How early should toddlers play with tablets? Study may surprise you

How early should toddlers play with tablets? Study may surprise you

f you’re wondering if it’s OK for your young child to play with a tablet, a new study out of the University of London has a surprising — and controversial — answer.

“Tablets should be part of a baby’s world from birth,” says Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith, who is heading up the study. She spoke with the London Times and added, “It is shocking how fast they learn, even faster than adults to do things like scroll up and down text.”

The University of London study watched a small group of babies aged 6-10 months and found number recognition was higher after they were shown digits on a tablet. “Everything we know about child development tells us that tablet computers should not be banned for babies and toddlers,” Karmiloff-Smith noted.

Perhaps not everything. Her findings fly in the face of advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP says that parents should have “screen-free” zones for kids, and that children and teens shouldn’t spend more than one to two hours each day with “entertainment media.” Infants and children under 2 interact better with people than screens, adds the AAP, and recommends no TV or entertainment media for those ages. (Tablets/iPads are not specified in the AAP’s recommendations.)

Boston University School of Medicine researchers released a study in January that echoed the AAP’s recommendations, noting that parents should delay giving gadgets to kids since they can be “detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child.”

Yet while one study recommends gadgets and the other says they are harmful, they are coming to separate conclusions, it appears: Karmiloff-Smith’s study is about learning and appears to say little about social development, while most other studies seem to focus on young people’s socialization, along with learning.

Perhaps we’ll know more in the coming months and years: Karmiloff-Smith and staff are expanding their research, now examining hundreds of babies and toddlers — some of whom are, in fact, getting their tablets from birth.

Concentration Tips for College Students

Concentration Tips for College Students

At most colleges and universities, about 10 percent of students struggle concentrating. These students typically blame non-school related distractions for their concentration problems.

However, researchers have shown that loud noises and other distractions do not affect concentration. Rather, distractions are created through the way students interpret them.

Creating a Study Environment
1. Choose an area that will be exclusively used for studying

2. Surround yourself with study aides

3. Study in quiet areas without TVs and radios

4. Do not study in areas where you’ll fall asleep or become groggy

When to Study
1. Study during the early morning, afternoon, and early evening since you’ll better retain information. Avoid studying late at night.

2. Study during times when you will not be distracted by friends, extra-curricular activities, or work responsibilities

3. Don’t study when you’re tired. Get plenty of rest before long study sessions

4. When you can no longer concentrate or become extremely tired, end the study session

How to Study & Concentrate
1. When studying in distracting situations, move to a new setting

2. During study sessions, jot down distracting thoughts. This will enable you to forget them and focus on studying

3. Begin study sessions by identifying goals. This could include the number of homework problems to work through or pages to read

4. Reward yourself for meeting your study goals, which could include going to the movies, reading a book, or other activities you enjoy

5. Structure study sessions by organizing content to be studied into chunks. This will limit boredom during long sessions

6. Schedule periodic breaks to clear your mind

7. Do not study while you’re watching TV or socializing with friends

8. If you struggle concentrating, schedule multiple short study sessions

9. Schedule study sessions in advance to avoid possible distractions

10. Remember that friends will not lose respect for you if you miss out on social gathering to study. There will always be time to relax and have fun

11. Plan study sessions around content to cover rather than time. Constantly checking your watch is distracting

Can inclusive education do more harm than good?

Can inclusive education do more harm than good?

Recently, a teacher expressed his misgivings about the “inclusion at all costs” ideology of modern education. Despite being well supported by his school and hugely in favour of inclusive practice, he outlined his difficulties in managing a young fellow with Down Syndrome whose behaviour in the classroom was extremely difficult, and increasingly dangerous. This resulted in children and staff leaving the school, citing concerns about their safety and psychological health.

The article attracted derision from many, but also a sigh of relief from other teachers and a surprising number of parents of children with a disability.

I’ve witnessed instances in my own kid’s classrooms, where both the teacher and teacher aide were needed to skilfully “manage” one child’s behaviour, while the other 20+ children sat and waited patiently for the crisis to pass. So resigned was the rest of the class, I was curious as to how much of their time was routinely spent in this fashion, and whether this impacted their learning.

I also wondered whether repeated exposure to this behaviour promoted understanding and tolerance or, alternatively, led to stereotypes that people with disabilities are difficult and disruptive?

When I worked for a disability support organisation, there was much angst for parents in determining whether their child was better off in a mainstream versus a special school. This discussion was taken extremely seriously, involving their paediatrician and a range of allied health/education specialists.

The vast majority of the time we supported mainstream inclusion. On the few occasions we were concerned this was not in the child’s best interests, a number of parents had a great deal of difficulty believing that their child could have a positive alternative education experience.


The outcome of parents insisting on mainstream inclusion was sometimes not helpful to their child. One young student had a severe level of cognitive impairment and social functioning. By high school she could barely read or write and had limited verbal expression. Her parents insisted on the most mainstream education possible, even preventing her from going on end-of-semester fun excursions with her class, lest it disrupt her studies.

No amount of discussion from her medical/education therapists could convince her loving parents that she would really benefit from some experience in crowds, queues and learning to interact appropriately in public, rather than focusing on her academic work.

This student is now an adult and I still see her around and about, always with a family member, as she frequently needs redirecting when her social interactions become inappropriate. This makes me wonder who benefited from her mainstream inclusion.

What if she had gone to a special school? The focus there would have been on teaching her useful life skills, such as how to interact with people in public. She may have even made a friend or two who shared her interests.

While I am a believer in the benefits of inclusion, it doesn’t automatically follow that inclusion is always the best choice for every child. Sometimes the decision to “mainstream” a child appears to be based more on appeasing the anxieties of their parents, as well as the ideology of the education system.

Inclusion doesn’t always work

The inclusion philosophy is based on the contact hypothesis – that by repeated contact/exposure to children with a disability, the general student population will be accepting of diverse needs and build friendships. However, research suggests this is not necessarily the outcome. In fact, on-site inclusion of children with certain types of disability may increase negative attitudes in the general student body.

Although there may be many benefits for the child with a disability, they are not unequivocal. These studies directly compared mainstream against special education settings. They found no difference in mainstreamed students’ social competence/functioning, as well as a lower self-concept (how someone thinks about, evaluates or perceives themselves).

Finding the right balance

Should we automatically start with the assumption that inclusion always works best for everybody? There is a fair suspicion that a child in a mainstream school who frequently and intensely acts out, does so for a purpose (to achieve removal from an environment in which they cannot cope).

At what point should we “listen” to their behaviour and accept maybe this isn’t the best placement for them? At what point does a child’s behaviour become unsupportable in a classroom environment, regardless of whether it arises from an underlying disability?

In the messy reality of implementing the noble ideal of inclusion, there is not a universally clear path to best practice. Rather, there appears to be a worrying tendency to consistently preference ideology over the best interests of the child(ren).

Hands-on learning about Honey Bees

Spending time in nature and observing the little things like bugs, insects and birds have provided my children with so many learning opportunities. I have previously talked about The Nature Curriculum, as we call it, and how nature can inspire an interest and lead you on a learning adventure. This is exactly how my children’s interest in bees came about.

Developing an interest

Earlier this year we had a Bee Hawk Moth visit our garden so we spent a few days observing it buzzing from flower to flower. During this observation time it brought up lots of questions; what it was, did it have a stinger, what was it doing here and was it apart of the bee family. These questions were investigated and answers were found.
A few weeks later, we observed a honey bee visiting our garden. Again the process of observation and questions occurred. One of the first questions that we investigated was whether or not this was a “mummy” bee. 

Life Cycle
We used our FREE life cycle of a honeybee nomenclature cards  to look at how a bee develops and grows from a tiny little eggs to a completely grown honeybee. We also used our Life Cycle of a Honey Bee figurines that I previously purchased from Mini Zoo.

We quickly learnt that the “Mummy” bee is called the Queen bee and she is the only bee in the hive that lays the eggs. I found this visual on How Bees Work Life Cycle for my children to see how the bees develop and grown as well as who looks after them.

Bee Anatomy
We had talked about the Queen bee and how the worker bees look after the larva and pupa as they grow. This had brought up questions about which bees collect the honey and how they carry it back to the hive. I designed and made a felt puzzle for learning about the parts of a honeybee and found these FREE parts of a honey bee nomenclature cards to go together. I presented the cards first and talked about the different names for each part of the bee. My children chose to label the felt puzzle and have been back many times to explore it on their own.

You can download my FREE Honeybee Anatomy Template that I used to make our felt honeybee puzzle from here.

Bees Home
While we were out on one of our many nature walks, we came across what we thought was an old, unoccupied wasp hive. My children were immediately fascinated by this hive which looks so much like a bee hive. We took the little hive home to make further observations and see if we can learn who might have built it.

This discovery led us to research about bee hives and what they look like. My daughters became inspired to make their own bee hive and got to work putting together their beehive from different recycled items we had before adding paint to it.

This self-constructed bee hive became the centre of play-based learning for my daughters as they role-played and made up stories about the life cycle of the honey bees and the work that the different types of bees do (such as collecting honey and caring for the pupa). By listening and watching them play, I could see how they were recalling the information we had talked and read about. Play is such an important process of learning that all children need.

We had talked about the important job that bees do making honey as well as how bee pollinate our flowering fruits and vegetables. Miss 5 made the connection between bees and our own watermelon that we had grown in our garden. She spent a number of hours watching the flowers on our watermelon vine till she finally saw a bee arrive and begin pollinating. We spent sometime trying to identify this little bee who we think is a native Australian honeybee.

We know that bees make honey but my children discovered, by reading The Life and Times of a Honey Bee by Charles Micuicci that bees also make wax. We have a local beekeeper who is going to talk with us next month so in the meantime I purchased a Beeswax Candle Making Kit from Spiral Garden for my children to explore.

Resource and Interest Shelf
As an interest in bees has grown, so has our interest shelf. We like using an interest as away of giving our resources in one place and it helps things organized. Some of the resources we have on our shelf I have already mentioned above. Books, together with google, have been used a lot during our learning and some of the books we have used are:

We also watched a few different documentaries from YouTube as well as Bee MovieMaya The Bee movie and the Magic School Bus In A Beehive which is available on YouTube. As this interest in honeybees continues I am sure our interest shelf will grow as my children’s knowledge will deepen and expand, all through interest-led learning.

You can find more resources and activity ideas about Bee and other insects, over on my Insect pinterest board

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This post has been linked up with:
Favorite Things Friday
Learn and Play Link Up 

Discover Your Learning Style

Discover Your Learning Style

Each person has different learning preferences and styles that benefit them. Some may find they even have a dominant learning style. Others that they prefer different learning styles in different circumstances. There is no right or wrong answer to which learning style is best for you – or mix of learning styles. However, by discovering and better understanding your own learning styles, you can employ techniques that will improve the rate and quality of your learning.

There are seven key learning styles. These include:
Visual (spacial) – learning through imagery and spacial understanding
Aural (auditory) – learning through listening, sound, and music
Verbal (linguistic) – learning through speech and writing
Physical (kinesthetic) – learning through hands-on, tactile interaction
Logical (mathematical) – learning through logic, reasoning and systems
Social (interpersonal) – preference for learning in groups or working with other people
Solitary (intrapersonal) – preference for learning alone via self-study

Visual Learning Style
If you prefer lessons that employ imagery to teach, chances you’re a visual learner, many people are. Visual learners retain information better when it’s presented in pictures, videos, graphs, and books. These learners benefit when information is presented on an overhead projector or white board, or on a piece of paper. Visual learners often make sure their notes are very detailed and spend extra time reviewing information from textbooks. Visual learners also frequently draw pictures or develop diagrams when trying to comprehend a subject or memorize rote information.

If you’re a visual learner, use pictures, images, color, diagrams and other visual media in your note taking, test preparation and studying. Whenever possible, use pictures instead of text. Try to develop diagrams to understand concepts and story boards to remember important sequences and relationships.

Aural Learning Style
Aural (auditory) learners retain information better when it’s presented in lecture format, via speeches, audio recordings, and other forms of verbal communication. While a visual learner would prefer to read a book or watch a video, auditory learners would prefer to attend a lecture or listen to a book on tape. Aural learners are also big on sound and music. They can typically sing, are musically inclined, play an instrument, and can identify different sounds.

If you’re an aural learner, integrate auditory media, listening techniques, sound, rhyme, or even music in your learning and studying. You may also consider using background music and sounds to help you with visualization of processes and systems. For example, if you’re practicing flight procedures, you may considering playing a recording of an aircraft in the background as you study. You can also use music, rhythm, rhyming and music techniques to memorize and retain information.

Replacing the lyrics of a favorite song with information you’re learning is a very powerful way to memorize large amounts of information for aural learnings. Use this technique and you’ll never forget the information again.

Verbal Learning Style
Verbal learning involves both writing and speeking. People who are verbal learners usually find it easy to express themselves, both verbally and in writing. They often love to read and write, enjoy rhymes, tongue twisters, and limericks. They also have a well developed vocabulary, like to find the meaning of words, and are able to assimilate new words into their vocabulary with relative ease.

Verbal learners should try employing learning and studying techniques that involve speaking and/or writing. Reading aloud while reviewing subject matter is useful for verbal learners. Word-based techniques such as scripting and assertion are effective strategies for improving memory and recall for verbal learners. Acronym mnemonics are are also an effective trick verbal learners can use to memorize lists and sequences.

Physical Learning Style
Physical learners, also referred to as knesthetic or tactile learners, retain information best through hands-on interaction and participation – they need to experience things. For example, a physical learner in an automotive repair class would learn better working directly on cars than sitting through a lecture or reading a book about cars. Physical leaners excel in classes where they’re assigned to study in labs.

If you’re a physical learner, employ touch, action, interaction a.nd hands-on involvement in your study and learning activities. If you’re going to learn how to sail boat, read your manual, but make sure to spend the majority of your time on a boat working through the techniques and sequences.

Logical Learning Style
Individuals who excel at math and possess strong logical reasoning skills are usually logical learners. They notice patterns quickly and have a keen ability to link information that would seem non-related by others. Logical learners retain details better by drawing connections after organizing an assortment of information.

Maximize your ability to learn by seeking to understand the meaning and reasoning behind the subject you’re studying. Don’t depend on rote memorization. Explore the links between related subject matter and make sure to understand details. Use ‘systems thinking’ to help you better understand the relationship between various parts of a system. This will not only help you understand the bigger picture, it will help you understand why each component part is important.

Social Learning Style
Social learners usually have excellent written and verbal communication skills. These individuals are at ease speaking with others and are adept at comprehending other people’s perspectives. For this reason, people frequently seek counsel from social learners. Social learners learn best working with groups and take opportunities to meet individually with teachers. If you like bouncing your ideas off others, prefer working through issues as a group, and thoroughly enjoy working with others, there’s a good chance you’re a social learner.

If you’re a social learner, you should seek opportunities to study with others. If the class you’re in doesn’t have formal groups, make your own group.

Solitary Learning Style
Solitary learners usually prefer working by themselves in private settings. They do not rely on others for help when solving a problem or studying. Solitary learners frequently analyze their learning preferences and methods. Since solitary learners prefer to work alone, it is possible for them to waste time on a difficult problem before seeking assistance. However, solitary learning can be very effective learning style for students.

To get the most out of your time studying, it is very helpful to identify your personal learning preferences and styles.