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Jan 032013
 

Introducing Religion and Belief Systems to Children

One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is that of knowledge and awareness.

Making sure that our children understand how people in our world differ and what causes this is an important trait that any young person can have.

Although this is a staple, not all parents have the ability to teach this to their children without some help and guidance from external sources.

There are many resources that can help parents teach their children about religion. Whether you want to just give a general overview or go into great depths, there is something out there to make sure that you are able to give you child the knowledge.

There are many different ways to approach this conversation, whether you chose to use books, classes or just have the conversation on your own, there is something for you that will help make this conversation as simple as possible.

Religious symbols, beliefs and morals can be confusing for children

If you are seeking out assistance from either a book, website or class one of the first and most important things you want to do is research.

You want to make sure that the specific organization you are using is not going to emphasis one religion or, even worse; give your children bigoted or racist opinions. You can always read reviews and testimonials. If you want to make your own opinion, it may be a good idea to review the content before sharing it with your child.

Remember, you want to give your child an overall view on religions and ways they differ from one another, so the last thing you want is to have your child become sectarian.

Children’s books about religion

a great source of information on religions and beliefs for children

The Kids book of World Religions by Jennifer Glossop is a great tool for parents explaining religion to a younger group of children (3-9).

The book is well illustrated and takes a light-hearted approach to explaining different types of religious views including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism. Basic information is given on each of these religions (book includes many more).

Information includes basic teaching, sacred places and events, religious leaders and scriptures. The book‘s well- illustrated pages make it exciting for a younger child to follow along.

A great source of Belief System information and diversity for older children

If your audience is a little older, another great book is One World, Many Religions: The Ways We Worship by Mary Pope Osborne.

This is another book that shows the differences between major religious groups in our world.

The book will introduce six major groups and dedicates an entire chapter to that one group. This is great for any kids between 7 and 10.

Exploring religions and beliefs with your children

There are many different organisations that can provide religious education to children of all ages and certainly in the UK there is a religious awareness built into all state school run curriculum. My daughter has certainly celebrated several different religious festivals in her first two years at school.

If you chose to teach your children about different belief systems and religions yourself, there are a few ground rules you want to follow in order to make sure you are coming across and indifferent and unbiased to the differences.

It may be a good idea to attend some religious services to give your kids a first hand experience of what happens and use the time and place to explain some of the aspects, totems, idols or tenets of the system. The key is to make it a fun outing rather than an enforced trip. I’m planning on taking my daughter to the local Sheikh temple soon and to show her how generous they are the way they provide free food to visitors and to explain some of what they believe and why.

Make sure you’re as open minded and un-biased as possible when explaining and answering questions.

Children often mimic their parents (we are after all their best role models) so of course, if you hold a certain opinion they will surely follow.

It’s also recommended that with younger children you make them aware of what commonalities different religions have. This will help them understand that even though some aspects of faith are different, often times we have views that are alike.

Since religion is such an important subject, it’s important that you are comfortable with how it is being taught to your child. For an older crowd, many community colleges offer believe system classes that are usually open to people that just want to explore and not necessarily obtain a degree.

These are all great options for those wanting to explore with others since they are all classroom environments.

Budda is a representative of a particular religion. How would you discuss it with your kids?

As you are going through the journey of teaching your child about the different types of religions around the world, it’s important to always remember to approach this with an open mind and allow for your child to explore and ask questions about the different types of faith.

However you decide to introduce them, it’s important that you keep an open mind and leave all prior thoughts and opinions out of the conversation.

You want to make sure that your child feels comfortable and is able to ask any questions they want without feeling bad for asking.

Jun 202012
 

Improving children’s literacy through pointing and karaoke style closed captions

My daughter is learning to read and write at school and her teachers have said that she struggles at times and may be a little behind in her literacy.

In an effort to improve her reading and writing skills, I’m obviously spending more time with her practicing writing and reading books, spelling out words and playing I spy.

None of these are easy for my daughter (or me and we’ve had an argument or two about it) and for some reason elephant still starts with an ‘H’…

We can help our kids learn to read by pointing at the words as we read children's stories with them Continue reading »

Jun 042012
 

Is TELLING children’s stories more beneficial than READING them?

I hope that the fact that reading to children is essential for their literacy and language development is no surprise to you. One thing that I’m quite keen on is telling stories to my daughter and it occured that there is some discussion around the pros and cons of both.

There should also be no confusion that reading stories to your children and/or classroom is an integral part of their educational platform and that storytime in schools is a standard in most education establishments from an early age.

Research shows that even babies benefit through hearing, seeing and touching books during the crucial stages of their development.   The first four years of a child’s life is when they learn at the most breathtaking speeds and absorb the most new information with ease.

It is through books that children become aware that words even exist  and how they can relate to pictures or events.  For children to excel at literacy and the written word, reading books is a must.

Reading children's stories with our kids is important, but what about telling stories with our children? Continue reading »

Apr 262012
 

Why do kids lie and how to deal with it?

Kids lie for similar reasons parents do: to be acknowledged communally, to get rank, to upset somebody, or because they dread the cost of telling the truth.

However, younger children don’t know the idea of truth and lies in the way that adults do.

Let’s enter the world of the kid to know why children can bend the truth so effortlessly.

Children lie all the time, so what can we do about a lying child? Continue reading »

Apr 112012
 

Confidence and self-assertion for kids

Many children suffer from low self-confidence. Symptoms can include excessive shyness, separation anxiety, as well as a negative attitude toward themselves and others.

Life is more challenging for a child that lacks confidence.

As parents, we are there to show them what confidence looks like and how they can be assertive without becoming aggressive.

It is important to give children the tools of confidence, because many behaviour problems come from a lack of self-esteem.

Sharing stories about confidence can help to improve behaviour and the way your child thinks

“If we tell children what they should or shouldn’t do, it doesn’t have as much impact on them as a story because a story builds in the experience. It’s a way of teaching them about life.”

Psychologist Richard Landis

Build a child's confidence and self assurance through storytelling, books and play Continue reading »

Apr 042012
 

Storytelling and Difficult Subjects: Divorce and Separation

With more and more families breaking up with parents separating or divorcing, there is an ever increasing need to help our children understand what is going on and why, should they find themselves in the middle of one. Even if your marriage or relationship is as solid as a rock, you can bet that your child will have friends in their class whose parents’  are (or have) separating/divorcing. Children’s stories and storytelling are great tools for broaching this stressful subject even if only to explain what your child’s best  friend at school is going through.

Divorce and Separation are tough on children. Stories can help them understand and provide you with a conversation starting point

There are many concepts and subjects that can be particularly stressful and even scary to address with our kids, and some which are just a little more difficult to know how to broach with children – which can also be communicated through storytelling techniques.

Using Storytelling to Start Conversations

Some of the subjects covered in contemporary children’s stories are undoubtedly the same that parents of all eras have wrestled with. Others may be unique to contemporary culture. Either way, storytelling techniques can be used as a way to touch on the more difficult lessons children have to learn. They can give you a way to easily bring up the subject with kids and can also be a means of generating additional conversations with your kids on those hard subjects.

Don’t underestimate your kids’ ability to handle these harder subjects. It’s all in how you approach topics with them. They learn from you and the methods you use in communicating about difficult topics can strongly influence how your children respond to these kinds of subjects. Putting good children’s stories to work for you is one of the best ways to broach more uncomfortable subjects with your kids. These books have been specifically designed to help you deal with difficult topics in terms that children can easily understand. Continue reading »

Mar 152012
 

Interactive Storytelling: How to get Children to engage in story time

Although bed time has traditionally been a big time for telling tales and reading to children, getting kids to participate in storytelling during other parts of the day is also important.

Children learn through stories, including everything from basic syntax and grammar to more complex concepts like moral and ethical behavior and concepts of cause and effect.

Kids learn through stories

Children’s ability to learn through dynamic storytelling is one of the reasons story time is a big part of daycare, preschool, primary (kindergarten in the US) and early elementary learning environments.

Making story time a consistent part of your home routine is important as well, and you can set the routine for storytelling activities at home for whatever works best for your schedule.

Engaging your children in the stories you tell them. Continue reading »

Mar 082012
 

Storytelling and Life Lessons: Teaching Moral Themes with Story Books

All the history books and in every culture around the world, storytelling is and has been used as a technique for teaching children very early on about the importance of morals and ethics.

Bedtime stories for kids have been a way to teach even the youngest of children about acceptable social norms, moral ways of behaving and the association between cause and effect since humans were able to draw on cave walls.

Children's stories with morals is a traditional technique for teaching our kids about life and how to live it

Of course, storytelling serves many other purposes as well.

These can include getting kids interested in literacy and educating children about family and cultural history and beliefs.

Children’s stories with morals then can serve multiple purposes and the life lessons children are able to glean from these tales will stick with them throughout their lives. What kids learn in their formative years have a lasting effect and instilling proper behaviors in beliefs in your children when they are young helps stage them for success later in life.

 Storytelling and Morals

Children’s stories can be very open about the fact that they are teaching an important life lesson. Equally, the moral of the story may be buried in the storyline itself. Books of both varieties can be very useful in teaching life lessons to children and parents often decide to use storytelling techniques which include both styles of writing.

Traditional Life Lessons

Classic life lessons like treating people equally, appreciating what you have, and sharing with others are common themes in classic children’s literature and many contemporary children’s stories. A few examples of newer books which teach kids lasting life lessons include:

Treating people like equals and learning about tollerance through childrens stories with morals

How full is your bucket? by Tom Rath and Maurie Manning. This best selling book focuses around the idea of how what we do, every day, affects those around us and how our behaviours and attitudes can impact the feelings of those around us. Similarly it can also help children understand how the behaviours and attitudes of those around them can influence too. Checkout this article on psychcentral if you’re interested in how and when children develop empathy.

Bullying and the bystander effect can be addressed through good stories for kids

For slightly older kids (I’d say five and upwards) The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up For Others by Maria Dismondy is a fantastic story about a new boy at school who’s trying to carve himself a space by being a bit of bully and how the rest of the class take a kind, but firm promise to help him to become a nice and kind member of the class. It takes the issue of bullying and instead of tackling the bully, it’s actually tackling the apathy and bystander effect and helps children learn to help eachother even if they possibly don’t deserve it.

Classic children’s stories which cover themes of central importance to building a strong character never lose their meaning.

Tales like those from Aesop and other fables teach children clear messages about right and wrong, moral or ethical and non-moral behavior, and the consequences of not exhibiting strong ethics and morals at all times and under all circumstances.

The Fables of La Fontaine: A Selection in English is a classic collection of children's stories with morals

These stories teach children in non-threatening ways.

They don’t use scare tactics to get kids to understand the consequences of bad behaviors.

They instead play on the positive aspects of doing the right thing.

Storytelling techniques which are positive in nature have a healthier and more lasting effect on children’s own moral compass development.

New themes in children’s books

While some life lessons which appear in classic and contemporary children’s stories are the same lessons human have been teaching to their children for generations, there are also many relevant moral and ethical themes for today’s society. Parents who wish to use storytelling techniques to educate their kids on environmentalism, multiculturalism, and other similar concepts now have many options available in today’s kids books.

Checkout this list on teachers.net for a long-ish list of evironmentally themed books (though note that some are out of print/only availabe in the US)

Incorporating ethical life lessons on these newer themes has never been easier.

Good bedtime stories can have somewhat complex themes that are broken down into easy to understand tales appropriate for young children. By making stories interesting and by parents employing good storytelling techniques, even complex themes are simple for kids to understand.

Don’t underestimate their ability to comprehend the moral behind the story.

Discussing Themes and Morals Outside of Story Time

Reinforcing life lessons learned during bedtime stories or other storytelling activities is also important.

The good bedtime stories you read to your kids are only the beginning of life lessons.

Use them as the jumping off point for a larger discussion on the topics covered in the stories and the moral or ethical lessons taught in the tales you read.

Feb 162012
 

Using story time to help children with vocabulary and rhythm and rhyme

Children’s stories and books are fantastic at helping children with vocabulary, rhythm and rhyme. This article is has a few suggestions on those three themes. Do let us know if you have your own great stories that help your kids’ vocab.

Rhythm and Rhyme can easily be encouraged through stories as well as improving vocabulary Continue reading »