Homework vs. Homeschooling

There are several reasons why parents are increasingly turning to homeschooling when it comes to educating their kids. One, those who wish their kids to be imparted a rigorous education need to more often than not turn to private schools instead of public schools, an option that is not monetarily feasible in a majority of the cases. Two, homeschooling allows a child to blossom as per his strengths and weaknesses – curricula can be tweaked at will depending on the child’s proficiencies in a certain area, and everything is not just about learning by rote. Three (and this is becoming a big issue with parents and students worldwide today), the increasing burden of homework on kids is considered to be more detrimental than beneficial for their overall development.

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Board” by geralt is licensed under CC by 2.0

Experts believe that instead of sitting indoors for hours on end, poring over worksheets and math problems and what-not, children will be better equipped to tackle situations if they spend the same time outdoors in a sport, or even reading stories of their choice. Those who advocate the fact that homeschooled kids are not socially well-equipped, well, that simply doesn’t hold true in this case. Children, who spend the first half or so of their day being homeschooled in the curriculum best suited to them, then spend their early evenings with peers running and playing games are in no way lesser academically than traditionally schooled kids burdened with a humongous amount of homework on a daily basis. After all, have a look at these numbers; don’t they speak for themselves?



'Contagious' Personality Traits in Kids

Behind the parents stands the school, and behind the teacher the home. True, definitely. But surprisingly, children even as young as preschool tend to get influenced by their peer group to a great extent. A recent study carried out by the Michigan State University and published in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has established what we have assumed all along – it is not just genes that do their bit in shaping a child’s personality; the environment and people around them have a considerable effect on how they turn out to be as individuals too.
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Play” by johnhain is licensed under CC by 2.0

Jennifer Watling Neal, co-investigator of the study and associate professor of psychology put it like this: “Our finding, that personality traits are ‘contagious’ among children, flies in the face of common assumptions that personality is ingrained and can’t be changed. This is important because some personality traits can help children succeed in life, while others can hold them back.”

So while parents like us might try our best to inculcate the values of, say, patience in our preschoolers, don’t be taken aback if your little one turns out to be exactly the opposite. It’s probably just their 3-or-4-year-old peers unknowingly acting as change agents and being impatient around them :)

The Benefits of Keeping Pets

Pets are akin to family. In fact, pets are family in a way. Be it a furry cat rubbing her face against yours, a warm puppy with those beseeching eyes that warm the cockles of one’s heart, or just a tiny little goldfish swimming around in its aquarium, once a pet enters your home, it becomes a member of the family. Agreed, it is fun to keep pets at home – especially if you have kids to play with them – but then it is also a big responsibility, more so if it is one of those friendly four-legged creatures. My kids have been pestering me for a doggy pet, but till I’m actually ready for it, I guess they’ll just have to make do with their pet games and feed their virtual pets. My better half is all for it, but I’m not too sure… yet.

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Chihuahua” by Teerasuwat is licensed under CC by 2.0

The husband suggested that I should read more about the pros and cons of having a pet dog at home the other day and the fact is that the pros did seem to far outweigh the cons. This post is perhaps my way of trying to convince myself to take the plunge. Here are the two points which stood out over the umpteen others in the favor of pets.

Companionship & Responsibility
Pets offer a special kind of companionship to kids, which is a step ahead of the companions their peer group and friends are, since pets generally accompany kids all the time they are at home. In turn, children tend to become more responsible when they have a pet to look after. Sheryl Dickstein, Director of Humane Education at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had this to say: “As kids age and take on more of the care for the pet, it helps to build self-confidence in them.” The feeling of being ‘grown-up’ enough to be entrusted with a pet can do wonders to the self-confidence in a child, in turn inculcating a sense of responsibility and care in them towards the creatures.

Building Family Bonds
Walking the dog can be a wonderful way to bond with young kids, with the leash in your child’s hand and her feeling she’s in control. We have neighbors whose weekend ritual is to give their dog a thorough bath in the garden – each family member has to do his or her job – one runs the water in the tub, the other puts in shampoo, and it takes the rest of the two members to coax the poor dog who hates baths to gingerly step into the tub. I must admit, sometimes I do envy the fun they seem to be having going about this weekly chore of sorts; there’s laughter, screams, splashes and bonhomie all around. Pets somehow force the family members to do nothing except spend some time playing around with them doing nothing; and it is this ‘nothing’ which is pretty hard to come by in these rushed times, which brings the family members closer together doing something they love.

Gosh, I read through what I have written above and seem to be almost head over heels in the same league as the kids and their daddy! If any of you (who don’t already have pets of course) are still in the mood for dilly-dallying or aren’t particularly convinced, go through the results of this study recently conducted in the University of Cambridge in the UK. It categorically states:
‘Children reported having stronger relationships with their pets than their siblings, as well as lower levels of conflict – these results were particularly seen in kids with dogs.'

Who knows, my kids might just miraculously start bonding more with each other if they have an affectionate pet to look after between the two of them!

Make a 2017 Calendar – Activity for Kids

The ideal way to welcome the New Year with your kids is to try your hand at this homemade calendar making activity with them. It’s simple, it’s fun and it’ll adorn the kids’ study table all year through!

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Advent Calendar” by Pixaline is licensed under CC by 2.0

What you need:
- 12 cardboards (in different colors, if possible)
- Glue
- Ribbon
- Sketch pens
- 12 family photographs/pictures of cartoons the kids like
- A pair of scissors
- A ruler

What to do:
On each of the 12 cardboards, ask your children to write in clear block letters the names of the month on top from January to December (one name on each).
Next, ask them to use glue to stick on one photograph on each cardboard below the name of the month, in a way that it covers almost half the cardboard, with the bottom half remaining empty.
Now, using the ruler, carefully draw a box on each comprising of six rows and seven columns (below the stuck on photograph).
The top row on each should now be filled in using sketch pens with the initials of the seven days of the week (S, M, T, W, T, F, S).
Refer to a 2017 calendar online to see on what day the month begins and allow your child to carefully fill in the dates for each month in the rows and columns, so that the day-date corresponds.
A fun way to remember birthdays and anniversaries would be to use different colored sketch pens to color in the box corresponding to a family member’s special day. This way the kids (and you too) won’t easily forget!
Punch in a hole at the top and run a piece of ribbon through it; there, you’re all set for 2017 to begin!

4 Popular Thanksgiving Books for Kids

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Turkey” by GraphicMama-team is licensed under CC by 2.0

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and it’s a good idea to let our kids know what the festive occasion is all about. Here are 4 popular Thanksgiving books which will make enjoyable reads for kids this season.

Thanks for Thanksgiving (by Julie Markes): There is always, always, always something to be thankful for, and Thanksgiving is just an excuse to give thanks for all the little blessings that we have. Thanks for Thanksgiving has beautiful illustrations and thoughtful words which remind us to be grateful for all the small things in our life which make us happy.

The Thankful Book (by Todd Parr): Music makes one want to dance, having feet helps one run around and play, hugs and kisses from parents and loved ones make one feel loved. The Thankful Book reminds one of all life’s special little moments through its brightly colored pages, ideal for preschool-aged kids.

Thank You, Thanksgiving (by David Milgrim): Thank You, Thanksgiving is the story of a little girl who goes on an errand for her mother. She feels grateful for the birds singing along the way, the beautiful clouds in the sky and the warmth of her boots.

The Great Turkey Race (by Steve Metzger): Farmer Joe needs to pick a Thanksgiving turkey and Cassie, Wing and Ollie decide to have a contest for the same. Who will emerge to be the winner from among the three friends who live together on a farm?

Happy reading and Happy Thanksgiving!
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brionnasimpson

Author:brionnasimpson
I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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