10 ways to help kids fall in love with being outside

Spring is in full swing: The buds on the trees have opened, birds are chirping, and children are eager to go outside and get muddy.

Unless, that is, they are like the fourth-grader author Richard Louv spoke to for his book “Last Child in the Woods.”

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” the child told Louv.

According to extensive research Louv and others have conducted since the 1980s, spending time in nature has tremendous benefits, including improved concentration, better motor coordination, improved overall cognitive functioning and a greater ability to engage in creative play. It has also been said to help with the symptoms of mental illness.

To that end, in 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement saying that 60 minutes of daily unstructured free play is essential to children’s physical and mental health.

10 ways to help kids fall in love with being outside

So how do we get them out there, particularly those who are used to being inside, plugged in or shuffled from one structured, adult-led activity to the next?

Here are 10 ways to get children excited about spending more time outside and how to make it fun for everyone.

  1. Simply be in nature

  2. Sleep outside

  3. Inspire by being inspired

  4. Look to the skies

  5. Plant something

  6. Make a fairy house

  7. Explore a pond or stream

  8. Start a collection

  9. Take a hike

  10. Go barefoot

Read the entire Washington Post article here.

5 Ways to Help Your Child Develop Concentration

One of the most helpful qualities your child can have for any type of school experience is the ability to concentrate. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do at home to help your young child develop concentration.

5 Ways to Help Your Child Develop Concentration

Here are 5 ways to help your child develop concentration:

  1. Prepare a Montessori-friendly home.

  2. Give lots of opportunities for your child to do practical life activities.

  3. Follow your child’s interests.

  4. When your child is absorbed in an activity, don’t interrupt (and allow your child to repeat the activity as many times as he or she wishes).

  5. Let your child spend lots of time outdoors in nature.

Read the entire post from LivingMontessoriNow.com.

What’s the Most Important Thing Parents Can Do for Their Kids?

What’s the Most Important Thing Parents Can Do for Their Kids?
Being able to roll up your sleeves and pitch in can get you ahead in the working world.

This question originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Answer by Julie Lythcott Haims, author, New York Times best-seller How to Raise an Adult; former Stanford dean; Getting In podcast host:

Love them and make them do chores. Seriously.

You see, one of the longest longitudinal studies of humans ever conducted—the Harvard Grant Study—found that professional success in life comes from having done chores as a child, and the earlier the kid started, the better. Being able to roll up your sleeves and pitch in, being able to do the unpleasant tasks without being asked, being interested in contributing one’s effort to the betterment of the whole—that’s what gets you ahead in the working world.

Intuitively, it makes sense. But with our kids oh so busy with the academics and extracurriculars, often we absolve them from having to do any of the work around the house. They become young adults in the workforce still waiting to be told what to do next, lacking the impulse, the instinct to look around to see how they can be useful, anticipate what colleagues or a boss might need, think a few steps ahead, pitch in. Chores are more important than endless test prep, in my view.

The Harvard Grant study also found that happiness in life equals love. Not love of work but loving relationships with humans—partners, spouses, kids, family, friends. Our kids need to be loved unconditionally in the first place they know—home—so they can love themselves and then go out into the world and have the capacity to love and be loved.

When they come home from school or we come home from work, we need to put down our technology and look them in the eyes and let them see the joy that fills our faces upon seeing our precious child. Sure, we’re dying to know how they did in that math test, but what we need to ask is: How was your day? What was good about today? and to take an actual interest in whatever they say. They want to know they matter to us. They want to feel loved for who they are, not for their GPA.

The final thing we can do is be a good role model of a healthy, vibrant adult. I’m not surprised so many young adults are “failing to launch”—we’ve made adulthood look so very unattractive. We’ve shown them that all adults do is obsess over kids and stand on the sidelines of kids lives with our coffee drinks.

What are the most important things you can do as a parent for your child? originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Quora:

Ten Lessons that Montessori will NOT teach

First posted on Montessori Child by Jessica Langford

Montessori does offer many amazing benefits to children, but sometimes I think that the most valuable part of Montessori is what it doesn’t do. The art of Montessori often lies in the subtle or the unseen, in the hundreds of little conscious decisions we make every day that are barely noticeable to observers but make a huge difference to the child. Often these decisions are about excluding a certain element from our environment – such as rewards and punishments. These omissions are not oversights; they are a deliberate attempt to avoid the hidden pitfalls or unintended consequences of these practices.

Ten Lessons that Montessori will NOT teach

As you read about what Montessori will do for the child you might find yourself thinking that it sounds exactly like your own experiences, even though you work in a different system of education or don’t send your children to Montessori. If you work in a non-Montessori environment with similar values and practices to those that I describe here as ‘Montessori’, or if your child attends a setting like that, please feel free to mentally replace the word ‘Montessori’ with a phrase that fits your circumstances, such as ‘Our center will not…’ or ‘Good quality early childhood environments will not…’ or ‘Respectful parents/educators will not…’ or ‘Child-led learning will not…”.

With that in mind, this is my list of lessons that Montessori education will NOT teach a child.

  1. Montessori will not teach your child that;

    “Learning is a chore you do because you have to when someone makes you.”

  2. Montessori will not teach your child that;

    “You are only good or valuable if an adult tells you that you are with words or rewards.”

  3. Montessori will not teach your child that;

    “You are a naughty person if you make a mistake.”

  4. Montessori will not teach your child that;

    “It is only worth being nice if an adult is watching to reward you for it.”

  5. Montessori will not teach your child that;

    “You are not competent or capable of performing even the most basic tasks.”

  6. Montessori will not teach your child that;

    “You are not good enough, smart enough or quick enough.”

  7. Montessori will not teach your child that;

    “The most important thing in life is being ‘smart’ academically”

  8. Montessori will not teach your child that;

    “There is a ‘child world’ with one set of admirable traits and expectations and an ‘adult world’ where all of those things change.”

  9. Montessori will not teach your child that

    “You are better than some of the children in the class and worse than others. You should change yourself until an adult says you are better than all the other children.”

  10. Montessori education will not teach your child that;

    “How you feel, what you like, and what interests you is not nearly as important as what an adult wants you like and do.”

This is why a Montessori teacher will always answer the child’s unspoken plea of “help me to do it myself”. …View the entire article

Study says reading aloud to children, more than talking, builds literacy

In “The Pout-Pout Fish” children’s picture book, the author weaves words like “aghast” and “grimace” into a story about a fish who thought he was destined to “spread the dreary-wearies all over the place” until…well, no need to spoil the ending.

Finding such rich language in a picture book is not unusual, and reading those stories aloud will introduce children to an extensive vocabulary, according to new research conducted by Dominic Massaro, a professor emeritus in psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He said although parents can build their children’s vocabularies by talking to them, reading to them is more effective.

Study says reading aloud to children, more than talking, builds literacy

Reading aloud is the best way to help children develop word mastery and grammatical understanding, which form the basis for learning how to read, said Massaro, who studies language acquisition and literacy. He found that picture books are two to three times as likely as parent-child conversations to include a word that isn’t among the 5,000 most common English words.

Picture books even include more uncommon words than conversations among adults, he said.

“We talk with a lazy tongue,” Massaro said. “We tend to point at something or use a pronoun and the context tells you what it is. We talk at a basic level.”

Massaro said the limited vocabulary in ordinary, informal speech means what has been dubbed “the talking cure” – encouraging parents to talk more to their children to increase their vocabularies – has its drawbacks. Reading picture books to children would not only expose them to more words, he said, but it also would have a leveling effect for families with less education and a more limited vocabulary. …View the entire EdSource article