Archive for June, 2010

How Homeschool Curriculum Can Help Your Public School Child Meet State Education Standards

As more and more parents become increasingly disappointed and unhappy with local public schools and weak enforcement of state education standards, the need for additional and effective homeschool curriculum continues to grow.  Parents have come to realize that if they want their children to meet and keep up with the state education standards for their appropriate grade level, they’re going to need quality Math curriculum or English curriculum that they can use to teach their children outside of school.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative contains documents that provide what your child should know by a certain grade level. As a parent responsible for your child’s education, you will want to read the standards and evaluate whether or not your child meets the requirements. In addition, here are three things you can do to make sure your children are not lacking in good education:

Support your child academically. Knowing what your child learns in school allows you to effectively monitor his learning progress.  Don’t hesitate to discuss his performance in school with school teachers and staff.  Find out his academic strengths and areas for improvement.  You also want to make sure he gets his homework done, and if necessary, find a good tutor to help with homework.  Create an environment that is conducive for learning, and help your child prepare for his exams.  Maximize your child’s learning progress by using effective and engaging Math homeschool curriculum or English homeschool curriculum that can help you facilitate learning, even after public school hours.

Support your child’s learning at home. Remember, your child can easily mirror your attitude towards education, so make sure to create an environment that appreciates and values learning.  You also want to monitor her video game, television, and Internet use, and make sure you provide high-quality educational media.  Encourage her to read, as you teach her the beauty of words and imagination.   Take time to talk with your child, and encourage active learning at home.

Be creative and engaging. When teaching your child, it is normal for you to run out of ideas and activities, so be very creative.  Do not limit your learning materials and learn to explore other educational media like educational DVDs and computer games.  Use everything and anything to teach your child, and allow each experience to be as enriching as possible.

Light in the Tunnel

At present, each state sets its own academic standards, but the enthusiasm to really reinforce it varies broadly.  And with the hope that this is going to change soon, especially with the recent reinvigoration of the debate about the creation of common state education standards that are of international calibre, parents can turn to homeschool curriculum to help ensure their kids remain on point with these standards.  Keep in mind that preparing our children for college and the real world is ultimately our responsibility as parents.  And creating a productive younger generation will ultimately determine the future of our nation.

To find the appropriate homeschool curriculum for your child’s grade level, visit NEST Learning today!

How to Choose the Best Video Games for Kids

Toy Story 3 Video Game

Toy Story 3 Video Game

Finding the best video games for kids can be a bit of a challenge, especially when there is an abundance of options for young gamers in the market.  But if you know where to look, you can find kids video games, and even Christian video games, that are not only relatively lower in prices, but are also age-appropriate, with dynamics and graphics that are well-suited to help hone your kid’s cognitive and decision-making skills, as well as social and motor skills. At NEST Entertainment, we have done the reviewing for you, and we only carry movies that are family friendly and approved for children so you can take the hassle out of reviewing every product. Another website that is great to use for reviewing video games is http://www.reviews4parents.com/reviews.html.

Here are three best practices when choosing the best video games for kids:

Best Practice #1:  Check for the video game rating given by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Picking the right game that is created for your child’s age group will not only make the gaming experience more effective, it will also ensure your child is not exposed to anything inappropriate or violent.  Here is a guide to video game ratings:

  • E = Appropriate for all ages
  • EC = Ages 3 and older
  • E10+ = Children 10 years and above
  • T = Young teens 13 years and older
  • M = 17 years and above
  • AO = 18 years and older.

Best Practice #2:  Read content descriptions. Written on the back of every game box, are specific descriptions that can help you find games you deem acceptable for your young children. You want to watch out for reports such as Intense Violence, Fantasy Violence, Alcohol Reference, Drug Reference, Use of Drugs, Use of Alcohol, Sexual Violence, Strong Sexual Content, and many more—and filter the amount of information you want your children to absorb.

Best Practice #3:  Be creative. Pick out kids’ video games that you know your child will enjoy, and stay away from those you think aren’t challenging or stimulating enough.  Using game accessories like a steering wheel, or a dance pad, can make the experience more fun not only for the gamers, but for parents too, so don’t hesitate to join in.

Final Reminders

Many studies have proven that playing high-quality kids’ video games can be beneficial to your child’s cognitive development, but just like with anything in life, moderation is always the best approach.  Adult supervision and close monitoring, especially with children 6 years and younger, is recommended.

Want to find a website that offers only video games suitable for your children?  For a great selection of fun, educational, and Christian video games that you can trust, visit NEST Entertainment.

Backyardigans and Dragon Tales: Using Educational DVDs for Toddlers

Backyardigans

Backyardigans

Parents over the recent years have turned to educational DVDs—such as Backyardigans and Dragon Tales —to teach their young children.  And while some experts argue that too much TV time can be counterproductive in educating kids, recent studies show that with proper supervision, educational media can actually help boost learning.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of high-quality educational media for children ages two years and older.  Although personal interaction is still the best avenue to take, allowing your children to watch educational DVDs can be beneficial, especially when they have one or two hours to spare, or when weather conditions provide no other option but to stay indoors.

Keeping your kids occupied during hot, cold, and even wet seasons can be a bit challenging.  You are bound to run out of activities and game plans, which can easily increase your level of stress, especially when you have to attend to other things like your career or other children.

This is where shows like Backyardigans, Dragon Tales and other educational DVDs step in to help.  For two hours, your children will be entertained and taught different life lessons.  Highly recommended by parents and even school teachers, these shows teach kids the beauty of imagination and the importance of building self-confidence and self-worth.  Each episode has a basket of values, each revealed in a way that’s appealing to children from two to four years of age, with plenty of repetition and even some dancing and singing!

Below are Four Tips on How to Optimize Your Use of Educational Media to Teach Your Children:

Tip #1: Stock up on a careful selection of programs that your children can view when they have free time.  Take advantage of the wide array of options available to you, even online!

Tip #2: Make time to watch these shows with your child, as this allows you to debrief and discuss different learning points, as well as enhance his or her vocabulary and analytical skills.  Do not use educational DVDs as electronic nannies.  Doing so will only be detrimental to your child’s social and cognitive development.

Tip #3: Teach your children critical viewing skills as you watch educational DVDs together.  Knowing how to filter and analyze information will help them make right

Dragon Tales

Dragon Tales

choices as they grow up.

Tip #4: Limit the time they spend in front of the TV to 1 to 2 hours, per day, for children ages two and above.  For babies younger than two years, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all.

Popcorn + Animated Education DVDs + Mom and Dad = A Fun Learning Experience!

The modern world is fast changing, and even the learning methods parents may choose to employ have evolved.  Shows like Backyardigans and Dragon Tales, apart from providing wholesome entertainment, are excellent educational tools that can stimulate intellectual development in children.

The ultimate trick in making this a wonderful learning experience is to simply have fun.  Keep that in mind, and it will be a time well spent in front of the TV!

Importance of Financial Education for Children in School Curriculum

A few decades ago, financial education for children was taught with the appropriate finance curriculum that when paper money runs out, the shopping must definitely stop.  Without paper money, you simply didn’t have purchasing power.  These days, however, a new school of reason has taken over our children:  when paper money runs out, you can still rely on plastic . . . or in most cases, plastics.  And they come in different tempting forms—credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, ATM cards, and, depending on your bank of choice, reward cards.  And before an unsuspecting teenager realizes it, he’s already at the mall, buying something he doesn’t necessarily need, for an amount he really can’t afford.

The recent financial crisis proves there is something we can do to help young people make wise financial decisions.  In the last two years, the number of states requiring students to take personal finance classes has increased.  Parents are beginning to realize how important it is to expose their children to finance training that would teach them the value of both paper money and plastic.

Here Are 3 Simple Ways To Teach Young Children About Finances:

Tip #1:  Plan for a career. Teach young people the value of hard work; this is an excellent foundation that can help them become successful in any field of choice.  Instill discipline and control, but teach them how to celebrate successes, too.  Learn to hone their talents and skills, and from there help them plan a career that will lead to financial stability through the appropriate finance curriculum.

Tip #2:  Prepare your children for the real world. Allow them to make spending decisions, but address all aspects of finance like budgeting, saving, investing, and credit first.  Help them understand that building a good credit history doesn’t necessarily mean having multiple credit cards.  Introduce them to finance training that teaches important skills such as spending, banking, writing checks, and balancing of checkbooks.  Knowledge in these areas will allow them to make sound financial decisions.  Show them how to look beyond the charms of advertising and mould them into smart consumers.

Tip # 3:  Set a good example. Children are like sponges; they absorb everything around them.  Become a good role model for young people around you, and teach them how to give back to the community.  Raising responsible young adults and utilizing financial education for children can help stabilize the future global market.

Two Cents To Remember

Allowing our children to make financial decisions without teaching them through the appropriate finance training how to manage their money and credit, is just as irresponsible as letting a child swim without taking lessons.  They will most likely drown in debt.  Just as much as the Great Depression moulded a generation that was known for their frugality, we must allow the recent economic crisis to shape a new generation that is financially empowered and educated. Make sure your child’s finance curriculum is put in place today!

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