July 2009

Critical Thinking Skills Begin at Home

By teaching critical thinking to a child, a parent can open up his or her eyes to things that had never before been apparent. This can be taught through a variety of ways, such as crafting a response to a literary work, doing research on various sources, or, perhaps one of the most powerful means, asking kids to place themselves on the opposite side of their own viewpoint and arguing from that stance. 

By developing this sense of empathy, they can develop an appreciation of how others might view the world and step outside their own egocentrism a bit.

Quick Energy Pick-Me-Ups for Working Parents

Raising a child is a job in and of itself. When you’re already busy trying to care for your kid—or kids!—having another job on top of it can be quite stressful. It’s very common for parents to experience energy loss and fatigue—in fact, many hobbies and interests can quickly switch from something you’ve have a love affair with for your whole life—such as model building, reading, or painting—to a very distant second to your new love, which is, of course, extra sleep.

My husband and I have actually hired a babysitter for “sleep dates” before, where we watch a flick together and fall asleep. Since we normally work different schedules so our child can stay home, this is something we’re quite grateful for when we get it!

Schedule Yourself a Becation

My family and I never really took a vacation when I was growing up. We never had money for that sort of thing. But we did take little day trips here and there, and sometimes visited out-of-town relatives for a weekend at a time, and I know that even those took plenty of time and energy—especially for my mom—to arrange and prepare for. I can only imagine what it’s like to prepare a week-long stay somewhere.

Lately, the fad has been to have a “staycation” instead—where you take your vacation from work and just stay home, relaxing, maybe playing tourist a little around your own hometown or area, and simply not working. I’ve done a few of these myself—in fact, all of my vacations so far have been staycations—and I’ll vouch for how awesome they are.

How to Host a Decent Family Reunion

Despite some beliefs, an annual family reunion isn’t meant to be a place to create a barroom brawl or pick up women. It is, however, a good time for you to get to know your kin, establish some sort of family togetherness, and put faces to people’s names. If anything else, it’s a good way to prevent your kid from asking, “Who’s that dead man, Mama?” at the next funeral you attend.

We’ve had an annual family reunion for our big family since before I was born, and it’s usually pretty good. Since I’m now the booker of the place, I’m a bit more conscious of it than I’ve been in the past. Here are a few tips in holding a family reunion that doesn’t result in bloodshed or pregnancy.

Hola, Nino

Since Nickelodeon’s popular Spanish-teaching series Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go there has been another fun show added to the mix—Ni Hao Kai-Lan which teaches Mandarin and, in my three-year-old daughter’s opinion, is much more enjoyable than the other two (though she would readily watch any of them if given the chance!).

Since it’s National Foreign Language Month, why not explore some ways for your child to pick up on a new language? Learning a second language may help improve listening and thinking skills, as well as provide a doorway into new cultures and broader career possibilities. Many experts say that the best time to introduce a new language is when a child is young—even a toddler—because their language and speech patterns aren’t completely fixed yet. Here are some tips in teaching a new language at home.

Creating Lasting, Loving Family Traditions

When I was a kid, I always loved our family’s traditions. We always sang karaoke at the annual family reunion, drank milkshakes on long road trips to my aunt’s house (for which we’d leave at the crack of dawn, which was also fun), had homemade birthday cakes, and were treated to sundaes after going to the dentist.

As I got older, I realized that there were other traditions that other families had that ours didn’t—and I longed for them deeply. Singing around a piano at Christmas, first menstrual cycle celebrations, and family vacations (think Dan in Real Life rather than Disneyland) all had such a glittering appeal. Now that I’m a mother with a family of my own, I’m anxious to start our own traditions.