Study Reveals 5 Reasons Why Dads Should Read to their Children

why dads should read to their children

We all want to give the best to our children and raise them up to be bright and smart. To ensure that they get a good head start during the early years, we spend much time and effort in picking the right school and enrichment programmes for them.

But do take note that as a parent, you have the power to boost your child’s learning potential by developing a love for reading from young. While the benefits of having both mum and dad read to their children are plentiful, a recent study by researchers from Harvard University in the United States reveals that children benefit more when their father read bedtime stories to them.

As reported by The Telegraph, the study found that dads lead their children to “imaginative discussions” and are more instrumental to their children’s language development during the early years because of the way they read to their children. Dr. Elisabeth Duursma, the study leader, found that girls benefited more when read to by a male. “The impact is huge – particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two,” she explains. “Reading is [often] seen as a female activity and kids seem to be more tuned in when their dad reads to them – it’s special.”

However, a poll conducted among 1,000 mums and dads by Book Trust, an independent British literacy charity, found that young parents are reading less to their children compared to the older generations. Among the respondents, 19% of dads under 25 said they enjoyed a bedtime read with their children, while 78% of older fathers said it was their favourite part of the day.

To bring up the numbers, author and comedian David Walliams has led an initiative in the United Kingdom to emphasise the benefits of fathers reading to their children for just 20 minutes a day. Here are some reasons why more dads should take heed and snuggle up with a good book with their children:

1. They get their children to think further

Having mum and dad take turns to read bedtime stories has been found to improve children’s language and cognitive skills. While mums often focus on the characters’ feelings and ask factual questions, dads tend to link the narrative to something which their child can relate to.

“Dad is more likely to say something line, ‘Oh look, a ladder. Do you remember when I had that ladder in my truck?” Dr. Duursma explains. “That is great for children’s language development because they have to use their brains more. It’s more cognitively challenging.”

2. They help to develop a love of reading in their children

Children learn best from mimicking the words and actions of their parents. So, if you are hoping to nurture a love for reading from young, it would be helpful if you put this good habit into practice yourself.

A research published by the British Journal of Educational Psychology on the role of early father involvement and its impact on children’s educational attainment showed “a positive relationship between the amounts of literacy fathers engage in for their personal use and their children’s reading test.” In this case, dads who are seen reading a lot during their free time send out positive signs to their children that reading is a beneficial and enjoyable thing to do.

3. They share a special bond with their children

While the Harvard study pinpointed the positive influence of dads’ reading – particularly on their daughters – previous research have shown how reading strengthens the bond between fathers and both their sons and daughters.

According to a study by the National Literacy Trust entitled ‘Why Fathers Matter to their Children’s Literacy’, dads who do not get to spend a lot of time at home with their kids due to work reported reading as a major way to develop a unique relationship with their children. Reading to children opens up a world of opportunity for dads to get to know their children on a deeper level and to find out what they think or feel about various topics. This special activity also creates a sense of security in children as they snuggle up for quality time with their dads – and a good book.

 

Dads who read to their children regularly feel more relaxed, and this in turn creates a perfect balance in parenting. More details on this on the next page.

5 Ways to Impart Kindness and Compassion to Kids

ways to raise kind and compassionate kids

As a parent, you try your best to spend quality time with your kids every day. You read books with them to build up their language skills. Whenever you have the chance, you also make it a point to have short conversations with them, which gives you a glimpse of the things that are going through their minds.

But in the midst of all these, have you done everything you can to teach them to be kind and compassionate to others? Well, apparently not – according to the latest research by Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist.

Weissbourd also runs the Make Caring Common project which aims to help teach kids to be kind. Together with his team members, a study was conducted where 10,000 youths were asked to rank what was most important to them: achieving at a high level, happiness or caring for others.

Eighty per cent of the youths studied said that their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others. The subjects also agreed to the following statement: “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.”

Based on the results of this study, Weissbourd and his team came up with the following conclusion:

Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood.

 

With that, the Make Caring Common project team came up with the following five tips to help parents raise children who are kind and compassionate:

1. Make caring a priority

During the early years, children will gradually learn how their actions and behaviour affect the people around them. They need to master the art of balancing their needs with the needs of others. This can involve simple acts such as passing the ball to a teammate during a ball game or standing up for a friend who is being bullied or wrongfully reprimanded.

Children also need to hear from parents that caring for others is a top priority. So do make sure that they address others with respect – even when they are tired, distracted or angry.

Remember to always emphasise the following phrase to them: “The most important thing is that you are kind.”

 

2. Let them put the acts of kindness and gratitude into practice

The saying “practice makes perfect” rings true when it comes to teaching kids to be kind and thankful. In fact, studies show that people who express gratitude regularly are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and happier as a whole.

Children need to “practice” caring for others and express their gratitude to those who have made a difference in their lives. This can involve simple everyday gestures such as helping with household chores at home.

Do remind them to say “thank you” whenever someone makes the effort to help them out along the way.

 

You can encourage your child to be kind and caring towards others by expanding their “circle of concern” and modelling empathy and compassion yourself. More on this on the next page.

June Holiday 2016: 15 Fun and Educational Activities for Kids

With a break from school for four weeks, the June holiday presents plenty of opportunities for your kids to discover new places, enjoy their favourite activities and catch up with their studies as they prepare for the new semester in school.

We believe that as with all things in life, it is good to strike a good balance between work and play to make the learning experience more enjoyable for children. To help you get started, we have narrowed down the following list of activities which you and your kids might enjoy during the one-month holiday:

* Some of these activities come with discount codes and offers, so do look out for them and apply upon booking/registration.

1. Skate with Us Superheroes Summer Skate Camp (3 to 12 years old)

june holiday 2016 activities

Help your children learn to be more resilient by changing the way they think about challenges and adversities. At this superheroes-themed summer skate camp, they will get a dose of inspiration to rediscover their strengths, self-confidence, creativity and personal worth through skating. The combination of all these will empower them to manage their emotions and handle adversity in a proactive way.

Designed with both skaters and non-skaters with zero skating knowledge in mind, campers will get to learn at their own pace and pick up or improve their skating skills. Choices of full day and half day camps are available.

Dates: Starts from 30 May 2016 (Refer to list of dates here)
Time: 9.30am to 12pm / 9.30am to 5pm
Venue: Bishan Park, East Coast Park or West Coast Park
Admission: From $198/child (Includes meals and/or snacks)
Note: Register in groups of 3 or more and enjoy $30 off admission fees for each camper. One-time registration fee of $30 applies.
Click here for more details.

 

2. MindChamps Pirates Ahoy! Reading & Writing Workshops (3 to 9 years old)

june holiday 2016 activities

MindChamps’ Reading and Writing holiday workshops take kids on an exciting literacy sailing journey with Pirate Di and Pirate Jo!

In The Reading Mission, kids 3 to 6 years old get to experience Integrated Phonics (through songs, rhymes and poems) and Listening and Reading Comprehension (through Immersive Reading Strategies) by going on a fun adventure.

Meanwhile, P1 to P3 kids can brush up their writing skills by joining in The Writing Mission. Go on a scavenger hunt with Pirate Jo to unravel a treasure trove of Adjectives, Conjunctions and Verbs.

Here’s a great chance for your kids to learn all about creative writing in a memorable way!

The Reading Mission (3 to 6 years old)

Date: 1 June 2016
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Admission: $68/child (Key in MC0516 on the online booking form to enjoy 15% off)
Note: One parent is required to attend.

The Writing Mission (6 to 9 years old)
Date & Time:

2 June 2016 – 2pm to 4pm
6 June 2016 – 10am to 12pm / 2pm to 4pm
Admission: $89/child (Key in MC0516 on the online booking form to enjoy 15% off)
Venue: MindChamps HQ, Toa Payoh HDB Hub East Wing Level 17
Click here for more details.

 

3. MindChamps Champion Mind Programme (7 and 8 years old)

june holiday 2016 activities

With the focus during your child’s schooling years shifting from pure academics to building aptitude and overall development, it is important that he/she adopts a positive attitude and the right mindset in order to excel.

MindChamps’ proprietary Champion Mind programme was designed by leading education experts to empower your child with the crucial learning, thinking and communication skills needed to succeed in school and beyond. Book a seat for this workshop during the school holiday to let your child experience the programme.

 

Date: 1 to 2 June 2016
Time: 10am to 1pm
Venue: MindChamps HQ, Toa Payoh HDB Hub East Wing Level 17
Admission: $68/child (Key in MC0516 on the online booking form to enjoy 15% off)
Click here for more details.

 

4. MindChamps PSLE Grand Prix Workshops (For P5 students in 2016)

Give your child a good head start in preparing for PSLE by revisiting the key concepts in English, Maths, Science and Chinese through MindChamps’ “Formula 1” themed holiday workshops. Here, your child will gain a better understanding of the curriculum through engaging classroom activities and projects, and learn effective exam strategies that will help them excel in PSLE with confidence.

Dates:
1 June 2016 (Math)
2 June 2016 (English)
3 June 2016 (Science)
6 June 2016 (Chinese)
Time: 9am to 1pm
Venue: MindChamps HQ, Toa Payoh HDB Hub East Wing Level 17
Admission: $98/child per subject (Key in MC0516 on the online booking form to enjoy 15% off)
Click here for more details.

 

5. Aviva SuperFundae (3 to 12 years old)

june school holiday 2016 activities


Aviva SuperFundae is a one-of-a-kind “funival” where you can enjoy a wide range of play activities with your family. Some highlights to look forward to include the Numakiki Jungle Obstacle, CrayCraySpray Water Spray, Beer Dash, hands-on artsy workshops and more. Do join in this all-day celebration to fill the school holidays with sunshine and happiness.

Date: 4 June 2016
Time: 10am to 9pm
Venue: Gardens by the Bay
Admission: $19.90 for all-day play (Per adult and child aged 3 and above – Present your PAssion Card to enjoy 10% off)
Bundled ticket deals are available. $1 SISTIC fee applies for each ticket.
Click here for more details.

 

Inspire your kids with a positive attitude to help them excel in school – then go on a treasure hunt as a family and build your very own Hello Kitty robot. More June holiday activities on the next page. 

The Digital Detox Every Family Should Do

digital detox

For many families, smartphones, tablets and other devices are a normal part of day-to-day life. But when adults are clearly enamoured with their devices – constantly checking their email, texting or reading on their iPad more than they’re interacting with their children – kids notice. They end up feeling neglected and as if they need to fight for their parents’ time and attention.

A recent study in Pediatrics found that caregivers who were highly absorbed in their electronic devices at mealtimes not only caused children to act out to get the adult’s attention, but also “responded harshly” to child misbehaviour.

Face-to-face interaction is crucial for the development of a young child’s language skills and emotional intelligence. Although it is impossible to do away with technology altogether, small cut backs can significantly turn attention to your children and benefit parents and children alike. The family will have time for board games, walks and other activities that build close bonds and warm memories.

6 Digital Detox Steps Every Family Should Take

digital detox

1. Allocate “Device-Free” Times

Make it a rule to step away from your device at predetermined hours to spend time with your children – during dinner and until your child’s bedtime, for example. If need be, inform co-workers when you will be “unplugged”.

2. Learn to Switch Off

Leave your phone in the car when attending your child’s sporting events and performances. If you can’t bear to be without a camera to document your child’s activities, switch your smartphone to “Airplane mode” to resist the urge to text or quickly check email. Children will know if you’re paying attention to their efforts or if you’re glued to your Twitter feed.

3. Text and Email Only After the Kids’ Bedtime

Wait to check your email or text messages until after your child goes to bed. They will still be there after you’ve read your child a story and tucked him in.

4. Keep Phones Away from Your Bed

Don’t sleep with your smartphone under your pillow or near your bed.

5. Make Mealtimes “Device-Free”

Similarly, don’t eat a meal with smartphones or other devices at the table. If you have older children, make digital detox a family affair. Make gathering everyone’s devices a nightly pre-dinner ritual and ask your children to vote on a “hiding place” for their – and your – digital tech equipment. Also insist on making this a rule when going out to a restaurant. When dining out, the focus should be on face-to-face interaction, not on Instagramming a meal or texting friends.

6. Give Your Devices a Day Off

Be brave. Put your digital devices away for an entire day on the weekends. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish and how much fun the entire family will have.

 

Republished with permission from Dr Susan Newman, social psychologist, parenting expert and best-selling author.

 

Suggested Reading: 4 Ways to Curb Internet Addiction in Kids

6 Effective Ways to Compliment and Motivate Your Child

how to compliment and motivate your child

What parent doesn’t love to praise his or her children? When a child does something praise-worthy, from accomplishing a difficult math problem to creating a piece of art, a proud parent can’t help but be enthusiastic.

Yet, parents should be wary of over-the-top, glowing praise that focuses on stroking a child’s ego. Over time, hollow phrases like “Good job” become white noise, either not heard or ignored by your child.

how to compliment and motivate your child

Here are 6 specific ways to constructively compliment children:

1. Encourage

Encouragement is effective because it:

a) Allows you to select a characteristic or behaviour you want to develop or foster in a positive and constructive way

b) Lets you call attention to their process

You support the process and help build your child’s confidence. When she comes home with a poor grade on a test, you might say: “I like the effort you put into studying. Maybe a bit more next time, you think?”

You are complimenting the process, not the outcome. You are making her responsible.

2. Mirror

If you are consistently responsive, your child is more likely to be confident. It can be a trick on a skateboard, a gymnastic feat, a piano piece mastered or almost mastered, a tennis match won or almost won. Let her know that you see her and recognize her accomplishments, large and small.

Ask to see her collection of dolls, or rocks, or something similar. Observe and talk about how orderly it is, how well she’s protecting it. Or ask, “Where did you find all these things?”

Your undivided attention is worth more than platitudes shouted from another room. Showing an interest in what’s he’s interested packs more of a punch than simply saying, “What a fabulous collection.” It positions your child as an expert — what a confidence boost!

3. Listen

Most of us are overscheduled and distracted, often too distracted to give children what they need. Acknowledge them and give them an honest assessment of what they’re doing. Take time to listen and make sure your children know you’re listening. Listen to complaints and be empathetic. Don’t immediately take your child’s or the teacher’s side, for instance. Hear his point of view.

Allowing your child to explain tells him you value his point of view and observations. Being heard is a powerful motivator.

4. Reward

Focus on the direction your child is moving in. You might say: “You improved so much since your last report card. Aren’t you proud of yourself? You should be.” When your child is memorizing a poem or words for a spelling test, you might say: “You almost had it. You’ll get it.”

And when your child succeeds (a grade improvement or a sports milestone, for example), you might say: “You got an A! You just proved to yourself that you should never give up.”

You are teaching your child to internalize her abilities and to eventually be able to evaluate herself accurately.

5. Reinforce

You might say: “I like the song you sang for grandma and grandpa. Would you sing it for me now?” Or, you might ask your child to retell a joke or ask for instruction: “The dog seems to respond so well to your training. Show me how you get him to do that, please.”

Reliving bright moments reminds children of their “strong suits”. You are telling your child she has something worthwhile to offer and share with you. Showing a genuine interest allows a child to relive accomplishments, and this kind of response can cultivate diligence and determination.

6. Question

You might say: “How did you choose the colours for that picture? What did you use to make those lines? It’s so unusual, interesting, real, pretty, cheerful…”

You’re asking about the process, making your child think about how he created his work or tackled a project and what he might do next time.

When you combine these techniques and use them regularly, you put your child on a direct, merited path toward self-confidence. Isn’t that what compliments are for in the first place?

 

Suggested Reading: 5 Lessons Kids Can Learn from Losing

 

Republished with permission from Dr Susan Newman, social psychologist, parenting expert and best-selling author.

7 Interesting Facts about Millennial Mums

millennial mums

Apart from making their presence known in the workforce, an increasing number of millennials (dubbed as people born between 1980 and the early 2000s) are now taking over as parents in all parts of the world. According to a 2015 US Census Bureau data, approximately one in five mums is a millennial, and they now account for almost 90% of the 1.5 million new mothers in the country within the last year.

While they might be little sisters and cousins of people from the Gen-X era, the way they live and raise their kids varies vastly. For instance, millennial mums regard technology and social media as a way of life, and are known to opt for more relaxed parenting styles.

To know more about what goes on in the lives and minds of this group of mums, do check out these interesting facts about millennial mums and see how many of these traits you can relate to:

1. They are well-educated

Worldwide statistics in recent years have revealed that most millennial mums are graduates who hold well-paying jobs. Many of them have also outpaced their male counterparts when it came to career progression.

2. They are connected 24/7

As a whole, mums in this generation grew up during a time when the Internet was a huge part of their daily life. So, it should not come as a shock that millennial mums (or most mums today in general) are a highly connected bunch. The results of the Asian Digital Mum Survey 2015 revealed that mums in Singapore use an average of three social media accounts, namely, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube – and 67% spend one to six hours on the Internet daily for work. This is truly a huge shift in behavioural pattern compared to a decade ago.

3. They are active online users and turn to each other for advice

While baby boomers turn to experts and their parents for parenting wisdom, millennial mums are twice as likely to turn to Google for advice and tips. In addition, studies also suggest that millennial mums consult their peers for advice, as they prefer to trust a friend rather than some generic authority.

On average, most of them interact with other mums online once a week to share information. They are also 20% more likely to use online communities to get advice on everything from the best diaper brands to insurance plans and recommended childcare and infant care services.

 

From creating social media accounts for their children at birth to adopting more relaxed parenting styles, check out the rest of the facts on millennial mums on the next page.

12 Gentle Alternatives To Time-Out That Work

gentle alternatives to time-out

For some families, pulling out the time-out chair might just be the thing they need when kids misbehave. But what are parents to do when this discipline method does not help to steer their little ones’ behaviour in a positive direction?

According to Lisa McCrohan, compassion coach psychotherapist at Georgetown University in the United States, it is important for mum and dad to calm down and manage their emotions first before tackling the huge task of shifting their kids’ behaviour.

“In any stressful situation, if we want our children to learn effective emotional regulation and make good choices, then we as parents have to be the ones to model it.”

Other child psychology experts are also on the same page with McCrohan. They emphasised that when parents practice mindfulness themselves, this can make a huge difference when it comes to correcting misbehaviour in kids.

But with that being said, kids will still be kids, and they may not be on their best behaviour all the time. In situations like this, you might want to give these 12 time-out alternatives a try. Over time, these will help you build a loving relationship with your kids and set them on the right path to behaving in a positive manner.

1. Hug it out

gentle alternatives to time-out

During the toddler years, your kids are learning to deal with the wave of emotions that they are experiencing. In moments of frustration, tantrums and melt-downs are most likely to ensue. So how do you quickly defuse the situation?

As bizarre as it might sound, offering a hug to your little ones might just be the thing you need as it helps you connect with them on an emotional level before correcting their behaviour. “When a child is misbehaving, we first want to restore connection. Offering a hug is one way to join with your child, give [him] that deep but gentle pressure [he] needs around [his] body, and connect with each other before addressing the behaviour,” says McCrohan.

 

2. Ask questions

gentle alternatives to time-out

We may not always understand the reason why kids do things that are deemed inappropriate in our eyes and mind. But what we see as “bad” or “naughty” might just be an innocent attempt to understand how something works.

So, instead of getting worked up with your child’s behaviour, try to find out their intentions by asking questions and listening before correcting them on how they could have handled it better. You can also ask questions to help your kids tune in to their feelings, both when they misbehave and for times when they do something good. When children are in touch with their feelings, they are less likely to act out.

 

3. Help them describe their feelings

gentle alternatives to time-out

When kids react in a way you’d rather them not, McCrohan suggests that parents address and acknowledge this by helping them name what they are feeling. Doing this before jumping into how they shouldn’t have done so gives your kids time to calm down and get in touch with their emotions.

 

Do time-ins help you manage your child’s time-outs better? More on this and other time-out tips on the next page.