By Patricia Dischler

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Nurturing Creativity, Curiosity & Courtesy is just as important as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

Parents naturally want the best for their child academically, so when research comes out illustrating how the early years have a tremendous impact on future intelligence, the pressure is on to teach those "3 R's: 'Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmatic" as early as possible. The unfortunate result of this has been children who are being fed facts and solutions for memorization, without any basis for their own problem solving or sense of exploration of the information they learn. Early childhood programs feel the pressure as well and are getting caught in this same trap: teaching children the preconceived answers without teaching the process that lead to the answers in the first place. It is no surprise then that many children are struggling in schools, and that children in higher grades are being found to have little or no problem solving techniques and additional problems with social interactions. The missing link? Teaching the 3 Cs. Instilling in children a love for learning and a process for making decisions and solving problems while working with others begins with encouraging in them a sense of creativity, curiosity and courtesy.

Sparking creativity in children opens the door to learning in every developmental area. When children think creatively they look beyond what is in front of them to see what could be. They explore from many different angles and engage all of their senses. This creative exploration can lead to successful problem solving, a broader understanding of topics taught, and a sense of appreciation for the world they live in.READ More on Teaching the 3Cs: Creativity, Curiosity & Courtesy

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dad-and-son-at-the-moviesAnother year has come and gone and as 2009 passes, it leaves behind memorable movies for our young and old audiences alike. Our children had a particularly fun year with the multitude of top kid movies that came out in both 2-D and 3-D. By extension, 2009 movies can include re-releases, I-Max editions, VHS and DVD releases (or Blue-Ray) but any way you look at it 2009 was a blockbuster year. Movies that are rated G, PG and PG-13 are good children, kid and family movies respectively.

Top Animated Kids Films

Films like G-Force, Ice Age: The Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Monsters vs. Aliens, Open Season 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, A Christmas Carol, Ponyo, Astro Boy, Coraline and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs did very well in the theaters, rental and retail stores.

Pixar is probably the best animation studio next to Disney (Pixar and Disney have now merged) when it comes to kids movies and they were hard at work. Although Bolt was officially released in 2008, the DVD came out in 2009 and is a stellar kid's film. John Travolta does the voice of Bolt who is a dog that stars with a little girl in a TV series that he thinks is real. UP was a big hit in theaters. A 78 year old balloon salesman takes a wild ride to get away from his annoying neighbor kid who becomes a stow-away on the old man's trip.READ More on Best Kids Movies 2009: A Year in Review

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babysitterMore than likely at some point in time you are going to need to find a good baby sitter. Maybe you need someone to watch the kids while you go to a doctors appointment or perhaps you just want some time with your spouse away from the kids for the bit. While in some cases you may be able to get a bit of help from family, there may be times when family can't help and you actually need to choose a baby sitter for the children. Of course, this isn't a decision you can take lightly. You have to find someone that you can trust with your children, and that's not always easy. Here is a look at some of the things you need to look for when it comes to finding the right babysitter for your children.

Ask Around

When you're looking for a good babysitter for your kids, one of the best ways to find one is to simply ask around. Ask good friends or your family members if they know of anyone that they would recommend. Another option is to check at your church or at a local school or community center that you are familiar with. When a babysitter comes recommended by someone you know, it's often easier for you to feel comfortable with them staying with your children.READ More on Tips for Choosing the Right Babysitter

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by Stephanie Partridge

Mom Really Listening to Her Teen Son

Mom Really Listening to Her Teen Son

In my high school drama teacher's classroom, he had a large banner over the blackboard that said, "In order to be a good conversationalist you must first learn to listen."

It has stuck with me and I have tried to apply it in my own life.

But what I hear from kids so often is that they feel their parents don't listen to them – and they wish they would.

The art of listening, it seems, is dying a slow, agonizing death.

And it's our kids who are bearing the brunt of it all.

As we move into the new year, why not make listening one of your new year's parenting resolutions.  Resolve to bring the art of listening back to life.  Resolve to listen to your kids.  It is an endeavor well worth pursuing.

Listening, though, is not a natural skill.  Listening has to be learned.  It is not necessarily natural or instinctual.   But, it was Epiictetus, the Greek philosopher, who said, "God gave man two ears but only one mouth that he might hear twice as much as he speaks."

Our kids really need our two ears.  We really need to listen to them.

Try these tips for being a better listener:

Take Time

Listening takes time.  Set aside some time so that you won't be interrupted.  It is also important that your child knows that he or she is important enough for you to give them your time and undivided attention.READ More on Parenting and The Art of Listening

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family-2010-resolutionHappy New Years! A new year is upon us. It's a time when we all look back on the past year and start making resolutions for the new year. While you are probably going to make some personal resolutions for yourself, you may want to consider making resolutions as a family this year. Sure, times are tough this year, with the economic difficulties, but there are some great resolutions you can make with the entire family that will help to bring your family even closer together in 2010. Here's a look at some great ideas for family resolutions that will keep your family bond strong.

Spending More Time Together

One great family resolution that you can make as a family is to spend more time together. By time I mean quality time where family members are actively involved in one other. Our Family should be our main focus, and as we make this resolution, we will be teaching our kids about the things that really matter in life – family! Resolve together as a family that you'll make more time for each other. It's easy to get busy in life, busy with friends, mom and dad busy with work, and each of the family members rushing around here and there. It can be so easy to drift apart. Even if it's once a week or once a month, set aside some time to be together. Plan family nights and activities that you'll all enjoy or plan a family "date" night when you all set everything aside and enjoy time with each other. In the end, if you keep this resolution, you'll build your family ties and make them stronger.READ More on Family Resolutions – Making 2010 The Year of the Family!

While checking out some videos I found some great ones of kids dancing. I love how kids and music go together. These kids definitely have the moves and the first one of this young child break-dancing is truly amazing. You should have seen my kids try to imitate after watching these clips!

This young boy and girl definitely have the groove.

This next child is about 7 years old from a talent show in Milwaukee, WI. He definitely has the moves!

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There are many New Years games and activities for kids. While it is true that New Year Day marks the first official day in the calendar year, it is traditionally upheld as a holiday. This holds true for nearly every single country throughout the world. Individuals enjoy gathering together to remember times that occurred in the past, and sharing their hopes and aspirations for the future. Individuals that are considered to be Chinese, Roman, Jewish, Mohammedan, and Egyptian celebrate their New Year on a date other than January 1st. Here are some New Year games and activities that children will thoroughly enjoy.

The Resolution Guessing Game

One of the most exciting and fun New Years games and activities for kids is the "Resolution Guessing Game". Each child that is playing the game must come up with three different New Year's Resolutions. If the child is too young to write out their resolution, get an adult to assist them. The papers that the children used to write the resolutions should be collected and mixed in a container. You should pull out one piece at a time and read the resolutions on each piece. You should mark them out as you call them like "Number One" and so on. Each person must write on their paper who they think made the resolutions. An adult may help children who are unable to write well. At the end of the game, whoever made the most guesses wins.READ More on New Years Games and Activities for Kids

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