Children may be surprised by the fact that these great people started their quest for glory by setting up their workspace in a garage! Walt Disney is also a good example of a fighter. Despite his tough beginnings, his fairy-tales are now loved by children all over the world.
Talking about fairy-tales, many of them hide positive messages that inspires us to overcome obstacles with our strong will. If you like the role of a story-teller, you can even make up your own fairy-tale. Or you can adapt an existing one. Having golden hair and a beautiful face may come handy, but wouldn’t it be better if a princess won her happiness by trying really hard?
We Learn by Mistakes
We often give up in advance because we’re afraid of mistakes. From the stories depicting lives of famous people we can learn that mistakes can be a great source of inspiration. We should teach our kids that it is ok to make mistakes as we can learn from them. Next time you do something wrong, try to say something like this instead of swearing: I didn’t assemble this shelf correctly because I didn’t read the manual. Well, at least I learned that next time I need to study the manual beforehand.
It’s Great That Alice Is So Good
Positive people celebrate the successes of the people around them. Next time your child whines that she or he will never draw as pretty a pony as her friend Alice, tell her something like this: It’s great that Alice is good at it. She can show you the ropes if you ask her nicely. You are good at building cube towers, which is something you can teach Alice next time.
Technology is changing the world as we know it. If we’re going to keep up with the changing world, then we have to bring those changes into our education system as well. That’s the idea behind both Lipa and the Education Startup Weekend. The Startup Weekend was held here in the old town of Prague from October 6 – 8, drawing in experts from around the international education community.
Before the Weekend officially began, we attended a panel discussion where our own educational expert Jitka Fortikova was able to share Lipa’s vision. Jitka discussed the question of how we’ve gone wrong in the classroom. “I think a better question to raise is this: how can technology fix what isn’t working or changing in the classroom,” she said. “The content changed, but not the format of learning in school and that is a problem. I think that preschool is an underestimated sector… we have to invest in a career system for teachers where they keep learning.” She stressed the importance of teachers themselves having access to a lifetime of education.
Then she went on to explain Lipa’s role in this issue and how we developed our preschool curriculum, which “was created in order to change the way we make educational apps.” She mentioned how important it was not to center our life around a single device, but that we should be expressive and continue to engage with the outside world. This is the goal of our upcoming product, Lipa Adventure, where you are “using the device to get out of the device.”
More about our curriculum can be found here on our webpage. Stay tuned for the upcoming release of Lipa Adventure.
Written by Itziar Madera, Educational Specialist at Lipa
05 October, 2017
Patience is the ability to stay calm in chaotic and confusing situations, to accept and support others despite their flaws, and to raise obedient children without yelling or hitting.Someone who lives patiently has a better understanding of the nature of problems, creating peace and harmony around them. That is, they have the sensitivity to face all those setbacks with calmness and keep an inner balance.
Small children have difficulty understanding the concept of patience. When they want something, they claim it immediately, and often feel frustrated at not being able to satisfy their immediate desires. For them five minutes, an hour, or even more, are abstract concepts that cannot be understood, which is why they insist again and again until they get what they want.
The maturity of the child is important when it comes to ensuring they have patience. A child in early education with a high level of selfishness and the need to for larger amounts of attention will demand a greater amount of time. In any case, it’s important to lovingly teach the value of patience to children in their early years.
Tips for Encouraging Kids’ Patience
Leading by example is of vital importance in teaching children to be patient; this means that if parents come to a place and want to be served immediately or else become desperate, they can’t ask their children to be patient.
Don’t give in to their demands quickly. Often children will throw tantrums to get different food or things, and if parents give them what they want immediately, they will grow to be impatient people. It’s better to stay calm and talk reasonably and not to lose our own patience.
Children are very perceptive to body language, so we should teach them to maintain composure in situations that are frustrating for adults too, such as queuing/lining up at the supermarket.
Manage your time to ensure you don’t create too many expectations–such as the children finding and putting on their shoes within five minutes. Announce activities or events one or two days in advance also helps children get into the mindset of doing something and not feel surprised.
Keep our promises. If we promise to be with the child in five minutes, or to perform an activity with them, we must keep our word. If it’s not possible, explain the reasons for not being able to give them your time.
If you want the child to wait, it’s more beneficial to use concrete and not abstract examples. That is, avoid saying “in five minutes” and instead use “when you pick up the toys” or “when we finish dinner” so they can understand roughly how long the wait will be.
Teach children not to interrupt others’ conversations–everyone deserves their time to speak and be listened to. To enforce this, we should always let our children talk and not interrupt them during conversations.
If we know that we have to wait in places like the doctor’s office or in traffic, bring games, stories and activities for the child to do.
Board games with several participants, or team sports, will help children understand how to wait for their turn.
Enjoy activities or games that encourage patience, such as puzzles, riddles, cooking, etc.
It’s appropriate to award patient behavior; this doesn’t necessarily mean giving children presents or candy every time they are patient, but simply express your appreciation of it and always explain why patience is so important.
It’s necessary to repeat these teachings constantly, because children don’t learn to be patient overnight.
You’ve heard the old trope, and perhaps you’ve even uttered it yourself: “Oh, kids these days!” Usually it’s accompanied with an eye roll and a sigh. But this tendency for older generations to automatically assume the next generation of kids is not only very different but much worse than they were is more a look into societal fantasies rather than a reflection of reality. New studies at the University of California Santa Barbara show something quite amazing about today’s kids’ ability to self control and delay self-gratification. Comparing how kids rated in the “marshmallow test” over decades, researchers were able to conclude that kids’ control and attention isn’t worsening–it’s quite the opposite. Read the full article by the Washington Post.
Written by Itziar Madera, Educational Specialist at Lipa
September 27, 2017
Educating a child is not easy. As teachers and parents we often second guess ourselves, asking, is this method right or wrong? Will this help or harm my child? How do I know which pedagogy or method is the best?
To answer these questions, we first need to reflect and be critical with ourselves. Second, we need to have patience, empathy, and persistence. Everything that a child sees in their first years will influence them in their future development and personality. We aren’t just talking about a school education, but also the education we give kids at home, which is even more relevant.
Continue reading . . .
Nowadays everyone is talking about being the best parent and being involved in their kids’ education, determining educational styles, and so on. In this post we are going to show and explain 4 different types of parenting styles and how it could impact our kids.
You can be an authoritarian, democratic, permissive, or negligent parent, or even a combination of them. Which style are you? Which style do you think is the best? Which style are you trying to be?
This type of parent establishes a unidirectional and closed communication system: parents give orders without explanations and restrict the autonomy of their kids, who are usually inhibited. The use of punishments, threats, and prohibitions is habitual in a continuous way and without any reasoning. It is also characterized by holding your children to high expectations. Authoritarian parents are usually not receptive to their child’s needs and they don’t change their discipline techniques according to the context, age, or other variables.
Possible consequences for kids:
Low self-esteem, personal autonomy, creativity, and social competence.
Children may show feelings of frustration or guilt at not being able to fulfill their parents’ wishes.
They may be anxious about their parents’ emotional distancing.
When inhibited, children tend to conform and submit. They are often passive and shy and are anxious to gain approval from others.
When older, will likely imitate the paternal style and become authoritarian as well.
Democratic or Assertive Parent
These parents put all their focus on their children. Parents explain to their children the reasons for setting rules, they acknowledge and respect their individuality and rights, negotiate through verbal exchanges, and make decisions together with them, trying to encourage positive behaviors and inhibit the inappropriate ones. Relations between parents and children are presided over by mutual respect, cooperation, and reciprocal duties. Conflicts tend to be infrequent and mild.
Possible consequences for kids:
They develop a sense of responsibility and assume the consequences of their actions.
They acquire social competence and interact easily.
Attitudes of cooperation, decision making, and respect for rules and teamwork skills are observed.
The development of a realistic and positive self-concept that translates into a high level of self-esteem and self-confidence.
Increased motivation to succeed, which is manifested in better school grades.
This parenting style involves a lot of tolerance. Parental control is very relaxed and expectations are held very low. The parents easily accede to the wishes of the little ones and they are tolerant to the expression of impulses like anger or aggressiveness. They are often overprotective in order to prevent the children from facing the difficulties of life, so the rules can be very stringent.
Possible consequences for kids:
They lack self-control of their own impulses and put their own desires and needs before those of other people.
They tend to be egocentric, dependent, have difficulty putting in effort, which translates into low school achievement.
They usually present high levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.
The characteristics of this type of parents are low parental expectations and the abdication of family and educational responsibility. They show a lack of sensitivity and involvement in regards to the needs of their children, without effective expression or communication. Parents often give up their activities as such, especially when they interfere with their individual interests.
Possible consequences for kids:
They show a low sense of personal effort and low school achievement.
Children develop a negative self-concept and serious lack of self-confidence and self-responsibility.
They have a greater predisposition to suffer from psychological disorders and serious deviations of behavior.
Now, after reading this, how do you feel about how you are as a parent? Do you think you are doing great? Or do you think you might want to change something?
We just want to create an awareness that parents should always understand that we are the reason our children act a certain way. Parents set the example and the children always follow it. We should therefore always make sure to set a positive example.
This Mom’s reaction to a school’s “1940s propaganda poster” about screen time goes to show how important it is to call out and understand extreme opinions about technology. Her points for how we should deal with kids and technology can help even the most tech-averse parents. Read the full article by The London School of Economics and Political Science.
We’re on the road again and headed back to the Golden State: California. This time we’ll be in San Francisco to host a table at Disrupt SF 2017, a conference of developers, investors, and startups running from September 18 to 20.
For tech startups, Disrupt is the most important conference in the world. Hosted by leading webzine TechCrunch, the three day meetup is filled with the best and brightest entrepreneurs in the industry. Disrupt brings together the top gamers, designers, and investors to talk about the hottest trends on the market today and how the tech and gaming world is changing.
Disrupt opens with a hackathon on September 16-17, where teams of developers work together to create a product in 24 hours. After which, they’ll present their project to a panel of judges before a crowd of thousands for their chance to win any number of valuable prizes.
On September 18, the conference officially begins when TechCrunch’s editor-in-chief, Matthew Panzarino, takes the stage to get things rolling. The event includes talks from such notables as Heather Adkins, a founding member of Google’s security team, top tech investor Yuri Milner, Ben Silbermann, founder of Pinterest, to even Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warrior’s MVP who will be discussing brand management. Talks are mostly focused on investment and the future of the tech industry.
The highlight of the conference though is the Startup Battlefield, which gives early stage startups a chance to compete in the Disrupt Cup for a prize of $50,000. And since this will be in a room full of eager investors looking for the next big thing, who knows what else these startups can bring. Past winners have included Mixer, SirenCare, and Mint, with each company going home with over millions of dollars in new investment capital.
Disrupt SF is held every year by technology webzine TechCrunch. This year the main conference is from September 18-20 at Pier 48 in San Francisco, CA, USA. If you’re going to be there, shoot us an email at Sumudu.Perera@lipalearning.com and we’ll be happy to share some coffee and fun!
Ladislava Whitcroft, Educational Specialist for Lipa
September 04, 2017
Do your children love reading on screen? Do they look forward to this magic moment when you sit them on your lap and read them a story from your electronic device before they go to bed? No wonder – electronic books are becoming more popular among kids as well as adults. But you might be wondering if reading on screen is really good for us. This article will bring much needed answers to your concerns as well as useful information about some of our products. In Lipa, we use e-books, which are books that are published in electronic format and not printed on paper. We have also been developing interactive books that enable children to interact with the screen.
Will Electronic Books Replace Paper Books?
How come that so many people love e-books? For starters, e-books are easy to get a hold of and store. You can take your mobile device everywhere, which means you have access to countless books – no matter if you’re on a plane or waiting for a doctor appointment. This is great for kids too, as you’ll always have a lightweight form of healthy entertainment on hand. E-books are eco-friendly and save the millions of trees harvested each year to make paper books, newspapers, and other reading materials.
Some are worried, though, that e-books will completely replace paper books. But we don’t think there needs to be a competition. There will always be people who love touching and feeling paper when turning the pages of a book. Some will still prefer reading on paper and others on screen; most will use both as it suits them. After all, the more people read quality books, be it on screen or on paper, the better.
We Want Motivated Readers
The most important part of reading is motivation and that is what e-books and interactive books are good at. A recently published study has come up with some interesting conclusions. Parents were reading to their toddlers aged 17 to 26 months from electronic and printed books with identical content, and asked them questions related to the content of the book. The researchers found out that the toddlers who were read the electronic books paid more attention, made themselves more available for story time, participated more in the process, and commented more about the content than the toddlers who were read the print versions of the books.
We believe that it’s this active participation and shared discussions about what we read that makes the time spent with a book most precious. Of course, it’s difficult to generalize because the study was conducted with quite a small number of 102 children. However, its results are not so surprising because electronic books are attractive for the generation of digital natives.
We believe that it’s this active participation and shared discussions about what we read that makes the time spent with a book most precious. Of course, it’s difficult to generalize because the study was conducted with quite a small number of 102 children. However, its results are not so surprising because electronic books are attractive for the generation of digital natives.
There are also studies that show that boys and reluctant readers respond especially well to e-books. This is quite important information as it’s boys who generally read less than girls. What they like is that e-books are easy to access, and you can enlarge and change the screen color to suit your needs. Not to mention all children love technology. We believe that the most important factor to watch is how e-books influence children’s reading habits. If they encourage reluctant readers to read more, then their effect is definitely positive.
The Magic of Reading
As reading experts say, when reading to kids, it’s important to engage children in the story. A good reader equals an engaged reader. The real magic happens when we enter into a dialogue with the book. Talk to your children about the stories you read, engage them with interesting questions and games, and you will be rewarded by many happy giggles.
Lipa e-books will help you enjoy quality time with your kids. They come with wonderful pictures that add to the meaning of the text. You can point to them while reading, let kids admire them, describe them, talk about them and generally have fun. We also include questions and activities that engage kids, make them think, develop their imagination and inspire rich discussions and fun games. Parents can ask questions about characters and their feelings, direct kids’ attention to funny and interesting words and situations, make predictions and appeal to kids’ imagination.
In Lipa books, you find ideas that are relatable to everyday life, such as friendship or respect for nature. We cover exciting topics like magical wizards or life in medieval castles, and adventurous kids can take a journey into space with our interactive book Lipa Planets. We strive to promote diverse perspectives by introducing characters from different parts of the world. Our priority is to offer stories with good educational value that are also exciting, fun, and engaging for all children.
Are Interactive Books Too Distracting?
Children find interactive books especially appealing. Among other things, they like that these books contain many features that they can interact with. Kids experience magic moments when they touch a picture and see how it moves or listen to the sounds that it makes.
However, some authors suggest that these features can be too distracting for kids as they overwhelm kids’ working memory. Simply put, children might concentrate more on the bells-and-whistles than on the story itself. But a healthy balance of interactive features can enhance comprehension. That happens if the interaction adds to or explains the meaning of the text. When we read about a girl who made a joke, there can be the sound of laughter; when we encounter an unknown bird we can see how it flaps its wings and hear the sound it makes.
In one part of Lipa Planets, children get a clear demonstration of the Solar System once they touch the screen. At this moment, the planets start to orbit around the Sun, which provides a clear visual image of the phenomena. Some interactions help explain the meaning of difficult words and expressions, or motivate kids to understand the text – for example, by asking kids to follow instructions, like tap the cat on the hat and see what happens. To sum up, interactive features can be not only engaging but also meaningful.
Children of the Digital Era
Another point we want to address is the fact that we live in digital era. In our daily life, we simply can’t avoid the many distractions offered by screens. Interactive books introduce children to the world of technology in a kid-friendly way, by experimenting and exploring. Children will learn the skills related to reading on a screen, which are skills they will need for their daily lives. For example, they will learn how to interpret interactive cues and determine which ones are relevant to the story.
How to Choose E-books and Interactive Books
When deciding which product to get, parents should choose wisely. Good e-books and interactive books are those that:
Have rich language, which is appropriate for a child’s age;
Have an engaging and well-structured story;
Contain quality illustrations that add to and explain the meaning of the story;
Deal with topics that interest and educate children and are relatable;
Have content that provides for rich discussion;
Bring non-stereotypical views of different groups and gender roles;
Contain more interactions that support comprehension and meaning and fewer distracting interactions;
Contain interactions strategically distributed to enhance motivation.
Lipa books have been created with great care by a team of educational experts. We have all these principles in mind when creating great products for you and your kids.
Our kids encounter news stories everywhere they go, whether on TV, on the internet, or simply from friends. That includes stories about terrorist attacks. As parents, how do we approach our kids’ questions and worries? Do we try to shield them completely from the news, or do we answer with honesty and reassurance? Consulting clinical psychologist Emma Citron gives us some advice on the best ways to talk to our kids about terrorism. Read the full article from the BBC here.
They’re gender-neutral. They’re waterproof. They grow with your child.
These amazing expandable clothes from Petit Pli not only encourage sustainable and cost-effective living, but they look super modern, too. Unlike other expanding clothes like “Bubble Shirts”, these are designed to keep their form during the growth spurt ages between 6 to 36 months.
Some view preschool as the perfect kid drop-off for busy or working parents, where kids will have fun playing, socializing, and maybe learning their ABCs. But according to a report from the Brookings Institute, preschool should be taken much more seriously–the potential for children’s development in early years is vast. One way to take preschool in a new, more beneficial direction is through targeted learning, where teachers facilitate play with specific lessons relating to what kids are doing. Read more about it in the full article by the Huffington Post.
Digital technologies make information more accessible. Digital technologies dull our senses. Digital technologies are dangerous in the hands of our children. Digital technologies make life so much more convenient.
Digital technology is a controversial topic and it seems in the past few years, we’ve been bombarded with articles about it every day. The only thing that varies from article to article is whether the author or the interviewee is fighting for or against them. They usually back up their opinion with a scientific study which often comes in two forms – either those which support their theory or those that contradict it. We don’t want to bring down the quality or expertise of such studies, but they are limiting at the very least.
The difficulty of judging whether digital technologies are good for us or not lies in the very limited time period we’ve had for researching their effects. The technologies in question have not been here for a very long time and it’s therefore difficult to judge their influence on the development of individuals and on society as a whole.
Digital technologies have only been making a real impact on how we have been living for the last generation. We are still trying to find out how to use them in an efficient and beneficial way. Even though dead ends and wrong turns may come up from time to time, it doesn’t mean that the right way doesn’t exist or that we shouldn’t be looking for it.
Not only have these technologies become a part of our lives, they are also becoming more and more significant in education, an area where they are the most visible and therefore the most discussed. In an interview for the Czech newspaper “Lidové noviny”, the psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer said that “digital technologies have no, absolutely no positive effect on education, only many side effects”.
It’s easy, of course, to find negative effects of the use, or perhaps it’s better to say overuse, of technology, just as we can find the negative effects of many other conveniences of the modern era. But is there surely nothing positive about digital technologies?
We can easily come up with a couple of examples in teaching practice where advances in technology have definitely been beneficial. Let’s start with how it allows us to easily cater to an individual’s unique needs and makes it simpler to personalize teaching methods to the pupil. Another important plus is the possibility of adjusting the existing teaching materials to pupils with different levels of learning abilities. Also, thanks to these technologies, the level of participation of pupils in the learning process has risen.
In research carried out by Wilma Clark and Rosemary Luckin in 2013, they concluded that using iPads in the classroom led to increased motivation, enthusiasm, interest, engagement, independence, creativity, and productivity. Isn’t that our primary goal? To make pupils and students interested in learning?
Lipa Advocate Srini Swaminathan uses tablets in his classes in India
What influences learning though is not the technology itself, but rather the way we use it. Teachers don’t have to be IT experts to use digital technologies efficiently and integrate them into their lessons. Teachers can use technologies such as a recording device as simple as a smartphone to capture various activities, chemistry experiments, or natural phenomena and replay them to the class for teaching purposes. They can create and share a digital portfolio and contribute to a closer connection and cooperation among the school, families, and the outside world. They can also use the sharing environment for quick access to teaching materials.
All these activities show that digital technologies are not just about apps and programmes, as we sometimes tend to think. Modern education – in order to be truly modern – should include as many various teaching methods, forms, and means as possible, making learning attractive and efficient and truly preparing children for their digital future. Digital technologies are not striving to replace the existing teaching practices, but they go hand in hand with them, complementing one another.
We also shouldn’t forget about the important role of digital technologies in the lives of people with various handicaps. It can serve as a communication tool for someone who has lost the ability to speak, as a compensation tool for people with various degrees of sight impairment, or as an adjustable and easy-to-operate tool for people with a limited ability to move. In all these cases (and many similar ones), technology raises the quality of life of their users, providing them with a higher level of independence.
Just like any other good intention, technologies can be understood in a wrong way, or even misused. There are, of course, potential risks and threats. But that is no different from any other field of human activity – opinions just do not differ that considerably in them. It is up to us to decide how we use the potential of digital technologies, if we use them for our own benefit and if we teach our children to approach them with a healthy attitude.
Because using tablets is intuitive, children can easily use them for individual or collective learning
Yes, digital technologies bring risks and influence us; but their positive effect on our lives, knowledge, and education is undeniable. Using them in a meaningful way forms the basis of digital literacy in the modern era.
Srini Swaminathan, a Lipa Advocate and alumnus of Teach for India, recently introduced teachers and their students to Lipa Balloons. Their response? They loved it! Srini trains the IT staff and night school teachers at Barefoot College and in Tilonia village in Rajasthan, India, where he continues his life path of spreading education throughout India.
Srini Swaminathan is also the Educational Advisor for organizations like Report Bee and Madhi Foundation in India. Srini grew up in poverty, and motivated by his mother and teachers, he decided to dedicate his life to education.
Teachers and Students Enjoy Lipa Balloons
In 2010 he became a full-time teacher in a low-income community in Mumbai and ran marathons to raise funds for iPads and projectors for his classrooms. Since then he’s run 27 marathons (!) to bring technology to schools across India.
You’ve probably heard all about the latest trend for adults and kids alike: fidget spinners. So far they’ve received mixed reviews, and many schools have banned the object due to how it distracts during classes. But they could be more than just distracting–according to World Against Toys Causing Harm‘s summer safety report. Children in the U.S. have been hospitalized from choking on the fidget spinner’s small parts, with one child even having to undergo surgery. Find out more information from the full article by ABC News.
New research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that children whose parents separated and were not on speaking terms are three times more susceptible to cold viruses as adults. This suggests that childhood trauma or stress can affect the developing immune system and alter its reactionary processes 20-40 years later. Interestingly, children whose parents split but maintained communication showed no sign of increased risk of colds as adults, which implies that the psychological effects of the split weren’t as strong. Still, it’s an important look into how the psychological health of an individual is correlated to their physical health. Read the full article from ScienceDaily.
There are many different types of people in our world: arrogant people, passive people, loud people, quiet people, independent people, and the list goes on. But while we can easily identify these types of personality characteristics, we usually don’t think about one type that often goes under the radar: highly sensitive people.
I didn’t realize for a long time that I belong to this group of highly sensitive people. Most my life I was told I was too emotional, intense, and sensitive about everything. I was told I needed to toughen up or calm down. Finally I came to an understanding as an adult—that I should accept who I am and be respected, not taunted.
Being a highly sensitive person is normal, as normal as someone who is particularly nervous or particularly active. This character trait should not be frowned upon just because it is misunderstood. It is not a disorder or pathology that needs to be fixed. As parents and teachers, we should treat highly sensitive children with patience, respect, and empathy.
Highly sensitive people usually have a more developed, refined nervous system. This results in a person receiving much more sensory information at once than a person with medium or “normal” sensitivity.
The first investigations into this trait began with American psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, who came to the conclusion that to qualify a person as highly sensitive, we must identify four pillars known as “D.O.E.S”: Deep processing, Over-stimulation, Strong emotions, and Sensitive to subtleties.
Here are the four basic characteristics:
A highly sensitive person can hardly remedy their tendency to process all the information received in an intense and deep way, so they usually spend more time reflecting and thinking deeply to achieve greater understanding.
A highly sensitive person can become overwhelmed and overstimulated when they have to process a lot of information (sensory and emotional) at the same time.
A highly sensitive person lives life with great emotionality, and is easily touched by situations and feelings. Their way of experiencing happiness, sadness, joy, injustice, etc. is very intense and is linked to strong empathy, a characteristic that is also part of being highly sensitive.
A highly sensitive person has acute sensitivity not only in the five senses (sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell), but also in sensing subtleties like small changes in the environment or in the emotional state of people around them.
Many times, an HSP feels annoyed because of their huge absorption of information. If they do not know they are highly sensitive, they feel out of place or “different” from everyone else. They may not understand why some things bother them so much and other things barely leave a mark. A lot of HSPs suffer in the process because their character type is not very recognized.
The good news is that high sensitivity is something that can enrich life in so many ways, and that can even be considered a “gift”.
Signs that someone might be an HSP include:
Sensitivity to bright lights, strong odors, and general noise
Easily overwhelmed by too much work and masses of people
Insecure and timid personality
Love of the arts and nature
Feeling pain when witnessing the suffering of others
Love of helping others
In the past few decades, Dr. Elaine Aron discovered that two out of every ten people are considerably more sensitive, which has led to a wider recognition of this characteristic. More people and doctors realize that highly sensitive people do not need to be cured, but simply understood.
If you think you might be an HSP, you can try and channel your sensitivity into positive places, such as creating art, helping others, keeping a journal, and talking about the trait openly with other people.
Aside from learning about the characteristic and accepting it, you can practice ways to take better care of yourself:
Manage your emotions so that they don’t turn against you and others. Give yourself time before you let yourself get carried away by what you feel.
Don’t isolate yourself and don’t feel weird about being sensitive.
Thank your sensitivity for the moments you have lived so intensely and for the moments you have been so happy.
Identify the ways you learn every day thanks to being more sensitive. You’re able to capture information that for other people goes unnoticed.
Anticipate changes ahead of time and prepare yourself mentally.
Laugh and cry when you need it, because they are physiological needs. It’s important that they manifest when you need them to.
If you would like to know more about the trait of high sensitivity and the path of personal development that focuses on the positive qualities (creativity, empathy, vision, loyalty, flexibility, etc.) you can read books like the following:
The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You by Dr. Elaine Aron.
Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person: Improving Outcomes for That Minority of People Who Are the Majority of Clients by Dr. Elaine Aron.
The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide: Essential Skills for Living Well in an Overstimulating World (Step-By-Step Guides) by Ted Zeff.
Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career by Tracy M.Cooper.
A new study conducted at New York University seems to show that children learning to read with digital books learn just as well, as opposed to being read a paper book by an adult. 38 children in a Head Start preschool program watched digital e-books that included audio and animations, and then read the same story adapted to paper–researchers found there was no difference in language or reading comprehension. This is part of an ongoing study at NYU to see whether the concern with “screen time” is valid or something we should consider a moot point in our modern times. Read the full article by The Hechinger Report.
With children’s body image as a big issue in today’s world, is it OK to let our kids play apps where they perform surgeries to create an “ideal” face and body? Apps such as Princess Plastic Surgery or Plastic Surgery Simulator (shown in picture) are aimed primarily towards young girls, showing the typical design style and color scheme of other dress-up and princess games–which means it’s our girls who will be “perfecting” people in these apps and possibly developing unhealthy body standards in the meantime. What do you think, as parents? Are these apps contributing to kids’ negative body image or are they harmless fun? Read the full article from ABC News.
When Millennials were growing up, their media intake revolved almost solely around TV. Kids’ programs were rampant and only viewed live – meaning they were not streamed at a later time (unless of course you count a VHS recording). But with the rise of alternate technology such as cellphones and tablets, kids these days have a slew of options for interacting with their favorite media. Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t mean they no longer watch TV programs – just that they can now watch shows on the go as well. Read the full article from The Star.
Robots have been a part of our social and cultural consciousness for a long time, both as lovable minions like R2D2 and as world-dominating geniuses like in I, Robot. Now robotics are coming closer and closer to home, with smart toys and interactive mechanics that can not only teach our children physics, but help autistic children learn social cues in a comfortable, risk-free environment. But as these robots get upgraded with the latest technology, will they start replacing some vital human interactions in our kids’ lives? Read the full article from Forbes.
Jean Piaget’s revolutionary theories on child psychology and development shaped much of the research that came after, which meant the studies set out to prove Piaget’s idea that young kids are inherently “egoistic” and cannot understand the feelings and thoughts of others. But now, due to tech advancements in the field, researchers have found evidence that even infants have an innate understanding of others’ minds, such as anticipating the disappointment or confusion someone was about to experience. Read the fascinating full article from The Conversation.
In the Westwood Primary School, among others, children are practicing mindful meditation. With special breathing techniques and learning to focus on their thoughts and feelings without judgment, kids can tune into their inner worlds much easier and bring themselves to a calm and attentive place. This has helped them focus on their learning in a new and engaged way. Read thefull articlefrom The Straits Times.
It’s a familiar stereotype that when children become teenagers, they spend much less time outside or even on their feet. But according to an 8-year study in the UK, the lack of physical activity begins earlier in children’s lives–around the age of seven, when children are entering primary school. Promoting exercise not only at home but in school is more crucial than ever, especially if this trend continues. Read the full article by CBC News.
In many places in the U.S., inclusive preschools are showing us the results of teaching Special Needs and typically developing children in the same classrooms. Social-emotional skills and overall growth rate is higher in Special Needs children, while their peers experience a boost in early leadership skills. Research shows that when Special Needs children begin their education in an inclusive preschool, they are more likely to stay within the general education setting alongside their peers and move up to higher grades faster. Read the full article from District Administration.
Do your kids create cushion forts? Do they ask a million questions every time they see something new? In today’s world, entrepreneurship is booming, with many businesses meeting popular needs and making it big overnight. But it shouldn’t be reserved for only for adults–kids hold many of the key skills for becoming an entrepreneur, such as natural curiosity, technological savvy, and exceptional creativity. So how can you encourage your child’s interest in such an industry? Read the full article from Entrepreneur.
We all know about this unhealthy habit that’s hard to break – eating in front of the TV just seems so natural, but we’re doing it unconsciously, which means we’re snacking even if our bellies are already full. Now a recent U.S. study found that children as young as 2 who were exposed to food ads while watching TV ate on average more calories than those who saw no food ads. Is this something we should be concerned about? Read the full article in Reuters here.
Political, cultural, and business ties between China and Czech Republic are ever-increasing, and it’s showing: this year’s Hi-Tech Fair in Shenzhen consisted of the most Czech exhibitions yet, accompanied by some innovative award-winning technology such as Lipa’s learning apps. Read the full story here.
(Pictured below: Lipa’s Prague-based and Shanghai-based members present Lipa’s latest products.)
Translated from the original Spanish by: Itziar Madera, Educational Specialist at Lipa Learning
Are emotional skills acquired over time or we are born with them? Researchers now agree that emotional intelligence is not something that we are born with, but is developed through the experiences acquired during childhood and adolescence–and it is a crucial part of becoming a successful adult.
Children differ from one another because of the skills they possess, but regardless of this, emotional education must be taught in all areas of life (family, school, friendships, etc.). Elements that favor emotional skills, such as creativity, optimism, perseverance and self-control, empathy, assertiveness, etc., should be included in traditional education. So far education has dealt with cognitive aspects in children, but it is necessary to develop the components of emotional intelligence so that children grow up with the capabilities they need to face present society.
Although emotions should be developed with interactions from teachers and peers, parents are the main and most important personal trainers of this area. By following the appropriate guidelines, the time spent will give them great satisfaction because they will make their children happier emotionally and, cognitively, more effective as students, with greater concentration and with fewer learning issues. In the future, emotional intelligence will be an important ingredient in children’s personal and professional success, as well as a protector of their physical and psychological health. Some specialists even say that it can lead to lower levels of stress hormones.
Emotional development directly influences the intellectual development of the child, so that if there is lack of affection or emotional blockage during childhood, it can have negative effects on aspects of intellectual development. A child’s intellect may be limited in aspects such as memory, difficulties in perception and attention, and decreased fluidity of mental associations. On the other hand, the proper development of emotional intelligence produces an increase in motivation, curiosity, and the desire to learn.
In the first years of a child’s life, emotional skills that need to be encouraged by the parents are self-awareness, impulsive behavior control, motivation, empathy, and social skills like cooperation and respect. For proper emotional development, the child must be aware of his or her own feelings and be able to: verbalize emotions to others, possess empathy with others, exchange mutual feelings, accept oneself, and possess security and self-esteem.
Emotional intelligence is especially important because emotions influence most of the decisions we make; however, we have to keep in mind how emotions affect our cognitive reasoning. Using reasoning and logical thinking in regards to emotions helps keep us out of unnecessary arguments, drama, and other overly-emotional situations. Parents and, where appropriate, teachers, should understand the role they play in the emotional development of children, and make it as much of a priority as encouraging a high IQ.
It’s our duty to listen to our children and protect them, but not in excess; to help them, but not do things for them; to accompany them, but not force them to follow us; to teach them about dangers, but not frighten them; to integrate them socially, but not push them to be social; to love them and show affection, but not idolize them. Most of all, we can teach through example–express your own emotional intelligence in front of your children and they will listen and repeat in their own lives.
Lipa ventures to Shenzhen, China for the Hi-Tech Fair (Nov. 16 – 21) to make an impression as a leader in educational technology.
Co-hosted by Ministries and Commissions of the national government and Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government, CHTF represents the latest of technological advances by bringing together companies and entrepreneurs who are creating new innovations in their fields. Three of Lipa’s representatives, Martin Schejbal, Erika Boucharechasova, and Li Ying, who runs our office in Shanghai, are excited to enter the hi-tech conference and present Lipa’s newest products that change how we approach early childhood education.
One of Lipa’s main goals is to harmonize the necessity of digital competence with real world experiences and skills, especially when it comes to childhood development. With every corner of the globe teaming with tablets and smartphones, it’s imperative that we interact with technology in a way that’s beneficial to children and maximize its potential.
At CHTF Lipa will be presenting their system of products that include learning applications, interactive books, stories, and real world activities, all of which can be unlocked in their upcoming app for parents and teachers. Lipa hopes to make a statement at CHTF, an event with nearly 3,000 exhibitors from more than 50 countries, and more than 500,000 visitors.
CHTF claims that among the more prominent fields are those of “energy conservation, environment protection, new generation of information technologies, biology, manufacture of high-end equipment, new energies, new materials and new energy vehicles”– which means Lipa’s field of early childhood education technology will be a special and unique exhibition at the fair.
Minecraft, an extremely popular game that lets you build new worlds, is already being used in thousands of classrooms in over 40 countries to help teach children valuable skills. Now Microsoft has created a new version specifically for children’s education, including lessons for kids from 5 years old up to teenagers, completely tested and approved by teachers in the classroom. Learn more about the new Education version of Minecraft by reading the full article in Tech Crunch.
The NAEYC Annual Conference is the most important congregation of early years education professionals in the world. Thousands of specialists...
The NAEYC Annual Conference is the most important congregation of early years education professionals in the world. Thousands of specialists of the field come together to learn about and discuss the latest research and trends of the industry, and find new reasons to be inspired to continue their love of educating young children. Jitka Fortikova, Itziar Madera, and Johanna Ray are flying all the way from Lipa’s headquarters in Prague to join our U.S. advocate Jayne Clare at the conference.
This year, the Opening Keynote session will be presented by Sonia Manzona, famous for playing “Maria” on Sesame Street for over 30 years. There’s also a Hollywood-themed costume party, along with many other opportunities to network in the Student Networking Center. Sessions will include such relevant topics like anti-bias education, social-emotional development, encouraging literacy in the digital age, and forty more individualized topics.
The NAEYC is a membership organization consisting of over 60,000 professionals worldwide, and two of them are from Lipa. The organization focuses on the promotion of high-quality early learning for children up to 8 years of age. It pushes to connect early childhood practice, policy, and research. They are the leading accreditation group for early childhood education.
Will you be attending NAEYC? Interested in meeting us? Send us an e-mail at Sumudu.Perera@lipalearning.com.
With many families becoming increasingly dissatisfied with public education and traditional classrooms, a new reactionary method called “unschooling” has grown popular in places like the U.S. and the UK. Unschooling is a less structured version of homeschooling that allows children to dictate when and what they learn, driving their internal motivation and sense of responsibility. But does this actually work and what are the consequences? Read the full article by The Guardian for more.
By Ladislava Whitcroft, Educational Expert at Lipa Learning
“Dinner is ready! Wash your hands!”. This is one of the most-used sentences heard in almost everyone’s childhood. To children it often sounds annoying, but to us it reflects one of the basic foundations of parental wisdom. What we should bear in mind, though, is that good hygiene habits aren’t just about washing our hands and brushing our teeth. We believe that a clean body should go hand-in-hand with a clean and calm mind. Don’t worry, you don’t need any soap or toothpaste to scrub your mind. Just relax, take a deep breath, and read on…
Life can be full of stress, but it doesn’t have to be. Often, it simply depends on your perspective. Don’t forget that children learn positive thinking from you. We don’t mean overlooking your problems, but rather looking on the bright side. After all, if you look into the sun, all the shadows will stay behind you. One way to train for positive thinking–and we can include our children in this–is to express gratitude for all that we have. You can learn to say thank you for the simple things in our everyday lives, be it for the birds in the sky or for the fact that we are together and have delicious food to put in our bellies.
According to some interesting research by Dr. Masaru Emoto, our thoughts have great power as they can even influence the consistency of water. If this is true, you may be able to increase water quality just by sending positive thoughts in its direction. Check out this video to get a clear picture:www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAvzsjcBtx8.
It needs to be said that some scientists have criticized Dr. Emoto’s experiments. However, even if you think it’s a crazy idea, you can still allow this practice to have a positive effect on your mind. After all, water is miraculous. Even in churches, people use holy water together with their prayers. So why not use it to express our gratitude through a short water prayer? We can even try to make it rhyme. Who knows, we may even discover a small poet in our offspring.
Laughter and Giggles
When you laugh, your brain releases chemical substances that ease pain and stress. Humor helps you relax and put things into a better perspective. See the humorous side of life and have fun with your kids. Together you can laugh about silly jokes and funny stories. Talk to them about funny characters in movies, such as the silly snowman from the Disney movie Frozen. You can even imagine together what would happen if one suddenly appeared in your house.
Children love nonsense, crazy pictures, and certainly playing with words. Why not invent your own crazy language? Speaking gibberish is likely to bring you lots of happy giggles. You can have funny faces or a laughing competition. Don’t be afraid to laugh like an elephant, a crazy witch, or invent your very own silly laugh. Rolling in laughter or crying with tears of joy together with your children is a great and healing experience.
Guided Meditation and Visualization
Meditation is an old technique that helps us to relax and open our minds. Its benefits have been well proven and it’s now used in the corporate world as well as in nursery schools. Guided meditation and visualization means that someone is guiding you by narrating a story or describing some wonderful scene that you imagine, just like if you were playing a movie in your head. This powerful technique has been used by shamans, who used guided meditation to travel to different worlds and meet their power animals.
Apart from relaxation, guided visualization develops children’s imagination. You can work with stories, music, the sounds of the ocean or forest, or simply lay down in nature, close your eyes and listen to what’s around. Guided meditations take you to safe and comfortable places, like an island of calm, an enchanted forest, or a gentle ocean. They usually start with simple breathing relaxation. You can use child-friendly images for your meditation, such as balloons. This guided imagination practice can help kids calm down when they are worried. Let your children find a comfortable place and imagine a big balloon coming towards them. Then ask them to visualize its colors and texture, and watch how it slowly approaches through the sky. Ask them to put all their worries into the balloon, one by one. Then watch the balloon float away in the sky and wait until it pops and all their worries disappear.
You can incorporate an element of a guessing game with this or a similar exercise: “You are floating on water, gentle waves are washing around your body, warm water surrounds you. The sun is warming your wooden body and the wind gently blows into your sails… Who are you?”
If you prefer someone else to do the talking, check YouTube. There you can find several good guided meditations for children, like the one that takes you on an adventurous Hot Air Balloon Ride: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlv6Y1tq1sQ. Along the way, you’ll meet your animal guide and visit a zoo. Have a safe journey and a clean mind!
By Ladislava Whitcroft, Educational Specialist at Lipa Learning
Some time ago, I traveled on the subway with a lady who had a paralyzed hand. One stop later, an elderly man got on and sat next to her. He fixed her with a compassionate gaze and started: “Excuse me, may I ask you what happened to your hand?” Until then, the woman had been smiling, clearly enjoying her day, but this wiped the cheerful smile from her face. She mumbled something with irritation in her voice in hopes of silencing the man. I guess this is what went on in her head: Not again! I’m not a poor thing! Why??? She hoped in vain. That man, clearly charmed by his own chivalry, was unstoppable: “I feel really sorry with you, it must be very hard…”
Then it happened. The two pairs of thick horns started to grow on the man’s head, his nose was quickly replaced by drooling nostrils, and my sensitive ear recorded the sound of crushed china plates….The described story is an extreme example of the bull’s complex, which results in the demolition of many china plates, the damaged dignity of a handicapped person and ridiculing of those who act in this way.
I believe most people wouldn’t have acted as foolishly in that situation. But maybe it feels sometimes a bit awkward being around people with disabilities, when you’re unsure of how to act or what to say. Or maybe you are disabled and feel like some people would benefit from tips showing them how not to behave. Maybe you’re a conscientious parent who wants to show their child how to treat people with disabilities in a respectful and positive way. Even in this case, you have to start with yourself. Children learn a lot from watching how you act when you’re around others. If you behave nicely and politely, they are likely to behave the same way. This is also true for behaving towards people with disabilities. Empathy is key. But it can be difficult to imagine how other people feel, especially if you are fit as fiddle. Here are some ideas to help you and your kids avoid any awkward or disrespectful situations with the disabled.
Show Respect and Be Positive
If you meet someone on a wheelchair or with a walking stick, don’t forget that they are unique human beings. They don’t belong in a separate group, they don’t have a special label on their forehead that says “disabled”. Each of them has a personality in their own right, with their own hobbies and problems. They may not feel handicapped at all and don’t want anybody else to force this on them. So, don’t do that!
Communicate to your child that being different is ok and that the majority of disabled people don’t like it when other people feel sorry for them. They don’t want to feel inferior or strange. We need to respect that a lot of the time they don’t want to talk about their disability at all. Discussing common interests, hobbies, or other everyday things is best, just as you would do with your non-disabled acquaintances. Leave questions about a person’s disability for the time when you know them better and even then watch for signs that show you if the person feels comfortable sharing.
Speak to the disabled person directly if he/she has a companion or aid. When talking with children about someone with disability, use respectful language. Children may often ask questions, but we shouldn’t hush them up. Instead, we can offer simple explanations such as, “She uses a wheelchair because a part of her body does not work properly. But it’s ok, you can still play with her.”
Don’t Force It and Be Patient
You may suffer from the Mother Teresa complex. However, don’t assume that every person with a disability needs your help. Very often they are trying to be independent and take pride in being able to take care of themselves. Offer help only if you can see that the person needs it and even then ask if your help is desired. If they say no, don’t insist. Very often people with a disability will be the first to ask. You should also make sure what type of help they prefer; don’t assume you know the best. You could easily cause more harm than good and join the ranks of an bull’s herd.
In case you are out with a disabled friend, be patient when he or she takes a longer time to accomplish tasks. Just relax, enjoy the moment and remember that the time you spent together is more important than losing a few minutes of your precious time.
Stories Have Power
People have been telling stories for centuries. Stories have power, stories bring us fun, fascination and very often they can teach us many important things. Children enjoy learning about the world through stories very much.
You can read stories together that have strong characters with disability and that introduce positive messages: for example, how disabled children enjoy life, love playing, and have friends just like anyone else. Children love stories that are written in an entertaining way, such as the book Wonder (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11387515-wonder) about a boy with facial deformity, or those that show disabled kids as heroes. One example is the story Zoom (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/285749.Zoom) about a girl on wheelchair who saves her brother. Talk with your kids about these characters, imagine how they feel and what it would be like to have them for friends.
What to Tell Your Child About Disabilities
Surely we all want to live in a society where we all feel good. So when talking to your children about disabled people, stay positive and show them that:
Being different is ok and having a variety of people actually makes our world more interesting;
People with disabilities are like anyone else and they have many other characteristics and hobbies;
Their disability is only one characteristic, even though it may be the most visible one;
Children with disabilities are like all children: they like playing with friends and they want to feel included and respected;
When a child has a physical disability it doesn’t mean he/she is less clever, and children with disabilities can do many of the things you can do, but it might take them longer.
Ladislava Whitcroft is an expert on education, namely on reading literacy and the development of both creative and critical thinking. Her current activities center around the work she does for Lipa and Charles University’s Faculty of Education. Along with co-authoring an electronic handbook of reading for teachers and an interactive e-book for children, she has created several e-learning projects of her own, including methodologies and articles. Time permitting, Ladislava writes for the kids’ website Šotkoviny (http://www.sotkoviny.cz/), and she loves to translate and take her adventurous spirit on travels around the world.
The longest running-study of gifted children began in 1971, and followed 5,000 of America’s top students. The conclusion? Even the smartest children need help from teachers in order to reach their potential. Often in public schools, kids who perform well and get perfect grades receive less attention from teachers because they are focused on getting the students with poorer grades on a higher level. This means our smartest kids may not be getting the extra attention and push they need from their early education. Read the full article from Business Insider.
Teaching children how to code now seems to be the new “it” subject, especially when we consider how technologically advanced our society will be once today’s young kids grow up. Now schools in England are integrating coding into their regular curriculum and grading children as young as five years old on the task. Parents and teachers who might want to jump on the bandwagon should see the latest gadgets on the market that can help young children learn the basics before entering school. Read the full article from the Guardian.
Dragging and dropping, tapping and holding, and even swiping have become second nature to most people with mobile devices. But these finger interactions are simple, and to a California-based startup called Qeexo, they’re becoming outdated. Qeexo decided we could be doing much more with our smart phone screens, so they developed FingerSense technology that recognizes all kinds of different hand touches–from the familiar tapping, to knuckle knocking and 2-D object holding. Take a look at what may be the future language of the smart phone in Recode’s full article.
During the recent World Congress of Anesthesiologists (WCA), new research was presented that showed tablet usage before a surgery helped children calm down and relax after parental separation. And more importantly, the screen time play worked better than local anesthetics in reducing kids’ anxiety and stress–without the long list of possible side-effects. Read the full article by Parent Herald to find out more.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand their emotions. Denmark, one of the happiest countries in the world, knows a thing or two about empathy, even including it into their national curriculum for ages 6 – 16. They come together as a communal unit to talk through problems such as bullying or emotional stress. Find out more how Denmark’s empathy classes are raising the happiness bar for future generations in Quartz’s full article.
Amazon wants to boost digital reading with its newly-launched Kindle Reading Fund, which will donate e-readers and e-books to communities across the globe, with the help of partnering organizations. One of their partners, Worldreader, has to date given over 4,000,000 children access to library books. With the addition of digital reading, a much more accessible literacy tool that can store thousands of books on one device, it seems global literacy is definitely taking a positive turn. Read the full article from Tech Crunch here.
There’s no doubt – our kids influence which technologies we use and how we use them. According to The Drum, families with young children own more tablets and other interactive devices than any other child age-group. Which means the future of technology is really in their hands – moving forward according to their desires. So let’s pay attention! Read the full article by The Drum here.
While augmented reality isn’t a brand new concept for smart phones, the app Pokémon Go jump-started awareness about how viral this mechanic can be for games – especially games for children. Meet “Osmo Monster” by the startup Osmo, which helps cross the bridge between the digital and physical worlds with activities that work directly with the app. For example, kids can draw on a white board and have their drawing appear as if by magic inside the app. Check out Fast Company’s article on how the future of augmented reality is realized by this new app.
“There are strong social divisions in how young people use digital technology, according to international research from the OECD.”
Young people’s activities online are influenced by their socio-economic status, with poorer children using the internet for games and chatting, and wealthier children using it for research and reading. This could mean that education technology, if not encouraged correctly by a child’s caretakers, could be as ineffective as public school systems in overcoming socio-economic barriers.
“Facebook must provide refunds for purchases made in apps and games by children should they or their parents request it, a California court has ruled. The decision means that hundreds of thousands of people across the US could legally claim back money from the social network.”
For entrepreneur Tomáš Bárta, the most important discussion about education is, “…if the word ‘education’ is even the proper word. Education seems to connote something passive, boring, annoying, and most of all, not creative,” he says. “The biggest inspiration I had in life was striving for personal development: gaining leadership skills, improving my character, developing my strengths and weaknesses, and trying to perfect my knowledge in multiple areas. And that’s something I am trying to apply in all of my companies. I try to motivate all the people around me to adopt this positive outlook on self-development.”
Read the full article from Microsoft’s Daily Edventures here!
As technology becomes more prevalent in everyday life, it’s getting harder for parents to exclude this feature from their children’s playtime. And many developers have jumped on the bandwagon, creating apps specifically for kids and preschoolers, without thinking about the impact they might have. Parents now have to deal with sifting through thousands of apps to find the real gems in the digital mine–luckily, when Lipa Learning was launched, their search became much easier. Lipa uses technology to get out of technology: their applications encourage family participation and interaction with the physical world to make real-life memories.
How 100 Million CZK Turned Into A Global Cause
When Czech entrepreneur Tomáš Bárta first started noticing how much time children spent on tablets–whether at the dinner table, or on the bus, or even on a family vacation–he asked himself, why can’t apps serve a greater purpose than just being an entertaining distraction? “We wanted to prepare a holistic system which would more or less cover the entire core development of children up to the age of six,” says Bárta. And so he jumped headfirst into the project bearing the name Lipa Learning – investing almost 100 million CZK over the last two and a half years.
Until now, Bárta had never been involved in the business of childhood education. In Czech Republic, he is known as the owner of the company EMTC, which managed to procure over half a million customers for the largest alternative energy supplier, Bohemia Energy.
But he has jumped into the field of education with vigor. Although it’s located in Prague’s Žižkov, the project found its way into the American startup incubator RocketSpace in Silicon Valley. Bárta put together an international team of 40 members and continues to visit various international conferences, where he promotes Lipa.
His intentions rest on a simple principle – combining business with pleasure. “Imagine that you give an encyclopedia of biology to a five-year-old and tell him, go and learn it all. I’ll be back in a month to see how much you remember. He won’t learn anything because he isn’t interested in it. If you give him World of Warcraft and the same task, in a month he’ll know it all inside-out.” Education in the form of play is what makes learning truly enjoyable and effective.
It’s important to realize that the entire world is turning its attention to children’s education more and more. As Microsoft founder Bill Gates stated, there are more than 250 million people in the world who still don’t have basic skills such as writing, reading and arithmetic. The philanthropic goal for the following years is to ensure that everyone, regardless of which corner of the planet they live in, has learning opportunities.
It is with the accessible digital tablet that Bárta sees the solution. “Tablets freed from pricing margins and used only for playing educational games could solve the problems regarding financing the building of new schools, the cost of hiring teachers, or transporting children to school,” says Bárta.
Lipa’s Not the Only One
The biggest of Lipa’s competitors are Agnitus and Kidaptive. The project Agnitus was founded in the year 2011 by Haris a Azhar Khan, and apart from developing more than 100 skills in children, one of the applications also offers 23 interactive books available on the tablet and online.
The project Kidaptive dates back also to the year 2011 and claims to improve 75 different dimensions of learning. It is backed by P. J. Gunsagar and Dylan Arena. Both applications also enable parents to see how well their child did in the games.
Unlike their competitors, Lipa’s system focuses on the development of the child as a whole — in other words, promoting not only academic skills but skills like social competence, physical health, and environmentalism. When it comes to basic literacy and maths, kids can play Lipa Mole, where they learn to draw out each letter of the alphabet and form their first short words, or kids can play Lipa Frog and enjoy leaping across lily pads while learning to count to 10.
I Believe in Self-Investments
Bárta demonstrates this idea by self-financing his own startup instead of going to investors. He put his own 100 million crowns towards the cause. “I know that it’s a lot of money. And it’s a bit unusual in this field to finance the project on your own,” Bárta says.
He has been rejecting all offers from external investors and repeated offers to buy Lipa. “There are some offers, of course. But right now, I’m definitely not interested in selling it, and I don´t need an investor. I think we can develop the project and become large even without the venture capital,” he adds.
Lipa offers 17 learning apps and counting, localized into 8 different languages (and that’s just the start). Their digital curricula are available on all platforms like iOS, Android, and even Windows, so no matter the type of device a family has, they can easily access a flawless system.
“If everything goes according to plan, we should fulfil 80% of our entire development system by autumn (2015),” Bárta says. Individual apps are downloadable right now and the company already has more than 400 thousand downloads from all over the world.
To get unbiased feedback from their most important users, the company tests its products every two weeks in preschools around Prague, and edits based on the reactions of the children.
Lipa also runs testing in its own preschool, which Bárta invested in last year. The multilingual, enthusiastic staff uses Lipa applications as learning tools in everyday classwork. There’s also the Lipa Adventure Club that meets once a week in the preschool and teaches kids vital skills for life through apps and real world activities. The preschool has two large classrooms, 200 square meters of garden, a playground, trampoline, and of course a newly-planted Linden tree (in Czech, Lípa) to signify Lipa’s dedication to the children.