Your Kids Do not Need Electronic Learning Toys

We've all seen the advertisements for toys, videos, even teaching programs for babies promoting to give your child an academic edge. Maybe we've been moved to purchase those toys that teach colors, counting, and ABC's in English and Spanish. Maybe we've been consumed with guilt because we did not give our children these toys, and we'll always wonder if we are the reason they might turn out to be something other than rocket scientists and neurosurgeons.

Is there anything wrong with these toys? No, nothing at all. They are often cheerful, colorful, and include a catchy tune your toddler or preschooler will enjoy. And they do, in fact, give kids early exposure to those basic academic skills. The lights and sounds are delightful rewards for your little one who is exploring the buttons, dials, and sliding levers. All that exploring improves their eye hand coordination and hand strength, aka "fine motor skills."

So what's the problem? Well, frankly, the problem is parents expect the fancy "teaching toys" to live up to the hype, and give something back for all the dollars paid to get this toy or gadget. After all, do not the toy companies know what they are doing? Does not the app teach a very obvious skill, like matching? It sets parents' mind at ease, and they may feel the kids are getting a superior education. Some may feel the toys are better teachers than moms and dads. Some may feel that adding extra "teaching time" with the child would be unnecessary. This is a very dangerous way of thinking.

We have to ask ourselves to think – how do kids learn? Toddlers and preschoolers are not ready for lectures and power point presentations any more than they are ready for these kinds of "lessons" the so called learning toys are trying to provide. This may seem like comparing apples to oranges – lectures are obviously for teen and up, but those learning toys are fun and kid friendly, right? Wrong. How could they be likened to a lecture? Because of one key ingredient that is missing in both instances, the very thing that makes it inappropriate for a child – it is not attached to a meaningful personal experience or social interaction.

Lectures are one sided. A speaker presents information, the listener soaks it in. Sometimes the audience is invited to participate somehow, but it is usually limited. The learning toys are only slightly better. They make their noises, and some of them try to get the child to press a button to respond. The child is cheered for or asked to try again depending on how they respond. Does this count as a meaningful personal experience or social interaction? No, not at all. The child simply listening to a computer. They are not holding and working with real objects. No one they care about is sitting with them to provide the encouragement or praise. Instead they hear a computer voice that is empty and repetitive. Sometimes the machine responds inaccurately, like when the child sets on the toy and the toy cheers for the child who incidentally sat on the button that was the correct the response. Like a lecture, these toys are impersonal, use representation instead of real objects, and may even give inaccurate feedback.

Do you still think those learning toys are superior?

Let's take a look at naturally occurring learning now. You can call it the unplugged version. Junior is in the sandbox with Grandma sitting nearby. His fingers are covered in sand, providing delightful sensory input. (If you are not familiar with "sensory input" just think of all the stuff kids like to touch because it is so varied – sand, paint, jell-o, beans, rice, water). Whenever you add sensory input, you are activating more parts of the brain, which aids in memory and learning in general. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the light breeze is blowing, all the more sensory input that makes outside so much fun for kids. Junior is busy pouring and scooping sand. He plays pretend with a dump truck and uses it to transport sand to the "construction site." Grandma and Junior chat while he plays, and she gives him words to learn like empty, full, big, little, wet, dry. Junior is in charge of the play scenario. He fills up that dump truck himself. He shows how and when and where to dump it. Grandma smiles and encourages him. She challenges to make "a great big pile" of sand and applauds when he does. Junior beams with pride.

What just happened out there in the sandbox? Meaning happened. That sand was in Junior's little hands, not pixels on a screen. He scooped by using his little hands and muscles, not with a stylus tapping on a screen. He learned about physics out there, as he learned how hard to push the truck to make it go through the sand, how much pressure he needed to lift up the dump truck, what happened to the sand when the bucket was already full, how far Water splashes when he dumped it all at once. He was encouraged to keep going when the bucket was not full yet and Grandma helped him understand that full meal up to the top. He accomplished an actual physical task that he could see, touch, and be proud of. He got lost in the joy of make-believe play, which is critical for child development. Grandma's praise was genuine and accurate, and he loves that lady to pieces so he did not give up until he got it right.

So now we have seen how a real task, like sandbox digging or block tower building, with real people, is obviously better than tasks on a computer screen. But what about the ABC's, you ask? What about the counting in English and in Spanish? Times have changed drastically, and the pressure is really on once kids get to kindergarten. You want your future neurosurgeon to be ready!

OK, here's the truth. You can teach a toddler letters. You can teach shapes as complicated as "cylinder" to a two year old and she will be able to name it when she sees it a few weeks later. You will beam with pride. She can learn to count to ten, too. The question here is, should you?

It comes back to meaning. A child can count to ten, but does she understand what the numbers mean? Does she know that 8 is twice as many as 4? That 4 is one less than 5? That there are five cookies on the plate but when she eats one, that there are now four cookies? And what earthly purpose does a toddler have for adding the word "cylinder" to her vocabulary? She can learn letters, but she will not learn to read any faster. And without regular re-teaching, your child will quickly forget these things – for the simple fact that they do not hold any meaning for her. Our memories work by sorting and associating concepts with familiar things or in a way that makes sense. And all that academic mumbo-jumbo you gave her does not have a "storage drawer" inside that developing little mind. She has not got any place to store it that makes sense, so it fades quickly. So if it is not going to stick, why waste her time with it? Why not go outside and play in the sandbox? We know the lessons learned out there are going to last.

As your child approaches kindergarten, you will want to ensure he is "ready." Today's standards mean he should know a great many things, including letters and how to hold a crayon, his full name, and how to hop and skip. But starting to teach academies in baby and toddler years is not necessary. In fact, it may rob children of the time they could have spent filling and dumping a bucket of sand.

Still not convinced? Consider the child's growing mind. At one year of age, your child still thought he was an extension of you, and that he could control you. He fought, you fed him. He was bored, you played with him. You left him, he hinded until you returned. He tantrums because he can not control you any more. And he is mystified! He can not sort it out. Now fast forward to age 2. He's still tantrumming regularly. He cries because his meatballs are "all gone" even though you look in his bowl and see meatballs still there. Was that even the issue? Nobody knows! Now I ask you, is he ready to learn the complicated sound / symbol relationship of letters and begin to read? Is he ready to count in Spanish? Probably not. Research suggests kids are not ready to recognize and remember letters until … ready for this? … age five . That is shocking considering today's grueling pace. There is also some evidence that early exposure to letters and learning to read does not matter at all. A child can learn to read, and learn in a matter of months, if you wait until the child is developmentally ready to do so. That's around age seven. Of course, in America we do not wait until a child is seven to get started, the point of this is remind us that child development happens in a predictable, linear fashion. It can not be rushed. Development happens on child's schedule, not due to parental diligence with flashcards and learning videos. However, your child still has loads of things to learn. He is ready to play with you, listen and learn from a real person who loves and cares for him. He wants to please you, and wants to interact with you.

You do not have to "try" to teach a young child. Simply interact with him, talk with him, and ask him questions. Let him try things on his own and help him be successful. Learning happens in play, not on a screen or with a computerized toy. You can play pretend, build, paint, dig, hop and run, and even sort and categorize familiar objects like food in a toy kitchen. You can bake cakes and wash the bowls afterward. You can play catch and make up a simple game. You are all your child needs. Computerized toys can never replace the invaluable learning that happens when you simply play with your child. Choose toys that allow for problem solving, building, pretend play, or dress-up outfits. Do not forget about things like blocks, balls, and books. These classics never fail to entertain and to teach, too. Best of all, it is easy to join in and play with your child!

6 Key Elements of a Contract

1. Offer. An offer can be oral or written as long as it is not required to be written by law. It is the definite expression or an overt action which begins the contract. It is simply what is offered to another for the return of that person's promise to act. It can not be ambiguous or unclear. It must be spelled out in terms that are specific and certain, such as the identity and nature of the object which is being offered and under what conditions and / or terms it is offered.

2. Acceptance. As a general proposition of law, the acceptance of the offer made by one party by the other party is what creates the contract. This acceptance, as a general rule, can not be withdrawn, nor can it exceed the terms of the offer, or alter it, or modify it. To do so makes the acceptance a counter-offer. Although this proposal may vary from state to state, the general rule is that there are no conditional acceptances by law. In fact, by making a conditional acceptance, the offeree is rejecting the offer. However the offerer, at his choosing, by act or word which shows acceptance of the counter-offer, can be bound by the conditions tendered by the offeree.

3. Consideration. Consideration for a contract may be money or may be another right, interest, or benefit, or it may be a reduction, loss or responsibility given up to someone else. Consideration is an absolutely necessary element of a contract. As a word of caution, it should be noted that consideration has to be expressed agreed upon by both parties to the contract or it must be expressly accepted by the terms of the contract. A potential or accidental benefit or detriment alone would not be construed as valid consideration. The consideration must be explicit and sufficient to support the promise to do or not to do, whatever is applicable. However, it should not be of any particular monetary value. Mutual promises are adequate and valid consideration as to each party as long as they are binding. This rule applies to conditional promises as well. As additional clarification, the general rule is that a promise to act which you are already legally bound to do is not a sufficient consideration for a contract. The courts determine the application.

4. Capacity of the Parties to Contract. The general presumption of the law is that all people have a capacity to contract. A person who is trying to avoid a contract would have to plead his or her lack of capacity to contract against the party who is trying to enforce the contract. For example, he would have to prove that he was a minor, adjudged incompetent or drunk or drugged, and so forth. Often this is the most difficult burdens of proof to overcome due to the presumption of one's ability to contract.

5. Intent of the Parties to Contract. It is a basic requirement to the formation of any contract, be it oral or written, that there has to be a mutual assent or a "meeting of the minds" of the parties on all proposed terms and essential elements of the contract. It has been held by the courts that there can be no contract without all the parties involved intended to enter into one. This intent is determined by the outward actions or actual words of the parties and not just their secret intentions or desires. Therefore, mere negotiations to arrive at a mutual agreement or assent to a contract would not have considered an offer and acceptance even thought the parties agree on some of the terms which are being negotiated. Both parties must have intended to enter into the contract and one can not have been misled by the other. That is why fraud or certain mistakes can make a contract voidable.

6. Object of the Contract. A contract is not enforceable if its object is considered to be illegal or against public policy. In many jurisdictions contracts predicated upon lotteries, dog races, horse races, or other forms of gambling would have considered illegal contracts. Yet in some states these types of contracts are valid. Federal and some state laws make contracts in restraint of trade, price-fixing and monopolies illegal. Therefore, a contract which violates those statutes would be illegal and unenforceable. This is true for drugs and prostitution or any other activity if considered criminal.

How to Pack for a Summer Vacation

It’s that time of the year again when the scorching heat becomes unbearable with each passing day. At such a time, all you want is an air-conditioned room and something cool to sip on. However, if you are going on a holiday, you will be spending a lot of time outside, exploring different places. If this is scaring you, considering the temperature is rising everyday, here are some tips that will help you stay protected from the heat.

Carry a Sunblock Lotion or Sunscreen

Going out in the sun without protecting your skin is a big no no, especially in summer. So, while you searching for the cheapest airline booking online and packing your clothes, also get a bottle or two of sunscreen or sunblock lotion. Sunscreen will not only prevent you from getting a sunburn but it will also protect your skin from the harmful UV rays. When you are buying the lotion, make sure you get one that has both UVA and UVB protection.

Pack Cotton and Lightweight Clothes

During the summer season, it’s advisable that you wear cotton clothes so that your skin can breathe. Wearing synthetic clothes may cause irritation and you might end up feeling hot and suffocated. So, when you are packing for your vacation, make sure you put in light clothes that will help your body stay calm. When it comes to shoes, carry open-toed ones or flip flops so that your feet can get as much air as possible.

Choose the Correct Accessories

Since you will be travelling during peak summer, carry a straw hat, a pair of sunglasses, and a scarf, just in case the heat becomes unbearable. These accessories will keep you protected from the heat when you are out, visiting different places. If you are going to be spending a lot of time on the beach, carry a beach bag and towels with you too. It’s also preferable that you carry a change of clothes so that you don’t have to stay in your sweat-soaked clothes for a long period of time.

Take Necessary Medication with You

Some places can have heat waves during the summer. In such a case, you should be prepared for it. Additionally, if you have diseases that can be triggered due to the heat, take the prescribed medicines with you. You might also want to take vaccinations that will protect you from falling sick from insect bites or mosquitoes.

These are some of the simples steps that you can keep in mind while packing for a summer vacation. And while you are vacationing, just remember to drink a lot of fluids and keep yourself hydrated.

The Psychology of Advertising and Marketing

When we talk about the Psychology Of Advertising, perception is paramount. Your advertisements are all about perception so you must make the most of each and every advertisement. You need to know what works and what does not so do you waste your time and money on bad copy. A series of experiments were carried out to determine whether white or black type made the more attractive display advertisements. Over 500 people were used in the experiment. The background for the white type was gray in some cases, but in most cases it was black. The results show that the ordinary reader is more likely to notice display type which is black than a display type of the same sort which is white.

Another series of laboratory experiments was made on the same subject. Particularly prepared pages were shown for one-seventh of a second. On part of the sheets black letters on white background and white letters on black background were shown. In other cases one half of the sheet had a black background, with words in white type, and the other half of the sheet had a white background with words in black type. Scores of cards were constructed in which all the possible combinations of white and black were made and shown to a number of persons for such a short space of time that no one could perceive all there was on any sheet. Under these circumstances the subjects saw what first attracted their attention and what was the easiest to perceive. The final results showed that the black letters on a white background were seen oftener than the white type on a black background. This proves true with other colors too. A dark font color on a light background is noted more often than a light font color on a dark background. Use the right combination unless you are seeking a specific "feel" for your advertisement.

It seems quite certain that, other things being equal, those advertisements will be the most often read which are printed in type which is the most easily read. The difference in the appearance of the type in many cases may be so small that even persons experienced in the choosing of type may not be able to tell which one is the more legitimate, and yet the difference in their values ​​may be great enough to make It a matter of importance to the advertiser as to which type he should use.

If the matter of the proper use of type is of importance to the advertiser, it is even more important that he should make a wise use of graphics.

The graphic is frequently used merely as a means of attracting attention, and its function as a symbolic illustration is disregarded. In a few cases this may be wise and even necessary, but when we consider the value of an graphic as a symbol, we are surprised that graphics are not used more extensively as well as more judiciously. The first form of writing was picture writing, and the most simple and direct form of graphic representation is through the picture and not through the printed word. At a single glance we can usually read about four words; That is to, say, the width of perception for printed words is about four. At a single glance at an illustration we can see as much as could be told in a whole page of printed matter. The width of perception for illustrations is very much more extensive than it is for printed forms of expression.

The illustration may perform either one or both of two functions. It may be a picture picture used to attract attention or it may be an "illustration" and a real aid to perception by assisting the text to tell the story which is to be presented. In the first case it would have been called an irrelevant painting; In the second case it is relevant. There have been several investigations carried on to determine the relative attention value of relevant and unlawful illustrations. Although the results so far, reached are not so decisive as may be desired, yet it looks certain that the attention value of relevant illustrations is greater than had been supposedly and that the irrelevant "picture" is frequently not so potent in attracting attention as a Relevant illustration would be. Under these circumstances it seems that, in general, the illustration in an advertisement should have the double function of attracting attention and assisting perception. Which one of these functions is the more important might be a profitable question for discussion, but when these two functions can be united in the same illustration, its value is enhanced twofold. Irrelevant illustrations are produced purely because they are expected to attract attention, when in reality they may attract the attention of no one except the person who designed them and of the unfortunate man who has to pay for them. There are many illustrations produced and inserted in advertisements because they are supposed to assist the perception. They are supposed to tell the story of the goods advertised and to be a form of argumentation. The designer of the illustration and one familiar with the goods knows what the picture stands for, and so for him it is a symbol of the goods and tells the story of the special advantages of the goods. To one unacquainted with the illustration and with the goods advertised, the illustration is no illustration at all. Not only that, but an illustration may distract the viewer from the actual message. Things animated graphics may actually draw the eyes away and the viewer will never get back to the actual message.

The advertiser is so familiar with what he has to offer that he can not appreciate the difficulty the public has in getting a clear and complete perception by means of his advertisements of the goods advertised. It is almost impossible to err on the side of clearness. A sketchy illustration may appear artistic to the designer, but there is danger that it will be taken as meaningless scrawls by the viewer, and so it will not receive a second thought from them. The text and the illustration should, first of all, be clear and should in every way possible assist the mind of the possible customer in forming a correct idea of ​​the goods being exploited. This is what the Psychology of Advertising is all about; Getting the viewer to remember your product and purchasing it.