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Engaging Reluctant Readers with Books they will Love!

Recent studies saw that children who’s parents took the time to read for pleasure with them were much less likely to manifest behavioural problems like aggression, hyperactivity and difficulty with attention. In fact the benefits are so well documented that even paediatricians are prescribing reading.  

What if you have a child who doesn’t show interest in books? The trick is to find a book that interests you, children pick up their natural curiosity from someone they love. So what topics are hot on the bookshelves this year? According to the Scholastic Book Club editors female characters, the graphic novel, STEAM, sports and familiar classic books are all hugely in demand.

We’ve chosen our favourite titles from each trend along with supplementary toys and games for your little bookworms to prompt talking points during story time. Encourage the young or the more reluctant readers to open a book, engage and imagine.

* Books are Highlighting Strong Female Characters
Little People, Big Dreams board books introduce the littlest tots to the lives of female icons including AudreyCocoMarie and Frida and once they can read along, the hardback series from the same team includes a factual timeline to introduce real-life protagonists such as Rosa ParksI am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer and Wangari’s Trees of Peace are great stories to spark the interest of more outdoorsy nature fan – who will also love these bug tubsdinosaur torches and starfish squishies.

At the upper primary school age, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (now in two volumes) and Kid Activist Lottie both provide empowering examples for the imagination.

* The Graphic Novel has Staying Power
Around for ages, these formats have recently seen a huge uptick in popularity. Many of the most popular books for primary schoolers happen to be graphic novels, including 2018’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney. Such a great early reader as the images inspire the more visual learner along. If you have a junior cartoonist who’s keen to write their own graphic story, these pens by Djeco can help bring some colour to their narrative.

* Full STEAM ahead
Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics in books are reaching more audiences and new readers with broader topics. We’re seeing a wave of STEAM-themed publishing not least in anatomy, so why not accompany a copy of Illuminatomy with a practical investigation into torso anatomymining or robotics. Its all out there, from learning how to code with this Mover Kit to exploring the Solar System.

* Sports Sports Sports
Sports titles are experiencing a comeback, with profiles of footballing icons like Kane and Aguero generating interest among older readers. If this inspires a game night, why not check out the World Cup of Everything which lets families debate the greatest animals, chocolate bars, TV shows and more, or team a book with a fun bouncy ball for little players.

* Comfort in the Familiar
Finally, trends come and go but some things don’t change! Classics like The Tiger Who Came To Tea and Sleep Tight Little Bear provide comforting bedtime routine, which can be mixed in with primers based on literary giants like Around the World in 80 Days – combine the story with a globe and it won’t be long before they’re reaching for the original version!

The Harry Potter series continues to dominate, and fantastic beast enthusiasts will love Dr Hibernica Finch’s Compelling Compendium of Irish Animals, this wizarding owl and our handmade wooden wands (instore) by local maker Nick Morse. Older children will enjoy growing their own herbs for potions class and building DIY seed bombs with Herbal Adventures or performing Magical Maths and there’s enough unicorn slime play around to keep Hagrid busy.

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Weniger Bildschirm, mehr Kreativität

Eines der am häufigsten diskutierten Themen ist, wie Kinder von Bildschirmen ferngehalten werden können. Wenn Sie eine Hauptstraße entlanggehen, sehen wir sowohl Erwachsene als auch Kinder, die auf ihre Telefonbildschirme blicken und sich nicht bewusst sind, was um sie herum passiert. Beim morgendlichen Aufwachen greifen 65% der Erwachsenen unter 34 Jahren nach einem Jahrzehnt der digitalen Abhängigkeit beim Aufwachen zum Telefon. Selbst in einem Restaurant bemerken Sie, dass die meisten Menschen eher mit ihren Handys oder Tablets beschäftigt sind, als sich gegenseitig zu unterhalten. Die Kommunikation hat sich definitiv verändert und wir sind von der Technologie abhängig geworden.

Es ist leicht zu verstehen, Telefone sind die gründlichste Enzyklopädie des Lebens und werden ständig aktualisiert. Bedauern Sie jemals die Zeit, die Sie gerade mit Scrollen verbracht haben? Während es einen Teil von uns einbezieht, manipuliert es uns auch, zu denken, dass es wichtiger ist als alles andere. Handys und Software wurden mit Absicht entwickelt, um uns süchtig zu machen.

Zum Glück wachen einige Technologen auf und vergleichen es mit den Auswirkungen der Zigarettenindustrie in den 1930er Jahren, die als gut für uns eingestuft wurden, aber am Ende krebserregend waren. Schauen Sie sich die erstaunlichen Leute bei Humane Tech an und helfen Sie auf jede erdenkliche Weise, das, was sie als Herabstufung von Menschen bezeichnen, umzukehren.

Wussten Sie, dass laut ofcom 79% der Kinder im Alter von 5 bis 7 Jahren 9 Stunden pro Woche online sind ?! Sicher, wir können die Anziehungskraft von Bildschirmen als Schnuller nicht leugnen. Es gibt Zeiten, in denen wir unsere Kinder ruhig halten müssen und ein Bildschirm wirklich gut funktioniert. Aber wir haben es ohne sie geschafft, erinnern Sie sich, als wir Kinder waren?

Wir bei Little Citizens sind der Meinung, dass es an uns Eltern liegt, kreativ an der Lösung unserer Probleme mit den Eltern zu arbeiten und die Verbundenheit zu fördern. Die Belohnungen sind immens. Fordern Sie sich einfach heraus, mit einem Wutanfall ohne Bildschirme umzugehen. Es ist wahrscheinlich, dass Kinder wenige Minuten nach dem Schlimmsten etwas entdecken, das Interesse an ihnen weckt. Ich liebe es, meine Tochter gehen zu sehen, von Weinen, ich bin booooorrrreeeed, zu weeee, das ist so lustig.

Wir müssen dazu beitragen, die Fantasie unserer Kinder zu wecken. Dies ist nicht nur zum Spaß, sondern auch für ihre Entwicklung von großer Bedeutung, da wir die Kommunikation fördern, soziale Fähigkeiten entwickeln und spielerisch lernen.

Elternschaft ist nicht einfach, aber wenn wir Zeit sparen, können wir unseren Kindern helfen, durch Diskussionen, Projekte, Zeichnen von Bildern, Erstellen von Kunst, Klettern, Tanzen und Sport zu lernen.

Im Folgenden finden Sie einige gute Ideen von Little Citizens, mit denen Sie offline gehen und Spaß haben können:

1. Mach etwas zusammen— Statt auf Youtube immer, etwas Neues zu lernen, wie wie mit Wolle mit unserem dynamischen weben Weaving with Wool set by Dejco

2. Cuddle up and share your day— Screens before bedtime lead to disrupted sleep, so why not disconnect from the screen and reconnect with your child and help them sleep well by reading a book together or cuddling with a cute Coin Coin Comete Duck

3. Build a tower— Drop the device, enjoy some play time and engage your child’s imagination at the same time by building a fort with our Noook Get Creative Kit

4. Cook something together— Spark some creativity in the kitchen, get baking using our Moulin Roty I am Baking Set

 

5. Teach what goes on behind the screen— Go techno without a screen with kits such as the Electro Dough Kit and Mover Kit

So create some new memories with some of our play ideas. Your child will remember these moments for ever.

We’re not saying the balance is easy because it’s not but an honest conversation with ourselves and each other is a great first step. Young Minds have released a series of strategies to help begin the conversation. Tell us how the screen challenges or helps you at home, have you come up with a system that works for you? We would love to hear from you. So please share with us in the comment section below.

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Kids petition McDonalds to stop plastic toys in Happy Meals

Kid Activists Against Fast Food Plastic

Ella, 7 and Caitlin, 9 started a petition asking McDonalds and Burger King to stop giving away plastic toys with kids meals. With more than 342,000 signatures, it seems to have struck a chord. And feels impossibly fresh, like something that would never have happened when I was a kid. I looked forward to the free toy in my Happy Meal. I remember thinking how cool it was that Happy Meals were especially designed for kids. And to top it off for the price of a cheapy burger and fries you got a toy. I can still feel the excitement and joy the whole experience had on me.

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We all want our children to do better than us– but can we think of progress as achievements that don’t step on people and our planet’s well being.

Not just that they went on to ask big, rich companies to not make toys from plastic at all. In this episode of BBC One’s War on Plastic the producers piled up the amount of toys that McDonalds gives away every five minutes across the UK– the quantity was enough to fill four flat bed trollers. Times that by 288, the number of 5 minutes in 24 hours, and that’s 1,152 flat bed trolleys. You can begin to see the problem.

And when they doorstopped McDonalds headquarter there’s a really uncomfortable moment when security ask them to leave the premises and the girls are visually distraught. In the end McDonalds took a meeting with the girls and have promised to dedicate time and money to making a plan to reduce their use of plastic.

What a super brave duo Ella and Caitin, it takes guts to stand up for what you believe in. And they seem to be a barometer for what kids are thinking today. I have 3 x nine year olds and 1 x eight year old in my kitchen as I type. When I told them I was writing this story, they unanimously without hesitation said this was a great idea. Within instants, they were logged into change.org and signing their names to the petition.

While I totally salute the sister’s initiative and support less consumerism and plastic throwaway toys. I wonder if this is the root of the problem or if it goes deeper.

Education is one thing, access to non-biodegradable plastic is another, but as long as there are parents who don’t have wallets full of cash, there will be people making immediately gratifying choices. Like getting your kid a cheap plastic throwaway toy because it brings a moment of joy. Because sometimes you do it because it’s all you’ve got.

So if it’s not McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Poundland or imported from China no-name toxic toy… there will always be someone who sees a market opportunity.

And I think bringing a free toy to children who buy an inexpensive meal has in many ways been a massive achievement, that is has negative environmental repercussions today speaks more to the fact that we need to lift the world’s poor out of poverty. If we weren’t all so worried about keeping a roof over our head maybe we would have more time and space to develop ethical values that were inclusive and had global benefits.

UNICEF estimates half the world’s children (or 1.1 billion) live in poverty, which is extremely worrying.

What about building a society that doesn’t make basic wellbeing so hard to achieve, from the stats above we can see we are on our way. Luckily it’s not all bad news, there has been progress, the World Bank forecasted in 2015 that 702.1 million people were living in extreme poverty, down from 1.75 billion in 1990.

I think the next generation have got it covered. I predict that in the future, the next generations will invent a way to degenerate waste or make things disappear. Of course there’s bound to be a potential negative to this too but that’s nature isn’t it?– the yin and the yang.

Angkanaratt Chansri, co-founder and CEO of Awintoo.com app 

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When is Smacking your Child okay?

Is it okay to hit your children? It’s amazing what I thought was a dead certain capital NO, is not 100% true in the UK. One of the last countries in Europe where it is legal to smack your child as reasonable punishment.

The debate here is less about the smack and more about the force exerted. To contextualise most adults remember being physically hurt in school by their teachers. It wasn’t until 1999 that Engalnd banned punishment in the independent school sector. (Americans insert shock emoji face here)

And there were appeals. The heads of a number of Christian fellowship independent schools appealed, at length, through various courts, for the ability of teachers to have delegated authority from parents to physically punish their children should they wish. (Americans insert shock emoji face here)

A BBC report from 2005 says the heads claimed that boys would be hit using “a thin, broad flat paddle to both buttocks simultaneously in a firm controlled manner”. Meanwhile, “girls could be strapped on the hand and then comforted by a member of staff and encouraged to pray”. As a foreigner in the UK that surprised me quite a bit. So now I hear parents can legal smack their kids as long as it’s not too hard. But who decides what hard is?

It’s not just tabloid newspapers like The Sun that say some people do not know what a reasonable punishment is. It’s also often the voice heard in parliament, that if we ban smacking we run the chances of living in a nanny state where we’re telling parents how to be. Things such as age and weight of the child must be taken into account with the amount of force that is being exerted.

The good news is that the subject is in the headlines again, Wales is first in line in an effort to ban smacking altogether.

Scotland is becoming the first country in the UK to ban all physical punishments on children. The new bill was set forward by John Finnie, Green MSP and Scottish government has confirmed that the proposal is now becoming a law. A vote will be held later this year, however, the bill is expected to be passed and become part of Scottish law.

Psychologists around the world say that smacking children can impact their mental health and encourage violent behaviour. Parent’s and carers are legally allowed to smack children lightly if it can be “reasonable punishment”, according to Children Act 2004. In many countries such as Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Germany, and Portugal have placed a ban on smacking children.

However, what will be the criminal offence or punishment set to parents who do smack their child?

Sweden in 1979, became the first country to ban any sort of physical punishment towards a child. This was the first step to making smacking illegal internationally. Today Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Aruba, Austria, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Pitcairn Islands, Poland, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia, South Sudan, Spain, St. Maarten, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Sweden, Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Venezuela all have bans on smacking children.

In October, 2017 a 25-year-old father was charged for smacking his child on the bottom for breaking a plant pot. The father claims that smacking his child was a reasonable punishment, however due to bruising (bodily harm) the man was sent to court. The father did not enter any pleas.

There are plenty of other ways to discipline your child without having to smack them. An example could be setting simple rules, praising good behaviour, and allow children to have some choice in their on decisions so that they don’t feel controlled.

One of our favourite parenting experts suggest simple tricks, like putting your hand on your child’s shoulder to get their attention and developing great communication skills. Kids want to please their parents so it’s really worth reading and understanding the non-violent communication ideals by the amazing Dr. Laura Markham. Read her Aha Parenting blog here.

The times I have applied her tips have been major breakthroughs in my relationship with my daughter.

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Audio Post Format

The temperature in your bedroom is perfect. Your blackout curtains have been drawn shut. And you’ve just finished a cup of chamomile tea and novel that made you laugh out loud and forget about whatever was bothering you earlier in the day.

You’re just about ready to drift off, and suddenly the air conditioner kicks on. Or a car alarm screeches through the night air. Or your partner sneezes. Suddenly, you’re wide-awake again. Your brain responds to noises when you’re awake and asleep. But if the interruptions wake you up, that can keep you from getting the restful shuteye that you need.

When ambient noise is disrupting your sleep, white (or pink) noise can help to smooth out the rough edges. Imagine sitting next to a person who is loudly chewing gum in a library. Then imagine sitting next to that same person in a crowded bar. It’s the same chomping gum, but underneath the drone of a crowded place, you can’t even hear it anymore. White noise, whether it’s from a sound machine, a simple fan, or crowd noise helps to mask noise-related disruptions by creating a constant ambient sound that makes a “peak” noise, like a door slamming, less of a contrast. And that makes you less likely to be startled awake.

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