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The Right Age Kids Should be for Instagram, Facebook, and Other Social Media Platforms

As the year comes to an end, and your kids get older, some of you may have kids who are beginning to ask for your permission to get on social media. So, this calls for careful decision making in the right balance. 

How old your kid should be before he or she starts using social media with your permission is really up to you. However, most social media websites and apps require that kids be 13 to sign up. Despite what many people think, the reason isn't to limit kids' exposure to inappropriate content but because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents companies from collecting certain information from kids under age 13. Rather than create an environment that protects kids from data tracking, Facebook and some other websites/apps choose to restrict access to those under 13.

Besides this, 13 is generally the age when kids start developing a broader understanding of the world around them which includes the possibility of learning proper decision making. Along with that, they are also developing a better sense of what's appropriate to share online with your help. As young teens, kids also are developing a desire to control more of their activities as well as the maturity to handle that control.

If your kid is expressing interest in joining a social network, discuss the pros and cons. Do your own research so you fully understand the implications of joining a particular network. If you want your kid to wait to sign up, consider pointing him or her toward more age-appropriate sites such as:

Yourspherea social network that authentically represents the voice, interests, talents and aspirations of young people, and provides a positive alternative to social networks that were created for adults.

Kuddle is also a quality Instagram substitute. It is a new photo-sharing social media app geared towards children and adolescent teens. It aims to create a safer digital environment where they can learn about and explore the ever expanding world of social media.

You could possibly rally your kids' friends' parents to restrict their kids from Facebook, so you won't get that "but everyone is on it!" argument. Always put up the argument about the age limit and why it is totally inappropriate to lie about their ages only to have a presence on social media. Explain in detail why it is not advisable. Tell that a good parent should stay with the rules as often demanded from kids.

If your kid does end up joining a social network -- whether they're 10 or 16 -- here are some ground rules that work for many parents:

Use privacy settings

Privacy settings aren't foolproof, but they can be helpful. Take the time to learn how privacy settings work on your kids' favorite sites and apps, and teach your kids how to control the information they make public or private. Encourage them to check privacy settings regularly, since sites' policies often change.

Tell your kids to think before they post
Remind them that everything can be seen by a vast, invisible audience (otherwise known as friends-of-friends-of-friends), and, once something's online, it's hard to take back.

Be a friend and follower
Each family will have different rules, but, especially for younger kids, it's a good idea for parents to have access to their kids' pages, at least at first, to be sure that what's being posted is appropriate. Parents can help keep their children from doing something they'll regret later.

Keep private information private
Don't share your home address or other sensitive information online.

Be respectful of others
Kids may use social media to act out because they feel anonymous and that their actions are consequence-free. Make sure they understand that the Internet is a giant community that works best when everyone respects each other.

Visit www.commonsensemedia.org. for much more.


Merry Christmas to you, TLC readers!

Merry Christmas to all our esteemed readers! The Learning Craft (TLC) wishes you a fulfilled holiday in this period of merrymaking. Let the joy of the season stay with you and your entire family now and always!

Thank you for reading and stay glued for our special give away as the new year approaches! 


Celebrate: International Day of Persons with Disability

Today, we mark the International Day for Persons with Disbility. We like to view them not with a disability but people with some ability, hence we say 'This Ability'. The world has become digital such that almost all that concerns humans are driven largely by technology.

ICTs have indeed changed the way people live, work and play. However, not all people benefit from the advances of technology and the higher standards of living. This is mainly because not all people have access to new technologies and not all people can afford them.

Today, there are over 1 billion people living in the world with some form of disability. Around the world, persons with disabilities not only face physical barriers but also social, economic and attitudinal barriers and this further contributes to increased poverty levels.

A major focus of the Day is a practical action to highlight how technology can impact the inclusion and contribution of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. To highlight best practices, innovative technological solutions for the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in their societies.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities can be used to draw attention to the available technologies and measures that can be adopted to create school environments that are open, inclusive and accessible to allow persons with disabilities to fully participate and develop themselves in the future. 

We look forward to seeing more inclusive schools. It is the right of every child to have access to schooling regardless of their 'ability'.


What to do when your child is fixated on TV - It can be harmful

Studies have found that violent and obscene programming, including cartoons, have a significant negative impact upon children especially those with violence and indecency. 

Violent ones can:

1. Make your child become insensitize towards violent acts.
2. Create nightmares and increase a child's fearfulness.

3. Encourage aggressive behavior.

4. Undermine imaginative and cooperative play with peers.
5. Encourage the acceptance of gang behavior.

Obscene ones can make your child easily prone to developing unwanted sexual pleasures beginning from an early age.

We know that watching TV is not entirely bad for your kids because there are a wide range of good programs that not only broaden children's use of vocabulary but exposes them to a wider world of creativity. However, those can be learnt from watching specific TV programs. 

So, what steps should you take to protect your child? 

1. Be a positive example. Let your children see you watching informative, non provacative, educative and entertaining programmes. Take away obscene and violent programmes from your TV timeline.

2. Check your child’s developmental level and encourage the selection of worthwhile programs. Decide with them which programs to watch.

3. Always be apt to comment when you agree or disagree with the values portrayed by the actors.

4. Watch television with your child. Explain the difference between fact and fiction. If any violence or obscenity occurs, comment that although the actors are pretending to be hurt and/or derive unusual pleasure, such violent and obscene acts in real life result in pain, immorality and suffering. Discuss ways to deal with problems other than by hurting people.

5. Turn the television and other objectionable media off when the material is contradictory to your family values. Explain to your child why you disapprove. Consider using a television lockout device to prevent exposure to “adult” programming. If possible, play soft music or practice silence during family meals that contribute to friendly conversation. Furnish a calm place where your child can relax or read.

6. I insist that you should resist the temptation to put a television in your child’s room. Instead locate it where viewing can be monitored. If your family is on the internet, keep the computer in a central location.

7. Encourage your child to become involved in activities. Foster participation in hobbies, imaginative play, music, art, crafts, gardening, household tasks, yard work, cooking, and other worthwhile projects. Invite your child’s friends to play at your home or apartment. Do more reading, walking, talking, listening, and playing together. Get your child involved in programs that promote healthy development like sports, scouts, clubs, dance, camps, and/or religious groups.

8. Be an advocate for quality television programming. Join forces with other parents and teachers to set television viewing guidelines.

Thanks to Leah Davies for giving us permission to publish  and for being friends with us here at The Learning Craft


15 Reasons Why Children Steal & How You Can Help

From my last blog post, here are some insights into why children steal and what parents, teachers and caregivers can do to help.

By Leah Davies, M.Ed.

Stealing is taking things that belong to others without their permission. The act is common in young children because they tend to be self-centered and feel that it is all right to take what they want from others. A child’s true understanding of the concept of stealing usually occurs between the ages of five and seven. By this time, children can understand the idea of ownership and realize that taking things that belong to others is wrong.

Motives for stealing can differ from child to child, and any one child can steal for a variety of reasons. Children may steal because:

1. They have poor impulse control and want instant gratification.

2. They want an adult’s attention.

3. They have not been taught that stealing is wrong.

4. They have observed the adults in their life take and keep things that did not belong to them -- for example, dad bringing home office supplies or mom keeping incorrect change when the store clerk made a mistake.

5. They lack family closeness and feel neglected; a stolen object might serve as a substitute for love.

6. They are suffering a form of abuse and need help.

7. They are expressing displaced feelings of anxiety, anger, or alienation resulting from a major life change such as parental divorce, moving to a new school, or being rejected by peers.

8. They want revenge for the pain they feel others have inflicted on them so they steal to get even or to hurt someone.

9. They crave what others have but they cannot buy -- for example: food treats, popular name-brand clothing or electronic equipment.

10. They want to appear tough, bold, and important.

11. They desire to fit in with a peer group that steals.

12. They like the thrill that comes from stealing.

13. They think they can get away with it.

14. They are rebelling against authority.

15. They need money to buy drugs.

Children who frequently steal tend to exhibit the following characteristics: impulsivity, loneliness, detachment, insensitivity, boredom, anger and low self-esteem. They often have difficulty trusting others and forming close relationships. When school personnel demonstrate regard for all students and provide a mutually supportive school environment, theft is less likely to occur.

What can teachers do?

1. Explain that stealing means taking something that belongs to someone else and that it is wrong, unacceptable and dishonest. Clarify that when an individual takes something without asking or paying for it, someone will be hurt. For example, if a child takes someone¹s pencil, he will be unable to do his work. If girl’s bracelet is stolen, she might get in trouble at home.

2. Teach the concept of ownership and how it makes others feel to have something stolen from them. Use examples and ask children questions like, "How would you feel if someone liked your new coat, took it, and said it was his?"

3. Compliment and reinforce honest behavior in students.

4. Ask the guidance counselor to teach lessons on honesty.

5. Invite a police officer as a guest speaker to explain the ramifications of theft.

When a child is caught stealing, an adult’s reaction should depend on whether it is the first time or if there is a pattern of stealing. When it is the first time, the focus should be on the reason for the theft rather than on the deed itself.

How to Handle a Stealing Situation for First Offenders

1. Remain calm. Deal with the situation in a straightforward manner. Show your disapproval, but do not interrogate, lecture or humiliate the child.

2. If you are sure who took an item, talk to the child privately. Do not ask, “Did you take the money?” Instead say something like, “I know you took the money. I am disappointed because I thought I could trust you.” Then you might ask, “Is there a reason you needed the money?” Then listen and try to understand the problems the child may be having.

One teacher reported that she talks discreetly with a child who has been caught stealing. She said that she points out that as a class everyone depends on everyone else. She said that she tells the student that he or she is a fine person and if he takes things from others, they won`t know just how great he is. Then she expresses confidence that the student will not steal again. The teacher also makes it a policy at an unrelated time to put the child in the role of being responsible so that she can compliment him in front of his peers.

3. Students who steal need to experience a consequence such as apologizing, returning or replacing the item or making restitution in some other way, as well as losing a privilege. You need to decide what will happen if the child steals again and let him or her know what the consequence will be.

4. If you are not sure who took an item, provide an opportunity for the “taker” to return it and save face. For example say, “Whoever found Adam’s hat needs to return it.” Or say, “Everyone look in your backpack to see if Adam¹s hat was accidentally put in it.”

5. Do not label the child “bad” or a “thief.” Let the child experience a “clean slate.”

6. Take time to ask yourself why the behavior occurred:

What personal problems could the child be having?

Is the child stealing to call attention to him or herself?

Which of the reasons listed above fit this child?
Then decide on a way to get to know the child better. Examples are eating lunch with him or her and one or two other children, talking with the child on the playground, or meeting with him or her before or after school.

7. Limit the opportunity for theft to occur by locking up valuable items and by closely observing the child.

What if the above methods are ineffective, and the student does not express remorse, continues to steal, or has other behavioral problems?

• Follow the school guidelines.

• Contact the school administrator.

• Make sure the parent is aware of the concern.

• Involve the school counselor or school psychologist who can help the child learn appropriate ways of behaving.. An evaluation by a child psychiatrist may be necessary.

Habitual stealing in children and youth is a major social problem because it can lead to other unlawful behaviors. However, if the underlying problems of frequent offenders can be addressed at an early age, further anti-social behaviors will be less likely to occur. Teachers have a responsibility to deal constructively with the child who steals, to follow the school rules regarding theft, and to seek assistance from other professionals when considered necessary.


Why do children steal?

Children develop stealing habits from a pretty young age. Their little fingers tend to be sticky, allowing foreign objects to mysteriously find their way into their little pockets. 

Within the school, a lot of teachers have many personal encounters with children who exhibit stealing habits as it does happen frequently.

Before complaining that you are harboring a little thief in your house, take a moment to tell us why you think children steal. 

....and together we will discover how to handle this common problem. Yes, it is common! 

Let's talk.....


How to Help Your Child Build Strong Comprehension Skills - Parents

Comprehension is the ability to understand and interprete what is read. For your child to be able to accurately understand written material, he/she needs to be able to:
a. decode what they read
b. make connections between what they read and what they already know; and
c. think deeply about what they have read.
d. draw reasonable inferences and facts from the text.

A sizable part of comprehension is having a sufficient vocabulary, or knowing the meanings of enough words (which can be developed too).
Readers who have strong comprehension skills are able to draw conclusions about what they have read. They can identify:
● what is important
● what is a fact
● what caused an event to happen
● which characters are funny.
● what the moral of the story is if any
So, comprehension involves combining reading with thinking and reasoning.

Here are some tips to help you identify that your child is having difficulty in comprehension.  
● Not able to summarize a passage or a book.
● They might be able to tell you what happened in a story, but can't explain why events went the way they did.
● Can't explain what a character's thoughts or feelings might have been.
● He/She doesn't link events in a book to similar events from another book or from real life.

What can you do to help
★ Hold a conversation and discuss what your child has read. Ask your child probing questions about the book and connect the events to his or her own life. For example, say "I wonder why that girl did that?" or "How do you think he felt? Why?" and "So, what lesson can we learn here?".
★ Help your child make connections between what he or she reads and similar experiences he has felt, saw in a movie, or read in another book.
★ Help your child monitor his or her understanding. Teach her to continually ask herself whether she understands what she's reading.

Take a moment to read the text in the picture to help with an important skill in comprehension - identifying the main idea. 
★ Help your child go back to the text to support his or her answers.
★ Discuss the meanings of unknown words, both those he reads and those he hears. To help them make meaning of more words or increase vocabulary, use those words in your regular discusions outside school work too. Another helpful activity is to make them read a lot...books of their own interests. 
★ Read material in short sections, making sure your child understands each step of the way.
★ Discuss what your child has learned from reading informational text such as a science or social studies book.
Find a schedule that works for you and your child and regularly practice all the above and more.

For more engaging reading tips and resources, visit www.readingrockets.org 

Credits- readingrockets.org


#Ebola Free as Literacy Saves the Day

What does it mean to be literate today? Today, literacy includes developing the skills to navigate digital media, exploring ideas from global sources, searching for answers using information given by experts and the ability to sift through many streams of information to suit one's purpose whether social, cultural or academic. The primary sense of 'literacy' represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning and critical interpretation of a written, printed or electronic text.

I'd like you to be aware that the Ebola virus was contracted by people who were literate. 

I have listened and read in earnest, the many theories postulated as to how Nigeria was able to control and/or contain the #EbolaVirus. It continues to be surprising, how the most important factor/s that influenced our 'success', mostly never gets mentioned on tables of discussions globally.

This text gives some insight - 'Nigeria has more doctors and hospitals per person than most African countries. It also has teams in place to investigate outbreaks of diseases like cholera and Lassa fever. These tools were simply redirected. A command centre financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight polio was used to co-ordinate the Ebola response. Experts from America’s Centres for Disease Control (CDC) were already training 100 Nigerian doctors in epidemiology, so 40 of them led the process of tracing Sawyer’s contacts. The government worked with airlines to find people whom he could have infected. Then health workers repeatedly took the temperature of nearly 900 possible contacts, paying them more than 18,500 visits in total.' Read more here .

My surprise lies mostly in how little, people know about our systems and cultural inclinations, in spite of the numerous findings and research done in this case. Most fail to dissect the importance of our sociocultural 'goings-on' in controlling the spread of the virus vis-a-vis the vast number of 'literate' people surrounding the part of Nigeria (Lagos state) where the index #Ebola case was recorded. 

Let's explain.

1. Ebola came into Lagos state, the state with the highest number of literate people in Nigeria, a multicultural and diverse state with a high number of upwardly mobile people. If by some streak of bad luck, the virus began to spread in one of our remote villages in Nigeria, I'm afraid the story would be markedly different today. Certainly, before any information gets to authorities, the virus might have spread beyond some control. Simply because, there would have been a great sense of denial about the viciousness of the virus as seen in other countries, somewhat due to the apparent little knowledge about its deadly and highly infectious nature in those remote areas.

2. We have a culture of respect for authority. In most situations, many will give up some human right to adhere to instructions given as it comes from either traditional, religious or governmental authorities. So when the government demanded for a certain number of people to stay quarantined at home, it is common knowledge that most would have adhered. Yet, we recorded a few people who escaped surveillance as in the case Mr Olu-Ibukun Koye, the man who fled to Port Harcourt to seek help from an assuming Dr. Samuel Enemuo..(read about it here). 

In all this, because we were dealing with 'literate' #ebola victims in Nigeria, again we were able to save the day. The seeming culture of respect for authority would have brought little results if it were not for these literate individuals. Yet, our sociocultural convictions thrived as most people did their best to adhere to the state government's instructions that were widely publicized; while many included some disturbing actions that were not from the authorities e.g. the 'hot salt-water bath'. One wonders!

The global call for every country to do more to increase the level of literacy in our communities, villages, towns, cities and all over the country is a duty all must share in.... (click International Literacy Day to read more).

The day was saved with #Ebola and we are free for now. Will the day be saved for our large number of unskilled and illiterate hands, which by default makes up Nigeria? Time to think global, but act local.


11 Reasons Not to Ban Chewing Gum From Your Class (Hint: It's an Awesome Tool for Exploration!)

I read this and immediately thought to share with you. What a fun and interesting use of one of the things teachers mostly dislike seeing with their students. I love it!

Explore bubble-gum blowing by tying it in with academic subject areas!

Create a graph that shows how many students can blow bubbles vs. how many students cannot. Students who know how to blow bubbles can write a how-to to help peers learn the skill of bubble making. Students who have difficulty can write about how they think a bubble is made.

Geometry/3-D Solids
Students examine the shape of the gum out of the wrapper (cylinder or rectangular prism, depending on the brand). They compare the shape of the gum pre-chewed to making a bubble (sphere).

Instruct students to measure the length of the gum before and after being chewed. Have kids stretch their chewed gum out as far as they can and lay it on a piece of wax paper (make sure they have clean hands!). How long can they stretch it? Then, have each student blow a bubble and measure the diameter of it. Once they find the diameter, have them figure out the circumference of their bubbles.

Mean, Median, Mode and Range
List the students' circumference measurements on the board and have them figure out the mean, median, mode and range using the numbers listed.

States of Matter
solid - gum out of wrapper
liquid - saliva when chewed
gas - blowing a bubble
solid - chewed gum

Ask kids if they think the gum underwent a physical or chemical change.
(Answer: There was a physical change. Nothing new was created. Matter wasn't destroyed.)

Next, have them write about how their gum physically changed (density, color and temperature).

What made the gum get soft? Was it the saliva? Have kids place their chewed gum in ice water (or take a drink of ice water). They will notice that the gum will get hard. Does temperature play a role?

Predict: Will unchewed, chewed and chewed gum exposed to water have the same mass?

Lay the gum on a square of wax paper and compare it to a piece of unchewed gum. Then, weigh the gum that has been chewed and exposed to cold water. Did they all weigh the same?

Figurative Language
Have students describe bubble gum by using a simile or a metaphor.

Have kids invent a new flavor of gum! Then, have them write a recipe for their bubble gum. What will they call their gum?

Have students design a three-dimensional shape for the gum. Can they figure out the volume? Have the students design a logo and packaging. What is the area and perimeter of their gum's wrapper? How many pieces of gum does their main packaging hold? Where can you buy it?

How much will their bubble gum cost? Have the students create math problems, using the cost of their gum, to figure out how much money they would make depending on how many packs are sold.

History - Extra Credit
Students who research who invented gum and the art of bubble making get extra credit points!

Thank you Erin! {}
Erin Bittman is a student at the University of Cincinnati. She will be a student teacher in a multi-grade classroom in the fall (second and third grades). Check out her blog E Is for Explore!


Celebrate! World Teachers' Day 2014 : Invest in the Future, Invest in Teachers

Today, the world celebrates teachers as the future investment. In our usual manner, we dedicate a poem to all teachers around the world; especially to those in Nigeria working in conflict areas and most who are working with very limited resources. We celebrate  you.

If I could teach you, Teacher

If I could teach you, teacher,
I'd teach you how much more you have accomplished than you think you have.

I'd show you the seeds you planted years ago
that are now coming into bloom.

I'd reveal to you the young minds that have expanded under your care,
the hearts that are serving others because they had you as a role model.

If I could teach you, teacher,
I'd show you the positive effect you have had on me and my life.

Your homework is to know your value to the world,
to acknowledge it, to believe it.
Thank you, teacher.

By Joanna Fuchs

Teachers are an investment for the future of countries. What today’s children will face in adult life cannot be predicted and so the teachers of today and tomorrow need the skills, knowledge and support that will enable them to meet the diverse learning needs of every girl and boy.

This year on 5 October , we celebrate the 20th anniversary of World Teachers’ Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the status of teachers in 1966. This recommendation is morally binding for all countries.

In many countries, the quality of education is undermined by a deficit of teachers. 1.4 million teachers are missing in classrooms – and they are needed to achieve universal primary education (UPE) by 2015, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Added to the challenge of numbers is one of quality: all too often, teachers work without resources or proper training. The stakes are high, because we face today a global learning crisis, with 250 million children not acquiring basic skills of reading and writing.

As countries accelerate towards 2015 and the new development agenda is shaped, it is essential that teachers remain a priority.


HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Nigeria: Through the Lens of the School Teacher

Happy Independence Day to every Nigerian from The Learning Craft. My thoughts today are focused on what our future is looking like and I'd like to view it from the lens of our teachers. It is my hope that we can truly attain sustainable educational growth in a short time to come.

"The figure of the school teacher may well be taken as a central symbol in any modern society"  - Richard Hofstadter

Many decades ago, the average public school male teacher was easily recognised by his very well tailored,  crisp and gatored pair of shorts matched with a glistening white shirt. The female teacher obviously cleaned up nicely in smart flowy gowns and skirts; suffice to say that they were usually very well spoken. They almost mirrored what the economy looked like in those times, full of milk and honey, bustling with hope and fruitful prospects.

Teachers, to some extent are always conceived by others, by expectations and fantasies of students and demands of parents, administrators, policy makers, politicians and to all of whom we all are as the "other". But we quickly forget that we are formed as well by their and our own internalized histories. 

Rolling forward the decades to today's Nigeria, that very image or figure of the school teacher is very different. Teachers are largely unexpected to earn a decent living, ride in comfortable vehicles, live in decent homes and possibly unexpected to even speak our official language (English) impeccably! But, does that not also mirror what our economy now looks like? Today, many still do not expect that our schools can become better....yes, I hear that a lot!

We are certainly quick to also forget that teachers can become witnesses to the notion that intelligence and learning can lead to other worlds and not just the successful exploitation of ours. And what better place to begin than promoting a process of empowering the country's teachers! 

Yet, so much is expected from teachers! The pressure upon them is enormous to effectively do their jobs against all apparent odds - financial, societal, economical, cultural and political. A job they most likely would record low successes. A case in mind is the last results of WAEC where to my surprise most people blamed the teachers for the poor results without associating their so called 'lack of performance' to the system that has retained them in the midst of institutional loopholes.

While we wait for new and well-regulated reforms to be made across all the states of the Federation; what we see in our public school teachers, and I mean in the larger part of Nigeria, is a snippet of what our country was, what it is, and hopefully what is to come! 

I believe that we have a better tomorrow because we are better poised to bring about a much needed change in the midst of a multitude of support from international agencies/institutions around the world. And...yes, we can!


Today is International Literacy Day!

The theme of this year's  celebration is "Literacy for All."

Literacy is a human right and the basis for lifelong learning. It empowers individuals, families and communities and improves their quality of life. Because of its “multiplier effect”, literacy helps eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality, curb population growth, achieve gender equality and ensure sustainable development, peace and democracy.

In today’s rapidly-changing, knowledge based societies where social and political participation takes place both physically and virtually, acquisition of basic literacy skills and the advancement and application of such skills throughout life is crucial.

Promote this day on all your social media links. Use the hashtag #ILD2014. Say something about this important day. It is our responsibility.

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- See more at www.unesco.org


What To Do As School Resumption Dates Are Postponed!

Due to the importance of the need to contain the spread of the dreaded #EbolaVirus, the federal government has moved the resumption date for all private and public schools to the 13th of October, 2014. This further extends the holiday time for all children, to an average of 3-6 weeks. The news has obviously come with mixed feelings.

Some parents are excited that they get to spend more time with their kids and do not have to begin the process of 'school runs' or just excited to be able to add more time to their holidays away from home. On the other side of the divide, is another group of people who are wondering how they would be able to manage the additionally enforced holidays effectively. It is a situation that was just unplanned for. 

One thing that all parents must do therefore is to awaken time management. Kids do get bored easily and it would be absolutely important for parents to figure out engaging activities to occupy this period of time. At this time, kids know they should have begun school and are beginning to get into the groove of learning. So, here are some tips you should try.

1. Discuss the reasons why they have to be home explaining the importance of the federal government's decision. What a great way of getting children to learn strategies of decision making on a national level!

2. Talk extensively on why this time was designed for learning and should be used for that specifically. Here, you are teaching responsibility.

3. Act like a teacher! (It doesn't seem to me that you have a choice in this time anyway). Create a time table of key concepts or topics to be practiced on a daily basis especially for subjects like Math, Language and Sciences. It could include topics learnt in the last school year that needs to be reinforced. Practice makes perfect! For those who can get into their natural born teacher instincts, this will be fun! Be careful to do this in age appropriateness by assuming some limits. Remind your child to show dedication and responsibility. 

4. Reward good behaviour always - not in monetary terms but with frequent hugs and positive comments. You could take a nice walk - a phenomena most people do not get to share with their kids in #Nigeria. Talk about climate change (google it if you need to know more about it), and identify things in the environment during your walk that could help you make up a great conversation with your child. Do this within your neighbourhood for safety.

5. Talk about their dreams! Ask them what their dreams are. No child is too young to dream. Discuss what the possibilities are in positive ways. This is a good time for you to find out a lot more about your child's interests. Ask them to write about it and when you get back from work, review it with them. For kids within the early childhood stage, they could be made to express theirs in drawing and colouring their pictures. This makes a good strategy to help them build essay writing skills. You are helping with corrections where necessary and appreciating their work all the time. 

6. Ask your kids to redecorate. It could be their room, your room or the living room. Ask them to come up with ideas of what can be done and how to go about it. If plans fall within budget for you to buy anything, go ahead and have fun with them. If not, then have them rearrange existing stuff or recreate with available materials. Remember, this is age restrictive but all kids can participate fully in their own little ways.

7. Create time for indoor sports and games too. Depending on the age group, it could be simple tasks such as asking them to try bouncing a ball 20 - 200 times, skipping with a jump rope or building castles with cardboards...yes, it's doable!

These are to mention a few. All of the above and more could make up your daily time table. Get into your creative juice! You will definitely find many more great ideas.

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Zero-Tolerance Policies Don't Make Schools Safer

I would support zero-tolerance policies in schools only if they properly serve as a deterrent to an infectious spread of misdemeanour. 

A zero-tolerance policy in schools is a policy that punishes any infraction of a rule, regardless of accidental mistakes, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances. Common zero-tolerance policies concern possession or use of illicit drugs or weapons, stealing, use of verbal and physical abuse, examination malpractice, smoking, discrimination and harassment, derogatory remarks and disrespectful gestures. 

These policies are promoted in order to prevent drug abuse and many forms of violence in schools. 

What we know for a fact is that it is equally important for those policies to be supported with effective counselling and rehabilitation programmes for affected persons.

Below is an excerpt from Mark Phillips, a teacher and education journalist (on a myth busting journey) that sheds light on zero-tolerance policies in schools. He basically busted the myth that suggests that zero tolerance policies make schools safer. It would be useful for school administrators to embrace these ideologies.

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"This strikes me as one of the most colossally wrong-headed and destructive of the myths. Berliner and Glass describe numerous examples of this policy being implemented destructively, including one in which two students were suspended because one shared her inhaler with a friend who was having an asthma attack. Most importantly, there is no evidence that zero tolerance policies decrease school violence. To the contrary, the authors note that "suspensions and expulsions have far-reaching implications for a student's academics and can set them up for failure in their personal lives." Zero tolerance policies have resulted in school officials routing record numbers of students through the juvenile justice system, students who are then more likely to also end up in an adult prison later on. And, not surprisingly, all of the unintended effects associated with zero-tolerance policies in schools are multiplied for non-whites.

The authors also give examples of some schools that are learning from this research. As one example, after the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, teachers, parents, and administrators are focused on crisis preparedness and the politics of the gun debate, not on stricter policing of students."

It is my hope that we can all learn from history and experience. For more busted myths, click Edutopia.


The Power of Visual Aids - Don't Blame Yourself!

Please study the picture above.

It is interesting to see how beautifully this infographic displays perhaps the most important findings in modern times on how people learn and what educators should do to make learning effective. It is doable!

The statistics shown in the picture above are a strong reminder of what teachers of all ages of students should know and how visual aids can make all the difference.  

No matter what it is you teach, as a teacher or a trainer, as long as you intend to pass on learning to a group of people, the use of visual aids is a game changer. They paint a lasting picture of facts, incite creative thoughts and imprint the subject matter in practical, real life forms that can be translated. 

The results are immeasurable and certainly, outweigh those sessions or classes done without them. The learners and trainees get to achieve HIGHER GRADES/HIGHER PERFORMANCE LEVELS. So, apply this teaching methodology always!

Imagine what could have happened to your performances if you were taught using 'proper' visual aids; and today especially  for younger children - the results would have been markedly different.  

So, don't blame yourself!