parenting articles

Great Brain Games for Children

Brain-training games have grown in popularity, especially with the rise of smartphones where thousands of apps and other games are made available on the go. Many games, especially those featured on sites like Facebook, are aimed towards Baby Boomers, claiming to reverse aging and prevent things like Alzheimer’s. While these sorts of claims are more difficult to prove, brain-training games have worked wonders for kids who are still actively learning, growing and developing, especially kids with learning and language disorders. Brain games can help kids build essential skills that help them process things like problem solving or help boost their memory.

Language Games

Language games may involve building essential skills for English but there are also fun, free apps out there that can help children learn to speak other languages, too.

For parents looking for native language boosting games in English, PBS.org has plenty of vocabulary games that can help children master the alphabet, learn new words, and practice their spelling. PBS also has plenty of reading games that focus more on word association, reading comprehension and writing aspects of language.

Language games can help kids develop key communication skills, reading comprehension skills, and it can boost their vocabulary (reading and speaking) significantly, too.

Math Games

Sites like mathplayground.com and coolmath-games.com feature traditional puzzle-solving games like Sudoku, chess, and more but they also have plenty of games that focus on specific areas of math like addition and subtraction, geometry, ratios and percent’s, and much more. Mathplayground.com has a grade-level feature so kids can play games that are appropriate to their age, grade, and skill-level and divide games into categories to make finding specific types of activities much easier. This is a great way to help kids struggling with a particular topic at school and can make studying much more

Memory Games

Parents may be familiar with apps like Lumosity, but this app actually gets a significant amount of revenue from kids as well as adults. Memory boosting games can be both challenging and fun, encouraging kids to develop skills that are useful in everyday situations as well as a myriad of different school subjects, too.

Puzzle Games

Parents may be more familiar with games like Tetris and Bejeweled Blitz (as well as other games like it) but these are great games to introduce to kids, too. Spatial reasoning is an often-overlooked skill and it can be applied to many situations and circumstances. These games encourage problem solving within a timeframe, which can be anxiety-inducing for some kids, but can also help children make better, more informed decisions on the fly, making moves based on educated guesses without overthinking.

There are many sites with plenty of resources, links and information on games for kids. Brain boosting games can be an essential tool for kids with learning disorders or children who may not benefit as much from a traditional school setting. Trying a different format for learning can be incredibly life changing, and fun, too.

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How to Choose a Summer Camp

Summer is ripe with adventure, and there is no better way to highlight the season than summer camp. Summer camp can be extremely exciting for kids. It allows them to spend some time away from home to grow and learn, but also to have a fun time. These days, there are summer camps for every price range, specific interest, and summer schedule. There are a few things you may want to keep in mind before getting started on your list of potential prospects for your little one.

Kinds of Camps

The two main types of camps out there differ on their duration. Resident camps are the camps mostly featured in movies and are more often referred to as “sleep-away camp”. Many of these camps offer a variety of programs and activities for children as young as seven and many of them offer features that focus on specific programs or activities. Some are basic and have a little bit of everything, but specialty camps may specialize in a specific sport or other activity with the goal of improving a specific set of skills.

There are also day camps for parents who may be looking for a babysitting or daycare alternative or for kids who are not ready (or simply uninterested) in sleeping away from home on their own. Day camps offer programming for kids as young as four years old and they generally run on the same, or similar, schedule to the average school day with afternoon programs and other activities for kids who wish to stay longer or to accommodate parent work schedules.

Camp Features

Some parents may be concerned or have a preference regarding the types of activities camps offer or what other kinds of perks and features they have. Some camps focus on building academic skills or knowledge in fields like science, music, or religion. Others may focus on sports, the outdoors, and other topics.

Special needs campers should not be discouraged from considering going to camp. There are many camps that can easily accommodate kids with special needs and there are camps that cater only to kids with certain conditions, offering specific programs that can be just as enriching, fulfilling and fun.

Camp is in Session

Depending on your needs as a parent or on your child’s desires (and ability to be away from home), camps also offer various session lengths for you to choose from.

For kids who are comfortable being away from home on their own, longer sessions for sleep-away camps can be fun and exciting, but shorter sessions may be preferable for kids who are not as comfortable or new to the experience. Day camps are generally very flexible when it comes to session length, and their daytime duration depending on when kids can be dropped off and picked up. Most day camps run from the end of the school year to the beginning of the next one.

Session length may also depend on your budget, which is another important factor to consider. Especially since there are plenty of things that can affect how much money you are willing and able to spend.

Camp Costs

Each camp option, duration, specialty, and other options will add to your total at summers end. Depending on the type of camp, session duration, and any other travel costs or expenses, your costs could vary. However most camps will work with you and your budget depending on what you are looking for you child to get out of the experience. Some community centers offer special programs and other options you may want to consider before looking at camp, and make sure you have an idea of what your own summer schedule looks like before you book. Camp costs will vary depending on where your child goes, but many are affordable the more you customize your child’s stay.

 

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Questions to Ask Your Child to Boost Reading Comprehension

When it comes to building reading skills, what better than actually reading? However knowing the words, sounding them out, and reading them aloud is only part of the skill set that reading requires and can it help enhance the experience if done correctly. Being able to read is one thing, but retaining information, making inferences and forming opinions is another important aspect of this activity – especially in regards to academics. It is important that kids are not only able to read, but that they are also able to take something away from the experience as well. This can mean learning new things, but it can also mean connecting with a fictional character on a personal level or being inspired to engage their imaginations and do something new.

There are some ways parents can help kids boost their reading comprehension skills to get them in the habit of thinking actively.

Ask Their Opinion

This is straightforward, but it can help. After story time, whether it is the parent reading to the child or the child reading aloud, asking questions about the book or the chapter that was just read can help a lot. Not only can asking questions help engage their minds, but having a discussion about the story can help boost kids’ memories and encourage them to engage with the material more personally.

Ask them who their favorite character was and why. Ask them why they think the character did what they did in the story, and what they might have done differently if they were in their shoes. You can even ask your child what they think might happen next or what they would write if they were in charge of the next chapter or sequel.

Encourage Them to Keep a Journal

Kids don’t necessarily have to recount their days; kids can write about their lives, the things they read, school, or anything they like. The important thing is that they are writing. Writing is inherently related to reading in nature, and writing can help children better understand written material. Not only that, but writing can help boost communication skills, empathy and emotional understanding.

Give your kids prompts to answer in their journal, whether it is about their day, what happened at school, or what they think about the things they are reading. Ask them engaging questions and see what they come up with.

Have Them Tell You a Story

Sometimes, bedtime includes a story from mom or dad and not from a book. Storytelling in any form can be beneficial, plus it’s a great way to spend time together and form wonderful memories. But next time at bedtime, ask your child to tell you a story instead – and don’t just listen in, be an active audience member. Ask your kids about their characters and the events of the story, ask them why things happen or why a character did something a certain way. These are the same questions you may have asked your children after reading a book, but asking them about their own stories can help to further engage their active sense of reasoning and understanding. These skills will come in handy when kids are reading on their own and once they begin to ask themselves these questions, they will become more active and understanding readers.

Below are some starter questions you may consider asking your child before choosing a book, while reading a book, or when you’re finished reading:

Picking out a book

• Why did you choose this book?

• Did you like the picture on the front? What’s happening in the image?

• What could this book be about?

Before reading the book

• Can you point to the title? or What is this? (pointing to the title)

• What might happen in the story?

• Talk about the different parts of the book (ex. front cover, back cover, title, author, illustrator, etc.)

• If it is an informational book, ask them what they hope to learn and why

While reading

• What has happened so far?

• What might happen next?

•How do you think the story might end?

• What sort of character is….? How would you describe them? Would you be friends with them?

• How would you feel if you had been that character? Has anything like that happened to you? What would you do if this happened to you?

• If reading an information book: Have you learned anything new? What else would you like to know?

At the end of the book

• What was their favorite part? What was the most interesting/exciting part of the book?

• Why did that character do … (give a situation from the story as an example)?

• What happened in the story?

• Who are the main characters in the story?

• What character would you like to be?

• Did you like this book?

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