Think twice before tracking your kids, says University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Joel Michael Reynolds.

LOWELL, Massachusetts: The use of self-tracking and personal surveillance technologies has grown considerably over the last decade.

There are now apps to monitor people’s movement, health, mindfulness, sleep, eating habits and even sexual activity.

Some of the more thorny problems arise from apps designed to track others, like those made for parents to track their kids.

For example, there are specific apps that allow parents to monitor their child’s GPS location, who they call, what they text, which apps they use, what they view online and the phone number of their contacts.

As a bioethicist who specialises in the ethics of emerging technologies, I worry that such tracking technologies are transforming prudent parenting into surveillance parenting.

Here are three reasons why.

COMPANIES ARE TRACKING FOR PROFIT

The first reason has to do with concerns over the tech itself.

Tracking apps are not primarily designed to keep children safe or help with parenting. They are designed to make money by gathering loads of information to be sold to other companies.

A 2017 report from a marketing research firm estimates that self-monitoring technologies for health alone will reach gross revenues of US$71.9 billion by 2022.

The lion’s share of the profit is not in the device itself, but in the data drawn from its users.

To get as much data as they can, these apps work hard to keep one constantly using them via push notifications and other design techniques.

This data is then often sold to other companies – including advertising agencies and political campaign firms. The primary aim of these devices is not people’s well-being, but the profit that can be made off of their data.

When parents track children, they help companies maximise their profits. Should a child’s information become de-anonymised and fall into the wrong hands, this could put one’s child at risk.

RISKS OF LEAKING PRIVATE DATA

There are also significant privacy risks.

A 2014 study by the security firm Symantec found that even devices that do not appear to be traceable can still be tracked wirelessly, as a result of insufficient privacy features.

That same year, a study by computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that many Android mobile health applications, for example, send unencrypted information over the Internet. Nearly all of these apps monitor one’s location.

Researchers at MIT and the Catholic University of Louvain found that just four time-stamped locations could uniquely identify 95 per cent of individuals, making promises of anonymity hollow.

Information related to people’s whereabouts can reveal valuable data about them. In the case of children, their tracking data could very easily be used by someone else.

IT CAN BREAK TRUST

Another reason why tracking one’s child is worrisome has to do with the risk of breaking their trust.

Social scientists have shown that trust is central to close relationships, including healthy parent-child relationships. It is necessary for the development of commitment and feelings of security. A child’s sense of personal privacy is a crucial component of this trust.

A 2019 study shows monitoring a child can undermine the sense of trust and bonding. In fact, it can become counterproductive to the point of pushing the child further towards rebellion.

This risk, I would argue, is perhaps far more serious than those leading parents to track their children in the first place.

A FEW EXCEPTIONS

While I think that tracking one’s child is often unethical, there are some cases where it may be warranted.

If a parent has good reasons to suspect that their child is suicidal, involved in violent extremism, or engaged in other activities that threaten their life or that of others, the best course of action may involve breaking trust, invading privacy and monitoring the child.

But those are the exceptions, not the rule. Think twice before tracking your kids.


The little wiggly worms and jumping beans are wiggly and jumping for an actual reason and developmentally it’s near impossible for primary school and pre-school aged children to sit still.

Asking your child to sit still seems part and parcel with being a parent. As they wiggle their way around the couch, car, at the dinner table, at the movies or as they kick the seat of the passenger in front on them on the plane, bus or train, 99 percent of parents all around the world ask, “can’t you just sit still?” While simultaneously apologising to whoever they have inadvertently hurt (or annoyed).

It turns out though the answer is, NO, they Can’t

The little wiggly worms and jumping beans are wiggly and jumping for an actual reason and according to research (and lots of it not only is it developmentally near impossible for primary school and pre-school aged children to sit still), it can actually have a negative impact on their learning.

Parenting educator, former teacher and author, Michael Grose says, “little kids aren’t designed for sitting for long periods of time” and movement is actually an important part of their “brain development.”

“Movement actually stimulates the brain at this age, it goes hand in hand,” Grose told Kidspot. Anatomically, movement actually helps the brain to work. Because movement creates more oxygen and blood flow to the brain it creates more optimal function. It also releases chemicals that promote focus, memory, motivation and mood; all fundamental in the art of learning.

The first sensory systems to mature in humans are actually those in charge of the cerebellum (motor activity) and the vestibular (spatial orientation). Simply put, we are wired to learn by moving and interacting with our environment, not by sitting still.

Movement Can Help Learning

Movement also assists primary school and pre-school aged children with learning because it engages more of the brain in the learning process, creating arousal or the “lighting up” of the brain says Grose. This allows learning to be more productive and for children to retain more information.

Movement can be a range of things from moving from one space to another in a classroom, going outside for a period of time, using blocks or other tangible objects that can be touched as a part of the learning, singing a song with matching movements or even a game of Simon Says. The use of “kinaesthetic learning or learning by movement engages children in learning and it makes sense to them,” Grose explained.

According to a 2016 Paediatrics study : “Physical activity especially physical education, improves classroom behaviors and benefits several aspects of academic achievement, especially mathematics-related skills [and] reading.”

“Learning isn’t just from the classroom”

As we know learning isn’t just from the classroom either, it is from the world around us so getting out and moving around can help us learn in whole new way and teach us a whole new set of things.

Not only does movement encourage effective learning it can also assist in reducing behavioural issues that impact learning because it “gets rid of the wriggles.” Physical activity makes children less fidgety and more on task. So, when children do need to sit still and concentrate for a particular activity, like listening to a story, they can.

Playing or physical activity from walking, non-competitive ball games, stretching, a rough and tumble game of football, digging in a sand pit, negotiating the monkey bars or building a cubby house, is also learning and the importance of that should not be underestimated for many reasons, including biologically. Research shows that physical play allows children to make mistakes, handle stress, conflict resolution, social skills, emotional intelligence, it is also a proven elevator of mood.

An additional benefit of movement for learning is with children with additional needs, “particularly those on the Autism spectrum” Michael says. There is also evidence to show great benefit of movement to children who suffer from dyslexia with improvements in dexterity, reading and verbal communication.

So, with movement being so fundamental to children with a wide variety of needs and to their learning “switching things up” and “not having kids sitting for too long”, as Grose encourages, is incredibly important even if the wiggly worms and jumping beans occasionally drive us a tad insane.


There isn’t a set recipe for parents on how to raise a successful child. However, research points to several factors that could help.

Most parents want their kids to stay out of trouble, do well in school, and go on to live successful lives as adults.

And while there isn’t a set recipe for raising successful children, psychology research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success.

Unsurprisingly, much of it comes down to the parents. Keep reading to take a look at what parents of successful kids have in common.

Drake Baer contributed to a previous version of this article.

They make their kids do chores

“If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult” said during a TED Talks Live event.

Lythcott-Haims believes kids raised on chores go on to become employees who collaborate well with their coworkers, are more empathetic because they know firsthand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently.

They teach their kids social skills

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University tracked more than 700 children from across the US between kindergarten and age 25 and found a significant correlation between their social skills as kindergartners and their success as adults two decades later.

The 20-year study showed that children who could cooperate with their peers, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by age 25 than those with limited social skills.

Those with limited social skills also had a higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking, and applying for public housing.

“This study shows that helping children develop social and emotional skills is one of the most important things we can do to prepare them for a healthy future,” said Kristin Schubert, program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research, in a release.

“From an early age, these skills can determine whether a child goes to college or prison, and whether they end up employed or addicted.”

They have high expectations

Using data from a national survey of 6,600 children born in 2001, University of California at Los Angeles professor Neal Halfon and his colleagues discovered that the expectations parents hold for their kids have a huge effect on attainment.

“Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets,” Halfon said.

The finding came out in standardized tests: 57% of the kids who did the worst were expected to attend college by their parents, while 96% of the kids who did the best were expected to go to college.

This falls in line with another psych finding: The Pygmalion effect, which states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” In the case of kids, they live up to their parents’ expectations.

They have healthy relationships with each other

Children in high-conflict families tend to fare worse than children of parents that get along, according to a University of Illinois study review.

A nonconflictual single-parent family is better for children than two-parent families with conflict, according to the review.

But, conflict between parents before and after a divorce can affect children negatively.

Another study in this review found that 20-somethings who experienced divorce of their parents as children still report pain and distress over their parents’ divorce ten years later.

They’re educated

A 2014 study from the University of Michigan found that mothers who finished high school or college were more likely to raise kids that did the same.

Pulling from a group of over 14,000 children who entered kindergarten from 1998 to 2007, the study found that higher levels of maternal education predicted higher achievement from kindergarten to eighth grade.

A different study from Bowling Green State University suggested that the parents’ education levels when a child is 8 years old “significantly predicted” the education and career level for the child four decades later.

They teach their kids math early on

A 2007 meta-analysis of 35,000 preschoolers across the US, Canada, and England found that developing math skills early can turn into a huge advantage.

“The paramount importance of early math skills — of beginning school with a knowledge of numbers, number order, and other rudimentary math concepts — is one of the puzzles coming out of the study,” coauthor and Northwestern University researcher Greg Duncan said. “Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement.”

They develop a relationship with their kids

A 2014 study of 243 children born into poverty found that those who received “sensitive caregiving” in their first three years did better in academic tests in childhood than those who did not receive the same parenting style.

Those children also had healthier relationships and greater academic achievement.

“This suggests that investments in early parent-child relationships may result in long-term returns that accumulate across individuals’ lives,” coauthor and University of Minnesota psychologist Lee Raby said.

They value effort over avoiding failure

Where kids think success comes from also predicts their attainment.

Over decades, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered that children (and adults) think about success in one of two ways. Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova says they go a little something like this:

  • A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
  • A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

Dweck’s mindset theory has attracted valid critiques over the years, but the core tenant of believing that you can improve at something is important to encourage in children

The moms work

According to research out of Harvard Business School, there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home.

“There are very few things, that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother,” Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, who led the study, told Working Knowledge.

Daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned more money — 23% more compared to peers raised by stay-at-home mothers.

The sons of working mothers also tended to pitch in more on household chores and childcare, the study found.

But, working mothers aren’t necessarily spending every waking minute outside of work with their children. Women are more likely to feel intense pressure to balance child rearing with workplace ambitions. Ultimately, they spend more time parenting than fathers do.

A 2015 study found the number of hours that moms spend with kids between ages 3 and 11 does little to predict the child’s behavior, well-being, or achievement.

In fact, the study suggests that it’s actually harmful for the child to spend time with a mother who is sleep-deprived, anxious, or otherwise stressed.

“Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” study co-author and Bowling Green State University sociologist Kei Nomaguchi told The Washington Post.

It could be more beneficial to spend one fully-engaged hour with a child than spend the whole evening half-listening to your kid while scrolling through work emails.

They have a higher socioeconomic status

One-fifth of American children grow up in poverty, a situation that severely limits their potential.

It’s getting more extreme. According to Stanford University researcher Sean Reardon, the achievement gap between high- and low-income families “is roughly 30% to 40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier.”

As social scientist Dan Pink wrote, the higher the income for the parents, the higher the SAT scores for the kids.

“Absent comprehensive and expensive interventions, socioeconomic status is what drives much of educational attainment and performance,” Pink wrote.


In a letter to child development experts, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, outlined some of the difficulties new parents experience after welcoming their children into the world.

The comments from the former Kate Middleton came as her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, opened up about his own struggles with mental health in a BBC documentary.

The duchess said she appreciated the “sense of isolation” new parents face, writing: “I can understand that people are nervous about asking for help for fear of judgment, and how that sense of isolation can quickly become overriding and debilitating for any new parent,” reported Sky News.

“Recognizing that the task of parenting is substantial, I have realized the importance of working to make it easier for parents to request support.”

The duchess sent the letter to a steering group she set up last year to compile research on early child development. Praising the experts’ work, she said she would continue to promote the health and happiness of families and children.

She wrote, per Harper’s Bazaar: “Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of speaking with mothers and fathers about the issues they deal with day-to-day. Your work has affirmed to me just how important it is to listen to parents and those who care for children… I hope my long-term commitment to working in the early years will help make a difference over a generational timescale.”

On Monday, the duchess unveiled a multisensory garden at the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London. The woodland wilderness, which is intended to promote children’s well-being, includes a rope swing, a campfire and a stream. According to the BBC, the Cambridge children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louise—helped gather twigs and moss for the garden.

Catherine told the BBC: “I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits on our physical and mental well-being, particularly for young children.

“I really hope this woodland that we have created inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.”

The duchess visited the garden with her children and husband over the weekend, before returning with a group of schoolchildren Monday. She worked on the garden with landscape architects Andree Davies, Adam White and the Royal Horticultural Society.

William detailed his own struggles with mental health in a BBC One documentary called A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health. In the film, which aired Sunday, the duke discussed the difficulties he experienced after his mother’s death in 1997.

Describing “pain like no other pain,” he said his own bereavement had helped him connect with families experiencing trauma when he worked as an air ambulance pilot.

Although the “British stiff upper lip thing” has its place, we need “to relax a little bit and be able to talk about our emotions because we’re not robots,” he said.


Gone are the days of trusty Moleskine 18-month planners, scraps of to-do lists and family calendars hanging on the fridge. Full-time jobs and older kids mean more clubs, more appointments, more social life. Making a move to digital organization can take a load off and breathe new life into the family.

It’s never too early to help children learn to manage their time and be responsible for themselves too (to a point, obviously). It’s a skill that will help them on their path through life. And it’s surprising how little you need to do to organize family life. Often you have the apps and software on hand — you just need to rethink how you use them.

Digital Calendars

For many, this is the obvious starting point. You’re probably already using a calendar from Google, Outlook or iCloud for work, so it’s simple enough to add a family one. As the kids get older and their social lives start getting more hectic, give each of them a shared calendar of their own.

Using a shared calendar means you can arrange their clubs, events and playdates, and the kids, in theory, just need to check their phones to know if something is — or isn’t — happening. You can set notifications and alerts to remind them to get to that music lesson or swim meet. Connect their phones to a smartwatch and they’ll get the message even when their phone is silent.

You’ll be sorting their lives out initially, but steadily, they’ll realize they can take control of their calendars. Maybe start by having them load their school schedule. It’s good practice to get them into the habit of checking their calendar the night before, so they can pack their bag and be ready to take it in the morning.

For you, the color-coded calendars are not unlike Mrs. Weasley’s clock: You can see where everyone is at one glance. And everyone can see their own calendar as well as the shared family one on their phone, which, let’s face it, is attached to them anyway.

Whatsapp

You’d think having everything right there in the palm of their hand would mean you can step back and watch them bloom into competent, organized young humans. Ha! Calendar’s all set up, but ping: “Mommy, when’s my drums lesson?” Ping: “Daddy, I forgot my football kit, could you drop it off, PURLLLEASE!” Ping: “Mommy, I’ve run out of money on my lunch card, could you load it, please?”

WhatsApp has probably been the single most-used way of keeping things moving smoothly in this house.

Some parents have a problem with WhatsApp and similar messaging apps — the minimum age of use for WhatsApp is 16 in Europe and 13 elsewhere — but it is what you make it. Of course, it’s vital you know whom your children are talking to, so when you’re setting rules for phone use, let them know that as parents, you can check their phone whenever the mood takes you. It’s also a great way to talk about friendships and what’s happening in their world. But for many, WhatsApp is how they keep in touch with extended family and share location, photos and files.

So how can WhatsApp keep the kids on task and organized? Essentially, it’s a parent in your pocket.

Get a family group going, though, and anyone can answer those quick questions or check arrangements — it doesn’t have to be Mom, Dad or caregiver. Because in a busy world, one person can’t manage a whole family’s schedule all the time. A WhatsApp group gives siblings the chance to step in and help out too. “Yeah, duh, Mom said meet at 3.30 — not listening again, bro?”

To help them keep track of vital information like when and where to meet, show the kids how to star messages to mark them as important. If you send a message with tickets, pdfs, files or arrangements, start the message with “STAR THIS.” These messages are stored together, so the kids can get to them quickly without having to scroll through thousands of others in the thread.

WhatsApp’s location-sharing feature is fantastic too. You just have to open the group or person you want to share with, click on “attachment” or “plus” and hit “share location.” You can share your location for 15 minutes, an hour or eight hours, which gives the kids the freedom and independence to explore their corner of the world without you having to get all panicky.

Charging Banks

When they’re out and about, sharing locations, information and generally keeping in touch, kids’ phones take a beating. It’s little surprise when batteries run out. To keep everything functioning smoothly, a behemoth charging pack, capable of juicing a phone multiple times, can be a lifesaver. Unlike the single-charge banks, these monsters give you the peace of mind that the kids’ phones will never run out of juice — and they’ll never have any excuse for being disorganized.

Wearables

The perfect accessory for any budding organized child, a smartwatch or fitness tracker connected with a phone is ideal for ensuring they get alerts and notifications during the day, when their phones are silent, which of course, they should be during school. We like the Fitbit Ace 2, which was built specifically for kids.

For the kids who are already super active, simply having the time and alert functions are great — and the competitive element of nailing step counts is not a bad thing. For children who have more sedentary skill sets — music, art, academics — they’re a fantastic reminder to get out there and explore the world: Take a walk and get that step count up, go for a bike ride into the woods to find a landscape to paint, stretch out after being stuck over a desk, instrument or video game. And they don’t have to cost a fortune.

Homework Software

Most schools are now fully on board with homework and tools like Firefly, Show My Homework and Frog. Designed to improve organization, these apps and websites help parents and kids manage tasks, time and co-curricular experiences by sending emails and alerts. Kids get notifications when homework is set and reminders when it’s due. And parents can see homework, deadlines and additional support material. If only we had this at school in our day! If the professionals in charge of children think apps and software can help them get organized and stay on task, we should go all in too.

Wrap-up

The benefits of having a routine and developing independence are all over parenting websites and pedagogical studies. Whether it’s sleep training infants, potty training toddlers or helping teens navigate the hormone years, at the root of all the advice is to get a routine in place and support them in their independence. Yes, we should let kids screw up, forget things and deal with the consequences, but we should also give them the resources they need to develop the skills that will stay them for life.


Meet Nemesia, one of our librarians who works at the historic Semaphore Library.

Join Nemesia to find out the sorts of things our librarians do each day, plus learn more about the fascinating history of the Semaphore Library building.

We have four libraries in the City of PAE and they are about much more than just books! Why not stop by one day… you might find a lot more than you were expecting!


via verywell family: When your kids walk to school (or ride a bike or scooter), they’re setting the tone for a good day. Sure, sometimes distance, weather, and other safety considerations make such “active commuting” impossible. But if your kids have a mile or less to travel, they should hoof it. Here are five research-backed reasons why.

1. It’s Safer Than You Think
By about age 10, kids are old enough to cross streets safely and handle other emergencies that may come up. Before then, crossing guards can help, and so can adult chaperones. (If you can’t walk with your child, see if you can form a walking school bus or bike train—basically, a car-less carpool!) At least one study has investigated kids’ active commuting rates and traffic injuries, and found that “a higher rate of children walking or biking to school has no significant association with traffic-related injury.”

Plus, when more kids walk to school, neighborhoods flourish—a virtuous cycle which makes them safer and more pleasant to walk in. As another study found, “Communities that have invested in infrastructure to promote walking or biking have shown increased property values, improved air quality, reduced urban heat injury (see #3, below), and greater social cohesion.”

2. Good Exercise
Active commuting helps prevent obesity. Kids who walked to school in kindergarten had lower BMI scores in fifth grade, one study showed. Active school commuters are more likely to walk or bike other places at other times of the day. No matter what their daily diet is, active commuters are less likely to be overweight or obese than other kids.

A 7-year study of 1700 high school students in New England predicted that obesity prevalence would decrease by 22 percent if teens walked or biked to school four or five days a week.

3. Save Some Money
When you avoid driving your kids to school, you save on gasoline and wear and tear on your car. Plus you’re lessening carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change.

4. Walking to School Helps Your Child Learn
Several studies have documented how kids benefit academically from active commuting: They show higher academic achievement, better cognitive performance, better reading fluency, and improved executive functioning. One study that focused on kids with attention disorders found that just 26 minutes of daily physical activity “significantly allayed ADHD symptoms in grade-school kids.”

5. Social Time
You’d be amazed at the conversations that you can have with your child while walking. And as Safe Routes to School points out, active commuting helps both parents and children “build a sense of neighborhood.” When kids walk to school, parents are more likely to be involved at school and/or in the community.


via The Telegraph: A popular activity at sleepover parties worldwide, there’s so much more to pillow fighting. But are you man enough to brandish a feather-filled weapon?

The pillow fight has never been seen as the most masculine of pursuits. The preserve of the sleepover party flick and TV commercials for feminine products, the pillow fight is seen as the comfy denouement to a girly night in. After all, Bruce Lee starred in Enter The Dragon, not Enter The Boudoir.

But don’t merely dismiss a bout of cushion play as something exclusively for teenage girls; it can be a fun, harmless way of letting go of some inner angst without needing to slice through a pile of 2×4 with your fist. It will also get your heart rate jumping and will likely end in laughter.

Like all the best sports, pillow fighting can take place virtually anywhere; the only requirement is that you need two comfy weapons. An impromptu game always works best, initiating a fight with an unexpected thwack around your partner’s bonce should always prompt a reaction. A fight that evolves naturally is always more entertaining than the pre-planned, plus you should have equal parity with the props if it’s in your room. (Just watch out for wobbly lamps and other breakables.)

To get the full experience, set up some ground rules: such as “no smothering” (too dangerous), “no holding” (of opponent’s pillow) and “no cushions” (they often have deceptively sharp corners). You can work out a point-scoring system, too: such as one point for every yelp. Or two points every time your partner hits the mattress.

You could also invent some signature moves. Try the two-handed “whack hammer”, where you bring down your quarry with an over-the-head strike. Or you might prefer a rain of repeated hits to the dome, that we have christened “The Big Sleep”. Preposterous stage names are a must too… “Feather Face”, “The Foam Ranger” or possibly “Mattress Man”?

If you start to build up a passion for pillow fighting you might want to take on new rivals. International Pillow Fight Day, staged in London’s Trafalgar Square each April, is a fun-filled, fancy dress-style “game of foams”, designed to raise money for women’s charities – and it attracts thousands of pillow-wielding enthusiasts every year. Let the feathers fly!

Watch a video of this year’s International Pillow Fight Day event in London below:

video


via The Daily Q: On Saturday, March 24, people all over the world will turn their lights off for an hour as part of Earth Hour, an initiative started by the Worldwide Fund for Nature in 2007. Earth Hour occurs at exactly 8:30 p.m. local time in every country, and its goal is to encourage people to think about their consumption and impact on the environment.

If you want to participate, you’ll of course have to turn off your electricity, but that doesn’t mean you just have to sit for an hour and stare at the wall. There are different ways you can show your appreciation for our planet. Here are six things you can do:

1. Turn your lights off
This is an obvious one, but do turn your lights and electricity off at home! Take a moment to appreciate the earth and reflect on what you can do to affect climate change for the better.

2. Walk outside and enjoy some fresh air
With busy weeks filled with deadlines, students sometimes forget to take a moment to breathe and relax. During Earth Hour, you can use this time to get away from your work environment and the noise of technology and instead go outside to spend some time with yourself and appreciate all the natural beauty around you. To complete this experience, look up at the sky and admire the stars.

3. Light candles
Whether you are with friends, family or even just by yourself, you can arrange a dinner or a board game night with candle lights. You might want to read a book or you can make fondue using candle light. A simple change in routine can help you de-stress.

4. Test out some late-night photographs
You can improve your night shooting skills with your camera, or you can use the camera on your phone to take shots of the moon or nature. Perhaps even an aesthetically pleasing photo from right outside your window.

5. Do Earth Hour yoga at a resort
If you want to do be part of a bigger gathering, the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and Convention Hotel is holding an Earth Hour yoga session with candlelight on March 24, from 7 p.m. till 8:30 p.m. at the resort garden area. The fee is QAR 70 per person.

6. Catch up on sleep
Let’s be real, since Earth Hour is on a Saturday, something that many students need is sleep. Use Earth Hour as an opportunity to go to bed earlier and catch up on all the sleep you missed in the past week. You’ll thank us for this later.

The main purpose of this hour is to reflect on some of the choices you make regarding the environment. Everyone can make a small change—buy a reusable water bottle, turn off the lights when it’s not used, recycle, and enlighten others about the importance of taking care of the planet.


via All Pro Dad: One of the most innovative companies of the last century is the Danish toy company LEGO, meaning “Play Well”. It was originally a wooden toy making company founded by woodworker Ole Kirk Christiansen. Left to raise four sons after his wife’s death, he made wooden toys from the scraps in his workshop during the Great Depression. Eventually, each of his sons would join the business. Believing plastic toys to be the future, he bought a plastic molding machine. Three of his sons thought abandoning wooden toys was so ludicrous they started a competing toy company still based in wooden toys. Only one son, Godtfred, remained with Lego. The plastic molding machine proved to be a stroke of genius and illustrated a firm understanding of the direction the toy world was headed. It eventually produced the same Lego building brick that litters carpets all over the world.

Godtfred continued his father’s innovative spirit by taking the company and the toy world to the next level. While visiting a toy fair in London, he spoke to a buyer who suggested making toys that were related to one another. Godtfred took the idea back to Lego and they began to produce brick sets that fit together and minifigures that were to scale of the structures. In essence, they created an entire system of play. It was nothing short of innovative brilliance.

Teaching our kids to be innovative will help them be more creative and sharpen their minds. Here are the best ways to teach kids to be innovative:

Building Toys
Building toys give kids the opportunity to explore many new possibilities. LEGOs are the obvious place to start given the introduction. However, there are also Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Roominate, Picasso Tiles, and many more. LEGO also has competitions, which even includes teaching innovation in programming and robotics.

Strategic Thinking Games
Some of the most useful innovation is in the area of organization and strategy. Playing strategy thinking games, such as Monopoly, Stratego, Checkers, Chess, Battleship and others will train their mind to think of out of the box solutions.

Interesting Questions and Scenarios
Getting kids to think outside the box doesn’t take much, but some of the best innovation comes when we place restrictions around something. It’s innovating inside the box. Give them a crazy situation with rules and see what their mind produces. The right questions can get the mind going. Here are a few examples:

  • What playground toys would there be if gravity didn’t exist?
  • How would you present something at “show and tell” if you had to do it under water (not able to use audible words)?
  • In what ways could you help people if you could jump 30 feet in the air as a superpower?

Drawing Times
If you are looking to calm the kids down and work their mind, have them sit down and draw; however, give them an assignment. Tell them to draw the following or come up with other ideas: dream house, a flying car, spaceship, a superhero showing the powers he/she has, a new toy, a new animal species, their dream room, their own country (name, land shape, and place names).

Culinary Arts
Have your kids pair different ingredients together to make new forms food. Let them try strange flavor combinations then have them name their new creation. They can experiment making a new kind of sandwich, dessert, pizza (shape, size, ingredients), shake or smoothie, etc.