via Health Chronicle:

Mark Twain once said, “Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Twain was right, except he forgot to mention laughter’s ability to profoundly affect our health.

Laughter is the best medicine for many scientifically proven reasons:

1. Laughter is one of the best stress relievers. A good bout of laughter can keep the muscles in your entire body relaxed for up to 45 minutes. Now imagine cracking a few good jokes all day long. You’ll never have a crick in your neck or an aching back again.
2. Dr. Gulshan Sethi, a doctor of cardio-surgery at Tucson Medical Center says that laughter is like internal jogging. It tones all the internal organs and strengthens the abdominals without ever doing a single sit-up.
3. Laughter induces better social relations. The contagious nature of a smile or a good laugh help us to connect with others leading to friendships and even romantic closeness. In fact, couples who laugh together are more likely to stay married longer. People who have enduring relationships have also proven to outlive those who have few friends and are unmarried.
4. Laughter boosts our body’s immune response. Studies have found that laughing at a funny movie or finding humor in a stressful situation helps to increase the production of natural killer cells – white blood cells that attack cancer, colds, and foreign bacteria.
5. Laughter combats depression. When we laugh our bodies dump a bunch of good neuropeptides into our blood stream including oxytocin and dopamine.
6. Laughter reduces physical pain. Perceived pain levels in participants of many different studies are lowered when they laugh. Life may cause us pain here and there, but laughter helps us to deal with it better.
7. Finally, laughter is a measurable trait found to be higher in those who are more resilient. If you want to find a successful person who can take the punches of life just as easily as the accolades, you’ll find someone who laughs a lot. Laughter builds character and lessens rigidity.

via theAsianparentsingapore: Has your little one always longed to wear a frilly tutu and have her own satin shoes? If so, you might like to consider ballet as an enrichment option for her.

Ballet is one of the most graceful forms of dance. It has been around for centuries and has produced some of the most talented and awe-inspiring performers of all time – also called Prima Ballerinas.

If you watch a ballerina – not only when she’s performing, but offstage too – you will most definitely find yourself marveling at her poise and grace.

Not only is ballet a joy to watch, it also has a range of benefits for those who take up this dance programme.

Age-appropriate ballet lessons are available and children can learn much more than just coordination and movement.

Physical benefits
Ballet is a wonderful way for young children to gain muscular strength, become more supple and, stay lithe and fit.

One of the first things little ones learn in class is how to stand correctly and walk gracefully.

These skills, learnt at a young age, stay with your child forever and help her grow into a limber and elegant adult.

Once your child starts ballet classes, you will notice that their body awareness, self-control, coordination skills and balance improve tremendously. Bad posture among children who study ballet is usually unheard of.

The wide range of ballet movements like the heart-rate accelerating pirouettes and leaps improve cardiovascular health.

What’s more, a child who learns ballet from an early age finds it easier to adapt to other styles of dancing such as jazz and contemporary dancing.

Ballet is also a wonderful way for a hyperactive child to release pent-up energy in a way that is beneficial not only creatively and physically, but also emotionally and socially as well.

Emotional benefits
The benefits of ballet aren’t just physical. Children who study ballet develop emotionally in many ways too.

Many parents of shy children who study ballet say that they notice immense improvement in their child’s confidence.

This comes from performing on stage with other children and also performing alone. Children feel proud and accomplished when they perform on stage and this in turn boosts their self-esteem.

This self-esteem then extends to other areas in life and results in children being more self-assured right through their childhood and adulthood.

Such children also learn to express themselves better by using their bodies and facial expressions to narrate a story and express emotions.

Learning how to be expressive earlier in life helps hormonal teenagers better with the pressures they may face, and allow them to be open about their emotions with both their parents and teachers.

Ballet movements also require focus and concentration to complete and perfect. Children who acquire these skills automatically use them in their studies and in daily lives.

Social benefits
Experts and teachers concur that children who learn ballet follow instructions better and know how to work better with teammates.

They respond more favourably to goals set, manage stress better and are more disciplined when it comes to their school work and other activities.

Furthermore, working in groups during ballet classes help children build trust and friendship with others and be more socially extroverted.

Where can children learn ballet in Singapore?
Although Singapore has many ballet schools, few specialise in ballet programmes for young children. Crestar School of Dance (CSD) is one of the most established among them: their popular Bebe Ballet and Dancing Tots programmes for kids as young as 2½ years old have been staple programmes for more than 35 years.

Crestar School of Dance is the largest private dance school in Singapore; it has the biggest pool of dance teachers, qualified by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing (CSTD), Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) and Beijing Dance Academy (BDA).

The School gives its young ballet students ample opportunities to gain confidence through performances. These include charity and community events, as well as overseas dance exchange programmes.

An impressive number of CSD students have also gone on to enrol in established dance schools and colleges and have participated in big events such as My Singapore 2014: Moments of Love Charity Concert for President’s Challenge 2014 and 7th International Ballet and Contemporary Dance Competition Vienna 2014, among others.

Besides ballet, other dance courses such as Modern Theatre, Modern Jazz, Street Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Chinese Dance and Belly Dance are also available.

Year-end holidays activities and programmes
This year-end holidays (November – December), Crestar School of Dance has packaged an exciting range of dance related activities and programmes to let your children experience Ballet, Modern Jazz, Zumba, Hip Hop, Yoga etc.

Not only will the children be meaningfully engaged in learning something new, they will also have fun with their new friends!

Other holidays programmes include Abacus, Art, Maths, Bakery, Chinese Language etc. for your children!

For more details, click here for the centres’ holiday programmes schedules!

The Crestar School of Dance also has an upcoming dance concert – Diary of Sleeping Beauty on the 15 November 2015, Sunday at NUS-UCC Hall, 6.30pm. Please enquire with their centres for more details.

To find out more about the Centres’ year-end holiday programmes, click here.

For more information on CSD’s dance courses, click here.

If you have not considered ballet as an after-school activity before for your child, we hope we have convinced you to let your little one give it a try!

via what to expect: Check this out: A children’s library is the perfect place for your pipsqueak to begin her love affair with books. But even if your visit involves swinging by the grown-up section, going to the library with a toddler can have a happy ending (and beginning and middle too).

Your toddler doesn’t need to know how to read to enjoy going to the library, especially if it’s a children’s library, which is designed with her growing mind in mind. You may even get a kick out of a trip to the library with your tot in tow. For one thing, it’s impossible to sit down among the colorful picture books and not snuggle. And a fun day out with the kids could include toddler storytime, where a library staffer reads a great book for toddlers to a group of little guys and gals (that may buy you a few precious moments of peace). Since challenges may arise (toddlers are noisy newbies to quiet libraries), try these tips to fully enjoy going to the library.

  • Give your toddler a library preview. She’s seen books in her bedroom and maybe in bookcases around your house or even at the bookstore, but odds are she won’t have seen as many high shelves filled with books, books, and more books all in one space until she goes to the library. Give her the heads-up so she’s not (as) overwhelmed upon arrival. Also tell her who she’ll encounter (“The librarian is the nice person who helps us find books”) and what you’re going to do (“We’ll sit on the red carpet and read together”). When you get there, point out all the things you discussed at home (“That’s where they keep the Dr. Seuss books.” “We can find stories about puppies by using the computer”).
  • Practice using library voices. Before going to the library, talk about how it’s a special place with special rules. And one of the most important rules is keeping your voices down. Take turns whispering to each other before you go to the library, and give your itty-bitty bookworm a rule reminder once you arrive.
  • Talk about how to treat library books. You may not mind if your eager reader rips out pages from her books at home, but the librarians will if she goes to town on the children’s library books. Remind your child to be gentle with the pages, not to eat or drink near them, or draw on them.
  • Head to the hands-on section. Most children’s libraries have a special corner for their youngest patrons, complete with puzzles, quiet games, and chunky board books. Allow your darling to dig in — pick out a few games and books to enjoy right there and some books to borrow and take home. Point out old favorites (“Look, there’s Curious George!”) and new selections that might interest her (“Here’s a book about a ballerina — shall we look at it?”).
  • Stop by the grown-up section. Feel free to do a quick dash to the adults’ area — just don’t expect to spend more than a few minutes perusing before your toddler’s patience runs out. To extend your time and up the opportunities for toddler learning, whisper with your little one about the differences between the grown-up and children’s sections (“These bookshelves are taller.” “These books have more pages — and no pictures!”). This also might be a good time to park her with a special quiet toy (or book!) for a few minutes while you read a few dust jackets.
  • Sign up for toddler storytime. Cap off (or start off) a visit to a children’s library with storytime. Kids adore hearing stories read aloud, and storytime can serve as an introduction to the rules of preschool (sit still, be a good listener). One other not-so-obvious benefit: You may meet some fellow toddler moms to befriend.
  • Get your cutie a library card. If she’s old enough to go to the library, she’s probably old enough for her very first library card. Getting one is a proud moment, sure to give your child a big-kid sense of ownership — and an extra incentive to make a return visit to the library.

Via Better Homes & Gardens: With all the time spent watching television and playing video games, many of today’s children have never experienced the rewards of a hobby.

Not long ago, speaking to a large midwestern audience, I asked, “How many of you, when you were children, had a hobby?” Nearly everyone raised a hand. I then asked them to keep their hands in the air if at least one of their children had a hobby, which I distinguished from organized, adult-directed, after-school activities such as Little League. Most of the hands went down.

Thirty-odd years ago, almost every kid in my neighborhood had some sort of hobby. Collecting and trading baseball cards was a popular pastime (one that’s making a strong comeback today), as were coin and stamp collecting. One of my friends was into photography (he’s now a photographer), another was into building radios (he’s now an electrical engineer).

Hobbies benefit children in numerous ways. Because they are expressions of personal accomplishment and a means of self-discovery, hobbies help build self-esteem.

Hobbies are educational tools, as well. For example, a child who becomes interested in rocketry — one of the most popular hobbies, by the way — learns about propulsion and aerodynamics. By working on hobbies, children learn to set goals, make decisions, and solve all sorts of problems. Finally, hobbies often mature into lifelong interests, even careers.

How to Find a Hobby for Your Child
If all of that sounds good, and you’d like to help your child develop and sustain a hobby interest, try these suggestions:

Set a good example. Scott Harris, a hobby shop buyer and hobby workshop leader in Gastonia, North Carolina, finds that children with hobbies tend to have parents with hobbies.

Be prepared to sacrifice space. Your child will need work space for his or her hobby projects. Designate a particular room, a corner of the basement, part of the garage, or similar area. Regardless of where you set up the space, your child should be able to walk away from the hobby and come back to it later. The work space should also allow for plenty of paint spills, scratches, and other hobby-related accidents — the inevitable by-products of creative activity.

Provide some guidance. “Nothing will kill a child’s enthusiasm for a hobby quicker than lots of frustration during the learning stage,” cautions hobby expert Harris. Help your child get off to a good start by demonstrating how to closely follow a set of directions, and how to handle sometimes-delicate hobby materials with proper care.

Limit television watching. Since 1955, when it became a fixture in America’s households, television has come to dominate the spare time of the American child. By age 15, the average child has spent more time watching television than sitting in a classroom. Let’s face it, it’s impossible to work on a hobby and watch TV (or play video games) at the same time.

For want of spare time, a hobby may never develop. But find a hobby, and a talent may be born, a life enriched.

via firstcryparenting: A woman’s diet during pregnancy is of utmost importance as it not only gives energy to the mother but also the baby. As it is the only source of nourishment for the growing foetus, the diet of a woman needs to be well balanced. Care should be taken to include only those items that will not harm the mother and the baby.

Is Eating Spicy Food Safe During Pregnancy
Spicy food does not affect the baby or the pregnancy. However, consuming more spicy food than what your body can bear, creates digestion, acidity and heartburn related problems.

Spicy Food During First Trimester
Consuming spicy food in the first trimester is safe and does not affect the development of the baby. The risk of early pregnancy loss is high in the first trimester, and this worries expecting mothers about side effects of consuming spicy food.

Spicy Food During Second & Third Trimester
Consumption of spicy food during second & third trimester increases the chances of experiencing heartburn and acid reflux. In the third trimester, the growing foetus causes stomach acids to revert to the oesophagus and eating spicy foods could aggravate this condition.

How Much Of Spicy Is Good?
As long as your body can digest all those spices, it is safe to consume spicy food in limited quantities. Avoid eating spicy food outside. Instead, buy fresh spices and grind these spices at home.

What Are The Risks & Side Effects Of Eating Spicy Food?
Eating spicy food can cause digestion problems leading to discomfort in a pregnant woman. Listed below are the risks and side effects of eating spicy food during pregnancy:

  1. Morning Sickness: Morning sickness is very common in the early stages of pregnancy due to changing hormonal levels. Morning sickness can be aggravated by consumption of spicy food.
  2. Heartburn: The chances of experiencing heartburn and other digestive issues are high when you are pregnant. Spicy food will increase acid reflux and aggravate heartburn, especially in the late months of pregnancy.

If you decide to eat spicy food, pair it with a glass of milk to minimize heartburn. Honey can also help to prevent heartburn after eating a spicy dish.

Myths About Eating Spicy Food When Pregnant

There are myths attached to eating spicy food during pregnancy. Myths without any scientific backing include:

  • Spicy food can have an adverse impact on your baby is a myth.
  • Another myth regarding consumption of spicy food is that it can lead to pre-term labour.
  • Consumption of spicy foods during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and congenital disabilities are yet another myth without any scientific proof.

Alternatives To Spicy Foods

You can try different cuisines and dishes which are naturally spicy and tangy. Limit consumption of spicy food to moderate levels to avoid heartburn and digestion problems.

  • Limit spicy dish to one per meal and change your cuisine if spicy Indian cuisine gives you heartburn.
  • Thai and Mexican cuisines have spice in the form of jalapenos, chilli flakes and oregano which are much milder than spice in Indian food and hence can be a worthy alternative.
  • Give preference to home cooked food as you can regulate the quality and quantity of spices used in food.

Tips To Take Spicy Food In Right Manner

To make sure that you are not adversely affected by the dangers of spicy food, you must consume them in a proper manner.

  • Consume spices which are branded and approved by food certification authorities.
  • Do not consume spices which are sold loose as they may be impurities such as brick powder.
  • If you are consuming new spices, start by taking in small quantities. It is best to buy fresh spices and grind them at home.
  • Check packaging and expiry dates before buying spices from outside.

How Can You Include Spicy Food In Your Diet?

You should be cautious and selective while consuming spicy food during pregnancy. Some of the spicy food items that can be included in your diet are as follows:

  • Wasabi Peas: These are hot and crunchy peas which are safe to eat and cause no harm.
  • Curry Sauce: A blend of onion, garlic, chilli and all common spices, curry sauce is widely used in Indian food and is safe to consume.
  • Piri-piri Sauce: It is a blend of onion, garlic, tomato and the main ingredient ‘super-hot’ African bird’s eye chilli.
  • Middle Eastern Cooking Sauces: Sweet sauces made of black onion seeds, green chillies and tomato coriander.

Spicy Pickles: Available at any convenient store, small amounts of these pickles alongside your food is safe and can satiate your craving for spices.
Pepper: One can try out pepper based soups whenever you have a cold due to low immunity. The anti-bacterial properties of pepper along with its spicy effect make it an ideal spice during pregnancy.

via The New Age Parents: As a species, we require human touch to survive and thrive. Our skin is the largest organ and physical contact distinguishes us from other animals. For young babies, the role of affectionate touch is even more important as it has a direct impact on their physical and psychological development. The benefits of human touch extend through to childhood, and can impact a child’s cognitive and emotional development.

Our children need our affection – in big bear hugs and passing ruffles of the hair, in sought-after treasures wrapped in pretty paper and time spent playing “horsies” around the house. In Gary Chapman’s book “The five love languages of children”, he describes five ways a parent can show a child love – words of affirmation, time, acts of service, gifts and physical touch.

In a predominantly Asian society like ours, we do not readily show affection to the ones we love, especially in public. We are generally a lot less expressive than our Western counterparts, even when it comes to our own family. Very likely, our own parents were not models of physical affection and did not hug us or say “I love you” a whole lot during our growing up years.

Yet research clearly indicates that children thrive in environments where they not only know they are loved – they feel it as well.

The power of hugs cannot be underestimated. Dr Natalie Epton, Specialist Paediatrician and Neonatologist explains, “Hugging your baby has numerous benefits, including better-regulated breathing and heart rate, temperature and blood sugar levels, as well as initiating breastfeeding earlier and sustaining it for longer. Studies on premature babies show that the practice of ‘kangaroo care’ (cuddling the baby skin-on-skin) improves weight gain, reduces breathing complications and is associated with earlier hospital discharge.”

Here are 10 reasons that we hope will compel you to hug your children at least once every single day!

1. Hugging helps our children feel safe & secure

Children need the loving affection of their parents to feel emotionally secure, and to know that they are unconditionally accepted into the family. The physical intimacy of a hug builds trust and a deep sense of safety in our children, which frees them up to enjoy the world around them. This security also increases their openness to learn new things and paves the way for open and honest communication.

2. Hugging helps our children to have a healthy self-esteem

Our love and care give our children a strong foundation of self-confidence that helps them to view themselves positively and to try new things, knowing that our love for them is unchanging. We can boost our child’s confidence tremendously with a simple hug, empowering him to fully engage with the world out there. We can see ourselves as a “home-base” for our child to return to every time he needs a refuge from the “real world” – and recognize that he will need this, need us, less and less as he grows and matures.

3. Hugging lets them know we understand how they feel

Young children, and even older ones, may find it hard to express how they are feeling. Babies can often be frightened by anything that is new or different, even if there is no real danger. Instead of laughing it off, or telling them “Don’t be silly!”, offering them a hug can be the best way to assure them that their feelings matter, and that they can trust you to give them the comfort they need.

4. Hugging helps our children to take discipline better

When our children misbehave, our gut instinct is normally to give them a smack, not a hug. However, hugs can create a reassuring atmosphere that is more conducive for that firm talk with your child. A hug says “I will always love you, but I need to talk to you about your behavior.” Children are more willing to listen to what you have to say or expect when they feel better, so encourage them with a hug, and you just might notice their behavior improving!

5. Hugging makes our children feel happy

Did you know, that a long hug can lift a person’s serotonin levels, elevating his mood and creating happiness? Our hugs are the antidote for feelings of loneliness, isolation and anger, which our children may encounter. Let’s not be so quick to let go!

6. Hugging strengthens the immune system

Yes, it’s medically proven that hugging is great for boosting immunity. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, and this, in turn, helps to keep you healthy and disease free

7. Hugging reduces stress

It’s also medically proven that children with more skin-to-skin contact with their parents from birth have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This is why parents of premature infants are often encouraged to spend time holding their offspring in the hospital intensive care unit, as it is shown to help boost these babies’ vital signs.

8. Hugging relaxes muscles

When we hug, we can feel the tension in ourselves and in the other person literally melt away. Hugs may not be able to take away our emotional pain, but they can definitely help to alleviate it; hugs tangibly soothe body aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

9. Hugging teaches our children how to give and receive

Sometimes, our children might not want to be hugged. Don’t force them to reciprocate, but don’t give up hugging them either! Our children learn not just the warmth of receiving a hug, they will begin to understand the need to show love to others by giving hugs of their own too. Hugs educate our children on how love is a two-way street.

10. Hugging helps us and our children get connected to how we are feeling on the inside

When we hug our children, time stops for that moment. A hug allows us to let go and be completely present in that moment; it us connect to how we are feeling, emotionally and physiologically. And with that awareness, it helps us to empathize with each other a little better.

Have you hugged your child today? We hope this article will encourage you to make big bear hugs a daily affair for your household!

In fact, why wait? Go give your child a hug right now!

No matter where we go, it is almost certain that there are going to be some annoying people lurking around. In schools, it is definitely no surprise as well that there are some types of students that are downright annoying!

So, in this video, the kids from Energise Kids, namely Ayra Maya & Elayna Dzaira, are going to share with you today a few types of annoying student that they have come across in schools.

via SMASHING: Have you ever seen someone make creative notes at a conference and wished that your own notebook was more presentable? It’s much easier to do than you think. You don’t have to be an aspiring lettering artist, and you don’t need to develop top-notch drawing skills. Making your notes more interesting doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. It’s not like learning to play the piano or taking up diving. If you think sketchnoting looks fun, I have some tips to get you started.

Have you ever seen someone make creative notes at a conference and wished that your own notebook was more presentable? It’s probably much easier to do than you think. You don’t have to be an aspiring lettering artist, and you don’t need to develop top-notch drawing skills.

Making your notes more interesting doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. It’s not like learning to play the piano or taking up diving. If you think sketchnoting looks fun, I have some tips to get you started.

Creative Note-Taking For Anyone
People make all sorts of visual notes. An army of sketchnoters is out there, and everyone has their own style. Some do amazing sketches and lavish letters. Some translate complicated concepts into easy-to-grasp diagrams. But for the sake of this article, let’s keep it simple.

It doesn’t matter whether you call it sketchnoting or doodling or scribbling or simply “adding some joy” to your notes. Just aim for something visual that takes your notes to the next level. Combine this with an effort to slow down when forming letters, and I’ll bet you will surprise yourself at the difference it makes. The goal is to create something that you would want to take out again and look at — and, hey, perhaps even show others.

You Are Your Own Target Audience
Sketchnotes done live over 45 minutes can’t capture everything. They won’t be a perfect structured summary. My notes are not intended to stand on their own feet. They have value for me and perhaps other attendees at the conference.

Make the notes for yourself first. Share them if you want — other attendees will probably love to take a look. Sketchnotes can spread the word to the outside world about an interesting talk or about the conference itself. But people who have not heard the talk can’t expect the sketchnotes to carry much meaning on their own. I mention this because people sometimes misunderstand their purpose.

Keeping this in mind will help you get started on your own sketchnotes. You don’t have to try to “instantly” explain everything or worry that you’ll miss one of the speaker’s key points. It’s OK — they’re just your personal notes.

This talk informs the audience on how to be an educated and conscious consumer. Why it’s important to vote with your purchases. How to develop a 5-minute habit of making the responsible purchase to change the way corporations operate.

Shaun Frankson has inspired millions of responsible consumers to ask companies to use Social Plastic® to help alleviate global poverty and ocean plastic pollution. In his 2017 TEDxStanleyPark talk, Shaun Frankson reveals how The Plastic Bank – – leveraged a visible consumer driven demand to successfully inspire global organizations to change purchasing behaviors to increase their environmental and social impacts.

His inspirational message teaches why consumers are the most powerful force on earth and best positioned to save the planet. Through a habit of ethical, sustainable, locally sourced, cruelty free, green, eco and other various forms responsible purchasing you can be a change maker. Every purchase you make is a vote for how a product was made and for the company who made it. Corporations only produce what consumers buy repeatedly. When enough people stop buying a product, it stops getting made. When enough people stop buying from a company, it goes out of business. We’re on the verge of a new era in which the average person is starting to act like a responsible consumer.

Every year over 8 million tons of plastic enters our ocean. By 2050 we are projected to have more plastic in our ocean than fish by weight. Ocean plastic is poisoning our food chains. But Ocean plastic is just one example of a human created global issue that can be solved through responsible consumerism. It only takes 5 minutes more to make a responsible purchase.

Shaun Frankson is the co-founder and chief strategist for The Plastic Bank. He is known as a modern day strategy guy, growth hacker and technology futurist. Shaun has made a career out of creating unique strategies that generate exponential results. He created the brand strategies to introduce Social Plastic® to the world, resulting in over 1 million supporters and 300 media features while attracting some of the world’s largest organizations as partners and clients. He is currently working with IBM to launch a game changing APP based Blockchain and Hyperledger digital currency and exchange platform.