Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trampoline - for your brain

Want to create a smart reader? Get your child on a trampoline.

According to brain researcher Bernadette Tynan, trampolines are so good for the brain, "even NASA astronauts use it to boost their brain power."

Trampolines improve your meta-cognative ability - your ability to "think about thinking."

That's because on a trampoline, you never land the same way twice. So your brain has to constantly work at keeping you upright. Thinking about staying in the middle of the trampoline or staying in synch with another bouncer, " gives the brain extra focus," says Tynan.

Regular sessions with a trampoline will help your child's brain's ability to focus, she says.

Tynan, of course, is the brains behind the wonderful TVO series, Make Your Child Brilliant. (I'm a huge fan.)
However, at this point, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Safe Kids Canada advises against backyard trampolines. More than 500 kids are injured by backyard trampolines in Canada every year.
So - a really brilliant idea? Go to a trampoline club like the Just Bounce Trampoline Club in Toronto, where your kid can get brainier and be safe all at the same time. Now that's brilliant!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vote for Getting Kids Reading

Please vote for us.

We've been nominated for a BlogLuxe Award, in the category "Blog you've learned the most from."

We'd appreciate it if you could take a moment and vote for us.

Visit the BlogLuxe website and click on our category.
Then you have to scroll down a bit and find us - and click vote!

You can vote once a day, from now until July 6.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kanye West disses reading

This is what we’re up against.

You know Kanye West, the rapper. (Don’t tell your kids if you don’t because he’s huge. Like HUGE. And amazing – as a rapper, that is. He’s also the one who blurted out that surprising and awesome statement in the middle of a Hurrican Katrina pledge drive that, “George Bush doesn't care about black people.”)

So Kanye West, no stranger to controversy, recently announced that he doesn't like books. This, despite the fact that his late mother was an English professor, and despite the fact THAT HE JUST PUBLISHED A BOOK, hello!

Anyway, in the vein of you-need-to-know-what-you’re-up-against, I thought it would be helpful to let parents know what Kanye says about books (snide comments in brackets are mine):
“I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph.” (Hmmm.)
“I am a proud non-reader of books.” (Oxymoron.)
“I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life.” (You can’t do both?)
"Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed..." (Isn't your book about your thoughts and sayings? Well, let's hope it's not wordy.)

How to counter Kanye
*If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Buy your kid his book. It’s actually pretty interesting. Some of the pages are blank, and the rest of them are mostly sayings. Maybe your child will like the book, which is good, or maybe he'll think "well, this is dumb," which also has some merit given the context.
*Point out that Kanye WROTE A BOOK. How can you not like books and then WRITE A BOOK???
*Tell your kids that Kanye also said that his mom, “raised me to be the voice to allow people to think for themselves, to find their own way.” Which means that you don’t have to listen to people who diss reading.
*Point out, once again, that KANYE WROTE A BOOK. He wrote a book! He wrooooote a book.

Here’s Kanye's statement about George Bush. Watch Mike Myers’s face. It is priceless. :40 seconds.
Here's a Reuters article on Kanye dissing reading (and yet, as previously mentioned, publishing a book.)
And here's Kanye West's video for Heartless. I have to admit, I'm a fan. Of his music. And his George Bush statement.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Don’t tell your kid that reading is hard

Life imitates art – er, blog.

My last post* cautioned parents not to tell kids that reading is hard because, “kids don’t know something is difficult until you tell them it is.”

I was talking to Mary in the schoolyard today, and she told me a real-life story that illustrates that exact point.

Her daughter loved choir. She loved performing, loved the singing, loved learning new songs and even wrote notes on staff paper in her spare time, for fun.

And then an older choir member told her how hard choir is. She said the theory is so hard, the practices get really difficult—in fact, she’s quitting choir because it’s too hard.

So Mary’s daughter, having found out that choir is actually hard and not fun, insisted on quitting the choir. Boom. It’s the same girl, the same choir, the same amount of “work.” Except now she’s heard it’s hard—so it is.

Don’t tell your kids that reading’s hard. You know what’s hard? Not reading, that’s what’s hard.

Of course Mary, being the awesome mother that she is, got to the root of her daughter’s concerns and reminded her of how much fun choir is. So I guess it works both ways. Haaaaalellujah! (That was supposed to be singing. Like in a choir.)

*I had to remove the last post (June 10) because of some sort of weird spam problem. One particular website was linking it over and over again. Weird...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Encyclopedia of Immaturity

This is a no-fail book for boys.

I recommend The Encyclopedia of Immaturity extremely highly, even though I've never read it. In fact, it's because I've never read it that I recommend it.

Here's why - the book tells you not to let your parents read it. And my son has never let me. A book that a kid keeps to himself that vigorously is a book that a kid loves.

I do know what's in it, though. How? Because my son buries his face in it and then comes downstairs and plays a funny prank on us, or tells us a ridiculous joke, or does something crazy and boyish that he's learned from the book.

Here's what the book has taught him: how to make fart noises using his armpit; how skip stones; how to ride a unicycle (hasn't quite mastered that yet); yo-yo tricks; how to fake a sneeze and about a million other things.

Think your son will read this book? He will. And then he'll act like a complete goofball ever after. Which is how it should be.

If number one on my list of "your-boy-will-read-this" books is The Guinness Book of World Records, this book is number two. And if you're the kind of kid that would read this book, you'll snort with laughter because I just said "number two."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One-Page Wonders

A fun, one-page book your child will want to read.

Here is an awesome, one-page book you make.

There are three simple steps:
1) Download the .pdf of instructions.
2) Download and print the .pdf of the book (colour).
3) Fold the book according to the instructions.

OK, a fourth step: enjoy!

There is also a video showing you many different ways of reading this beautiful one-page book.

It's a really fun way to get kids reading.

Don't be intimidated, it looks more complicated than it is. Once you get the hang of it, it's really quite simple. And of course, the next step is for you and your child to make your own one-page book.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The right time for reading

I don't always feel like writing.

Or reading, for that matter.

Since it's what I do for a living, I have more impetus than most people to actually write. After all, if I do write, I'll earn some money. If I don't write, I won't.

And yet, there are many times when I just don't feel like writing. Over the years, I've come to understand when I'm most creative and when I should just clean the house.

I can only imagine that reading and writing must be even harder for kids, who don't even have a financial incentive. I'm sure there are many times when they just don't feel like reading.

Fortunately, however, they will also have times when reading is just the perfect activity. Maybe it's an hour before bed, when they're in their jammies, maybe with a snack on the bedside table. Or during a long car ride. Or after dinner.

If you ask someone to read when they really need to be outside kicking a ball, you're likely to be facing an uphill battle. But if you schedule time for it when the child most feels like reading, it's going to be more fun for him.

Not that it's going to be easy to figure out when his best reading time is. If you're not sure, why not try the jammies-and-a-snack idea. Or, even better, let your child read past his bedtime. Pretend that you don't realize it's after 9:00. Letting a child break the rules by reading is often a great way to invoke reading as a wonderful, guilty pleasure.