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).
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.
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 childcare. Early Child Development and Care, 2017
Bowlby, J., Vazba a ztráta (svazek I., Vazba), Portál, 2010
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“With the realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – Dalai Lama
Health, happiness and success are things every parent wants for their kids—the underlying tactic in achieving all this is self-confidence. We’re not born with a certain amount of confidence. Like any other skill, you can improve and develop it over time. Trying new things and challenging yourself helps us achieve great things, which in turn boosts our self-confidence. Check out the following tips for giving your kids confidence they can take on the world with.
Coach instead of doing
Sometimes it’s difficult to step aside and let our kids complete a task by themselves, especially when it seems to be taking forever. Think of tasks like a game—your child is the player, and you are the coach. Show them how to do something or explain the strategy with words – with this little help, kids have a better chance of succeeding when trying something new. When they succeed (no matter how small their success), their confidence increases and they are motivated to try new things on their own.
A little encouragement can go a long way. Imagine trying to tie your shoes with a adult standing by tapping their toes and looking at their watch in irritation—that wouldn’t make you feel encouraged to continue trying. You’d just ask for your parents to do it for you. In the same way, we should offer hints of encouragement to motivate kids to keep trying. Repeat the adage ‘practise makes perfect’ and ‘if at first you don’t succeed…’. They’ll have a positive effect on your child’s internal motivation so they will continue to build skills.
Focus on efforts and not end result
We can get stuck on looking at results rather than the process itself. But with our kids, we should revel in the process of learning and practising—if they don’t accomplish something they went for, talk to them about how they prepared and practised for it, and talk about anything you would do differently. Always end on a positive note, such as ‘That was a good try. It’s okay to fail, but maybe you want to try again.’ Praise their work ethic (as long as they had one) and only criticize their actions, not their character. Say, ‘I think if you want to achieve this, you’ll need to spend more time practising instead of playing video games’ instead of ‘You failed because you were kind of lazy.’
Offer unstructured playtime
Not every activity needs to have a purpose. Let your kids to simply play as they want and with what they want, without any interference from your side. This doesn’t mean playing on digital devices—unstructured playtime should allow kids to explore their abilities and try something new. Experts suggest that this type of play is connected to better academic results, because it’s hugely beneficial for creativity and imagination.
Set some base rules
Finding the right balance between freedom and boundaries can help your kids understand structure and how to set smaller goals to achieve something bigger, such as saving small change to buy that toy they want later. Set some rules that your kids can follow. No matter what they are, explain the logic behind the rules you decide to set. By doing this, you’ll create a closer relationship with your kids based on mutual respect and understanding as you help them develop into more confident kids.
Have you heard the old proverb about giving our kids roots and wings? Unconditional love is the roots. Confidence is the wings. Young people who have both live a happier life.
Written by Jana Klinderová, Educational Specialist at Lipa
We all know our own Christmas traditions, but have you ever wondered how the rest of the world celebrates? What customs and traditions are they connected with and what are they actually celebrating? Join us on a small excursion around the world to better understand this holiday of peace, family, and love.
At Christmas, people in Czechia decorate their homes with mistletoe, various conifers, and an Advent wreath with four candles. On every Advent Sunday, one candle is lit. People bake traditional Christmas sweets full of vanilla and cinnamon, and a day before Christmas Eve they bake a sweet bread with raisins called vánočka (Vánoce means Christmas in Czech). Christmas Day is actually celebrated on the 24th of December, when people usually eat fish soup with vegetables and fried carp with potato salad. After dinner, adults and children unwrap gifts brought by the Baby Jesus (Jezisek). Baby Jesus is often portrayed as a baby or a little boy. Families spend time together, sing Christmas carols and at midnight, many go for a midnight mass to a church.
In Italy, gifts are brought by Babbo Natale (similar to Santa Claus) or Gesú Bambino (Baby Jesus). In some parts of Northern Italy, gifts are brought by Saint Lucy. For dinner, Italians often feast on lamb or turkey, and for dessert, figs and dates with various fillings, and the sweet bread panettone. But there are many regional differences. Christmas celebrations often culminate on the night before the 6th of January, when fires are lit in many town squares across Italy. People walk the streets, children go caroling and receive small gifts and treats from their parents. On the 6th of January, an old but kind witch, Befana, flies from house to house and brings gifts to children through the chimney.
According to the orthodox calendar, Christmas in Russia is celebrated on the 6th and 7th of January. But now they are celebrated hardly anywhere; after the ban on Christmas was imposed in 1918, many traditions and customs were forgotten. Nowadays most Russians celebrate the New Year with yolka (spruce) and gifts from Ded Moroz. The celebrations are often majestic and apart from Ded Moroz, Snegurka (Snow White), children’s favourite fairy-tale princess, can also be seen paying a visit to the Christmas tree. At Christmas Eve dinner, people eat vegetarian dishes and fish. A favourite meal is vareniky, a yeast pastry with various fillings.
In the Christian world, Mexican Christmas celebrations are among the most boisterous and cheerful. Christmas in Mexico begins between the 16th and the 24th of December. During this time, “posadas” are performed, when people form processions in the streets and perform the scene of how Joseph and a pregnant Mary were looking for a shelter on their way to Bethlehem. The streets are full of colorful stalls with toys and other treats, such as fish and birds made of pumpkins and other characters made of straw or clay, which can be filled with sweets. Christmas trees can also be seen in Mexico, but much more common is a “piñata”, a huge clay jug for water decorated with a paper collar and feathers, and filled with sweets or gifts. On Christmas day, people often go for a midnight mass and the festive dinner takes place late in the evening. All families get together and eat what everyone likes. The aim of the celebrations is to be together, have fun, and visit as many people in the community as possible.
Every region and country has its traditions and customs, without which Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas. Although these customs are often very different, the celebrations of the Nativity of Jesus have the same purpose everywhere – to be together with our loved ones, to share a pleasant atmosphere, and to symbolically celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Written by Iva Jelínková, Educational Specialist at Lipa
The last month of the year is here: December. When it runs out, we step over a threshold, change the digits in the year and make plans for new beginnings. Among other resolutions, we decide that next December, we won’t let things get so hectic and out of hand. Easier said than done, right?
There are so many things we grown-ups need to do before Christmas, but we shouldn’t forget that for children, December is a time of great excitement. It’s a time of soft candlelight, mysterious smells, and happy secrets. Some children get excited about the sweets and goodies that start appearing around the house, some about watching all those Christmas-time classics on television, and all children can’t wait to get their hands on presents. There’s so much to look forward to when you’re a kid, and time suddenly moves dreadfully slowly. We were thinking it might come in handy if we give you a few activities to enjoy as a family to speed up the days left until Christmas.
1. Let’s put on a story
Have you ever created a puppet theater with your kids? Pick a fairy-tale you love watching or reading together. If you’re worried about using actual puppets, rest assured that you don’t need to go full pro. Puppet theater is actually more fun if you use socks, scarves, or plush toys instead. It’s also easy to draw the characters you need on a piece of paper and glue them to a stick. Voila! If you need a stage, use a couple of chairs and a blanket or bedsheet for the backdrop. Have the kids perform a show for the adults and then vice versa. Don’t forget to invite grandma, grandpa, brother, sister, dolls from the dollhouse and your dog and cat. The audience will be cracking up and it won’t even matter if your fairy-tale ends up a bit unexpectedly!
2. Christmas letters
In December, we often send Christmas-themed emails with glittery pictures, or we exchange e-cards with New Year’s wishes in verse. But imagine finding a postcard in your mailbox – one that you know someone put some work into. Try going back to that more intimate tradition of sending paper letters this year. Cut a piece of thick paper in approximately postcard format, put a few address lines on one side and leave the other blank as a canvas for your little artist. Anyone from the family will be happy to receive an original, hand-drawn or hand-painted Christmas card that is truly irreplaceable.
3. Caroling, caroling now we go
A lot of families live far apart and end up missing each other the most during the holidays. Luckily, we have modern technologies to help us see and talk to everyone we want. But have you tried singing to each other while video chatting? When you contact your family and the video pops up, surprise them by belting out your kids’ favorite Christmas carol. You can put on an authentic performance and dress in costumes, or even play musical instruments. Guaranteed to end up in happy giggles.
4. Advent calendar as you (don’t) know it
To make the wait until Christmas day a bit more exciting, try making an advent calendar for your kids – with one window or little drawer for every day between the beginning of December and Christmas day. Kids love finding a little surprise each morning, like tiny chocolates, nuts, small presents, or even simple tasks or quests. Put up a line with pegs, and hang socks and gloves on it. Then put little cards and notes inside that give activity ideas like drawing a pretty Christmas tree, creating a decoration, or reading something in a book about Christmas traditions. You can also reverse the roles and have kids make up little tasks for the rest of the family. Or they can be topics for discussion, which the family shares over meals.
No matter how old we are, we all like to have fun at Christmastime. As a pleasant bonus, the days remaining until Christmas fly by more quickly. You might even find yourself sharing some of your children’s impatient excitement, because it’s contagious. Let’s make December a happy time, not just hectic. Christmas is just around the corner…
Written by Ladislava Whitcroft, Educational Specialist at Lipa
Parents are shouting at each other for tangling the Christmas lights, kids are fiercely fighting for the TV remote, and then suddenly Christmas Day arrives and everyone’s expected to be kind to each other – and woe betide those who are not!
As a child I didn’t understand why, after days of stress and hurt feelings, we suddenly had to be kind to each other on Christmas. After all, Christmas isn’t entirely a peaceful holiday – the turkey on the dinner table probably isn’t too pleased about its role in the festivities (unless it’s imagining how we might slowly choke on its bones). I don’t think that all the fir trees are very happy about being cut down either, especially with the way we dress them in glittering baubles and tinsel – must be humiliating for them. And the thing about people being kind to each other at Christmas? One of my most vivid memories was when I almost got my eye poked out by a mother in front of a Nativity scene, who was trying to help her daughter pet the donkey – who, by the way, didn’t look particularly happy either.
Even so, I like the Christmas message of being kind to each other. It shouldn’t last only during the holiday, but it should extend out into everyday life. At least at Christmas we can practice this way of life and hopefully teach it to our kids.
How to spread the message of kindness during Christmas:
1. Make an advent calendar of good deeds
An advent calendar is an inseparable part of Christmas time. But this year’s calendar doesn’t only have to be about treats – it can also be about good deeds. First, create or buy various decorative bags or boxes. On a small piece of paper, write a good deed for each day that you’ll later accomplish with your kids. Don’t forget to add some treats in the bags as well. Good deeds are great, but hey, treats are treats. Every day you can hide “treasure” somewhere in the house and then try to find it playing the game you’re getting warmer. (Or maybe, on this wintry occasion, you’re getting colder!)
To create all the good deeds you want to do with your kids, talk about what exactly a good deed is. Kids can find inspiration from fairy tales, or you can ask them if they remember when someone did a good deed for them. Good deeds don’t have to be anything big; for example, you can give someone a compliment, or clean someone else’s mess. You can also get more creative and write down something like “drawing a Christmas card for our neighbours”. If you don’t want to hide the boxes around the house, you can also create a Christmas box of good deeds. From this box, you can pull out a good deed and a treat (or a small gift) every day. Don’t forget to decorate the box with as much Christmas bling as you like!
2. Decorate a Christmas tree in your garden or in the forest
Many children long for a Christmas tree and a plastic one is not quite the real deal. How about going into the forest and decorating a tree in its natural habitat? You can make it a snow day adventure. Or if you have a fir tree in your garden, you can decorate that as well. Make decorations that will not only look nice but taste sweet to the resident animals. For example, cut an orange in half and scrape out the flesh with a spoon – then fill the little orange peel bowls with various seeds. Pull a string through both ends of the peel, hang the decorations on a tree and invite your little feathered friends for a feast.
You can also use a coconut shell by filling it with treats and putting it underneath the tree as a gift for your furry animal friends. Decorate the tree with garlands of berries, dry and fresh fruits, pinecones covered in bird seed, etc. and turn the tree in your garden into a popular animal restaurant! You can enjoy a good frolic with your kids while decorating the tree, and as a bonus you’ll be getting a healthy dose of fresh air.
3. Take part in a charitable project
There are usually a lot of charity projects happening around the holiday season. Talk with your kids about why it’s important to help others and give back, and make sure they understand what a charity is. Some projects have you donate toys to children in children’s homes, whereas other projects may help the elderly in nursing homes. You can buy a Christmas gift for them as well – even old folks enjoy getting gifts!
4. Christmas traditions and animals
When discuss various Christmas traditions in your household, don’t forget to mention that on Christmas Day people used to think about their pets and animals, too. For example, chickens used to get grain and peas, goats used to get various leftovers, and mice feasted on breadcrumbs from the dinner table. How about creating a nice birdfeeder? You can make it out of almost anything – for example from recycled materials like plastic bottles or milk boxes. You can find a lot of inspiration online – just type “DIY birdfeeders” into a search engine and then simply choose the one you like best.
Everyone hates to be compared to someone else. It hurts to be judged based on someone else’s strengths when we have our own unique traits that make us special. But when it comes to children, sometimes we forget how much comparing can hurt. Our kids undergo the same adverse effects of low self-confidence, questioning their identity, and their worth. The only things comparing seems to accomplish is instigating competition between children, so that they try to perform or behave better. But we tend to forget that no two individuals are the same they have their different talents, interests, strengths and weaknesses and different rates of development.
Back then, it was worse
I still remember when I was a child in India, becoming a doctor or an engineer were the two fields considered as a benchmark for measuring your intelligence and success. Many of us were compared to our siblings, friends, or cousins who had succeeded their careers. If someone couldn’t secure a seat in these fields, they were left with the feeling that they were inferior. Hardly any children were encouraged to become dancers or painters – because of the push for doctors and engineers, many great talents were brushed away and neglected.
We still make the same mistakes
The scenario has changed over the years, but academic success still plays a very important role. We still tend to pressure our kids to keep up a brilliant academic record, and often we compare kids to those who are getting better grades. But we should encourage kids to do their best, and not make that a reason for their success or failure.
Maybe my friend’s son has won gold medals in swimming, but that doesn’t mean that my daughter should do the same. My daughter might become a good dancer who can steal the show at any get-together. So instead of forcing my daughter to be a swimmer, I should rather encourage her to excel in her interests and utilize her social development in a positive manner.
Why exactly is comparing so bad?
If you’re wondering what makes comparison so terrible, here are a few negative effects that can leave a lasting impression on your children:
1.Comparison leads to low self-esteem and self-confidence. Children feel incapable and wonder why they are not able to perform well like the kids they are compared to.
2. Kids begin to foster sibling rivalry and distance themselves from you. A constant comparison to a sibling, especially one considered more successful, leads to anger and hatred towards that sibling. As our comparison of the child also hurts his/her feelings, they tend to avoid us and maintain a distance to avoid being hurt.
3. Kids begin to shy away from others. As kids fear being compared to others in social gatherings, they tend to stay away and become more reclusive.
What should you do instead of comparing?
Since our aim is give our kids the best life we can, instead of focusing on what our child cannot do, we should focus on what they can do. We should follow a positive approach.
1. Compare your child’s performances with their own previous performances. Appreciate any progress they’ve made in their own performances or behavior, without comparing them to others. When they see themselves as the only challenge, they become motivated.
2. Praise your kids for their strengths. Avoid scolding them for their weaknesses – we all have weaknesses, even adults. Provide kids the support they need in coping with weaknesses while motivating them to pursue their strengths.
Encouragement goes a long way
We desire the best for our kids. It’s ok to push them to do better, and sometimes to instigate some healthy competition, but we should be wary of crossing the line and hurting their self-confidence. Every child has strengths – you may have to look a little deeper, but you will find them. Let’s help our kids recognize why they are special and unique, and encourage them to challenge themselves and be better people overall.
Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or a sibling of a youngster, you may want to consider giving the gift of digital apps this Christmas. Apps with educational value inspire active learning, whereas watching TV is purely passive, and apps that encourage children to work together are more educationally effective, according to the Association for Psychological Science. Even the Australian government is giving over $5 million for developing apps that will motivate preschool children in STEM activities. It’s true that in the ever-expanding market, many kids’ apps contain levels of violence, poor educational value, and even negative stereotypes, so it’s important to research specific apps that hold true benefits. But in today’s modern world, apps are everywhere and kids know what they are and how to use them, and they would probably appreciate some fun learning apps under the tree this year. Read the full article from The Conversation.
On November 28th, we launched our crowdfunding campaign get support for Lipa Adventure, our app prototype that teaches children skills for better development.
With 123 million children worldwide who can’t access pre-primary education (UNICEF 2016), we believe technology is the answer to the educational disparity, and we’re creating Lipa Adventure to help solve this global problem. In today’s modern world mobile devices can be delivered to even the most rural areas, giving children the chance to improve their future while they’re still waiting for schools to be built and teachers to be trained.
Our crowdfunding campaign will help fund the creation of the full Lipa Adventure app, and all donations will go towards:
-perfecting our Curriculum through research and the latest studies – developing additional educational content – translating all content into 50+ languages – customizing content to be as culturally adaptive as possible – pre-installing the app on tablets with the help of partners and NPOs – delivering Lipa Adventure into the hands of poor children worldwide
Lipa Adventure (LA) is unique because it balances digital and real world learning. LA contains a vast amount of content that includes not only a range of games, but also bedtime stories, fun facts, and activities like crafts, puzzles, role-playing, and physical games. LA isn’t only for kids themselves; the parent/caretaker section holds numerous expert articles and tips about child development, as well as clear progress tracking so parents can see exactly how each child is learning.
Using Lipa Adventure, children without access to pre-primary education will be learning with our curriculum, which is made up of 8 core areas: social-emotional balance, academic competence, environmental awareness, physical health, hygiene & safety, history & culture, healthy lifestyle, and autonomic capabilities. Children will gain skills in these areas not only through the device, but beyond it, with the many supplemental real world activities provided. Children will get a solid foundation for their early years’ development and be better prepared for primary school and a better future.
Written by Jana Klinderová, Educational Specialist at Lipa
Nowadays, Christmas is often seen as a holiday full of consumption, over-decorated shop windows, an abundance of food and sweets, and fabricated joy and happiness. The media makes us think that it is necessary to spend lots of money on food and gifts (not only for children). It is difficult not to follow this trend, especially when we have children, as we want to make them happy and we love how happy they look when they enter the living room, full of beautiful Christmas decorations and gifts waiting for them.
But is this the type of Christmas we want to instil in our children?
The true essence of Christmas
The way we behave during Christmas time determines the way our children will perceive this holiday in the future and how they will pass the traditions on. Without a doubt, Christmas is a time full of emotions, both good and bad. In some families, Christmas is a period full of stress, rushing, and vain efforts to fulfil the impossible perfect Christmas ideal, fear of overeating all the food we cook and bake, and many half-whispered wishes for Christmas to be finally over. Who would laugh and smile when they have a tired mum and dad who don’t have time for anything and snap at each other from all the stress?
How to do things differently and what do children truly appreciate?
I remember that as a child, the most precious moment for me was when our family watched the same TV fairy tale every year together. My mum brought sweet-smelling tea and delicious Christmas cookies and we spent time together. Or we baked the cookies with my grandma and coated them in vanilla sugar.
Every Christmas we went for a walk to the town centre and one particular church which always had a nativity scene on display. I never wanted to go out in the cold streets of the town, but I always loved looking at the displayed nativity scenes made from wood, glass, clay, or gingerbread. The best thing was that we always went to see them together, as a family.
The sense of belonging is extremely important to children. They love Christmas not only because of the gifts, but also because it’s a period when the whole family comes together for a while and they all make time for one another.
Let’s try it differently this year
Let’s try making a small change this year. Forget that you “should” clean the house perfectly, bake 20 trays of Christmas cookies, decorate everything before the first snowflake falls from the sky, buy 10 gifts for everyone, and wrap everything in a professional manner with hand-made name tags. Forget the fact that you will not have time to buy the latest CD with Christmas carols this year and shiny decorations to put on your house.
Let’s try doing things differently, at least for this year.
During this year’s Christmas preparations and during Christmas Day itself, try to spend as much time as you can with your children. Involve them in all your activities. Go to the nearest town and admire the Christmas tree on the main square and the decorations everywhere, go to a park, go to a forest and give the animals something to eat, go ice skating or sledge sliding, take out all the puzzles and games that you have and play them together.
Be together as a family
Let the children help you with decorating your house, create a nativity scene together. Nothing will make the children happier than sharing the Christmas preparations with you. Let’s go for a mass or a concert at the church or talk about how baby Jesus was born.
Before Christmas, many theatres have special performances for children – go and see them together. Simply stated – be together as a family! Enjoy moments full of laughing, tickling, cooking, and other activities. Make gingerbread men together or any type of your favourite Christmas sweets.
You can also visit the local confectionary and let your children choose the sweets themselves. Children will not truly appreciate a perfect 5-course dinner, but rather your presence and time spent together is what holds true value for them.
And what about presents?
Let’s not overdo it. Presents can never replace the time that we consciously spend with our children. Talk with the whole family about what presents your children are going to get this year. If you have a large family and you all meet for Christmas, there is no reason children need to get a present from absolutely everyone. When children get too many, they are overwhelmed.
The actual unwrapping of the present and the rustling of the paper is often more enjoyable for them than the content itself. Sometimes we expect children to be happy from what they got, but they simply put the present away and start unwrapping the next one. They are not being ungrateful. It is simply a sign that they are overwhelmed and that we are giving them too much, which results in children not having enough time to really enjoy the presents they got.
The number of presents is not a measure of our love. A study carried out by University of Missouri and University of Illinois confirmed that children who receive too many material things from their parents often look for the meaning of success in material things in their adult life as well. They also connect their self-value with owning particular things. Children who are given too many presents tend to continue with the consumerist lifestyle of their parents as adults and also apply this attitude towards human relationships as well.
How many presents are ideal?
There is no magic number which would specify the right number of presents. We have to create a boundary ourselves so that children don’t receive too many presents and therefore have enough time to enjoy those they got.
“It is understandable that loving parents want to fulfil all their kids’ wishes; but the connection between parental love and materialism is exceptionally unfortunate,” say the authors of the aforementioned study. Instead of proving our love to children through piles of presents, let’s do it through our behaviour towards them instead.
It’s also very important for children to leave some of their wishes unfulfilled at Christmas. It will help them realise they cannot get anything they can think of. Even though we may find it unpleasant or unfair, we give them a much more valuable life lesson than by buying absolutely everything they want. We all should understand that children suffer much more when we don’t dedicate enough time and attention to them rather than by giving them fewer Christmas presents.
Written by Jana Klinderová, Educational Specialist at Lipa
Kids copy everything you do and this is no different from how they see you handle money. How you deal with money, your attitude and your feelings about welfare, fortune, and poverty, will all have a large influence on how your children will manage finances in their adult lives – even in regards to their job, personal values, and potential fortune. The most effective way to teach kids financial education is to be a good example for them. When is the best time to start? Right now!
Some parents worry about exposing their children to money too early because they want to protect them from adult pressures, but helping your child to understand and respect money from an early age will help them manage it better later on. You can start by letting your child see and handle notes, coins, and cards, and to pay for things and tip people, so that they can become familiar with money as a part of their everyday life.
Money and its value
Explain to kids what coins, money, checks, and credit cards are and explain to them how these forms of finances work. Explain to them where money comes from. For example dad and mum have money from their work, grandpa lives from money he has saved during his life.
Relate to them the notion of earning. Take your kids to your job and show them what exactly you do, talk with your kids about ways of making money and about different jobs. Explain to your kids how long you have to work so that you can buy those new shoes, that new bicycle, or go on a holiday.
Kids love role-playing
Create “kid money” to play with. Play like you’re in a store, sell and buy toys, fruit, or use old boxes to pretend to be various items for sale. You can even bargain with your kids to help build negotiation skills. Talk with kids about the value of money. More items cost more money. An old car costs less than a new one and when you spend less on one thing you have more for other things.
You can also think about an extra activity or chore for your child and for which they could be given some small amount of money, like taking the trash to the dumpster, hoovering the inside of the car, and so on. But this shouldn’t substitute the housework which kids do as a contribution to the household.
Need vs. want
It is important to explain to kids the difference between what we really need–like buying food, paying rent, paying for electricity, school, and all the necessary costs for living–versus things that we want–like cool clothes, other toys, magazines, or movies. Kids should know what the family spends money on.
We can also mark a savings goal for the family like a weekend trip or a circus visit. This will support the family to work as a real team.
Explain to your kids the difference between spending (on needed vs. wanted things), saving, and sharing money and the value of being charitable. Encourage kids to save money in a little piggy bank regularly. When they want to buy something with their own money, talk with them about their plans, but let them decide.
Encourage kids to share with others their time, ideas, skills, and not only things and money. Encourage them to support someone, choose a project or charity that as a family you can support together. Let the kids choose toys they no longer play with and clothes that are too small to give to neighbors, the homeless, and people in need.
Use money wisely and your kids will do the same.
Kiyosaki R., Lechter S., Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!, Warner Business Books, 2000
Written by Ladislava Whitcroft, Educational Specialist at Lipa
As a little girl, I used to live next to a cemetery. From time to time, we went there for a walk with my parents, looking at the tombstones and creating stories about the people in the photographs. Death was never a taboo subject for us. But even if it’s not something your family talks about, it will no doubt come up sooner or later in conversation. Kids are curious and with All Souls’ Day coming up, it’s a good time to take your kids to the cemetery to light a candle for someone.
Don’t be afraid to talk about death
Some adults are afraid to discuss death with kids, often from the fear that it might cause kids (or even themselves) anxiety. Sometimes adults simply don’t know what to say. But death is a natural part of our lives and not talking about it doesn’t make it go away from our minds; quite the opposite. Kids encounter death already in fairy tales and it doesn’t cause much stress when sometimes a character such as an old king dies. During a walk in the forest, kids might see a dead beetle or a bird. Maybe someone they knew in the family has passed away.
If your kids bring up the topic of death, don’t brush it off. Kids need to know they can talk about everything with you and that you are their support system. If you try to avoid the answer, they might start thinking that it’s something horrible they shouldn’t talk about. Then it might actually cause them anxiety and stress. On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to force the topic on them. Simply wait until your child is ready and then be there for them.
A couple of tips
The way you discuss death with kids depends on your religious or other views, as well as the current situation. Make sure that you make it simple and don’t use words your child cannot understand. You should also be honest. Don’t tell kids something that isn’t true just to sugarcoat reality, such as that a deceased person is only sleeping, or that they went away. If you don’t have an answer to your kids’ questions, it’s better to say that you don’t know rather than making up something you don’t believe yourself. During childhood it’s good to develop kids’ respect for other viewpoints by saying that some people believe one thing, while others believe something else.
If you’re unsure about which words you should use, you can find inspiration in stories and picture books. There are several great books that you can use, such as The Elephant in the Room, When Dinosaurs Die orThe Death Book.
When a loved one dies
What should we say if someone close to us dies? If the family pet dies, allow kids to grieve and maybe create a nice grave and burial. Grief is, after all, a natural part of life, just like happiness. Let kids know it’s perfectly normal to feel sad and that they shouldn’t try to hide it.
Unfortunately, it may also happen that a close family member or a friend dies. In this case, you should stay close to your kids and show that you are ready to listen to them. Let your kids express their memories about the deceased, if they want to. Let them light a candle, draw a picture or put a flower on the grave. “An open display of sadness and grief has a relaxing and healing effect, and it allows kids to grieve as well,” says child psychiatrist Iva Dudova. Reassure your kids that you’ll take care of them, that they are not responsible for the death of their loved one, and that they don’t have to be afraid of catching common diseases such as cold or fever.
How do children understand death?
Children’s perception of death differs and develops with age. Generally, kids begin to understand the irreversibility of death around the age of five. Small children understand death in the context of playing; for example, they can think that “grandpa’s batteries are out of power”, or they use fairy tale scenarios such as “granny left with the Death character”. Whether kids are fascinated or scared of death, it’s our job to let them know it’s a natural phenomenon and that we’re always there for support in whatever way they need.
Written by Itziar Madera, Educational Specialist at Lipa
The night is coming! Half the world is getting ready for everyone’s favourite spooky celebration. Pumpkins, candles, spiders, sweets, witches, and more will soon be running around everywhere out there, decorating houses, gardens, streets, cities, and villages.
We all love a good celebration: it brings us joy, fun, nice times, and memories, but do we really know why we are celebrating some holidays? Is it simply because they’re a trend? Because your neighbours are celebrating it? Is your kids’ school doing it? Or because you know what Halloween truly means?
We want everyone to think and celebrate whatever they want but we think now, just a few more days till October 31, it’s a good time to explain to your kids what Halloween is, why it’s celebrated, when it starts, how it goes, through games, videos, movies, activities, talks, and definitely spending time with the family. At this age, kids start to ask questions, so who are the best figures to answer these questions? Their heroes: parents. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to show and teach kids about festivities around the world that lead to open minded and positive attitudes towards people from different cultures; to respect them and understand them.
The Roots of Halloween
Halloween is a celebration of Anglo-Saxon origin that is celebrated in the evening of October 31. It dates back to the time of the ancient Celts, more than 2,500 years ago, when they marked the end of their year. On that last day of October, they believed that spirits could do things like leave the cemetery, eat food, and curse the living. They could do spells and tricks if you did not agree to their demands, which is how the phrase of “Trick or Treat” came along. To avoid this, the residents of Celtic villages would decorate their houses with bones, skulls, and other scary things, so that the dead were frightened and would stay away. Hence the tradition of decorating a house with sinister motifs and wearing costumes.
As the Catholics spread across Europe, they encountered all sorts of pagan festivals like Halloween. Instead of removing the time-honoured traditions of the locals, they decided to adapt them to display more Christian ideas. Halloween then came to be recognized as a three day festival to recognize the departed, starting with All Saint’s Eve on October 31st, followed by All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.
The celebration was exported to the United States by European immigrants in the nineteenth century, but it didn’t take hold as a true celebration until 1921. That year the first Halloween parade was held in Minnesota and was soon followed by other states.
How It’s Celebrated Around the World
Halloween truly came into how Americans celebrate it today in the late 70s and early 80s thanks to movies and television series. Today, in the United States and what’s becoming more common in other countries, children dress for the occasion and walk the streets begging for candy from door to door. After knocking, the children shout out the phrase “Trick or Treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!” If adults gave them candy, money, or any other reward, it would be interpreted that they have accepted the deal. If instead they refused, the children would then play a little prank on them, though this is rarely ever carried out.
Trick or treating is done in many other countries, but often with some differences. In Latin American countries, for example, they go around and ask politely for their sugar skulls, as this is the treat of choice there. In Europe, trick-or-treating isn’t so common.
In European cities like Prague, local churches mark it by having Requiem concerts. Both in Europe and in many Latin American countries, they also visit the graves of their passed relatives and recall their lives, and in Mexico they additionally host large parades, parties, and dances.
Costumes and Colours
As Halloween was originally a festival based on magic and spells, the “characters” that are often associated with Halloween include ghosts, witches, black cats, goblins, and demons, as well as certain literary figures such as Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster. This has been rapidly changing though, and many who aren’t into the more morbid aspect simply mark it wearing costumes of fantasy figures, like comic book characters and story book heroes.
The traditional colours of Halloween are the black of night and the orange of the first light of day. Halloween also features autumnal symbols like pumpkins and scarecrows. Keeping with the more sinister side, Americans often carve scary faces into their pumpkins and put candles inside.
This is one very good opportunity to teach your kids about festivities from other cultures, how they’re celebrated differently, and to spend some quality time with them, sharing stories, making crafts, carving pumpkins, and cooking magic potions.
Written by Ladislava Whitcroft, Educational Specialist at Lipa
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 your 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.
Written 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.
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. You can find several good guided meditations for children there.
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.