‘Playborhoods’ Can Improve Kids’ Health, Happiness, and Social Skills

soccer girlChildren need neighbourhoods, and neighbourhoods need children. When communities come together to make child-friendly places for play and gathering, everyone benefits. Read more

Let’s Play Outside! Kids Who Play Outside Are Healthier, Happier, and Smarter

summertime_babyHere’s another article on the importance of outdoor play, this one by Laura Markham. She starts off by outlining the benefits to kids’ health, intelligence, and happiness: kids are calmer, more optimistic, healthier, more creative, and more successful at school when they spend lots of time outdoors. Read more

Solving Problems Creatively Together: How to Build Group Intelligence

hands joining in the centre

Intelligence and creativity can be actively developed. This is true not just for individual people, but also for groups of people—teams, businesses, families, cities. Read more

How to Give Good Praise

wood letter blocks

Praise can harm kids’ motivation, or support it. Here are some practical specifics of giving beneficial feedback to your child, praise that will help your child find her own motivation to learn and achieve.

  1. Supply information about what your child is doing right, and differently from before. (‘Wow! You got eight blocks stacked up!’)
  2. You can reduce a child’s motivation by monitoring him too closely (‘Not that block, try this one’), being too prescriptive (‘This is how you should do it’), or creating a climate that’s too competitive (‘Sophie got more blocks on her castle than you did’). Read more

Free to Learn by Peter Gray

child at play signFree play should be bumped up in priority—ahead of organized sports, lessons, and other extracurricular activities designed to assist in kids’ résumé-building. In a new book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, Peter Gray makes the point that free play is vital to children’s healthy development. Read more

More School Is Not the Only Answer!

libraryEven the best students are arriving at university unprepared to do well there. ‘Top Students, Too, Are Not Always Ready for College’ is the title of an article in today’s edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education. In thinking about this problem, the author—the Executive Director of Johns Hopkins’ prestigious Center for Talented Youth—argues for changes at the high school level that will engage kids’ minds and intellectual passions, and develop the habits of mind that lead to academic success in higher education. Read more

Are video games the learning tools they’re cracked up to be?

Yes, and no. That seems to be the consensus from this thoughtful discussion about the educational value of video games from some leading experts:

http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2012/12/03/class-i-commend-you-for-your-work-on-resident-evil/ideas/up-for-discussion/

Old School is New Again

New evidence supports the importance of rote learning demands in education. It’s all about balance– yes, kids need creative problem-solving and autonomy and engagement in their schooling, but they also need to acquire basic skills  that are best mastered through memorization and repetition. Multiplication tables, word roots, and penmanship are best learned the boring old-fashioned way. Once mastered, these skills provide a foundation for more interesting and engaging learning.

In another great thought-piece, ‘ Why Kids Should Learn Cursive (and Math Facts and Word Roots),’ Annie Murphy Paul discusses these ideas:

http://ideas.time.com/2012/11/08/why-kids-should-learn-cu-cursive/