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.


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.


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.


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:


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.

via sheknows: Storytelling is a great skill to teach to kids. It helps improve their language skills, instills a love of reading and stirs their imagination. Here are seven ways to teach your kids how to tell stories.

Instill the love of storytelling
Storytelling is a great skill to teach to kids. It helps to improve their language skills, instills a love of reading and stirs their imagination. Here are seven ways to teach your kids how to tell stories.
Research suggests that the fear of speaking in public is the second greatest fear that adults have. Getting kids comfortable with speaking in front of audiences at an early age is just one benefit of teaching kids how to tell stories, says Christine French Cully, editor-in-chief of Highlights. Other benefits of teaching children the art of storytelling include building their confidence, improving their writing skills and instilling a love of reading, she says.

Here are seven ways you can teach your kids the art of storytelling.

Expose them to good storytelling

Local libraries often bring in storytellers.

“Many professional storytellers make and sell recordings, and they often appear at festivals and other cultural events,” Cully says. “Some areas also offer classes.”

Let them choose their story

Expose kids to a great number of short books and magazine short stories, and let them choose to learn to tell the one they love the most, Cully says.

“They won’t give it their all if they don’t really get a kick out of the story,” she says.

If you’re going to have children memorize the text, Cully suggests that you look for stories that don’t rely on illustrations to fill in the gaps.

“Stories that are cumulative or include a repetitive refrain, which invites audience participation, work well,” she says. “The stories should also be complete — with a beginning, middle and end — and they should make the audience laugh, cry or feel fear or sadness.”

Have fun with “string-a-long stories”

Practicing telling stories in any form is helpful, and the more fun you have while practicing, the more effective it will likely be for learning. So says Dr. Alice Wilder, chief content officer for Speakaboos. One fun activity is telling a string-a-long story, which can be done with any number of people.

“The story starter can be, ‘Once upon a time…,’ but just be sure that the person whose turn it is to tell the next part of the story says something that connects to the line before,” Wilder says. “Telling string-a-long stories, like Mad Libs, helps you understand various parts of stories and makes you use your imagination and think about what might come next.”

Be expressive

Help kids see the need to throw their whole body into storytelling.

“Good storytelling uses body language, expression in their voices, varying volume — yes, they have permission to be loud — a sense of pacing and eye contact with their listeners,” Cully says. “Some teachers I know have their children practice staring into one another’s eyes to get comfortable making eye contact.”

Try wordless books

A blank piece of paper can be intimidating, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

“The value of a wordless picture book is that it provides a setting, characters and some visual cues to inspire the imagination,” Wilder says.

Practice, practice, practice

Children will become more comfortable with storytelling by practicing in front of a mirror or videotaping themselves telling their stories.

“Practice in front of a few other kids or family is helpful, too, particularly if the audience can be coached to give gentle, constructive feedback,” Cully says.

Practice makes memorization of the story easier, too, she says.

“But practice doesn’t always make perfect, and that’s OK,” she says.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so Cully says you should reassure the children that if they forget a part or get a little tongue-tied, it’s all right.

Take a class

Check your local community to see whether acting, writing or illustration classes are available for kids. Many municipalities, libraries and art-education groups will offer classes that not only teach kids about how to tell an interesting story but also help them step out of their comfort zone to expand their imagination.

via Teach Kids How: Giving and receiving compliments belongs to a class of social skills involving graciousness. Teaching your child how to give and receive a compliment will help them to appreciate others and to feel appreciated as well.

Sincerity is the key to giving compliments. Voicing your favorable perception or reaction to someone or something is usually best simply stated. A true compliment comes from the giver’s heart and impacts the receiver’s heart. Compliments are often remembered long after they are spoken. They can lift, heal, and inspire great things.


A baby shows her approval and delight with her whole body. Hearing Dad come through the door after work causes hard-to-miss excitement. Eyes are shining and face is beaming with wordless appreciation for Dad’s arrival.

As children grow, they begin to add words to their expression. If they hear loving, appreciative words they will begin to speak the language of appreciation. They will be accustomed to being complimented and eventually will begin giving compliments.

Toddlers are praised and encouraged for each new milestone. Parents and grandparents usually shower them with heartfelt compliments. As a child grows, they will begin to receive compliments from family, friends and strangers. They may react with shyness or even indifference. This is normal and part of the reason parents need to teach young children to receive compliments politely.

Preschoolers should never be forced to say “Thank you” after a compliment. Mom or Dad can say it for them if they have not begun to follow the modeling done by parents. Another option would be to smile or nod to the giver on your child’s behalf. Eventually children will thank the giver for the compliment. But that sometimes doesn’t happen until they are around 4 or 5 or even later.

Main points to address:

  • Children who hear compliments will eventually begin to say “Thank you”.
  • Never force a child to acknowledge a compliment.
  • Normal shyness may prevent children from responding positively to compliments. It is okay to say it for them until they are a little older.

Grades K-3rd

Young school age children are ready to be taught to thank the giver of a compliment. Begin with family members, gently reminding your child to thank them. Saying perhaps, “This is when we say thank you.” Or you could try asking gently, “Would you like to say thank you for that nice compliment?” Again, there is no need to force. Suggesting is enough at this age.

When children are about 7 or 8 they become more aware of social conventions and rules of conduct. More explicit direction is possible now. Practicing or role playing manners is fun at this age. Role-playing giving and in turn receiving a compliment will be a pleasurable way to get the message across. Have your child direct you in an appropriate response to a compliment.

A fun activity to teach this social grace is to write scenarios on squares of paper then fold them and put them in a jar. Take turns picking them from the jar and playing them out, alternating being the giver and receiver. The more the merrier if you have more than one child! You will be surprised at the carryover into “real life”.

If you know you will be taking your child to an event where they are likely to be complimented, you may want to remind them of manners generally and accepting compliments specifically. Many adults, especially childless ones, are offended if a child does not respond positively to a compliment. Let your child know it is okay to simply smile if they feel uncomfortable speaking. Your child’s feelings should be respected.

On the other hand, a child should be corrected if they are rude when a compliment is given. Gently remind them in private that everyone has feelings and it is better to say nothing than say something unkind in return for a compliment.

Main points to address:

  • School aged children can be taught how to receive and give compliments.
  • Practice this by role playing.
  • If your child is too shy to respond to a compliment, tell them it is okay to simply smile.
  • Correct rudeness in private by suggesting a more positive response.

Grade 4-6th

Children 9 to 12 are very socially conscious. They enjoy receiving and giving compliments. Because they have watched and heard people interacting for a decade or so, they will probably follow the example and teaching you have given.

This is the age when your suggestions for appropriate responses to others will be well-received. Notice their successful encounters with others by noting the specific social grace they employed. Reflect back to them their sincerity or kind choice of words. Praise, as long as it is not overdone is a good reinforcement for positive behavior.

If you wait too long to teach your child to give and receive compliments, you may find they resist your teaching and advice.
Older adolescents and teens have built-in radar for insincerity and may not respond at all to a compliment if they doubt the giver’s motives!

If you have taught your child to respond to folks in a thoughtful and courteous way, giving and receiving compliments will become a natural way of responding to others. Just remember you may not see the true fruits of your instruction until they are grown. In the meantime, trust that you have done your job!

Main Points to Address:

  • Children this age are receptive to instruction on social graces
  • Notice successful encounters with others by complimenting your child
  • Trust that your child has learned what you have taught even though there may not be much proof as yet!