Thursday, March 26, 2015

Exercise Can Relieve ADHD Symptoms



ADHD can cause students to have trouble staying focused and impedes their academic performance. For about two thirds of those suffering from ADHD, prescription drugs may bring some relief of symptoms, but the side effects can be severe. New studies show that exercise can help to relieve the symptoms of ADHD for many students and help them excel academically.
Exercise as an alternate ADHD medication
The Pediatrics research journal recently published the results of a study which showed that children who exercised regularly displayed improved brain function and cognitive performance. Their executive functions improved and they even scored better on their tests, especially for math and reading comprehension.
Executive functions are essential in combating the symptoms of ADHD as they allow the student to resist distraction. An improved executive function will allow students to maintain focus and will improve their working memory. Executive functions also govern a student’s ability to move from one task to another which is called cognitive flexibility.
John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, has suggested that exercise be prescribed as a medication to combat the effects of ADHD because it causes the release of dopamine and serotonin. These two ‘feel good’ hormones boost academic performance and improve mood. "Think of exercise as medication,” says Ratey. “For a very small handful of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ADD), it may actually be a replacement for stimulants, but, for most, it’s complementary — something they should absolutely do, along with taking meds, to help increase attention and improve mood.”
Exercise also has a wealth of benefits that go beyond the classroom and it has no bad side effects! The biggest problem for most parents is getting sedentary students away from TVs and computer screens and outdoors where they can exercise.
Get your kids moving!
The best way to get your kids moving is to make it fun rather than a chore. You can take walks around your neighborhood; just 30 minutes four times a week will do the trick. Encourage your kids to participate in outdoor activities and get them to join a club or sports team, bike to school and go for hikes on the weekend. Be a good example for your children and find fun and exciting ways to get them moving every day.
There are many local resources for parents like Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign which offers parents advice on how to get their kids moving. The British Heart Foundation offers tips on how to encourage exercise and how much exercise children need. Canadian families can get a tax cut called the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit. Parents can claim up to $1000 per child for expenses related to fitness, sports and exercise.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ten Tips to Hassle-Free Homework



Do you and your children fight constantly about homework? You nag them incessantly while they procrastinate until you are all stressed out and unhappy. Some families have daily homework struggles that can be mitigated with a few steps from the pros.
Start by getting involved with your child’s homework schedule. Communicate regularly with teachers and tutors so you know what tests and assignments are coming up. There’s a temptation to help with projects or even to do homework yourself, but teaching effective executive skills like prioritizing, organizing, studying and memorizing will only come with practice.
If your child is smart but scattered, consider a tutor who will help them with executive skills so that they are organized and can excel academically. Honing their executive skills will allow them to become effective independent learners who can cope on their own and will put an end to your daily homework headaches.
Ensure that your child has a good place to do homework that is free from distraction or disturbance. It should be well-lit and comfortable and there should be no TV, texting or other time-consuming distractions.
Choose the right time of day. Asking your child to do homework right after school may be a little much and it’s understandable that they will want some time to decompress. Doing homework too late at night when they are tired is also a bad idea.
Help your child with time management so that they factor in enough time to complete homework, assignments and bigger projects to avoid the last minute panic. Encourage them to do the most difficult tasks first.
Food can play a big part in your child’s mood. Ensure that they eat healthy meals so that they have the energy they need to concentrate and avoid too much sugar.
Exercise may be just what the doctor ordered. Exercise helps to relieve stress and elevate mood, improve concentration and stimulate higher cognitive functions. If your child is struggling to get motivated or battling with an academic task, get them to do a little exercise.
Offer rewards and reinforce positive homework habits. If homework is done by the stipulated time and without you having to ask about it, offer rewards and praise.
Don’t let homework drag on all night. It may sometimes be good to let your child take a break and come back to it or to face the consequences of not turning in homework on time.
Be patient; changing ingrained habits can take a while. Always work with the teacher and tutor who will both have great suggestions on how to get your child motivated. They can also let you know what your child needs to work on in order to improve their academic performance. 


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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Money Lessons All Children Should Learn



Teaching your children how to effectively work with their money provides them with an important life tool that is essential for their future success. You can start from an early age to teach them how to effectively budget, how to save and how to focus on providing for their needs before spending money on things they want.
Budgeting
Learning how to create a budget and live within it is arguably the most important financial lesson any kid could learn. Luckily, it’s an easy one to teach. It’s never too early to start teaching kids to stretch their finances to accommodate their lifestyles. Start with an allowance that should cover all the ‘I want’ requests.
Lori Mackey, author of "Money Mama and the Three Little Pigs" suggests a 10-10-10-70 system for teaching kids to budget.
"When your child gets their first dollar, we suggest that you teach them to save 10 percent, invest 10 percent, give 10 percent and live from 70 percent. When you give them a dollar, you give them two quarters and five dimes and then you sit with them and say this dime is for something that is important to you or that you want to help," she says. This money can go to a charity or school drive or to a family member who needs assistance.
The Value of a Dollar
Once your kids start getting the hang of budgeting, give them some practice. This could mean that they have to take care of their own budgets. Here you can give them a weekly or monthly budget and they have to use this to pay for all their own expenses like school lunches and trips, stationary, internet and phone bills.
You can also allow them to participate in the family budget. This means they can be responsible for planning the family meals for one week to fit into a budget. They can also do the grocery shopping so they get a better idea of what things cost and how much money is spent on day-to-day living.
Wants versus Needs
An important concept that goes hand-in-hand with budgeting is the idea of wants and needs. Helping your child to identify the difference between these is a lesson essential to effective money management. They must learn to identify their needs and budget to cover these before spending money on things they want.
Saving
Encouraging saving is a slightly more difficult idea as the deferred gratification can seem too far away for impatient children. One way to help is to have a piggy bank or jar. Watching the jar fill with savings each week is a good visual and tactile representation of the rewards of saving.
It also helps to have a goal to save towards. Start with short-term goals that are more attainable so that your child gets rewarded before they get bored or lose interest. Then help them to select bigger and more long-term goals when they get the hang of it.
Investing
The last 10% of their allowance should go towards long-term investments like college funds. You can also teach older kids how to invest their own money so that they understand how to do so for the long-term. 

picture: 

from Miki Yoshihito and his link is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mujitra/