Feminism for Children

For my much of my daughter’s life it has never occurred to her that she isn’t able to do things that boys can do, or that boys shouldn’t do things that girls do. As with a lot of parents, we made a conscious effort to avoid buying her gender specific toys, books and clothes from a very young age. Of course there are times that she gravitates towards more traditional items that are marketed towards girls and that is fine, because she also loves lots of things that are marketed towards boys as well. Lately she has become much more conscious of gender stereotyping, and my heart swells when she notices sexism and points it out with disgust.

While I’m always looking for strong female role models for my daughter, I sometime forget that it is equally important to seek out material for my son that shows men and woman, or boys and girls, as equals who don’t need to be limited by behaviours and activities. The heart of feminism, (to me anyway) is tolerance, equality and treating everyone with respect, and what better place to start than with children.

shutterstock_187209851

Talk about female role models with your kids.  In world that makes icons of people like Kim Kardasian, it’s easy to get depressed about the lack of attention that is given to truly interesting and accomplished woman. These days there are so many great women role models around for young boys and girls, not only current figures but a long list of historical figures that you can introduce your children to. When you hear about inspiring woman and girls, talk to your children about them; let them see what woman are capable of doing. Here is a small sample of some of my favorite current female role models for kids.

  • Malala Yousafzai is an incredible young woman who your kids should know about. Malala is a girl’s education activist and her story is extremely inspiring for anyone. After being shot in the head by the Taliban at age 14 and surviving, she continues to fight for the right for girl’s access to education. She recently won the Nobel Peace Prize; if you want to learn more about her story her biography is a great read.
  • Emma Watson not only plays a feminist role model for girls as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, she recently gave an amazing speech at the UN on ending gender inequality that your kids should watch.
  • Tavi Gevinson is another young woman who I think is a fantastic role model for young girls. She started getting a lot of public attention at the age of 12 for a fashion blog that she ran. Currently she runs Rookie, a very empowering and smart website for teen girls.
  • If you have a daughter (or son) who loves engineering and space you should know about  Natalie Panek. She is a rocket scientist, explorer, and advocate for women in technology. I heard her speak at We Day Toronto 2014 and she would make a great role model for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in space exploration.

You can find lists all over the web of top women politicians, entrepreneurs, artists, activists, scientists, writers, inventors, etc. If your child has a particular area of interest, find women in that field and talk to your kids about their achievements just as you would famous male figures.


Read books to boy and girls with strong female and characters.
When you are choosing books for your very young children to read, be careful with the types of books you are selecting. Books are a large part of how children learn how to figure out the world, especially when they are very small. Choose a wide variety of books; avoid books that stick with gender stereotypes and embrace books with strong female characters. Look for stories with characters who take on all types of behavior and activities regardless of gender.

In my experience most modern books are (for the most part) very gender neutral (or maybe I just gravitate towards books that don’t follow the gender roles). There is actually a big market for empowered girl’s books, especially in the last few years. Here are a few popular ones to check out:

Challenge kids when they repeat stereotypical ideas about gender norms. Even if you are the most careful parent when it comes to trying not to define gender roles to your kids, they will still pick up on what society believes is a woman’s role or a man’s role, it’s impossible to avoid. Your kids will be heavily influenced by children at school, the media, family and friends, so when you notice your child is limiting the types of roles that either sex can be through discussion or play talk, challenge the idea of what is accepted.

Discuss sexualized image of women. It’s pretty hard to avoid sexualized images of women, all you need to do is turn on your TV, computer, open a magazine, watch a music video or even just walking down the street you will see billboards with hyper sexualized images. Your kids are seeing what you are seeing, and even if your first instinct is to ignore it or not draw attention to it, it’s much better to discuss your thoughts about what you are seeing with your child. It helps them to process what the image showing and sort out their own ideas. The sexualisation of women (and men to a lesser degree) is a part of the culture that we live in, and it is important to keep an open dialogue with your kids and give them tools to interpret what they are looking at.

Show kids that there is room for both females and males to be equally smart. This sounds like a weird thing to say, but there are studies showing that as girls get older, they feel the need to ‘play dumb’ in order to please boys. According the author of one study, Dr. Maria do Mar Pereira from the University of Warwick, “Girls feel they must downplay their own abilities, pretending to be less intelligent than they actually are, not speaking out against harassment, and withdrawing from hobbies, sports and activities that might seem ‘unfeminine’.”

Obviously this is a huge issue to overcome, but start by reinforcing the idea that being smart is cool for both genders. Boys need to be taught that they don’t need to feel threated by intelligent females and girls need to have examples of smart women who aren’t afraid to show their intelligence. Amy Poehler has a great website and web series called Smart Girls that offers music, advice, info about other cultures, and lots of other interesting things.

Think about gender stereotypes when you are buying toys. Try to resist toys that are traditional toys for a particular gender. Sometime the lure of princesses or pink is too much for some kids, but it’s not something parents necessarily need to encourage. Living in a house with a boy and a girl, we have a wide variety of toys to choose from and when left to their own devices kids really don’t care if the toy is for a girl or a boy, it’s either a good toy or a crappy toy. It is the toy marketers who are pushing the stereotypes onto kids. If you are curious about what message you are sending to your kids through their toys, check out the Pink Stinks and Let Toys Be Toys campaigns.

Think about messages you are sending to boys. If there is ever going to be true equality, everyone has to be involved, it’s great to empower girls, but boys also need to be shown different ways to express their masculinity and that it is okay for them to let everyone be equal. This is just as important as empowering girls. If boys are shown that it is okay to have feelings, be emotional and loving they will be able to form happy and healthy relationships with women. There is still a long way to go to before women all over the world overcome the current wage-gap, access to education and abuses against women issues that plague society.

Model feminist behaviour. Kids are always watching what their parents are doing. They watch how you interact with people, and they see how you treat yourself. They pay attention to your work and what you do in the house. Children also listen to your ideas and take them on as their own. So you need to show your children through your own example what it means to not be limited by your gender.

I think there are lots wonderful and smart feminists girls and boys who want everyone to be treated equally and who don’t feel limited by pressures from society. These are the future leader who will truly make the world a much more humane place to live, and it is important for parents to recognize this and encourage a society that treats everyone equally.

Cleaning Up and Chores With Kids

Getting children to do chores is the worst.  Toddlers may start off happily helping you clean the house, but somewhere along the way this will end and you will have to come up with some new ways to get your kids to do their share of the housework.

Trying to get kids to clean up after themselves can, for some families, be one of the most contentious issues that parents and kids have to deal with. Everyone is busy and for most people there are probably a million things that you would rather be doing than doing chores.  But unfortunately someone has to do it, and there are some surprising benefits when your kids learn basic domestic skills.

You may have already tried numerous approaches to getting kids to help clean up with very limited success. Everyone has a different approach to cleaning with kids and there are quite a lot of conflicting theories out there.  So we’ve rounded up some of the best advice and show you some cool apps that might help you along the way.

2014/02/medium_5726924859
 Why you should Make Kids do Chores

  • They make most of the mess.
  • It stinks living with people who don’t clean up after themselves. So if you want to save your kids a whole lot of trouble later in their lives (from angry spouses and partners) you need to teach the how to live with people.
  • It helps relieve some of the burden from exhausted parents. No adult is going to react too well after putting in a long day at the office to have to come home and watch your kids playing their fourth hour of Minecraft while you rush to do the dinner, dishes, cleaning up, laundry etc. So for the sake of your own sanity it is worth a bit of effort.
  • It will make them successful adults. Depressingly, there is a study by Marty Rossman, a professor at the University of Minnesota, which has shown that one of the best predictors of young adults’ success in their mid-20s was whether that person started regular household chores when they were three or four. So the future isn’t looking great for lots of kids apparently.

Not to worry if you didn’t happen to have your kids making dinner and doing your ironing before they have learned to bend over without falling down, because it isn’t too late.

Basic Ways to get Kids to do Their Chores

In an ideal world kids would happily take responsibility for doing their chores and duties that need to be done. They will do this because it helps the family as a while. We all know that this lofty idea doesn’t really translate well into reality.  Chores are boring and most kids don’t want to do them unless there is something in it for them. There is a plethora of articles and sites that can give you advice on how to get your kids to do their chores that can be boiled down to these simple points:

  1. Start them early   This is important because it shows them that they have an important role to play that can  help the family and that tidying up is an essential and normal part of their day. It takes time to show small children how to do things and they won’t do the best job in the beginning but remember you are working for the long term.
  2.  Be consistent  This helps to establish routine and they will learn that the work has to be done on a regular basis. If you aren’t clear on what needs to be done and when your kids will put off what they are expected to do hoping that the job will be completed by someone else.
  3.  Be specific with instructions. You need to tell your children exactly what you want them to do and be sure that they understand what you are telling them. If you tell them “Clean your room your idea of what a clean room is will probably be very different than your child’s idea of what a clean room is.  Break it down into smaller manageable tasks:  Put your laundry away, make your bed, put your books on the bookshelf, etc.
  4. Set a good example. And if you want kids to learn to clean up after themselves, you’ve got to show them how to do it. A lot of people say that you need to show kids the joy in cleaning up and keeping a tidy house. If you are always grumbling about doing the laundry you are going to have a hard time convincing kids that doing laundry is something they should do.
  5. Don’t nag. Your kids will hate hearing it and you will hate doing it. I think we can probably all agree that nagging rarely works. What you should do instead is us “When/Then” technique  that was made popular by Amy McCready the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time… Which basically means that you start with a WHEN and end with a THEN. “WHEN you finish cleaning up your toys, THEN you can go and play.”
  6. Show them you appreciate their efforts everyone likes to be appreciated for work they have done, and kids are no different. If you want to keep them motivated and happy to help you, then show them you appreciate what they have done to help the household (even if they don’t do the best job).

There is a good breakdown on age appropriate chores that you can print out. It says what kids of each age range are capable of doing.

2014/02/medium_4908427309
 

Cleaning and Chore Apps and Websites for Kids

If you have done the above tips and nothing is helping, you should consider a reward system. This is generally a bit of a contentious issue with people. Some people love reward systems with kids some don’t think kids should be rewarded for chores. If you are thinking of using a reward system there are a couple of apps that you should check out. ChoreMonster   uses a point system to log chores that kids have completed. Parents are able to add rewards when the kids have completed a set amount of chores or acquired the right amount of points.

If you have an app crazy toddler you could try out the app TidyUp! clean the room & house This app is basically a puzzle that shows kids how to put objects in a room into their proper place.

You could also try Chore Wars. This is a site that also uses a point system to encourage kids to get their chores done.

Teaching your kids to do the housework is hard and it takes time, but it’s better than the alternative which is getting stuck doing all the cleaning yourself. You can expect some arguments and resistance, but with a bit of praise, encouragement and some rewards (if that is your thing) your kids will eventually figure out how to clean things up without being told and will learn some super useful domestic skills that will serve them well for their whole lives

photo credit: theloushe via photopin cc

photo credit: Esthr via photopin cc

 

 

Teaching Children to Sew – The Parents Guide

Sewing is a fun and useful skill for kids to learn. There are a lot of great resources that parents can use to help teach their kids if they aren’t quite sure where to start. We have found the best websites with lessons, books for kids, free online videos and even some recommendations for kids sewing machines.

sewing for kids

In order to teach children it would be helpful for parents to know a bit about the basics, like how to thread and use a sewing machine and how to fix things if there is a problem. If you aren’t quite sure, or need a refresher on how to use a machine check this out.

The Best Sewing Books for Kids

A good place to start is with a great instructional book, there is no shortage of books written just for kids. Here are some of the best:

  • Simply Sewing (Kids Can Do It)  by Judy Ann Sadler and Jane Kurisu has a good introduction to hand sewing basics including all the stitches kids should know, it also has an easy to understand intro to machine basics. Then it moves on to simple, but fun, projects that kids will be able to complete. All of the projects are broken down into easy steps with clear illustrations.
  • My First Sewing Machine Book: Learn To Sew: Kids by Alison McNicol is a great choice if you are looking for a book with lots of information for kids who have a new machine. It has very clear illustrations that will help kids quickly learn to use and thread their machine. It also has fun projects for kids to try out.
  • My First Machine Sewing Book: Straight Stitching by Winky Cherry is a smaller book but it is still a good choice for a child who is just beginning to use a machine. This book goes over parts of the machine, how to take care of it, how the needle works, how the bobbin works, how to do different types of stiches and then finishes with a simple star project that kids can work on. It is part of a series of books that includes My First Sewing Book: Hand Sewing, My First Embroidery Book, and My First Doll Book.
  • Sewing School by Andria Lisle and Amie Plumleyis great how-to book for kids ages 5 and up. The authors have a blog here that has some info about the book. A lot of the projects in this book can be done using just hand stitches. Each project features step-by-step instructions written at a second-grade reading level, a close-up photo of every step, and a photo of the finished project. The book includes full-sized cut out patterns and instructions for how grown-ups can help. There is also Sewing School 2 if you love this book and want more projects.

Online Sewing Classes or Lessons for Kids

There are plenty of wonderful websites with free lessons that can help you teach your kids. Here are some sites that we like:

  • Kids Sewing Projects has fantastic information for parents who are looking to teach their kids . We especially like their pre-beginner lessons.
  • Kids Sewing is another really good site that has great tips on how to get started, primarily in the form of free online videos that you can watch. They also have a DVD series to teach kids.
  • Skip to my Lou has a great series of posts that have easy projects that kids can do and some great activities that can help kids learn how to use a machine.

Sewing DVDs for Kids

If you are looking for a DVD to help kids here are a couple that we found:

  • Kids Sewing  is the first DVD in a 7 part series that is make for kids to learn how to sew. You can see a preview of it here.
  • Yes, I Can Sew!: Hand Sewing is the companion to My First Sewing Book(the hand sewing one not the machine sewing book) by Winky Cherry. It’s a short video with only 32 minutes of content, but it has some useful info for a beginner (check your local library for this DVD). Part one of the video teaches children about the tools and materials involved in sewing, how to thread needles, and the process of sewing and stuffing the felt bird. They watch as a book is being read to them with live action of children sewing inserted where appropriate to hold attention. Part two features a young boy hand sewing his own stuffed bird, and part three shows children how to make their very own patterns for future projects.

Best Sewing Machines for Kids

If you already have a machine that you are comfortable with your child using, then there is no need to buy another machine. If you don’t have a machine, or just don’t want your kids using your machine and would like to get something small that is affordable and easy for your child to use, there are lots of options. Whatever you do, DON’T buy a ‘toy’ sewing machine, they are terrible and generally don’t work. Some of the machines that are often mentioned as good choices for kids include:

  • Janome 11706 3/4 Size Hello Kitty Sewing Machine is a fun, 3/4 size, easy to use beginner machine for kids. It has eleven stitches and a four-step buttonhole. Its 12-lb weight and carry handle makes it okay for kids to move around, yet it is a good quality, sturdy and very durable machine.
  • Janome Sew Mini 2-Stitch Sewing Machine is a good, affordable, and easy to use machine that is ideal for kids. One of the neat things about it is that is goes at a slow speed so if you have ever tried to teach a child on a regular machine you will know that speed control can be a bit of a problem. This is also an very easy machine to thread.   The controls are basic and simple, and this is another machine that is light enough for kids to carry around themselves.
  • Brother LS2125i Easy-to-Use, Everyday Sewing Machine is another good quality machine for a cheap price that is so easy to use it is perfect for kids. It is a full size, yet lightweight enough for kids to be able to move around.

Free online Sewing Lessons for Kids

Kids Sewing Videos


photo credit: Pinot & Dita via photopin cc

 

Teaching Kids About Money – The Essential Guide

There are SO many good resources for parents who want to teach their kids about money management, that there is no excuse for raising a child who can’t handle money in a responsible way (it that is what you are into). There are literally hundreds of books, websites, apps, games, and even specially designed piggybanks that will help parents create a super financially responsible offspring. Since there is so much out there parents can use, we have picked out the best stuff to help teach kids about money management.

kids and money

Books

The younger kids are when you start teaching them about money the easier it will be to get them comfortable talking about and dealing with money as they become adults. An easy way to do this is to start them off with some good books; here are some of our favourites:

For Kids Ages 3-7

These are great story books for younger kids with simple messages about the importance of saving, and learning the difference between wants versus needs.

  • Little Critter: Just Saving My Money  Little Critter learns the value of money, how to make good decisions with money and how to have a sense of self-pride through his hard work and planning. After earning money by doing chores, Little Critter’s dad takes him to the bank to open his first savings account. This is a great book to help introduce the idea of banking and saving money to young children.
  •  The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money In order to earn coins for the Astro Bear video game, Brother and Sister Bear find ways to work for money. This book helps teach kids the importance of saving money, interest and the concepts of goods and services.
  • A Chair for My Mother This story is about a family that lost all of their furniture in a house fire. The family members decide to save coins to buy a new chair for their home. When the jar is full they go out and buy a beautiful chair for the family to enjoy. This book teaches several money concepts, including counting, saving, making choices, banking, and wants and needs.
  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday is a fun book about a boy who is given a dollar and all of the temptations he faces trying to not spend the dollar. It’s a good book to start getting younger kids to think about the value of money and some of the difficulties that children have in saving money.
  • Pretty Penny Sets Up Shop A young girl creates a “Small Mall” from things in her attic to sell to raise money for her grandmothers surprise celebration. Very good book about earning money through hard work and also good lessons on counting, and saving.

For Kids Ages 8-13

  • Lunch Money a 12 year old boy is obsessed with trying to earn money any way that he can, including doing things like collecting bottles, extra chores, etc.  He eventually gets the idea to sell comics to his schoolmates, but the principle finds out about it and bans him from selling them at school. This book has good lessons on business, making money and what it takes to get even a simple business off the ground.
  • Money Hungry is an award winning novel deals that deals with a young 13 year old girl, Raspberry Hill, who lives in the projects with her mother. They were homeless at one time and now Raspberry focuses on money as the source of comfort and security. This is a good book to show children the role money can play in a person’s life.
  • A Smart Girl’s Guide to Money This addition to the popular Smart Girls Guide format shows girls the ins and outs of money. It includes sections with 101 money-making ideas, bank accounts and interest, having a job, keeping track of money, and spending money wisely.
  • Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids  is a guide that explains in kid-friendly terms all about savings accounts, bonds, stocks, and even mutual funds. This is a great book for children who want to put their money in the stock market because it also covers topics from dividends to how to read financial papers.
  • Money Sense for Kids shows kids how to get bank accounts, write checks, use an ATM card, learn about stocks and start to invest on their own. The author offers ideas on how kids can earn, save, budget, and invest their money. She also presents puzzles and games that focus on the theme of money.

For Teens

  • The Complete Guide to Personal Finance: For Teenagers shows teens how to get and manage credit, how to make and stick to a budget, how to save for college, how to determine their needs versus their wants, how to pay for a car, how to finance college, how to manage risk, how to open a bank account, how to write a check, how to balance a checkbook, how to avoid the pressures of consumerism, and how to avoid financial mistakes. This book also teaches teens about investment options, taxes, checks, debit cards, credit cards, and basic budget tips.
  • The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens helps teens understand the basics of investing and how easy it is to start investing on their own. They go over how to save and spend wisely.

For Parents

  • Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees  has exercises and concrete examples on everything from responsible budgeting to understanding the difference between “want” and “need” for children of every age.
  • Financial Peace Junior is a whole financial program tailored for children ages 3-12 that is designed to teach kids how to handle money. It has ideas for activities and age-appropriate chores, games and “toys”, an activity book, and dry erase boards to track their progress.

Online Games

  • Rich Kid Smart Kid is a free website that provides financial lessons and games for kids starring two mice as the main characters; for grades K-12, and divided by grades.
  • H.I.P. Pocket Change is the U.S. Mint’s free website for kids that feature games, art activities, and puzzles, as well as a history of the mint.
  • Sense and Dollars is an interactive site with money games.
  • Financial Football Visa and the National Football League have teamed up to help teach financial concepts with Financial Football, a fast-paced, interactive game that engages students while teaching them money management skills. Teams compete by answering financial questions to earn yardage and score touchdowns.

Websites

Again, there is no shortage of websites to help teach kids about money. These are the most popular:

  • The Mint has a kids section that provides basic information about starting a business, earning money, spending it wisely, and saving and investing.
  • Practical Money Skills is an online resource for educators, parents and students focused on financial literacy and education.This site is for all ages of kids and is run by VISA USA.
  • Sense and Dollars is a site for kids that teaches kids how to earn, save, spend and budget.
  • BizKids has kids teaching kids about money and business using shows and online games.
  • Money as you Grow has 20 things kids need to know to live financially smart lives, developed by the Youth Subcommittee of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability.
  • PBS Kids It’s My Life is a great site money site for kids, the section on money management is especially good.

Apps

Most of the apps we found are some form of allowance or chore trackers. If you are in Canada you can check outLearning Money with Leo. This app was designed to provide parents with a practical and fun way to help teach their children (3 to 6 years old) about the concepts and value of money.

Online Allowance Trackers Apps/Websites

Teach your child that money can be enjoyed by having kids save up and purchase things for themselves by using an online allowance tracker. Here are a few to choose from:

  • ThreeJars is a website that helps kids sort allowance money into virtual save, spend and share “jars”. Puts allowance online so it’s easy for your kids to track it, teaching them responsible money management
  • Moneytrail  is a free, online system for tracking allowance and credit between kids and parents.
  • Bankaroo is a family project with a website and an app version to help children learn how to manage their savings.
  • FamZoo is an online virtual family bank. Parents use FamZoo with their kids to teach good money management habits and introduce them to charitable giving.
  • A+ Allowance is an allowance app where you set your kids jobs for the week and decide how much they will earn.
  • Savings Spree is an app with games that teaches kids how the daily lifestyle choices that they make can add up to big savings or big expenses, depending on how they choose to spend (or not spend) their money. Savings Spree shows kids that they can save their money for short term goals, spend wisely by making more frugal decisions, donate to others, or invest money so it will grow to meet future needs. This is brought to you by the same group that do the Money Savvy Piggybank.

Videos/Webisodes to Teach Kids about Money

Sesame Street series “For Me, For You, For Later” A bilingual multimedia program that helps families share experiences and develop basic financial skills Teaches lessons in value, spending, sharing, saving and more

The Secret Millionaires Club is an animated series that features Warren Buffett as a mentor to a group of entrepreneurial kids whose adventures lead them to encounter financial and business problems to solve. The program teaches the basic of good financial decision making and some of the basic lessons of starting a business. The animated series has 26 online short webisodes, and 2 TV specials.

Money Games for Kids

  • The Allowance® Game  helps kid ages 5-11 years learn to how to handle money, make change, identify money values, add & subtract money.
  • Learning Resources Money Bags A Coin Value Game  has kids earning money while winding along a cartoon path. Money is earned by landing on a square labeled with a practical chore, such as setting the table, or an entrepreneurial task, such as a lemonade stand.

Piggybanks

These piggybanks are a great idea to get kids to visualize where their money is going. The same idea can easily be made at home with a few jars or containers from your recycle bin or the dollar store and a few labels.

  • Money Savvy Pig is a divided piggy bank that has four compartments that can be emptied separately: Spending, Saving, Donating, and Investing.
  • Moonjar Classic Moneybox: Save, Spend, Share is a tool to help change how children develop a basic understanding of good money habits by being responsible for dividing their money into compartments dedicated for saving, sharing, and spending.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Sources

  • Amazon
  • GoodReads

photo credit: mjohnso via photopin cc

Teach Your Kids Good Manners – The Parents Guide

Teaching kids about manners isn’t the most fun thing that you will encounter as a parent. No one likes to nag, but it’s worth putting in some effort to teaching manners because if your kids have good manners adults will be nicer to them, they will know how to speak and be respectful to others and you can send them off into the world knowing that they will know how to behave in different social situations. So in the interest of making the world a nicer, happier place, we have rounded up lots of good books, apps, videos and cards that will help you teach your kids the manners they need to know.

learn your manners

Manners Cards for Kids

An easy way to get children familiar with what is polite and not polite would be to try out a few manners cards:

  • Happy Mini Manners Card Set has 42 good manners mini card with helpful phrases/reminders & matching peek-a-play characters that say things like knock on door, do not tease, say excuse me, love your family, listen to others, etc.
  • Good Manners Flash Cards is a set of 15 cards that remind kids to love your family, wash your hands, be kind, say thank you, etc.
  • Golly Gee-pers is a fun and easy table manners game to help encourage good manners.

Manners DVDs for Kids

  • Mind Your Manners (ages 5-12) teaches kids the benefit of good manners. Using adults to serve as the “bad examples,” the lessons provide kids with the proper etiquette they need to be successful in life in a variety of circumstances, from dining at the table to cleaning up after themselves.
  • What Every Kid Should Know About Manners and Etiquette is a 60 minute, three-part video program where kids teach kids using humour, songs, funny costumes and situations in which kids often find themselves. This video teaches children how to treat others with respect and shows them that the world is a much nicer place when we follow the simple rules of manners and etiquette.
  • The Etiquette Factory has a 12 week program that includes a DVD that is designed for homeschool, pre-school, or any elementary classroom setting.

The Best Books to Teach Kids Manners

There are A LOT of manners books aimed at kids so we decided to research all the reviews, comments, and recommendations on what book or books are the best manners books for kids. Since there are so many books to choose from we are listing our top ten books.

  • What Do You Say, Dear? is a whimsical guide to manners that uses absurd situations and funny illustrations to help teach kids everyday social behavior.
  • Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons is a kind of dictionary, that defines mysteries such as “fair” and “unfair” and what it really means to “cooperate by using examples having to do with cookies.
  • Manners Can Be Fun by Munro Leaf has stick figure drawings and a brief text that  tells why good manners are important and how to have good manners at home, at play, and on visits.
  • How to Behave and Why also by Munro Leaf talks about the four main things (be honest, fair, strong and wise) that you have to do if you want to make good friends and keep them.
  • Dude, That’s Rude! has cartoons and kid-friendly text that teaches the basics of polite behavior in all kinds of situations—at home, at school, in the bathroom, on the phone, at the mall, and more. Our eight year old kid tester was laughing out loud while reading this book.
  • Excuse Me! teaches toddlers the abc’s of “polite behavior” in a gentle and funny way.
  • socialsklz(Social Skills) for Success: How to Give Children the Skills They Need to Thrive in the Modern World is a new book that we recently came across that is great for kids who are growing up in a digital age.
  • Whoopi’s Big Book of Manners  for K-Grade 3 reminds kids of common polite phrases to use, such as please and thank you. It also talks about circumstances children will recognize: interrupting, forgetting to clean up after yourself, and not saying you’re sorry. The author outlines good manners for different situations: table, movies and theater, sports, elevator, etc.
  • Everyday Graces: Child’s Book Of Good Manners uses stories and poems under headings like “Honor Your Mother and Father,” “Please and Thank You,” “No Hurtful Words,” “Good Behavior in Sport,” and “Showing Respect for Country”.
  • How Rude!: The Teenagers’ Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out teaches teens how to be a good host and guest, what to do (and not do) when going online or waiting in line, how to deal with rude relatives, how to act at the mall and the concert hall, how to make introductions, who invented manners, and much more. Hundreds of “Dear Alex” questions and answers cover everything from dating to breaking up, thank-you notes to table manners, ethnic jokes to social cliques, skateboarding to celebrating.

Books to Help Teach Kids Table Manners

Table manner are a particularly difficult skill to develop so here are some of the best table manner books for kids:

  • The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners  this book is mostly is about good manners in general, but there is quite a lot about table manners in the story. It’s a fun and easy way to get your kids thinking about manners.
  • You’ve Got Manners!: Table Tips from A to Z for Kids of All Ages (You’ve Got Manners series) This guide to proper behavior at the dinner table provides an introduction to etiquette for kids and a refresher in manners for adults. Offering three tips for each letter of the alphabet, kids are asked to examine the factors that contribute to proper form.
  • Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids goes in depth about table manners answering questions like which fork do I use? How do you use chopsticks? Is it okay to answer my cell phone during dinner? What is the polite way to eat spaghetti? Pretty much everything you need to know to get you through any meal is here—from table settings, to eating tricky foods, to holding up your end of a dinner conversation.
  • How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (Book & CD) just like kids, dinosaurs have a difficult time learning to behave at the table. However, with a little help from Mom and Dad, these young dinosaurs eat all before them with smiles and goodwill.
  • Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers Written by Walter Hoving, former chairman of Tiffany’s of New York, it is a step-by-step introduction to all the basics, from the moment the meal begins (“It is customary for the young man to help the young lady on his right to be seated”) to the time it ends (“Remember that a dinner party is not a funeral, nor has your hostess invited you because she thinks you are in dire need of food. You’re there to be entertaining”). In addition to the essentials about silverware, service, and sociability, it includes many of the fine points, too—the correct way to hold a fish fork, how to eat an artichoke properly, and, best of all, how to be a gracious dining companion.
  • Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard! A Complete Manners Book for Kids teaches kids how to politely handle introductions, telephones and cell phones, dining, partying, writing notes, e-messaging, dressing, and more, all in a lighthearted tone that appeals to both boys and girls four years-old and up.

Best Apps to Help Teach Kids Manners

There aren’t many apps to teach kids manners, but here are a few that we found that look good:

 

photo credit: Podknox via photopin cc

Teach Your Child Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking isn’t really the most exciting topic to break down, but helping to develop it in kids can actually be really fun and fascinating. You can easily add a few simple techniques to your daily interactions with your kids that will produce some amazing conversations and insights into their brains and thought processes. You probably already do lots of things to develop your kid’s critical thinking skills without realizing it, but if you don’t why not try out some of the tips below? You will be glad that you did, promise.

thinker
In case you are a little foggy about what exactly critical thinking entails, it basically means knowing how to think, not what to think. Kids can develop critical thinking skills or the ability to evaluate and analyze ideas and concepts, but it is something that does not come naturally, it needs to be encouraged and guided by teachers and parents as the child develops.

Easy things you can do at home:

  1. Ask your kids open-ended questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer. Your goal is to try to stimulate their thought processes, so you should be talking about something that the child is interested in and something that really makes them think.
  2. Be a devil’s advocate and say something outrageous that your kids have to argue with you about and disagree. This can help them learn how to find flaws in someone else’s evidence or reasoning. Also make sure you are giving the child time to respond. There is no rush, just enjoy the silence while they think about what they might say.
  3. When reading books, have children make connections and look for clues that will help them to think more deeply about what they are reading.  Making connections will help your child learn how to use what they already know to tackle new problems.
  4. Give your opinion and show your own thought processes by thinking out loud about how to solve little problems or complete tasks around the house.
  5. Let your kids make decisions themselves by weighing the pros and cons of a choice and don’t be afraid to let them make the wrong decision. Later you can discuss with your child about how they think the decision turned out.
  6. If you like watching TV with your kids, you can talk to them about commercials and how information can be manipulated to make claims that aren’t necessarily true or check out Get Media Smart. It is a great site for young people that encourages users to think critically about media and become smart consumers. Activities on the site are designed to provide users with some of the skills and knowledge needed to question, analyze, interpret and evaluate media messages.

Read More: Fun Ways to Help Kids Learn Mental Math

Videos

An easy way to get kids to start thinking about how they think is to watch these fun videos that were created by the Foundation for Critical Thinking based on their book Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking for Children.

Apps

Here are some of our favourite apps to help develop critical thinking in kids:

  • Blokus HD  is a fun app that is based on the super popular Blokus board game.
  • Question Builder is designed to help elementary aged children learn to answer abstract questions and create responses based on inference.
  • MathLands teaches kids ages 7 + math problem solving, math logic, critical thinking and pattern recognition skills.
  • Rush Hour is a sliding block traffic jam puzzle where your goal is to get the red car out the exit gate by moving the blocking cars and trucks out of the way.

Books

  • Visual Discrimination, Grades 2 – 8 is a fun workbook designed to teach the skill of visual discrimination, the ability to recognize similarities and differences between different things. The lessons in this book are pictorial analogies that are arranged in lessons of increasing difficulty.

Online Games

Another fun way to encourage critical thinking skills involves solving riddles, brain teasers and such games as Sudoku or crossword puzzles. They help engage the brain and encourage kids to think about different ways to solve problems. Here are some good sites to check out:

  • Brain Boosters has a huge list of online educational activities that you can sort by Lateral Thinking, Logic, Reasoning, Spatial Awareness and more.
  • Sudoku for Kids is a fun way to practice your math and logical skills.
  • Cool Math  have so many games on their site you will have no trouble finding some good logic and puzzle games to help with critical thinking building.
  • Cyberchase Games Central has some very good logic, puzzle and pattern games.
  • Puzzles  have lots of fun and easy puzzles for kids.
  • BrainBashers  has more advanced games, puzzles, crosswords if you are looking for a bit of a challenge for your kids.

Toys and Games

If you’ve been to a toy store in the last little while you probably will have seen these Perplexus maze games. They are fun and infuriating.

perplexus
Or if you want some great strategy board games try Blokus, Qwirkle or Mastermind board games that help develop critical thinking and logic skills.

Read More: Resources to Teach Children to be Resilient

Read More