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Learning Through Book Fairs

Learning is an important activity in the life of children, which expedites their growth. To fulfill this aim, we need to endorse various ways of providing them information and book fairs provide unlimited benefits to the children. A book fair is a congregation of various people with an exhibition of various kinds of books for the book lovers to go through and purchase the books of their choice while the publishers and the writers get the opportunity to come face to face with their audience. Book fairs provide ample benefits in the lives of young children.

The list of advantages of a book fair is quite long. It provides a feast of books that motivates the children. The presence of different kinds of books creates an attraction for books and a fascination for reading. Children can come to a book fair, go through the available books, and can choose the subjects of their interest. The display of a huge variety of topics such as poetry, books on general knowledge, encyclopedia, books on fairy tales, novels, cookery books and many more, expand children’s reading and learning. Exposure to a variety of subjects makes them forthright and adaptable to various topics and classes in their school experience. Further, for the students who desire to be writers in the time to come, fairs give a chance for inspiration towards their dream; learn the procedure of book publishing and getting encouragement from their favorite authors.

Book fairs promote the love of reading that lasts lifetime. Books are an essential for children as they give them company, stimulate their interests and remain as their best friend. The exposure that the children get from attending book fairs is because of the approach to a new world through the wide variety of books, awareness about life, guidance, amusement, and various other subjects in and around the world. The understanding and vast knowledge gained from the books evoke a yearning and enthusiasm to read on a regular basis. So children become regular readers and that has a positive influence on their learning process.

Book fairs introduce new and latest things to the children. Upon reading of books a world of discoveries, latest information, ideas and a new way of thinking gets open for the children that helps them to solve their issues. Thus, children get completely prepared to recognize and face the emerging problems of their life, and they turn towards more books that facilitate their awareness about educational ideas that makes them extraordinary children and helps in nurturing more hobbies and pursuits. Also, these fairs unearth a whole new world of publishing, marketing, and creative writing to the children.

We at Buttercup publishing love to be a part of the various book fairs organized all over the world. The London book Fair 2018 promises to be a great event for book lovers as always. This children book fair has a lot to offer to the young children in terms of quantity and quality of books. So do come and be a part of it.

3 Tips to Prepare Your Child to Ride the School Bus

Help your child get used to riding to and from school without you.
As I drove my 6-year-old daughter and her friend home one day, he told a joke. The punch line involved saying “Sofa King Awesome” fast several times, which both kids yelled at the top of their lungs. I almost drove off the road. “Where did you hear that?” I asked, trying to stay calm. “The bus!” the boy said proudly.

The school bus can sometimes be a bit like the Wild West—a bunch of rambunctious kids with only one adult responsible for making sure they all behave and get to school safely. If your child has never taken a bus to school before, the prospect can be intimidating for both of you. Getting prepared will smooth the transition and empower your kid all year.

Plan Ahead

Find out if your school district holds a bus orientation for new students, says Liz Warrick, a parenting coach in Boston. “There may even be an opportunity for your child to get on the bus or ride the regular route,” she says. Not every district offers this, so you can also ask for the route and drive it in your car. Pointing out familiar landmarks (your church, your family’s favorite playground) will help put your child at ease when he sees the same places on his way to school.

Try to get together with neighbors whose children will be riding on the same bus—having an older “buddy” to sit with should ease some first-ride anxiety. A few weeks before the start of school, you can also read a book about riding the bus, such as School Bus, by Donald Crews, or act out the experience at home with stuffed animals or dolls. 

Address Worries

You’ve probably talked to your child about “stranger danger” and told her that if a stranger drives up next to her and asks if she wants a ride, for example, she should run away and yell. However, now you expect her to climb on a bus driven by a stranger, smile, and wave goodbye. It’s important to be positive and show your child that riding the bus is something to be excited—not nervous—about. “When children are uncertain about how to respond to a new situation, they look at their adult’s reaction to determine ‘Should I be scared here?’ If you are calm, it’ll be easier for your child to be too,” says Parents advisor Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., a psychologist and creator of the audio/video series Raising Emotionally and Socially Healthy Kids.

Talk through each step of the process: Explain that you’ll walk to the bus stop and wait with her and the other children. When the bus pulls up all the kids will line up, climb the stairs, say “Good morning” to the driver, and find a seat. Eventually, the bus will pull up to her school, and she should get off and say thank you to the driver.

If she’s still worried, ask her what she’s concerned about. “Often, children imagine unlikely scenarios or misunderstand facts,” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. “For instance, if your child says, ‘What if I don’t get off at school and end up somewhere else?’ you could say, ‘You can’t miss the school, because everyone on the bus stands up and walks off together. Also, the bus driver’s number-one job is to get every child to school safely, so she’ll check to make sure you do too.

Expect Surprises

Since bus time is unstructured, kids may experiment with behavior or language they normally wouldn’t try at home or in school, says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. A classmate of my daughter’s came off the bus one afternoon and told her mother that the boys on the bus called her “fat” and “worthless”—not exactly what you’d want to hear from your kindergartner when you ask her about her day.

If your child is getting picked on while riding the bus, let him know you understand how upsetting that must have been, then role-play how he can handle future incidents, says Laura Markham, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings. Have him practice asserting himself by counting to 10, looking the bully in the eye, and saying, “I don’t like that” or “Keep your hands off me,” she suggests. Then he can turn and move to another seat. If the teasing continues, encourage him to sit near the driver or tell his teacher, and don’t hesitate to call the school yourself if the bully is undeterred by your child’s efforts to solve the problem himself.

Try not to freak out if your child comes off the school bus with some newfound vocabulary or rude habit that he’s never displayed before. “The important thing is not to overreact,” says Dr. Kennedy-Moore. “When you show shock and horror, it just makes the ugly words seem more powerful.” Matter-of-factly say, “That’s bad manners” or “That’s unkind,” and briefly explain why before changing the subject. If he insists that all the kids do it, calmly tell him, “I expect you to make the right choice.” Then take a deep breath and move on. After all, he still has many years of bus-riding ahead of him. 

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10 Reasons Print Books Are Better Than E-Books

Last week, the book industry released figures showing that e-book sales were down so far this year — the first time they have declined — while print remained relatively steady. When the news broke, we published a piece on 10 reasons e-books are better than print.

In the interest of fairness, we now offer a list for the other side: a 10-point case for print.

1. Print books have pages that are nice and soft to the touch. Paper makes reading physically pleasurable. Reading an e-book, on the other hand, feels like using an ATM. And after staring at a computer screen at work all day, how relaxing is it to curl up at home and stare at another screen?

2. Print books are better at conveying information. A study reported in the Guardian last year found that readers using a Kindle were less likely to recall events in a mystery novel than people who read the same novel in print. So if you want to do things like follow plots and acquire information, print is the way to go.

3. Print books are yours for life. The books you bought in college will still be readable in 50 years. Do you really think that in 10 years your e-reader – or book-reading watch, or virtual reality goggles – will work with today’s e-books?

4. Print books are physical reminders of your intellectual journeys. That beat-up copy of Catcher in the Rye on your bookshelf takes you back to sophomore year of high school. The Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda conjures up memories of late-night dorm room bull sessions. The food and wine-stained Lonely Planet Greece brings back that trip through the Greek Isles. A Kindle is just a Kindle.

5. Print books are great to share. There is nothing quite like putting a book into a friend’s hand and saying, “You’ve got to read this.” There are ways of sharing e-books – if both you and your intended recipient can navigate the Digital Rights Management system. But sharing an e-book has all of the warmth of sending an e-mail or paying someone on PayPal.

6. You can write in the margins of a print book, dog-ear the important pages, and underline the key sentences with a pencil. E-books often allow the digital equivalents of these acts – but they just aren’t the same. There is a link between physical gestures and cognition: the things we do to print books seem to help us to understand and remember better.

7. Print books have jackets, so people know what other people are reading – which makes reading a community-building act. A bus full of people with print books is a snapshot of what is on a town or a city’s minds – as well as a collection of ideas for what you should read next. A bus full of people reading e-books is just a lot of people staring at devices.

8. Print books are fairer to writers. The Author’s Guild has been beating the drum for years that publishers give writers a lower percentage of the royalties for e-books. That makes it harder for authors to earn a living – and to produce new books. If you want to support writers, who are struggling these days, more than publishing giants – buy a print book.

9. Print books are better for your health. A Harvard Medical School study last year found that reading a light-emitting e-book before bed interferes with your ability to sleep, with your alertness the following morning, and with your overall health.

10. Print books are theft-resistant. If you leave a book in your car, you can be pretty sure it will be there when you return. That is probably not true of your iPad, Kindle or other e-book reader. And a bonus: if you drop a print book in the bathtub, you can dry it out with a hairdryer.

This article has been taken from Huffington Post


Schools and parents must work together to improve children’s mental health

Adam Pettitt is headteacher of Highgate school, a coeducation independent school in London.

Young people’s mental health is an issue that has hit the headlines a lot over the past few months. In June, the charity Young Minds warned that cuts to services for children were amounting to a national crisis, and two months later the care minister Norman Lamb described provision as “not fit for purpose”. Headteacher Adam Pettitt recently ran a conference on the topic for parents, saying the idea stemmed from the sense that not enough is being done to help children with their mental wellbeing.

“There’s a lot you can do to remove stress from the time students spend at school, but you need to address what’s happening when they’re at home as well if you want to make a real difference.”

Actress Emma Thompson, who has spoken openly about having depression, has a daughter who attends the school and worked closely with Pettitt to organise the event. Titled “A beginner’s guide to self-esteem, sanity and the adolescent years”, the focus was on practical steps parents can take to improve their child’s mental health. Experts such as psychologist Linda Papadopoulos and David Goodban, who heads the Mental Health Foundation’s children’s programme, spoke on the day and there were question-and-answer sessions on topics including the development of the adolescent brain.

Pettitt’s hope is that the conference will start an ongoing dialogue with parents on issues surrounding their child’s welfare.

“If parents and a school are two halves of a partnership for bringing up children, then neither of us can do the job well unless we develop a dynamic relationship,” he says.

“Schools need to do a lot more of this kind of thing. There needs to be more opportunity for parents to have access to resources and discuss what’s happening in their child’s life.”

One of the issues addressed at the event was the impact technology is having on young people. “Sometimes I overhear students talk and I come away thinking that they’re spending an extraordinary amount of time online or in front of a television. The spread of wifi means that the internet is pretty much everywhere now and I think that makes it more difficult for children to switch off.

“It’s not Facebook per se, but the fact that they have access to it 24-hours a day. If you watch a young child play a game on their iPad for too long, it takes them a while to stop being tetchy. Clearly this must be having some kind of impact on them.”

Parents were given a five-point plan about encouraging better mental health at the event – limiting time spent with computers, social media and video games was a key message. As well as advocating no smartphones or tablets in a child’s room when they go to sleep, it suggests that students should work in a communal area and go out to play or exercise at least once a day.

Highgate school is in the top 30 independent schools for A-level results, but Pettitt stresses that the school makes real efforts to instill in students the message that there is more to life than academic achievement.

“It’s pretty clear from most research that a predisposition to IQ measures is less significant in a person’s success and fulfillment than their work readiness. If you can’t work in a team, accept criticism and be reliable, then you’re no good to anyone,” he says.

Last year, a new style of report card was trialled with year 7 students to reflect this ethos. Rather than simply having an attainment and effort grade, the report breaks the two sections down into different elements. The effort section now includes whether a student arrives to lessons on time and contributes in class. Under attainment, teachers at the school now grade students on specific tasks, rather than giving an overall mark for the subject. Colours instead of numbers are used – from red to signify an area for concern to bright green to reflect that they’re working beyond expectations.

“This heat map approach feels much more human,” says Pettitt. “And it makes it easier for students to get a handle on the fact that what we’re saying is not a judgement on them as a person. It’s not about whether they’re hardworking or lazy, but rather about all of the different things they do that add up to how they’re getting on at school.”

Pettitt believes that sometimes people can cling on too closely to strict indicators of achievement. “Sometimes parents have a very clear notion of what their success criteria would be – for example, a place at Oxbridge. This really makes it really difficult for everyone. The child feels bad if they don’t achieve and the parents are disappointed. I do try to challenge it when it comes up, but it can be tricky if a student has always been told that this is what success means,” he says.

“I don’t see there being any kind of contradiction between wanting students to get the edge on things and be ambitious, with really good pastoral care and creating a nurturing environment. Kids don’t always do as well as they would like to and it’s important to teach them how to cope with this. They need to learn that it doesn’t mean they’re any less of a person or that we as a school think any less of them.”

The school has a counsellor who pupils can talk to – they can choose to go themselves or can be referred by a member of staff. As well as providing students with one-on-one support, the counsellor informs Pettitt if any common problems are emerging – a particular year group feeling anxious about body image, for example – and he then discusses with staff what the school could be doing better.

“The school has a strong pastoral instinct,” says Pettitt. “We’ve always tried to stand out against the idea that we would ever become an exam factory.

“We take learning very seriously and think that children should be aspirational and ambitious, but the pressure they feel to succeed should be coming from within themselves, not from us.”

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30 Little Things That Mean a Lot to Kids

While these gestures may seem trivial to adults, they go a long way with your little ones. Here are a few easy tricks to make your child smile. 

1. Wear that macaroni necklace to work. Well, at least until you're safely out the door.
2. Tape a family mantra or slogan (Unstoppable! We can, we will! We've got this!) to your refrigerator door and invoke it whenever your child feels discouraged.
3. Go for a walk with just one child.
4. Slip a note (and an occasional piece of chocolate) into her lunch box.
5. Build your own Minecraft world alongside his.
6. Say "yes" to something usually off-limits, like sitting on the counter. 
7. Show as much enthusiasm on amusement-park rides as they do. 
8. If you quarrel in front of your child, make sure that he also sees you make up.
9. When her room looks like a tsunami swept through it, close the door and get on with your day.
10.Skype or do FaceTime with Grandma every now and then. 
11.If your child has given it a good try, but he's still miserable and anxious and really, truly wants to quit the team, give him your blessing.
12.Go ahead: Let your 4-year-old stomp in every puddle along the way. Even without rain boots.
13.Get out the glitter glue and make a birthday card for your child.
14 Take in a pet that needs a home—and a child's love.
15.Give your toddler a chance to fight his own battles in the sandbox or on the playground before you intervene.
16.Hold off with the barrage of how-was-your-day questions if your child comes home from school grumpy and tired. You can always get the rundown at the dinner table.
17.Cultivate your own rituals and traditions: Taco Tuesdays, Sunday-afternoon bike ride, apple picking every fall.
18.Ask your kid to teach you how to do something for a change. And once you get the hang of it, be sure to tell him what a good teacher he is.
19.Let your child wear her dress-up clothes to the supermarket. All month if she wants to.
20.Let your child overhear you saying something wonderful about her. 
21.Stay up late to see the full moon. There's one on October 27.
22.Print their childhood photos so they have something physical to look at one day.
23.Don't be in a hurry to tell your kid to let it go. He needs to vent too.
24.Cook heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast.
25.Crank up the music in the middle of homework and have a dance party.
26.Make a secret family handshake.
27.Hang a whiteboard in her room to leave messages for each other.
28.Start a pillow fight.
29.Share your old diaries, photos, and letters from when you were her age.
30.Thank your child when he does a chore on his own—even if it's just hanging up a wet towel without prompting or refilling the empty water pitcher.

RELATED: 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids
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Why I Don’t Care About My Kids’ Grades

The last time my kids’ report cards came home, I skimmed the letter grades and went right to the important stuff. The paragraph the teacher writes about my children. That’s the good stuff. That’s where you find out when your kid is passing notes in class or having difficulty with other classroom issues.

It’s not that I don’t care about the grade. I do. But I think sometimes the emphasis we are putting on our kids getting straight A’s is setting them up for lofty expectations that just aren’t realistic for some kids. Not everyone excels in all areas. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Not everyone is meant to be an honor roll student. I firmly believe that.

I was an honor roll student. I had many report cards that had straight A’s. I even made it into the National Honor Society in high school.

And then there was the year I took chemistry. Oh, how I loathed chemistry (still do). My brain just did not get it. I stared at that periodic table and had no desire to even know what it meant. I was an artistic bookworm, with little to no interest in science. It didn’t come naturally to me. I worked hard, but it was my first C in high school.

It’s not that I’m okay with my kids getting C’s. I just don’t want to emphasize the letter. It’s not a true reflection of what a child is learning or not learning anyway. What I care about is the effort, and honestly, I also care about whether or not my kid likes that particular subject. If they just hate chemistry, or if they really struggle with a certain topic, maybe a C is okay.

I loved writing papers in English in high school. I suspect that at least one of my kids will hate it. Because we’re all different, and we all have different interests. What I do expect is that they put in the effort that is required, and that they do their best, even if they don’t love it. Best doesn’t always translate into an A.

The idea of having my kids get straight A’s is still appealing to me — I won’t lie. But will I punish or be disappointed in the grade alone? No. Instead, I’ll be disappointed if I know they could have done better — if they didn’t try, didn’t ask for help, didn’t complete the work. In my defense, I don’t think I could have done much better in chemistry because I hated it. My brain couldn’t get it. Did I do what it took to pass? Yes. Did I make an effort? Of course.

And that’s what’s going to matter to me with my kids too.

Each of my three kids is so different in their likes and dislikes. It’s fascinating to watch them grow up and explore their world. I often like to wonder what they will be like as adults and what they’ll choose for their careers.

My oldest is really good at math, science, and loves to read and write. Maybe she’ll be one of those kids who can pull off straight A’s. Who knows? But I’m not going to drill it into her that A’s are the goal.

Several months ago, she got a low grade in math. We were surprised because she typically loves math and does really well at it. She admitted that she wasn’t exactly working as hard as she knew she could, and that she was often playing with things in her desk instead of listening to the instruction of the concept. For me, that was unacceptable. I didn’t care that she got a C, and I told her that. I cared that she wasn’t trying as hard as she could have been. She agreed, and the next report card that came home she had raised her grade to a B. We praised her not for the grade, but for the fact that she put in more of an effort in something that she could obviously achieve.

But I also think that not every kid is going to love school the same way. My middle child makes great grades, but he honestly doesn’t love school. He refuses to go a lot of the time, which is baffling because he’s so good at it.

I think that we need to take the pressure off of our kids to get only A’s and B’s and instead teach them about the importance of trying their best, and actually learning something. I don’t care if my child gets an A in history if she can’t remember who signed the Declaration of Independence a year later. I also don’t care if my son hates reading books. My husband does too.

Instead, I will teach him that sometimes reading books is part of the curriculum and he has to do it. One day in real life, he might have to read a book or two for his job. It’s not the end of the world. You do what you have to do. But as long as he gives it a solid effort, I’m happy.

Too often, we forget that our kids are people too. They have likes and dislikes, interests and things they loathe. They cannot possibly be expected to be good at everything. I’m not. I shut down when someone tries to talk numbers with me, and I’m a full-fledged functioning adult.

I also think that there are many successful people in this world who don’t graduate magna cum laude from a major university, and maybe go to a community college instead. There is nothing wrong with that either. We can all be successful at something. Yes, education is expected of my children, but it’s because I want them to find their path, and learn about the world, and hopefully do something one day that makes them happy.

So,why are we trying to set an unrealistic expectation of straight A’s and B’s on our kids? Some kids will be able to achieve that, and that’s great. But it’s not for everyone. And that’s okay too. I just want my kids to know that putting in a solid effort is an important part of school (and life) and that it’s okay if they hate chemistry too.

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50 Best Children’s Literature Blogs

Inasmuch as we may like to reminisce about some of the books we read ourselves as children, this guide to the 50 Best Children’s Literature Blogs is more about modern books which young adults and teachers may want to incorporate into young lives in an educational way. Sure, there is plenty of fiction amongst our selection, but educational fiction, rather than complete make-believe (actually, we just made up that bit!).

To guide you towards which blogs may be most suitable for your children, or your particular area of study, we have divided our categories into school ages and included a general section for blogs which cover the whole spectrum of children’s literature. Our final section has some very interesting contributions about the world of children’s literature from a publisher’s perspective.

Pre-school Children’s Literature

Zero-to-Eight – Zero to Eight is a blog where books and babies meet. The books reviewed on this blog are the stuff that dreams are made of – great bedtime stories to read to young children.

The Well Read Child – Actually, it is mum doing all the reading on a 365 day resolution to read to her young children each night. Her reviews are very informative and well presented.

Readertotz – Reviews the best of the board books for those just beginning to recognize words

Readerkidz – Contributions from teachers and authors on this grades K – 5 reading resource

The Book Chook – Handpicked story books, ideas and resources for assisting children´s learning

Elementary School Children’s Literature

Jen Robinson´s Book Page – Encouraging parents to read children´s literature in a different light to ensure the messages contained in the books are transmitted to their kids

Young Books – With over twenty years of experience in children´s literature, Rebecca Young reviews the latest releases for the young reader

Teach With Picture Books – Educational picture books for children in grades 3 – 8

Reading Rockets – Dedicated to helping young children with learning difficulties to read

Playing by the Book – Book reviews of activity books where participation is encouraged

Planet Esme – Reviews the best books to get your child hooked on reading

Great Kids Books – A mom reviews books that her own children (6, 9 & 12) have enjoyed reading

Getting Kids Reading – Suggestions to get your kids interested in reading and writing

Booklights – A guide for parents to encourage children to become readers and writers

Book Aunt – Giving these books as gifts will encourage your children to read

Bottom Shelf Books – Picture and activity books for animal loving children everywhere

Middle SchoolChildren’s Literature

Wizard´s Wireless – A blog that focuses on books of a similar genre to Harry Potter. Offers tips for composing your own short stories and lists award winning children´s literature

Welcome To My Tweendom – A Junior School librarian reviews and comments on the books her pre-teen scholars are reading

Persnickety Snark – Australian book reviewer includes discussion posts on her blog for others to include their points of view on her reviewed titles

Boys Read – A site specifically dedicated to promoting books which encourage boys to read

Shelf Elf – Middle school teacher reads and raves about  appropriate books for her students

Black Threads in Kids Lit – A look at African American picture books for the younger reader

Fuse 8 Productions – Focuses on middle age fiction with reviews from a school librarian

Mixed Up Files – Great  guide to books which can be read aloud to Middle Grade students

High School Children’s Literature

Pretentious Reader – Well written blog about books for the older reader which contains a ranking system site visitors are invited to contribute to

Mitali´s Fire Escape – Reviews of multi-cultural publications aimed at the young adult

Interactive Reader – Books for a teenage audience reviewed by a teen librarian.

Excelsior File – Personal interpretations on the messages within young adult books

Collecting Children´s Books – Discussions on the collectability of older children´s books

Chick Loves It – A much needed review site for books containing a female heroine

Summer Edwards – Blog centered around recommended YA books for Caribbean interest

Tea Cozy – An unusual name for the School Library Journal guide to teen fiction

Children’s Literature for All Ages

Newbery Project – The John Newbery Medal has been awarded for most distinguished contribution to American children’s literature since 1922. This blog is in the process of reviewing all the Newbery Medal winners.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast – Extensive modern children´s literature resource which includes interviews with leading writers, publishers and illustrators

American Indians in Children’s Literature – A critical perspective of indigenous peoples in children’s books, with reviews and comments on the best

Papertiger´s Blog – Highlights multi-cultural events in the world of children´s literature

Maw Books – Reviews, resources and fantastic giveaways in this blogs for all ages

MangaBlog – Blog dedicated to news amount Manga publications (Japanese comics)

Kids Lit – Detailed and informative reviews of books for children of all age groups

Kiddosphere – News about new book releases and the youth services librarianship

I.N.K. – Multi-contributor blog promoting interesting non-fiction for kids. Very interesting site.

Forwordsbooks – Geared towards the young Jewish community, but fascinating for all cultures

Good Comics for Kids – A blog which advocates that comics can be good for children

Asia in the Heart – Books by Asian authors for children of all backgrounds and ages

100 Scope Notes – News about children´s literature awards and reviews of the best candidates

The Brown Bookshelf – Spotlights books for all age groups written by African American authors

Children´s Literature Industry Blogs

Tockla´s World – Laura Atkins is a lecturer at the (U.K.) National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature who blogs about what is required to become a children´s book specialist

Oz and Ends – prolific blog about the industry of children´s literature and publishing

NCBLA – The National Children´s Book Literary Alliance covers issues relating to child literacy

Chasing Ray – Hard to categorize but interesting. Balance of industry comment and book reviews

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How Schools Can Help Nurture Students’ Mental Health

By the time he entered second grade, Eric had already witnessed graphic violence and watched as his family fell apart. He’d been moved to a new state and a new home, but he wasn’t thriving, especially in school. Eric’s reading level was measured in single digits — that is, below the 10th percentile for children his age.

“He was so preoccupied by the trauma he’d experienced that it was impairing his learning,” says Steve Lepinski, who followed Eric’s progress.

Lepinski runs the Washburn Center for Children, a mental health provider in Minnesota that handled Eric’s case. After receiving intensive therapy, Eric (not his real name) saw his reading level jump to the 90th percentile for his age group. Now “he’s just doing normal third-grade things,” Lepinski adds.

Trauma can be one cause of mental health issues among kids, but there are other sources. Emotional problems are linked to poverty, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics study, and 20 percent of children live in poverty. The same study notes that children whose parents serve in the military are more likely to experience emotional trouble, especially when parents deploy and return.
Fortunately, there are better diagnostics and a greater sensitivity by parents and pediatricians to kids’ well-being; what might have been ignored and untreated decades ago is more apt to be spotted and tended to today. But the attention to these diagnoses also uncovers the reality that the youth population feels vulnerable and dislocated.

The hurly-burly of modern life plays a part. Dr. Debra Koss, a child psychiatrist in Sparta, N.J., who has been treating kids for more than 20 years, believes that both teenagers and families face more external pressure and stress today than they did years ago.

Part of that’s from the explosion in technology, especially in the proliferation in phone, computer and TV screens, which eat up an estimated five to seven hours of the average child’s day. That time spent inert in front of a screen is time not spent socializing, or playing sports, or getting out into the world, all of which contribute to healthy emotional development, Koss says.

Also, ruthless social media sites like Yik Yak, where kids post anonymous comments about their peers, can be devastating to children’s well-being. “They have a terrible impact on self-esteem and social relationships,” Koss says.

Developments in neuroscience should be helping to shape cultural expectations for kids, but so far the research has failed to activate much change. Adolescents are wired for short-term pleasures, feeling emotions more intensely and tending to act on impulse. But they’re quizzed about careers and college majors when they’ve just made it to high school, long before their brains have matured sufficiently to make thoughtful long-term decisions.

“We’re expecting a level of decision-making and abstract thinking that’s not in keeping with where brain development is,” Koss says.

Warped cultural pressure on kids to perform beyond their capabilities is stressful and demoralizing, forcing kids to grow up too fast. The fact that this generation has been subjected to more standardized testing than any other can adds to the anxiety.  “These external goals and messages” — from parents, schools, college applications and social media — “create unreasonable expectations,” she says. All of this contributes to adolescent depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.

What’s the proper role for schools in attending to children’s mental health? Some educators and mental health experts have pushed schools to get more involved in preventing emotional and behavior problems and spotting those kids who need help, so that they can be steered toward professionals who can help them. Mental health problems often reveal themselves early in life, and the sooner they’re treated, the thinking goes, the better the outcomes.

Teachers’ everyday contact with children puts them in a position to pick out those who might be struggling and who could benefit from professional help. And because, as Koss says, “academic failure is a real consequence of mental illness,” teachers and school officials may have no choice but to confront these problems.

The following initiatives have been adopted in various states and schools to help identify, and even treat, those children in need.


One of the most ambitious approaches for treating children has been adopted in Minnesota, where mental health professionals provide treatment for such problems within the schools. The Minnesota system, which began in 2007 as a small pilot program and has since spread to 645 schools in 71 counties, removes the barriers that often keep children from getting the help they need: transportation to and from appointments, insurance coverage and lengthy waits for appointments.

This approach represents a radical departure from the typical way schools have handled troubled children, wherein school officials notify parents of a potential problem and then depend on parents to take action. Today, Minnesota has the largest school-based mental health program in the country.

Because the mental health providers are present and available, the stigma attached to getting help has lessened for kids. The method also helps therapists better evaluate their patients, because they see them in their natural environment. Teachers and school principals also welcome in-house clinicians, Lepinski says, through their interactions with the clinicians. Turf battles between “outside” mental health providers and “inside” school nurses, social workers or special education teachers is minimized because they all recognize the important role each plays in identifying and treating students.

And helping drive success — or allay parents’ fears — is the fact that the children’s mental health records are kept private from teachers and school administrators, under HIPPA laws.

During the first five years of the program, practitioners found that more than half of the children treated by therapists or mental health professionals in school were seeing someone for the first time, and half of these same children were getting treatment for a serious mental illness. Without the ordinary barriers to getting help, most kids completed their treatment, Lepinski says. Further, the impact of the treatment was reflected in a decline in suspension rates, absences and frequency of emotional problems.

Meanwhile, attendance rates have crept up. And with a full-time mental health professional on staff, the culture of these schools has become more sensitive to the role of mental health in learning. “Now, when a student acts up, the teacher’s first thought isn’t to complain about the kid’s bad behavior, but to think ‘I wonder what’s going on with him?’ ” Lepinski says.


Testing for emotional well-being is one way of identifying troubled kids, and some schools have started using them after a crisis, or even preventively. One of the most widely used screens, the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, or C-SSRA, is a brief survey that has been shown to identify accurately individuals at risk of suicide. In Tennessee, schools started asking the state for help in preventing suicide or managing in the aftermath, and the state responded by offering districts the C-SSRA.

More than 5,000 such screens were carried out with kids of all ages after crises since July, says Melissa Sparks, a registered nurse in Tennessee who helps oversee the state screens. Tennessee also uses what’s called a Youth Screen as a way of identifying mental health problems early. Of the 221 teenagers whose parents consented to their children’s screening since July, 75 kids were found to have a mental health or substance abuse problem.


Aerobic exercise is good for mental health; it reduces stress, improves attention and buoys the mood. But as school budgets have grown tighter, schools are dropping gym class and recess for more time in the classroom. This trend undermines student well-being and achievement, says Dr. Lawrence Steinberg, author of “Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence.” Steinberg believes that schools should include an hour of exercise in the daily curriculum, because physical activity improves academic performance and mental health.

Steinberg is not alone: The Institute of Medicine challenges schools to work an hour of exercise into the school day, offering suggestions and games for teachers to boost activity. Its interactive website offers tips on how to arrange the classroom to make space for physical activity, so that kids don’t spend all day at their desks, and offers ideas on how to make recess and gym class more active and engaging for kids.


Teenagers don’t sleep enough, and that deficit affects their mental health as well as their ability to calculate or compose a sentence. The recommended amount of sleep for children and adolescents is 8.5 to 9.5 hours a night, but up to 87 percent of high school kids sleep less. It’s hard for teenagers to fall asleep naturally before 10:30 p.m., and most can’t make it up on the other end when the school day begins; 40 percent of high schools open their doors before 8 a.m.

Some schools are taking the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and are delaying the start of the school day to better fit with adolescent sleep cycles. According to Stacy Simera, the outreach director for Start School Later Inc., “the number of schools opening later has grown exponentially,” with positive results.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota who studied the impact of later start times in eight high schools found improvements in grades, attendance and punctuality, as well as a 70 percent reduction in auto accidents.

“It’s doable,” Simera says. “Superintendents and teachers are afraid it’s going to throw a wrench into everything, but hundreds of schools have adjusted,” she says.


Taking time to breathe deeply, slow down the mind and focus on the moment can lengthen attention spans and promote emotional control, and some schools are beginning to fold mindfulness training into the school day. Dr. Amy Saltzman, director of the Association for Mindfulness in Education, says that schools in all 50 states and around the world have started to teach children mindfulness.

The surge in children diagnosed with ADHD, depression and anxiety, as well as the growing body of evidence on the benefits of mindfulness, have prompted educators to bring the exercise to school. “There’s more awareness of the need,” Saltzman says.


One of the simplest ways for teachers to encourage a healthy mindset among their students is to take small steps in the classroom that work against harmful cultural pressures. To encourage breaks from screens, for example, teachers can set up tech-free spaces or times in class. Publicly limiting their own reliance on phones and computers also models the message that happiness isn’t found in “likes” or tweets.

And asking kids what they enjoy doing, then encouraging them to pursue those interests, permits children and teens to start valuing their own preferences, separate and apart from what presumably “looks good” to colleges. “This encourages kids to learn about themselves,” Koss says.


Hundreds of teachers in 43 states around the country are taking part in the Global Happiness Project, a loosely structured endeavor in which students are invited to consider the nature of happiness and to assess its prevalence in their community. In keeping with the program’s purpose, teachers are tailoring the assignment to fit the special circumstances of their classes.

A teacher in Cleveland, for example, advises her students to develop a growth mindset when it comes to learning, so that they’ll look at a bad test grade as a temporary setback and learning opportunity rather than a mark of permanent failure. An instructor in Rochester, Indiana, encourages her students to analyze Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” in terms of the characters’ and community’s happiness, and then to develop a service project that will try to deliver more happiness to the town.

By integrating ideas about happiness and the good life into the school curriculum, teachers are encouraging children to value their feelings and to take control of their lives.

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Twenty Ways You Can Help Your Children Succeed At School

As a parent, you are your child's first and most important teacher. When parents and families are involved in their children's schools, the children do better and have better feelings about going to school. In fact, many studies show that what the family does is more important to a child's school success than how much money the family makes or how much education the parents have. There are many ways that parents can support their children's learning at home and throughout the school year. Here are some ideas to get you started!

Develop a partnership with your child's teachers and school staff

1. Meet your child's teacher. As soon as the school year starts, try to find a way to meet your child's teacher. Let the teacher know you want to help your child learn. Make it clear that you want the teacher to contact you if any problems develop with your child. Talk with your child's teacher offers some great tips for developing a partnership with your child's teacher. If you feel uncomfortable speaking English, don't let a language barrier stop you. What you have to say is more important than the language you say it in! Ask the school to find someone who can interpret for you. There may be a teacher or parent liaison who can help. Or you can bring a bilingual friend or relative with you.

2. Get to know who's who at your child's school. There are many people at your child's school who are there to help your child learn, grow socially and emotionally, and navigate the school environment. Who's Who at Your Child's School describes the responsibilities of teachers, administrators, and district staff. Each school is different but this article will offer a general introduction to personnel of your child's school.

3. Attend parent-teacher conferences and keep in touch with your child's teacher. Schools usually have one or two parent-teacher conferences each year. You can bring a friend to interpret for you or ask the school to provide an interpreter. You can also ask to meet with your child's teacher any time during the year. If you have a concern and can't meet face-to-face, send the teacher a short note or set up a time to talk on the phone. For more ideas about how to prepare for parent-teacher conferences, see Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences at Your Child's School.

Support your child academically

4. Find out how your child is doing. Ask the teacher how well your child is doing in class compared to other students. If your child is not keeping up, especially when it comes to reading, ask what you or the school can do to help. It's important to act early before your child gets too far behind. Also be sure to review your child's report card each time it comes out. For more information, see How To Know When Your Child Needs Extra Help. 

5. Apply for special services if you think your child may need it. If your child is having problems with learning, ask the school to evaluate your child in his or her strongest language. The teacher might be able to provide accommodations for your child in class. If the school finds out your child has a learning disability, he can receive extra help at no cost. For more information, see Where To Go For Help.

6. Make sure that your child gets homework done. Let your child know that you think education is important and that homework needs to be done each day. You can help your child with homework by setting aside a special place to study, establishing a regular time for homework, and removing distractions such as the television and social phone calls during homework time. Helping Your Child With Homework offers some great ideas for ensuring that your child gets homework done. If you are reluctant to help your child with homework because you feel that you don't know the subject well enough or because you don't speak or read English, you can help by showing that you are interested, helping your child get organized, providing the necessary materials, asking your child about daily assignments, monitoring work to make sure that it is completed, and praising all of your child's efforts. Remember that doing your child's homework for him won't help him in the long run.

7. Find homework help for your child if needed. If it is difficult for you to help your child with homework or school projects, see if you can find someone else who can help. Contact the school, tutoring groups, after school programs, churches, and libraries. Or see if an older student, neighbor, or friend can help.

8. Help your child prepare for tests. Tests play an important role in determining a students grade. Your child may also take one or more standardized tests during the school year, and your child's teacher may spend class time on test preparation throughout the year. As a parent, there are a number of ways that you can support your child before and after taking a standardized test, as well as a number of ways you can support your child's learning habits on a daily basis that will help her be more prepared when it's time to be tested. Learn more standardized tests and general test-taking in How to Help Your Child Prepare for Standardized Tests.

Get involved with your child's school

9. Learn what the school offers. Read the information the school sends home, and ask to receive information in your native language if necessary. Talk to other parents to find out what programs the school offers. Maybe there's a music program, after-school activity, sports team, or tutoring program your child would enjoy. Remember to keep track of events throughout the school year.

10. Volunteer at your child's school and/or join your school's parent-teacher group. Teachers appreciate it when parents help out at the school! There are many ways you can contribute. You can volunteer in your child's class or in the school library. You can make food for a school event. If you work during the day, you can attend "parents' night" activities or your child's performances. At most schools, a group of parents meets regularly to talk about the school. This group is usually called the PTA or PTO. The meetings give you a good chance to talk with other parents and to work together to improve the school. How to Get Involved in Your Child's School Activities offers some more ideas that you can get involved, especially for busy parents.

Get informed and be an advocate for your child

11. Ask questions. If something concerns you about your child's learning or behavior, ask the teacher or principal about it and seek their advice. Your questions may be like these — What specific problem is my child having with reading? What can I do to help my child with this problem? How can I stop that bully from picking on my son? How can I get my child to do homework? Which reading group is my child in? 

12. Learn about your rights. It's important to know what your rights are as the parent regarding special services, English instruction, immigration status, and more. Learn more in Your Rights as the Parent of a Public School Student.

13. Let the school know your concerns. Is your child doing well in school? Is he or she having trouble learning, behaving, or studying? Is there a problem with another student, teacher, or administrator? If you have a concern, How to Let the School Know About Your Concerns describes some steps to take.

Support your child's learning at home

14. Demonstrate a positive attitude about education to your children. What we say and do in our daily lives can help them to develop positive attitudes toward school and learning and to build confidence in themselves as learners. Showing our children that we both value education and use it in our daily lives provides them with powerful models and contributes greatly to their success in school. In addition, by showing interest in their children's education, parents and families can spark enthusiasm in them and lead them to a very important understanding-that learning can be enjoyable as well as rewarding and is well worth the effort required.

15. Monitor your child's television, video game, and Internet use. American children on average spend far more time watching TV, playing video games and using the Internet than they do completing homework or other school-related activities. How to Monitor TV Viewing and Video Game Playing and Help Your Child Learn to Use the Internet Properly and Effectively offer some ideas for helping your child use the media effectively.

16. Encourage your child to read. Helping your child become a reader is the single most important thing that you can do to help the child to succeed in school-and in life. The importance of reading simply can't be overstated. Reading helps children in all school subjects. More important, it is the key to lifelong learning. Learn more in Fun Reading Tips and Activities and Fun and Effective Ways to Read with Children.

17. Talk with your child. Talking and listening play major roles in children's school success. It's through hearing parents and family members talk and through responding to that talk that young children begin to pick up the language skills they will need if they are to do well. For example, children who don't hear a lot of talk and who aren't encouraged to talk themselves often have problems learning to read, which can lead to other school problems. In addition, children who haven't learned to listen carefully often have trouble following directions and paying attention in class. It's also important for you to show your child that you're interested in what he has to say. Talking With Your Child offers some great ideas for using conversation to stimulate language development.

18. Encourage your child to use the library. Libraries are places of learning and discovery for everyone. Helping your child find out about libraries will set him on the road to being an independent learner. Remember that libraries also offer a quiet place for students to complete homework, and are often open in the evening. Learn more about resources for students in Library Services for School-Aged Children.

19. Encourage your child to be responsible and work independently. Taking responsibility and working independently are important qualities for school success. You can help your child to develop these qualities by establish reasonable rules that you enforce consistently, making it clear to your child that he has to take responsibility for what he does, both at home and at school, showing your child how to break a job down into small steps, and monitor what your child does after school, in the evenings and on weekends. If you can't be there when your child gets home, give her the responsibility of checking in with you by phone to discuss her plans. Learn more in Encourage Responsibility, Independence, and Active Learning.

20. Encourage active learning. Children need active learning as well as quiet learning such as reading and doing homework. Active learning involves asking and answering questions, solving problems and exploring interests. Active learning also can take place when your child plays sports, spends time with friends, acts in a school play, plays a musical instrument or visits museums and bookstores. To promote active learning, listen to your child's ideas and respond to them. Let him jump in with questions and opinions when you read books together. When you encourage this type of give-and-take at home, your child's participation and interest in school is likely to increase.

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Overcoming Separation Anxiety on the First Day of School

Entering a new environment filled with unfamiliar people can cause anxiety for children -- and their parents! Find out how to overcome the separation anxiety that accompanies a child's first day of school.

What You Can Do Before School
Preparing your child for school before his first day can greatly reduce any separation anxiety your child may feel when you leave. Here are some ways to familiarize your child with his new environment:

# Introduce your child ahead of time to common school activities, such as drawing pictures or storytelling.

# Visit your child's classroom a few times before school starts to familiarize her with the space.

# Have your child meet his teacher.

Don't minimize the importance of easing your fears as well as your child's. If you feel guilty or worried about leaving her at school, your child will probably sense that. The more calm and assured you are, the more confident your child will be.

To prepare yourself for the upcoming tear-filled good-bye:

# Ask your child's teacher what her procedure is when children are crying for their parents. Make sure a school staff member is ready to help your child with the transfer from your care to the classroom.

# Find out how the school structures its daily schedule. Many preschools begin with a daily ritual, such as "circle time" (when teachers and children talk about what they did the day before, and that day's activities), to ease the move from home to school.

Tips for Tear-Free Goodbyes

Saying goodbye on that first day can be the hardest moment for parents and children. Here are five tips on how to ease the separation anxiety.

Reintroduce the teacher to your child. Allow them to form an initial relationship. Make it clear that you trust the teacher and are at ease with her watching your child.

# Bring a friend from home. Ask the teacher whether your child can bring along a stuffed animal to keep in her cubby in case she needs comforting. It shouldn't be her favorite one, though, because there's no guarantee it will come home in one piece. Other favorite choices include a family picture, a special doll, or a favorite blanket.

# When it's time to go, make sure to say good-bye to your child. Never sneak out. As tempting as it may be, leaving without saying good-bye to your child risks her trust in you.

# Once you say good-bye, leave promptly. A long farewell scene might only serve to reinforce a child's sense that preschool is a bad place.
Express your ease with leaving. Some parents wave from outside the classroom window or make a funny good-bye face.

# Don't linger. The longer you stay, the harder it is. Let your child know that you'll be there to pick her up, and say "See you later!" once she's gotten involved in an activity.

# Create your own ritual. One of the moms in Shanon Powers's class, in Kansas City, Missouri, says goodbye to her son the same way every day: She kisses him on the lips and gives him a butterfly kiss (her eyelashes on his cheek), and then they rub noses and hug. When the embrace is over, he knows it's time for her to go to work.

# Consider a reward system.< Linda Roos, of Scottsdale, Arizona, gave her kindergartner his own calendar. If he went to class without putting up a fuss, she put a smiley face on the calendar (otherwise, he got a sad face). On Friday, if he had five smiley faces, she made him a treasure hunt as a treat.

# Learn the other kids' names. When you can call your child's classmates by name ("Look, Matthew, there is a space at the train table with Eli and Katie"), it makes school seem much more familiar and safe.

Security Alert: Bringing Comfort Objects from Home

Being away from home for the first time isn't easy, so send your child off with a discreet little memento to help him handle it better.

# Leave the lovey at home: Get a T-shirt made with a picture of her Woofie or Teddy at

# Lunch-box love notes are a great way to let your child know you're thinking of her while she's at school.

# Little kid toys: He might not be allowed to take his favorite car into the classroom, but he can keep it safely in his backpack.

# Blanket statement: Cut a tiny piece off her blankie that she can keep in her pocket and touch when she needs a pick-me-up.

# Time will tell: His own digital watch will make him feel like a big boy, and he can look at it every so often to remind himself that you'll be picking him up soon!

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Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Day Care Center

Whether you choose a formal child-care center, family day care, or in-home care, there are some basic things you should know and insist upon. To help you make this all-important decision, we've talked to mothers and other experts who have been in the child-care trenches. Here are eight ways to size up a child-care option:

1. Look down. When you're visiting a potential site, pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children. Ideally, a caregiver should be on the floor playing with the kids or holding one on her lap. In their early years, babies need close, loving, interactive relationships with adults in order to thrive. That's why it's especially important that babies' first caregivers be warm and responsive, and that even in group care, infants and older babies get a healthy dose of one-on-one time. (Though individual states set their own staffing ratios for child-care facilities, the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically recommends a ratio of one adult for every three babies up to 24 months of age.)

2. Ask for a commitment. Babies need consistent, predictable care. It helps them to form a secure attachment to their caregivers, according to Debra K. Shatoff, a family therapist in private practice in St. Louis. If you're looking at an in-home caregiver, request that the person you're considering make a one-year commitment to the job. If you're considering a center, find out how long the current caregivers have been working there and how much turnover the center usually experiences.

3. Do a policy check. Find out whether you share parenting philosophies on topics such as discipline (Do the caregivers use time-outs, scoldings?); television (Is the TV on all day or used sparingly, if at all?); feeding (What snacks or drinks are provided for older babies?); sleeping (When are naps offered? How are fussy babies put to sleep?); and so forth. Inquire about the sick-child policy (What symptoms prevent a child from attending?). Also ask whether there's a backup plan should the family day-care provider or in-home caregiver get sick and be unable to work. The more questions you ask early on, the less likely you are to be unpleasantly surprised later.

4. Drop by and spy. While word-of-mouth referrals from other parents or trusted resources are important, you need to look at a place for yourself to assess whether it meets your needs. Of course, any child-care environment should be kept clean, childproofed, and well stocked with sturdy books and toys that are age-appropriate. Other details to consider: When older children share the space, toys with small parts (choking hazards) should be kept away from younger babies. Ideally, infants and babies should have their own area where they won't get "loved" too much by older toddlers. A room or separate area dedicated solely to swings and bouncers may look appealing at first glance, but keep in mind that growing babies need plenty of floor time to develop and strengthen their muscles. If possible, try to visit the same centers at different times of the day to get a sense of how the staff interacts with the children and what the routine is. You may want to consider popping in unannounced a few times after you've enrolled your child, just to see how things are going. Sometimes your visits will confirm that the place is right for you, but sometimes they'll be a real eye-opener.

5. Keep talking. Until your baby can talk, you will be relying on what the caregiver tells you about your child's day. Make sure you can communicate comfortably with each other. When you first hand off your child in the morning, you should tell the caregiver how your little one slept the night before, if he is teething, and whether he ate breakfast. At the end of the day you'll want to know similar information, such as the number of diapers he went through, when he napped, and if he seemed happy overall. It's always preferable to speak to the caregiver in person. If that's not possible, ask if there's a convenient time to phone, perhaps at nap time.

6. Problem-solve pronto. It's inevitable that you'll experience conflicts with your caregiver, both large and small. Address problems right away rather than ignoring them until they grow out of proportion. Some issues can be resolved quickly; others may require more discussion. Whatever the conflict, treat the caregiver in a respectful manner, but don't be afraid to speak up, says Deborah Borchers, MD, a pediatrician in private practice in Cincinnati. When broaching a difficult subject, ask the caregiver's opinion, and hear her out. As the parent, you have the final word with an in-home caregiver, but you're more likely to elicit cooperation if the caregiver knows she has been heard. For example, instead of demanding an earlier nap time to make bedtime easier, ask the caregiver if she has ideas about how to adjust your baby's schedule so he won't grow so overtired in the evening.

7. Trust your gut. Every parent knows when something doesn't feel quite right. You may be turned off by a center everyone in town raves about or clash with a highly recommended sitter. If that happens, keep searching. Babies deserve, and thrive under, good, nurturing care. If something just doesn't feel right about your situation, investigate other options.

8. Be open to change. You're not married to a particular person or situation, and if things don't work out, you can always make a switch. Yes, you want consistency for your baby, but that doesn't mean you can't alter arrangements. Babies are resilient; as long as they're having a positive experience with their new caregiver, they'll be just fine, points out Dr. Shatoff.

No matter what your work hours, you are still your child's essential caregiver -- the most consistent source of love and support in her life. Under your care and guidance, along with the help of your well-chosen caregivers, your baby will flourish and grow into a happy, healthy child.

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10 Ways to Promote Your Child’s Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is characterized by the way a child learns, acquires knowledge and interacts with his surrounding environment.  Different cognitive skills are acquired as a child meets certain developmental milestones, but a child of any ability will benefit from activities that promote active learning.  As a parent, you can encourage your child’s cognitive development in the areas of memory, concentration, attention and perception by incorporating simple activities into your everyday routine.

Here are 10 easy ways you can help your child’s cognitive development:

1. Sing-a-longs
Sing songs with your child and encourage him to sing along with you.  Play his favourite songs and music in the house and car regularly and he may eventually start singing along by himself.  This activity helps promote memory and word identification.

2. Identify Noises
Have your child identify noises that he hears throughout the day (i.e. a bird singing, a car horn, running water or the dishwasher).  He will begin to understand how sounds relate to objects in his everyday environment.

3. Practice the Alphabet
Help your child identify letters by singing along to the “Alphabet Song,” reading books about the alphabet and playing with alphabet puzzles.
Here is an example of an easy game to help your child learn his letters:

1. Cut out individual squares that feature each letter of the alphabet written in bright colours.
2. Mix them up and tape them on various surfaces in the house.
3. Go through the alphabet with your child and encourage him to search around the house to find the next letter and tape it to the wall in order.
4. When finished, leave the alphabet letters in order up on the wall until you’re ready to play the game again.

4. Practice Counting
Identify opportunities throughout the day to practice counting.  Count the number of shoes in your child’s closet when he gets dressed or the number of slides on the playground when you go to the park.  You may soon find that you’re counting everything!

5. Practice Shapes and Colors
Identify shapes and colours when interacting with your child.  You can say, “That is a round, blue ball,” when playing in the yard or “That sign is a red octagon” when pulling up to a stop sign.  As he gets older, you can ask him to describe objects to you.

6. Offer Choices
When you can, offer your child choices: “Would you like to wear the brown shorts or the blue shorts?” or “Would you like string cheese or yogurt with your lunch?”  This will help him to feel more independent and learn to make confident decisions that affect his day.

7. Ask Questions
Another way to help your child learn to think for himself is to ask him questions: “Which toy should we pick up first when we clean up the living room? Or “Why is it important to walk down the stairs slowly?”  Asking him questions helps him learn how to problem solve and better understand how his environment works.

8. Visit Interesting Places
Take trips to your local children’s museum, library or farmer’s market to stimulate his curiosity and provide him with “hand on” experiences.  Ask him questions while you explore and listen to his responses and reactions.  These adventures can provide a learning experience for both of you.

9. Play with Everyday Items
Playing with everyday household items is educational, fun and cost effective.  Encourage your child to match various-sized lids to their accompanying pots or have him look in a mirror and point to his nose, mouth, eyes, etc.

10. Offer a Variety of Games
Play a variety of games with your child to encourage problem solving and creativity.   If your child is younger, the two of you can build with blocks and play “Peek-a-Boo.”  As he gets older, you can engage him in board games, puzzles and play “Hide and Seek.”


How Can I Improve My Child's Reading?

Parents are more concerned about their child's progress in reading than in any other subject taught in school, and rightfully so.

In order for students to achieve in math, science, English, history, geography, and other subjects, reading skills must be developed to the point that most of them are automatic. Students cannot struggle with word recognition when they should be reading quickly for comprehension of a text.

Since reading is so important to success in school, parents can and should play a role in helping their children to become interested in reading and in encouraging their growth in reading skills.

What can parents do to help their preschoolers in the learning-to-read process?

Research shows that children learn about reading before they enter school. In fact, they learn in the best manner-through observation. Young children, for example, see people around them reading newspapers, books, maps, and signs.

Parents can do a lot to foster an understanding of print by talking with their preschoolers about signs in their environment and by letting their children know they enjoy reading themselves.

When reading to your preschooler, you should run your index finger under the line of print. This procedure is simple and helps children begin to notice words and that words have meaning. They also gain an awareness of the conventions of reading (e.g., one reads from left to right and from the top of the page to the bottom; sentences are made up of words; and some sentences extend beyond a single line of print).

What can I do for my school-age child who doesn't like to read?

In the early elementary years, from first through third grades, children continue learning how to read. It is a complex process, difficult for some and easy for others. Care must be taken during these early years not to overemphasize the learning-to-read process.

Reading for pleasure and information develops reading interests and offers children the opportunity to practice their reading skills in meaningful ways. Parents of elementary-age children should provide reading materials in the home that arouse curiosity or extend their child's natural interest in the world around them.

By encouraging and modeling leisure-time reading in the home, parents take the most important step in fostering their child's reading development.

How can reading research information be useful to me, as a parent?

Current research in reading reveals three important considerations for parents and teachers:

# Children who read, and read widely, become better readers.
# Reading and writing are complementary skills.
Parents are important to children both as role models and as supporters of their efforts.

What does research say about ways parents can help their children with reading?

The following suggestions have been beneficial to many parents:

Provide a good role model — read yourself and read often to your child.
Provide varied reading material — some for reading enjoyment and some with information about hobbies and interests.
Encourage activities that require reading — for example, cooking (reading a recipe), constructing a kite (reading directions), or identifying an interesting bird's nest or a shell collected at the beach (using a reference book).
Establish a reading time, even if it is only ten minutes a day.
Write notes to your school-age child; encourage written responses.
Ask your child to bring a library book home to read to a younger sibling.
Establish one evening a week for reading (instead of television viewing).
Encourage your child in all reading efforts.
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10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids

You probably wouldn't use old-school phrases like "Wait until your father gets home" or "I wish you were more like your sister" with your kids. But there are lots of less obvious ones that you should avoid, for their sake and yours.

1. "Great Job."

Research has shown that tossing out a generic phrase like "Good girl" or "Way to go" every time your child masters a skill makes her dependent on your affirmation rather than her own motivation, says Parents advisor Jenn Berman, Psy.D., author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. Save the kudos for when they're truly warranted, and be as specific as you can. Instead of "Super game," say, "That was a nice assist. I like how you looked for your teammate."

2. "Practice makes perfect."

It's true that the more time your child devotes, the sharper his skills will become. However, this adage can ramp up the pressure he feels to win or excel. "It sends the message that if you make mistakes, you didn't train hard enough," says Joel Fish, Ph.D., author of 101 Ways to Be a Terrific Sports Parent. "I've seen kids beat themselves up, wondering, 'What's wrong with me? I practice, practice, practice, and I'm still not the best.'" Instead, encourage your child to work hard because he'll improve and feel proud of his progress.

3. "You're okay."

When your child scrapes his knee and bursts into tears, your instinct may be to reassure him that he's not badly hurt. But telling him he's fine may only make him feel worse. "Your kid is crying because he's not okay," says Dr. Berman. Your job is to help him understand and deal with his emotions, not discount them. Try giving him a hug and acknowledging what he's feeling by saying something like, "That was a scary fall." Then ask whether he'd like a bandage or a kiss (or both).

4. "Hurry up!"

Your child dawdles over her breakfast, insists on tying her own sneakers (even though she hasn't quite mastered the technique yet), and is on pace to be late for school -- again. But pushing her to get a move on creates additional stress, says Linda Acredolo, Ph.D., coauthor of Baby Minds. Soften your tone slightly by saying, "Let's hurry," which sends the message that the two of you are on the same team. You can also turn the act of getting ready into a game: "Why don't we race to see who can get her pants on first?"

5. "I'm on a diet."

Watching your weight? Keep it to yourself. If your child sees you stepping on the scale every day and hears you talk about being "fat," she may develop an unhealthy body image, says Marc S. Jacobson, M.D., professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Nassau University Medical Center, in East Meadow, New York. It's better to say, "I'm eating healthy because I like the way it makes me feel." Take the same tack with working out. "I need to exercise" can sound like a complaint, but "It's beautiful outside -- I'm going to take a walk" may inspire her to join you.

6. "We can't afford that."

It's easy to use this default response when your child begs you for the latest toy. But doing so sends the message that you're not in control of your finances, which can be scary for kids, says Jayne Pearl, the author of Kids and Money. Grade-schoolers may also call you on this claim if you turn around and make an expensive household purchase. Choose an alternative way to convey the same idea, such as, "We're not going to buy that because we're saving our money for more important things." If she insists on discussing it further, you have a perfect window to start a conversation about how to budget and manage money.

7. "Don't talk to strangers."

This is a tough concept for a young child to grasp. Even if a person is unfamiliar, she may not think of him as a stranger if he's nice to her. Plus, kids may take this rule the wrong way and resist the help of police officers or firefighters whom they don't know, says Nancy McBride, executive director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Florida Regional Office, in Lake Park. Instead of warning her about strangers, bring up scenarios ("What would you do if a man you don't know offers you candy and a ride home?"), have her explain what she'd do, then guide her to the proper course of action. Since the vast majority of child-abduction cases involve someone a kid already knows, you might also adopt McBride's favorite safety mantra: "If anyone makes you feel sad, scared, or confused, you need to tell me right away."

8. "Be careful."

Saying this while your child is balancing on the monkey bars at the playground actually makes it more likely that he'll fall. "Your words distract him from what he's doing, so he loses focus," says Deborah Carlisle Solomon, author of Baby Knows Best. If you're feeling anxious, move close to spot him in case he takes a tumble, being as still and quiet as you can.

9. "No dessert unless you finish your dinner."

Using this expression increases a child's perceived value of the treat and diminishes his enjoyment of the meal itself -- the opposite of what you want to accomplish, says Parents advisor David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children's Hospital and author of Ending the Food Fight. Tweak your message along these lines: "First we eat our meal and then we have dessert." The wording change, though subtle, has a far more positive impact on your child.

10. "Let me help."

When your child is struggling to build a block tower or finish a puzzle, it's natural to want to give him a hand. Don't. "If you jump in too soon, that can undermine your child's independence because he'll always be looking to others for answers," says Myrna Shure, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at Drexel University in Philadelphia and author of Raising a Thinking Child. Instead, ask guiding questions to help him solve the problem: "Do you think the big piece or the little one should go at the bottom? Why do you think that? Let's give it a try."

Originally published in the April 2014 issue of Parents magazine.

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Preschool Teachers Are The Real MVPs

We all think it and possibly say it from time to time, but until you’re a parent yourself, it’s difficult to truly realise or appreciate the value of a great teacher. These special creatures are too rare not to acknowledge. Their constant efforts and insurmountable patience and love for the craft makes them the most valuable gift for our children, and for parents.

My son just entered his first year in preschool, and I still question how I became so lucky to have my son placed in one such teacher’s classroom. I’m sure there are some ignorant jerks out there thinking, “How difficult can it be to be a preschool teacher? It’s basically daycare.” I am giving you the middle finger and inviting you to GTFO.

Putting aside parental preference, and the choice of whether or not to place your little one in preschool, my son’s enrolment was necessary and crucial for him. This decision is unique to each family just as their situation is.

Of course, there are the known benefits of preparing our children for kindergarten, exposing them to an academically rich environment and encouraging important social, emotional, and behavioural development. The vital knowledge and skills acquired within these years help to build a foundation for continued learning. I’m not an expert, but I’m sure any teacher could “school” you and elaborate further on the various ways preschool greatly benefits and is advantageous for our children.

Taking all of these benefits into consideration, I found preschool to be critically important for my son. Suffering from a language and cognitive delay, preschool is necessary for him. Speech therapy is necessary. An environment with structure and specialised attention is necessary. Additional help and exposure to a learning atmosphere is necessary. Beyond anything else, an exceptional teacher is necessary.

In the short amount of time my son has been enrolled in preschool, he has shown tremendous growth and already made such a transformation. Without a doubt, I owe much of this success to his teacher. Here are a few reasons why our teacher is our hero:

1. Coordinator of Chaos
I would call this woman the definition of patience, but I think she exceeds any words used to describe this unique trait.

She manages 16 children all day, every day. I feel bad when thinking it’s a struggle to juggle the two toddlers I have, let alone 16. Always with a smile. Always happy. Always engaged. Always excited. She is their everything: teacher, mentor, role model, cheerleader, counsellor, protector. The list goes on and on.

Did I mention this is a special education classroom? Each child has a delay of some kind, each with different needs requiring an extremely unique specialisedapproach — five days a week, six hours a day, she does it all.

2. Partnership
Because she spends so much time with my child, I almost feel as though she knows him more than I do. She knows his personality and temperament, but most of all, she knows his limits and areas in which he needs improvement. I turn to her to clue me in and give me insight into my child’s progress and performance. I can’t see everything, and I value her input and feedback immensely.

It was unbelievably difficult for me to hand my child over to a stranger in a completely new environment. I needed to trust this person to care for my child and treat him as her own. I needed this person to help him progress, taking his delay into consideration. I needed this person to be cognizant of my son in a room full of other highly dependent children and observe him through a specialised lens. I rely on her background and training to best advise me on his progress and continued success. She has exceeded all of these expectations.

Do you know how reassuring this is for a mom? It is priceless.

3. Always on Call
A teacher’s schedule doesn’t have structured hours. Sure, time is built in outside of class time to attend to necessary tasks, but these extraordinary teachers don’t leave work at school. Many times they can be found grading, planning and prepping, and coaching parents outside of their normal hours.

Often, I’ll hear our teacher mention staying up until midnight researching or working on a project that the children are going to love. That’s all she cares about — the children. Not how tired she is or will be. Not spending this precious free time doing something unrelated to work or her job. No, she cares about her students, their happiness and continued success.

For us parents, she’s always available. Need to meet early or late to discuss your child’s progress or any issues or concerns? Never a hesitation. Never a conflict. She’s always kind, caring, and responsive.

This is not the case with every teacher, I know. Understanding they have a life outside of their job and school, I can’t expect a teacher to be available whenever I want them to be — yet she is, always keeping me informed throughout the day, sending along any important updates and information. With every worry running through my head, she puts my anxiety at ease.

4. A Gift From God
I do like to think we have the best teacher in the world, and for my son and our family, we do. I know there are other gems out there like her with the same passion and love to help guide our children, fresh and eager just as they were the day they began their teaching journey. They haven’t let the high demands, and red tape, and politics bring them down. They show up for their kids, despite the stress and gruelling hours. They are heroes — the real MVPs.

Just as my family and I are truly blessed to have this exceptional woman in our lives, so are the countless other families who have similar experiences. If you are as lucky as we are, please tell your teacher how much they mean to your family. Tell them how instrumental they are to your child’s education. Most of all, tell them “thank you” and share your gratitude. If nothing else, they at least deserve this.


10 Online Tools for Kids to Improve Writing Skills

Children’s creativity is endless. Little ones are able to imagine things that go beyond expectations. If kids engage in writing from an early age, they will be able to expand their creative potential. Children have a natural tendency to notice and observe the world around them; writing is a fun way for kids to express themselves and build skills at the same time!

Needless to say, it won’t be easy to teach a young one to write. It will take more than providing a piece of paper and a pencil, and leaving everything else to natural tendencies. This skill requires a lot of practice to be developed, so it would be best to start as early as possible. The following tools will help you make writing easier for your child.

1. JumpStart Essay Writing Activities

This online tool covers the basics of the essay writing process by showing children what each of the five paragraphs should to contain. Once your child makes enough progress, they can continue practicing with the Writing Worksheets that the site provides. There are five fun essay writing activities provided for free: Rules of Writing an Essay, Essay on Twin Towers Devastation, Autobiography of My Favorite Thing, Picture Writing, and Essay on Mom.

2. Interactive Sites for Education

This website provides fun resources that teach young children how to write and understand written content. The lessons are taught through short cartoons and interactive exercises. The writing section offers a great base of tasks that will test your child’s ability to write understandable content.

3. ReadWriteThink Student Interactives

Interactive activities are an important part of the learning process. This website provides effective exercises for grades K-12.  Preschool age children can also benefit from this tool using their Story Map and Learning About Language games.

4. Teen Ink

This is an awesome website dedicated to the art of writing. It offers resources on fiction, poetry, nonfiction, art, and photography. In addition, Teen Ink  provides summer programs and camps for teenagers. The essays featured on the website provide inspiration for learners who want to improve their writing skills.

5. Essay Mama

EssayMama offers great tips and guides on writing, as well as fun articles that inspire children to express their own thoughts in written form.

6. Teach the Children Well

This isn’t the most visually stunning website, but that doesn’t make it any less useful for parents and instructors. A list of links guides you to online resources that will be useful at any stage of the learning process. You can explore the basic steps of research, character development, the 5-paragraph essay, picture book projects, the 3-step creative writing process, and much more. You will also find awesome games that teach writing through fun activities.

7. Time4Writing – Free Writing Resources

This is a mandatory website for parents and educators who want to teach writing effectively. You will find links to resources organized in seven categories: Writing Skills, Writing Sentences, Writing Paragraphs, Writing Essays, Writing Mechanics, Standardized Testing Writing, and Teaching Writing. Some of the most useful tools this website provides are the graphic organizers and fun exercises for each category.

8. Kids Essays

This website provides a collection of simple essays, short paragraphs, project works, poems, and speeches for children. You will find great essay topics for kids ages 6-10. Try assigning some of these topics on a regular basis and you’ll see how your child makes step-by-step progress. Each sample comes with an assigned target age group, so you won’t confuse your learner with content that’s too complicated for them to understand.

9. MyKidsWay – Essay Writing

Good sample essays for young children are not easy to locate. This website is a great source of content in four categories: narrative, persuasive, expository, and descriptive essays. Start with the featured essays, then dig deeper to find inspiration on different topics.  When your child starts writing more, encourage them to take part in the site’s weekly essay contest. Winners are published in the mini essays section.

10. Hemingway Editor

As your child makes progress in the art of essay writing, it might be difficult for them to limit the thoughts that they put on paper in a clean sentence. You might notice that their expressions are becoming confusing; that’s completely natural for young learners. Hemingway Editor is a great tool you can use in such situations. It analyzes the sentence and provides a readability score. In addition, you will see all confusing sentences highlighted in yellow and red. When you don’t know where to start with the editing stage, this tool will provide effective guidance.


How to Help Your Kid Succeed in a Dual-Language Program

Parent involvement is an important element for success in a dual-language program. We have some tips on ways you can help your child.
When it came time to decide our child's educational future, the choices were overwhelming: Private school, charter school, public school, or homeschool (at least we pretended homeschool was an option). But after experiencing the money and time constraints of a private school during preschool, we decided to send our daughter to public school for kindergarten. Upon submitting the necessary paperwork to the district office, though, we learned we had another choice to make: Should we enroll her in the district's dual-language program?

Dual-language programs are gaining popularity throughout the U.S., and the benefits reach beyond the acquisition of a second language. Cultural awareness, greater capacity for listening, and more creative and analytical thinking skills are some additional benefits of these programs. "Students in immersion programs may display a lag on standardized test scores, but usually score on grade level by around grade three and frequently above grade level by the end of grade five," says Lori Langer de Ramirez, a bilingual educator and author of Voices of Diversity: Stories, Activities and Resources for the Multicultural Classroom.

As a monolingual parent with four years of Spanish-language classes under my belt, I thought I'd sail through the first few years of homework from our daughter's dual-language program. I was wrong. The first year proved to be a struggle—not just for me, but for our daughter as well. Here are five things I learned along the way that might help other parents just starting their child's dual-language journey.

Accept that you are enrolled in the program too.
Effective dual-language programs cultivate an inclusive school environment and require the parents, teachers, and students to work closely together. During back-to-school night, the teacher reviewed a triangle diagram, placing the three components at each corner of the triangle. Prior to enrolling her in the dual-language program, I knew it would require our involvement; however, my initial perception was similar to parental involvement in a traditional education environment. Once again I was wrong. The saying, "it takes a village to raise a child" comes to mind. In a study conducted by the University of Nebraska Foreign Language and Psychology departments, a team of Ph.D. researchers concluded: "it is likely that the programs that do best will be those that encourage parents to not only participate but to lead." Volunteer in your child's classroom, join the PTA, and attend school functions. Demonstrating your enthusiasm for being a part of the school culture will encourage your child to be involved as well.

Pass notes (to the teacher).
Some dual-language programs use a model method for the first few years. The primary teacher models and solely uses the partner language (in my daughter's case, Spanish), effectively teaching the students to speak to her in that language. The supplemented language, typically English, is taught by another teacher. Initially, communicating with the Spanish-speaking teacher was difficult. That was until I volunteered in the classroom. Not wanting to speak English in front of the students, the teacher left me notes of instruction. That's when the light bulb went off: I could also pass notes to her. When I needed clarification on a homework assignment, I wrote the teacher a note. But keep in mind that this mode of communication will only work until your child learns to read. By that point, email will become your friend, or you may have developed enough language skills yourself to communicate in person.

Find ways to make it part of your daily life.

Stealing vocabulary from your child's homework will help you make the language a part of her daily home life. Beth Butler, bilingual educator and founder of the internationally acclaimed Boca Beth language learning series, says "weaving your own knowledge of Spanish vocabulary words and phrases as you go through your day is beneficial" to your child's language development. "Saying the English word, then the Spanish word for one object is highly recommended."

Make it fun.

Access to technology will be your saving grace. Chontelle Bonfiglio, Australian mom, certified ESL teacher, and blogger at Bilingual Kidspot, offers practical advice for monolingual parents seeking to raise bilingual children: "Use Google, download apps, watch quality Spanish TV programs or movies, and make it fun."

During our daughter's first grade year, we learned that she was significantly behind her peers in sight word recognition skills. We practiced them nightly, but she still struggled. Sharing our frustrations with the teacher, she suggested using the sight words to play Bingo. The game allows your child to associate the sound of a word with the visual.

Emphasize the benefits.

It's important for your child to understand and appreciate the benefits of a dual-language program. Find opportunities to reinforce what she's learning. When you're in public with your child, identify the use of another language. Is it a store clerk that is able to help someone in another language? Or perhaps they are able to make more friends because they have learned to communicate in a language other than English?

When you show that you've bought into the program, your child will follow suit and be more apt to make the extra effort to buy in herself.

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Buttercup publishing, Bologna Children Book Fair 2017

Bologna Children Book Fair is the world’s leading children’s publishing event. It was held from 3rd April to 6th April 2017 at the Bologna Fair Centre in Bologna, Italy. This event showcased like chances to discover the latest market trends in the book industry, to meet the most important illustrators, authors etc. in the book industry. it provides unique copyright business marketplace and an accurate picture of the latest international trends in the children’s books publishing industry.Buttercup Publishing was a part of this event is in its 53rd edition with this year’s motto “Fuel the imagination”. It was incredible to witness the latest trends in children’s publishing in Italy as well as internationally. It would be apt to say that this was a great market opportunity and an enriching cultural event.

Buttercup publishing, The London Book Fair 2017

Attending and participating in London Book Fair is always a memorable event, and this year was no different. We had a fantastic time at The London Book Fair (LBF) 2017. All the budding publishing houses and writers communicating their love for books and so much creativity under one huge roof was a treat indeed. If you didn’t meet us at London Book Fair, then you may catch us at The Bologna Book Fair later this year, details are on our website: We look forward to sharing our portfolio and participation in other events with you.

Improving Kids' Social Skills

Learn about the social milestones your child should have at different ages and the activities that can help enhance social development.

Not all kids need help with the same social skills, and what your child needs practice with could vary, depending on her age. "It's important to know the normal developmental skills appropriate for different age groups so you can determine where the help is needed," says Susan Diamond, M.A., a speech-language pathologist and author of Social Rules for Kids. The proper social skills that need to be taught can be divided into three stages: determining the social skills that need development, figuring out ways to teach the skills, and reinforcing lessons with the right resources. We'll take you through all three stages and offer examples on how a child struggling with general shyness and social anxiety can become a friendly kid who's comfortable and ready to handle any social situations.

Determining the Stages of Social Development

In general, kids will have developed certain social skills and social cues by these ages:

2- to 3-year-olds: able to seek attention from others, initiate social contact with others both verbally (saying "Hi" and "Bye") and physically, look at a person who's talking, have the ability to take turns talking, and laugh at silly objects and events.

3- to 4-year-olds: are able to take turns when playing games, treat a doll or stuffed animal as though it's alive, and initiate verbal communication with actual words.

4- to 5-year-olds: are able to show more cooperation with children, use direct requests (like "Stop"), are more prone to tattling, and pretend to be Mom or Dad in fantasy play.

5- to 6-year-olds: are able to please their friends, say "I'm sorry," "Please," and "Thank you," understand bad words and potty language, are more strategic in bargaining, play competitive games, and understand fair play and good sportsmanship.

6- to 7-year-olds: are able to empathize with others (like crying at sad things), are prone to sharing, use posture and gestures, wait for turns and are better losers and less likely to place blame, joke more and listen to others tell their points of view, and maintain and shift/end topics appropriately. At this age, however, they still can't understand the clear difference between right and wrong, and may not take direction well.

Improving Social Development

Playdates are a crucial part of growing up, but kids with social issues can have a hard time making plans. "Having a playdate is a great way to introduce your child to the concept of using rules when a friend comes over and to teach him how to be polite to guests," Diamond says. Discuss ahead of time any situation that could be uncomfortable. "Write a plan beforehand. Go over all the different things the kids can do together, and then have your kid offer his guest three activities to pick from. Have them take turns picking activities from there, to avoid fights and to help teach compromise," Diamond says. "Talk about what you think will happen, what could possibly happen. You can even role-play and practice greetings and manners. If it's necessary, write a script to help reduce your child's stress."

To enhance your child's social development further, Lawrence Balter, Ph.D., child psychologist and parenting expert, suggests the four strategies below.

Teach empathy: Run through different scenarios by asking your child how other people might feel when certain things happen, and substitute different situations each time.

Explain personal space: Tell your child that it's important for everyone to have some personal space to feel comfortable, and practice acceptable ways to interact with someone during playtime.

Practice social overtures: Teach kids the proper way to start a conversation, get someone's attention, or join a group of kids who are already playing together. These are all situations that can be discussed and brainstormed at the dinner table, or in the car on the way to school or activities.

Go over taking turns: Sit with your child for at least an hour a day and play with him to explain what it means to wait, take turns, and share.

Reinforcing Specific Social Skills

Activities and games can provide additional help in developing specific skills, and you can reinforce your child's social development and interaction by playing The Name Game and Follow the Leader. Researchers Sandra Sandy and Kathleen Cochran developed The Name Game to help young children learn the importance of getting someone's attention before speaking. Have kids sit in a circle and give one kid a ball. Ask him to name another child in the circle, and roll the ball to that child. The recipient then takes his turn, naming another child and rolling the ball, and so on. The classic Follow the Leader game teaches kids about taking turns and practicing patience. Designate either yourself or your child as the leader, and have the follower(s) mimic the leader's actions.

Dr. Diamond recommends these other activities for recognizing particular social cues:

For nonverbal skills: Help kids recognize facial expressions and body language by watching kid-friendly TV shows with the sound off and observe what characters are doing and what certain movements might mean. (Just make sure to follow the media guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests that kids watch TV for a maximum of two hours a day.) "Predict what you think they're saying, and really start [observing] facial gestures," Diamond says. "You can also look through magazines and make collages with different facial expressions, and talk about what the people in those photos might be saying."

For tone: To help kids differentiate a range of tones, "use a tape recorder and record different emotions in your voice and ask your child what they are, then explain how meaning changes with voice change," Diamond recommends. For example, try recording phrases like "I'm angry!" in a loud, empathic voice, and "I feel so sad" in a soft, low, dejected voice.

For attention span If your child has trouble staying on point, pick a topic and say three sentences -- two related to the topic and one random. Then ask your child to pick the sentence that's off-topic. For example, bring up the family dog. Talk about how long he played outside today and what he did at the dog park, and then say something about the weather. Ask your kid to differentiate between the different sentences. "Also, at the dinner table, have your kid keep track of how many times the topic changes during dinner," Diamond suggests.

There are plenty of good apps available that reinforce social skills. "Model Me Going Places" allows kids to look at photos of other children modeling appropriate behavior in certain situations (the hairdresser, doctor, playground), "Responding Social Skills" teaches kids how to respond to others and how to understand others' feelings, and "Small Talk" presents conversation fillers for awkward social moments. But if your child still seems to have difficulty keeping up with the skills she should be developing for her age group, it may be time to give her a little help. "Some children have problems with impulse control and self regulation; some have a problem with processing information," Dr. Balter says. "These issues can lead to [kids] having awkward interactions with peers." So if social issues cause your child fear or make him feel isolated, seek help from your pediatrician or another child expert, such as a therapist.

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8 Surprising Ways to Boost Your Child’s Confidence Before a Test

Many students experience test anxiety. But kids with learning and attention issues may need an extra confidence boost to keep stress and self-doubt at bay on test day. These surprising tips might do the trick.

1 Turn up the power tunes.

We all know that music can be relaxing. But research suggests it can also be empowering. Listening to high-volume, bass-heavy songs tends to put people in a more powerful frame of mind. Have your child create a playlist of songs that make her feel strong and energized. She can listen on the way to school or between periods before a test.

Of course, hearing “We Will Rock You” won’t guarantee an A. But it might give your child the confidence surge she needs to do her best.

2 Reach for a star.

Liking a celebrity is one thing. Feeling that you know him or have something in common is even better. Research shows identifying with a star may actually help boost confidence and self-esteem. Tell your child about famous people with learning and attention issues, and read about them together.

Then, help her practice positive self-talk: “Justin Timberlake has ADHD and it didn’t stop him from becoming a famous musician and actor. If I focus on studying, I can do well on this test.”

3 Strike a power pose.

Researchers have found that when people make themselves “small” by slouching or crossing their arms, they actually feel less confident about the task ahead of them. Early studies show that the opposite may be true when they stretch out and make themselves “large.”

Show your child two “power poses” that she can do before school or at recess on test day. Have her hold her arms wide and high above her head for two minutes. Or sit back in a chair with her hands behind her head and feet up on a desk.

4 Grab a lucky charm.

It’s not just superstition. Research suggests that carrying some kind of lucky token can actually build confidence and relieve anxiety. People who had their lucky charms with them performed better and set higher goals for themselves than people who didn’t. If your child doesn’t already have a lucky charm, you can give her one to take with her on test day.

Also, make sure to wish her good luck. Research also shows that even something that simple can make a difference in how confident she feels.

5 Go for the “aww” factor.

It may sound too easy. But research shows that when we see cute images, we concentrate better. Studies show that looking at pictures of baby animals during a task can actually make people more productive. Have your child print a color photo of a puppy, kitten or other adorable baby animal. She can pop it in her backpack or save it to her phone. Then right before the test, she can sneak a peek.

6 Make an “I did it!” list.

Research backs it up: Success really does breed success. So remembering past achievements may boost your child’s confidence before she tackles a new challenge. Brainstorm together a list of her big and small triumphs. These might include scoring a goal, getting a good grade on a paper or making a new friend. Write them down, and encourage her to review them at bedtime the week before the test.

Even if the test doesn’t go well, recalling those successes can help her realize she has lots of other strengths.

7 Sit up straight.

Your grandmother may have told you that sitting up straight improves posture. But research suggests it may have another benefit. A study of college students showed that the ones who sat up straight in a job interview were more likely to believe in positive statements about themselves.

Have your child test this theory in advance when she’s doing homework or quizzing herself. And on test day, remind her that sitting taller can help her believe in herself.

8 Smile!

Smiling is a sign of happiness. But researchers have found that smiling can also be an instant stress-reducer by slowing people’s heart rates during anxiety-producing situations.

Help your child practice fake-smiling while she’s doing something stressful. It could be competing in a talent show, trying out for a sport or simply being quizzed at home before a test. Then, remind her on test day to give herself and her teacher a big grin!

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Developing children’s writing skills

If you’ve ever struggled with writing an essay, composing the perfect letter or brushing up on your CV, you can imagine how much more difficult the writing process would be if you were a 5-year-old whose total writing experience is mastering your first name and whose vocabulary is limited to the phrases ‘once upon a time’ and ‘the end’.

Writing, like any other skill, is something that has to be honed over time with plenty of opportunities for practice.  But even before you can expect your children to put pencil to paper, there are certain essential building blocks that need to be in place in order to help them write with ease and fluency.

The majority of schools teach phonics from reception through to year 2. Regular 15 minute synthetic phonics lessons enable children to write independently by helping them identify the individual sounds in words and distinguish between the ‘ph’ in phone and the ‘f’ in fox as an example.  When children feel confident that they can sound out a whole host of words, they can finally put their ideas down without fear of making spelling mistakes or being overly reliant on their teachers.

With phonetic knowledge in place, children then need to get a really good sense of story and other writing structures so they can begin to make use of the creative ideas they have gleaned from their favourite movies or books.  A technique that is growing in popularity with teachers and schools is the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach advocated by writer, poet and educational consultant Pie Corbett.

A former teacher, Head teacher and Ofsted Inspector, Corbett has written and edited over 250 books and runs training and development projects for the national strategy, education authorities and schools focusing on the area of children’s literacy.

‘Talk for Writing’ focuses on the three ‘I’s’ listed below:

1. Imitation – experiencing and learning a text orally.
2. Innovation – adapting the text to create something new.
3. Invention – drawing on the internal bank of texts to make up something totally new.

A year 2 teacher might use the following process with a picture book like Little Beauty by Anthony Browne:

1. Read the story repeatedly to children and they acted out parts of the story in pairs, drew story maps and made puppets of characters before writing the story out.
2. Children make new story maps changing one element of the story such as the setting or characters and write this new version.
3. Using their knowledge of story structure children create an entirely new story.

While the support of teachers and parents can have an immeasurable impact on children’s writing, there are things that children themselves can do to aid their progress.

Blogging, texting and social network interaction pave the way for motivated and confident writers, according to a survey by the National Literacy Trust.

A survey of 3,001 children aged nine to 16 found that 24% had their own blog and 82% sent text messages at least once a month.

47% of children surveyed who didn’t have exposure to blogs or social networking sites rated their writing as “good” or “very good”, a much lower figure than those who blogged at 61% and social network users at 56%.

“Our research suggests a strong correlation between kids using technology and wider patterns of reading and writing,” Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, told BBC News.

“Engagement with online technology drives their enthusiasm for writing short stories, letters, song lyrics or diaries.”

And what of those children who already have good writing skills but still find themselves to be reluctant writers? There are a number of different ways that under-confident writers can be creatively engaged into the writing process.  Reward children with book vouchers or special pens, for example, when they have completed a good piece of writing.

Additionally, take into consideration that boys and girls have different writing preferences. The former may be more interested in writing about science fiction or historical characters, while the latter may find inspiration writing traditional fairytales. The Lancashire Grid For Learning has developed four Boys’ Writing Projects since 2004. Topics vary widely and, although these examples may be gender stereotypical, it’s important to find the one particular topic or angle that will fire a child’s enthusiasm for writing, an idea that Corbett agrees with:

“We know that there needs to be that initial moment of inspiration – an event, observation, or experience – that acts as a catalyst.  After that, the writer’s craft hones and shapes the story, allowing the characters, setting and plot to speak to the reader.”
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Frankfurt Book Fair 2016 Preview

The Frankfurt Book Fair (which runs October 19–23 this year) will always be a book fair. But as technology has presented new opportunities for publishers, authors, and creators, the fair’s organizers have smartly expanded its professional program over the past decade to bring in other sectors of the creative economy, including film, games, and now the art world. For 2016, the Frankfurt Book Fair has partnered with media entrepreneur and art collector Christiane zu Salm to launch a new platform called the Arts+ that will bring speakers and attendees together in Frankfurt to discuss “new business models and synergies” between the arts and technology.

“While the book fair has traditionally focused on books, our expansion into film, television, gaming, and now fine arts and architecture shows the fluidity of the creative world,” says Frankfurt Book Fair v-p Holger Volland Volger. “Just like with music, film, and literature, the fine art world is being disrupted. From the sharing economy impacting art ownership to the types of art that is being created, the cultural market is in flux and the merging of art and technology is forging a new future.”

The Arts+ platform will feature a one-day program on October 19, with a range of speakers, including a keynote interview with legendary British artist David Hockney. In addition, the Arts+ platform will occupy some 2,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, where visitors will be able to experience virtual reality and 3-D art, learn more about digital platform providers, and attend workshops, labs, and presentations that will run throughout the fair.

Cautious Optimism

Over a decade that has included a global recession and an ongoing digital revolution, the Frankfurt Book Fair’s willingness to engage many creative sectors and to reorganize parts of the fair appear to paying off. Attendance at the 2015 fair actually rose modestly over 2014, about 2.3%, and Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos said 2015 was “the busiest and most successful book fair in years.”

In 2016, global challenges remain, but there is again cause for optimism. Last year, fair organizers took a bit of a gamble by closing Hall 8, the traditional home of English-language publishers, moving them to a new space in Hall 6. But the move came off without a hitch and was very well received: not only did it put English-language publishers closer to the Literary Agents & Scouts Centre (LitAg), reducing the time spent trekking to meetings, but it infused the fair with energy and led to more chance meetings in the aisles by attendees. “Exhibitors from all the different regions told me the same thing time and again in our personal talks,” Boos said of the fair’s restructuring—that the move strengthened “a feeling of togetherness” in the industry.

Now in its third year, the Frankfurt Business Club has also hit its stride. After a nice jump in attendance over 2014, the club’s uneven first year, attendees gave the 2015 experience mostly positive reviews. Frankfurt organizers are expecting an even better experience in 2016. The Business Club offers fairgoers a premium experience, including a program of exclusive events, and a comfortable place to conduct business, especially vital for attendees who want to explore opportunities with publishers but don’t need a booth on the show floor.

The prefair opening conference—the Markets (which replaced ConTec in 2014, and prior to that, Tools of Change)—will also be back, on October 19, showcasing publishing markets from seven regions around the world. And after a yearlong hiatus, the Publishing Perspectives stage is also back, featuring a full slate of short, engaging talks with movers and shakers in the publishing world.

Of course, rights remain the lifeblood of the Frankfurt Book Fair. And after record participation in a redesigned LitAg in 2015, Frankfurt organizers say all 460 tables are again sold-out. In addition, the fair in 2016 is offering a workspace for publishers. The Publishers’ Rights Corner will be located immediately next to the LitAg and will be open to the staff of rights departments on October 18 for meetings with editors and publishers.

For more information and specific programs, check out the Frankfurt Book Fair website—and once again, you can follow all the action from Frankfurt through PW’s show dailies, available in print at the show, as well as on the PW website.

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Two Techniques For Managing The Behaviors Of An Aggressive Child

When a kid hits, yells, screams, or bites, many parents view the behavior through one of two lenses: It’s indicative of a deep-seated anger issue or desperation for catharsis. According to Alan Kazdin, PhD, Yale University Professor of Child Psychology, those are mid-century perspectives that modern research has debunked. A seemingly angry kid won’t necessarily become an angry adult, and in all likelihood, won’t be a great athlete either. In fact, a seemingly angry kid may not be angry at all.

“We really don’t need the old views anymore because they haven’t helped, and they haven’t been supported,” Kazdin explains. “Many people who are angry do not hit walls. The issue has to do with all kinds of other things.”

Kazdin, who serves as the director of the Yale Parenting Center, points out that childhood violence can be caused by issues with the brain circuits for impulsiveness or the fact that engaging in (or watching) aggressive behavior triggers the same rewards systems adults tickle with drugs, sex, and food. It could even be that the behaviors have genetic links, exacerbated by corporal punishment or violent media. Having worked with kids he characterizes as “the most aggressive and the most violent children possible,” Kazdin is as focused on parental inputs as children’s violent outputs.

“If your partner has 20 wonderful traits, and one annoying little thing, you’re focusing on that. That’s normal,” he explains. “The parent is missing endless opportunities to run up and say, ‘You’ve been great so far today,’ and pat them on the head.”

Research rejects the idea that positive reinforcement is some sort of “hippie layover.” The notion that kids are soft because they receive too much praise may contain an unsubtle, unscientific insight: Hard kids can be softened with compliments.

“If you want your kid to stop hitting the wall, we can almost guarantee that punishing hitting the wall is going to do zip,” says Kazdin. “On the other hand, praising the child for not doing that works.”

Another technique is to leverage simulation, a technique Kazdin uses with the most explosive children he works with. Kazdin’s simulations work by role-playing a triggering scenario. The kid is then coached to respond to the role-play with an appropriate behavior, like crossed arms and an angry scowl. When they do respond correctly, specific praise is given. Slowly, the reaction can be crafted and honed. Reactions require practice, and in a sense, muscle memory.

“The key to changing the behavior of a child is not having the child ‘understand.’ That’s ridiculous,” says Kazdin. “They need to practice the behavior repeatedly. We can’t get you to play Rachmaninoff by explaining how Rachmaninoff works.”

What’s more, with this approach, behavioral practice brain scans show actual changes in the brain as the kid gets better.

Still, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution and some kids do exhibit violent or disruptive behavior that is part of a larger issue that warrants more aggressive intervention. “The warning sign is a complaint from someone else,” says Kazdin. “It will often be the school. It’s about impairment. Any time a behavior is interfering with functioning in daily life.” If the behavior is truly worrisome, Kazdin suggests that parents take their children to the pediatrician. Nearly half of pediatric visits are for behavioral issues, which makes family doctors the first line of defense in catching intervention-worthy behaviors. That’s a good news because medical professionals generally don’t cling to outdated ideas of how to handle violent behavior.

Like Kazdin, they keep up with research and look for results. They’re not infallible, but they’re focused on not making the same mistakes twice or giving in to bad impulses.

“Science isn’t for everybody,” Kazdin laughs. “What can you do? I’m doing my best.”

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10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for School

Starting school can be a difficult time for children. Every child is hesitant to go somewhere new and see people she's never met before. Here are some helpful ways to prepare your child for her first day of school:

1. Let your child know what his schedule will be like. Tell him what time school begins and ends each day.

2. Ask your child about her feelings -- both the excitement and the concerns -- about starting school.

3. Visit the school with your child to see his new classroom and meet his new teacher before school officially starts.

4. Point out the positive aspects of starting school. It will be fun and she can make new friends.

5. Let your child know that all kids are nervous about the first day of school.

6. Leave a note in your child's lunchbox that will remind him you're thinking of him while he's at school.

7. Reassure your child that if any problems arise at school, you will be there to help resolve them.

8. Try to have your child meet a classmate before the first day of school so she will already have a friend when school starts.

9. Arrange for your child to walk to school or ride together on the bus with another kid in the neighborhood.

10. Find out about after-school activities that your child can join. Will there be a back-to-school party? Can she join a sports team?