June 16th, 2014 by admin
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April 26th, 2014 by admin
Marilyn Kentz, the brunet half of the comedy duo The Mommies and author of The Mommy Load (HarperCollins, 1998) used to joke about getting sonic “action.” But it wasn’t a roll in the hay she was referring to–it was the jiggle of her “turkey neck” that the 50-year-old comedian was poking fun at.
Thanks to liposuction, Kentz is now action-free. “It worked,” she says. “There’s no question that my chinline looks better.” But a smooth new neck like hers is no laughing matter. It can Cost you–gulp!–$5,000.
While many of its may not choose an expensive treatment like the one Kentz had done, there are less-expensive ways to improve the skin and contours of the neck. Ironically, even though we hold a smooth, graceful neck in high esteem (think Audrey Hepburn), most of its ignore this area entirely,
Unfortunately, tile neck doesn’t stiffer neglect or the passage of time kindly. Prone to sagging and a unique form of sun damage because of its, thin skin, the neck is a prime age-revealer.
“Second to the eyes, the neck shows aging the most,” agrees Fredric S. Brandt, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Coral Gables, FL. “Starting in your thirties, you lose strong jawline definition, and fine lines appear on the skin. In Your forties, jowliness begins, skin loses elasticity, and the platysmal bands (the cordlike neck muscle that’s visible on both sides of the Adam’s apple) become more obvious.”
But there are ways to stave off damage. Here’s how, starting with the basics.
At-Home Care The skin on the neck is different from facial skin. It’s thinner, with fewer hair follicles and very few oil glands. So while breakouts aren’t a common concern, lack of moisture is–which is why you should wash with a mild cleanser (never deodorant soap) and use a moisturizer daily, starting in your 30s. Recently, cosmetics companies have touted the benefits of creams formulated for the neck (see “Rating Neck Creams,” page 58). One product to avoid: fragrance, which can irritate sensitive neck skin and is best spritzed on oilier spots like your wrists.
And, never skip sunscreen. Forgoing daily protection puts you at risk for developing poikiloderma, a mottled-looking skin condition characterized by red, brown, and/or white splotches and caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
“Poikiloderma is very difficult to treat,” says Seth Matarasso, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco. “Retin-A and chemical peels could accentuate these discolorations. Multiple treatments with the PhotDerm [a pulsed-light device used primarily on leg veins] may help, but your best bet is to use sunscreen religiously, and over time the blotches may fade.”
Wondering what your neck will look like in another decade or two? Aside from unprotected sun exposure, genetics play the biggest role in the aging process; people with olive or black skin, which tends to be oilier, or those With well-defined jaw- and chinlines fare best. But nearly as important as your genes in predicting how the skin on your face and neck will age is another age-influencer, one you can control-smoking, which reduces blood flow to the skin, says Paul Schnur, M.D., associate professor and chairman of the plastic surgery department at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ.
At the Doctor’s Office Many dermatologists suggest chemical peels for women over 30 whose necks develop fine lines, uneven tone, and less-than-stipple texture.
A series of peels, spaced a month apart, can undo some of the damage, while allowing patients to return to work the same day. The trick, however, is proceeding cautiously and gradually to avoid the neck’s high potential for scarring.
“You’ll need from three to six peels to see an improvement,” says Dr. Matarasso, who treats patients with glycolic acid before introducing them to a stronger peeling agent–trichloroacetic-acid (TCA). Both glycolic acids and TCAs are “light” peels that will make the neck redden and shed a fine layer of flaky skin, hut riot blister. Results can last two to three years if patients are diligent about using sunscreen. Cost: $100 per peel.
The advent of “gentler,” low-heat lasers has prompted a few doctors to try laser resurfacing sun-damaged necks. So far, these new lasers haven’t proven effective in erasing wrinkles or tightening skin, but they carry a lower risk of discoloring and permanently scarring the neck, says Tina Alster, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. “We just don’t know enough about laser resurfacing the neck,” she says. “At this point, a chemical peel is a better treatment.”
Surgical Options The following methods are more extreme routes to a younger-looking neck. While these measures may reverse some signs of the aging process, they also involve possible side effects and high price tags.
Liposuction is the most popular cosmetic procedure in the United States; yet, In a national survey of more than 15,000 cases, only 3 percent of all liposuctions were performed on double chins, jowls, and fatty necks. “People don’t realize that the neck can be liposuctioned very easily,” says C. William Hanke, M.D., professor of dermatology, pathology, and otolaryngology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. “Results are dramatic, more so than any other area of the body.”
Again, it’s important to be aware of the discomfort and possible complications that can arise from neck liposuctions. Patients counter the postoperative swelling by wearing a compression chin strap for two days, but bruising can linger for several weeks. While considered extremely rare, serious complications can arise, including a four- to eight-week paralysis of the lower lip and permanent skin dimpling.
Kentz underwent a two-step procedure that took 20 minutes total: external ultrasound (a technique that uses a handheld ultrasound device to massage the surface of the skin, softening the fat before it’s suctioned) and a facial liposculpture (which involves injecting the fat with an anesthetic-saline solution, then suctioning it out), According to Kentz’s surgeon, R. Patrick Abergel, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles, external ultrasound reduces postsurgical bruising and swelling. Kentz experienced neither. Says Dr. Hanke, “I’ve found external ultrasound to be very safe. But there’s no data ye to show it’s more effective than the tumescent method [liposculpture] alone.” Cost: $1,500 for a tumescent procedure to $5,000 for external ultrasound and liposuction.
Finally, there’s the option of a face-lift to rejuvenate the neck and the lower half of the face, considered the best solution for necks with lots of loose skin. (Eye and forehead lifts are separate procedures.)
Face-lifts today have evolved from a procedure that tightens only the skin, into a more complicated surgery that also realigns the underlying flat and muscle layers. The results look more natural and fast about ten years, says Dr. Schnur.
Face-lifts are considered major surgery, requiring a three-hour operation under general anesthesia, a night’s stay at the hospital or operating center, at least a week (if at-home recovery, and another two to three weeks of bruising and swelling. Possible complications: Postsurgical hematomas (internal bleeding) occur in 1 to 2 percent of patients; permanent nerve damage or skin loss (when a flap of skin is pulled too tight and loses blood supply) occurs in less than 1 percent. Cost: between $6,000 and $12,000.
If pricey beauty treatments for your neck aren’t on your to-do list this year, it still makes sense to protect your neck’s sensitive skin. When all else fails, you can always hide the droopiness with–what else–a turtleneck.
April 26th, 2014 by admin
Twenty years ago, tutors were hired for kids who just couldn’t keep school. Today, serve as an antidot to overcrowded classrooms, a way to provide the individualized attention that helps any child learn. More kids than ever are signing up for so-called supplemental education. And with a broader range of tutoring choices available–from national learning centers to school-based peer tutors–giving your child an extra educational boost doesn’t have to be a bank-breaking experience.
Figuring out whether your child needs that extra help may seem simple: A child who struggles with homework and gets poor grades is a good candidate. Sometimes a child who is having trouble in one subject–reading, for instance–may need short-term tutoring to catch up with peers. But experts say even above-average students can benefit in areas where they have weaknesses.
If you’re thinking about hiring a tutor, first schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss the nature of her problems. “A kid may be flunking social studies, science, and math, but the actual trouble may be poor reading skills or a lack of organization,” explains Phyllis O’Neill, director of guidance and counseling at Imperial Tutoring and Educational Services, Inc., in Oak Lawn, IL. It’s also important to consider whether there’s a learning disability or other medical or behavioral problem.
Once you know which areas need work, you can decide what kind of tutor to hire. The options:
Private tutors are the most expensive, with costs averaging about $65 an hour and going as high as $165 an hour in certain urban areas; typically, payment is on an as-you-go basis. Look for a certified teacher who has experience with students whose age anti needs are similar to those of your child, recommends Barbara A. Wasik, principal research scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Social Organization of Schools in Baltimore. “You don’t want a high school chemistry instructor teaching your third grader how to read,” she says. Also ask teachers, school administrators, and other parents to make recommendations.
A less-expensive option: Hire a student from a nearby college who’s completing a degree in education. “They’re enthusiastic, affordable [about $10 to $20 an hour], and they can always turn to a professor for guidance,” says Mike Zenanko, executive committee member of the National Tutoring Association. Whomever you hire, always check references.
Pros: One-on-one attention means faster results. Private tutors can also work with teachers to devise a tutoring plan that complements classroom work.
Cons: The focus is often placed on homework and preparing for upcoming tests, not on improving overall comprehension and study habits.
Learning centers (including Sylvan Learning Centers, Kumon Math & Reading Centers, and Huntington Learning Center) are less expensive than private tutors, charging $30 to $200 for required diagnostic testing and between $18 and $45 per hour for tutoring, payable in advance. Each center will have slightly different tutoring methods and emphasis: Some focus on reading and math basics, Others also oilier help with test-taking and study skills. Before you enroll your child, talk to her teacher about which center might be best for her anti speak to the parents of other children in the program.
Pros: Instructors are usually certified teachers. Also, incentives offered by many of these centers may increase a child’s interest in study: Tokens are awarded for completed assignments and can be redeemed for books, CDs, or other kid-friendly prizes.
Cons: You don’t get to choose your child’s instructor. And because teaching usually takes place in small groups of up to five students, one-on-one attention may be limited.
Peer tutoring by older students is gaining in popularity and is often worked into the standard school curriculum. How does it work? A fifth grader teams up with a second grader after school to do homework, or third graders visit the kindergarten classroom to help younger children with reading. Such programs are generally free and are coordinated by the school on a volunteer basis.
Pros: This can be very helpful for grade-school children with minor academic problems. “Younger children look up to and enjoy working with older students,” says Wasik.
Cons: For children with severe academic problems, peer tutoring probably won’t offer enough help.
Whatever your choice, be sure your child is making progress. Within about four months, you should see increased confidence, a better attitude about learning, and improved grades. If you don’t, speak to the tutor or perhaps reconsider your options.
April 4th, 2014 by admin
Things were going well–too well, I thought, as I nervously picked at my salad. Normally, when I went on a blind date (this was before I was married), I made sure I knew all the bad news up front. But my friend Kate had only enthused about my date’s good points. So far, she’d been fight: I was having dinner with a rakishly handsome, impeccably groomed, obviously intelligent man. By the time we got to the main course, I was praying he liked me.
And then he laughed.
It was not like any laugh I’d ever heard. It was more like a severe asthma attack, followed by what sounded like a station wagon full of barking seals. I looked behind me, hoping that perhaps some evil ventriloquist had planted this sound in Mr. Perfect’s mouth. No such luck. I noticed a few startled glances from nearby diners. Thinking quickly, I resolved to say nothing funny for the rest of the evening. But it was as if I had metamorphosed into Jerry Seinfeld: Judging by this guy’s reaction, I was the single most entertaining person he’d ever known, lie kept wheeze-barking, and by the end of the meal, I was covered with a thin film of perspiration, nattering on about mortgage refinancing and the Cuban Missile Crisis in the hope that that noise would not come out of his mouth again.
“Well, yeah, the laugh is an issue,” Kate admitted later. “I didn’t think it would bother you.” Perhaps Kate had forgotten I had this bodily sense called hearing. Forget any merits of the man: This was not a sound I could grow old with.
So call me shallow. But a person’s laugh is as much a distinguishing feature as his voice-and just like a voice, it can amuse, endear, repel, or even scare us. Think Simon Legree, or the Wicked Witch of the West.
It’s still not clear whether the sound of our laughter is genetically determined or environmentally nurtured; researchers speculate that it’s a bit of both. We can change our laughs, just as we can change our voices–but only with considerable effort: The laugh you have as a kid is generally the laugh you’ll have asa grown-up. While vocal cords may determine the loudness or timbre of a person’s laugh, most of us still remember trying on different laugh styles as teenagers. Notes my friend Jan, who has a friendly, infectious chortle, “I can still remember seeing All About Eve, then standing in front of a mirror, tossing my head back, and belting out Bette Davis’s scornful Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha’ about four hundred times until my mother begged me to shut up.”
Babies first make the distinct vocal responses we identify as laughter at around 3 or 4 months old, long before they begin talking. Mothers who laugh more than average usually have babies who are big laughers, too, say researchers. Baby laughter reflects pleasure, not necessarily a sense of humor, as any parent knows who’s evoked chuckles from her 4-month-oki by reading, in a high-pitched squeal, the fine print tiff her bank statement. Not until a child is around 1 1/2 to 2 docs he develop tree humor appreciation, notes Eva Nwokah, Ph.D., director of the Richardson Development Center for Children in Dallas, who has studied laughter and humor in children. Of course, this “appreciation” may amount to repeated use of the word poo; it takes a little longer to savor, say, the satire of Jonathan Swift.
Giggling as a bonding experience
Less than 20 percent of adult laughter occurs in response to jokes or funny situations; the rest is just a kind of conversational spackle that helps chat go smoothly, says Robert Provine, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and the author of Quest for Laugher. After eavesdropping on about 2,000 conversations at parties, in shopping malls, and tin sidewalks, Provine found that “people smile six times more when in the presence of another person, and laugh thirty times more. When you’re laughing with someone, it’s an expression of kinship, of social bonding.”
I myself laugh when I know people are trying to be amusing, whether or not they actually are; many of us do. You can call it insincere. You can also call it generous. Just think of any time someone is telling an entertaining story and all the listeners are guffawing appreciatively–except one, who is staring in stone-faced silence. What message is that person sending? Disapproval, indifference to the group’s goodwill, even aggression.
Apparently laughter is another indicator of women’s tendency to do heavy bonding. Women laugh more than men do on a daily basis, and they laugh more when they’re in the company of other women than with men. To research her book Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men in the Workplace, Georgetown University linguistics professor Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., asked people to tape-record meetings in their offices. “Meetings that were all women had much, much more laughter than meetings of all men, or men and women together,” Tannen observes. “It was solidarity-building laughter. The women would laugh at all kinds of things as a way of smoothing conversational gears.”
Humor and power
The flip side of bonding is kowtowing, which is why you often see a powerful person–the boss, for instance–getting lots of laughs from people who are in his or her employ; laughter in this situation is a show of submission. Those laughing demonstrate that they recognize the other person’s dominance and are saying, in effect, “Please don’t hurt us.”
Because men continue to have a stranglehold on lots of positions of power in society and business, you still see more women laughing at more men than the other way around. Provine stresses that this is less gender-linked than power-linked, and expects that powerful females–Margaret Thatcher or Hillary Clinton–have their staffs in stitches just as often as powerful men.
Stress and the sexes
“We all laugh at things that affect our lives,” observes Caroline Hirsch, owner of Carolines Comedy Club in New York City, who has watched a lot of audiences yuk it up. “Men react better to jokes that are physical, slapstick, even violent, like hitting someone, and women laugh more at relationship stuff.” (Another difference I’ve observed: Women do not laugh at fart jokes.)
Men and women not only laugh at different things, but they actually use humor to achieve different results. In a 1997 study in Journal of Research in Personality, psychologist Herbert Lefcourt of the University of Waterloo, Ontario, measured the blood pressure of men and women who used humor to cope with stressful situations. Stress makes everyone’s blood pressure go up, but for the men in this group, blood pressure was even higher than for “nonlaughing” men. For “laughing” women, pressure was lower than for the “nonlaughing” women. Lefcourt speculates this is because these men used hostile wit to aggressively control others, while the women used self-deprecating humor to mitigate tension.
It’s so sad I could…laugh
In Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, Solomon dishes up some pretty good advice: “There is…a time to weep and a time to laugh.” But how many of us are always able to keep those times straight? Almost everyone has been subject to inappropriate fits of laughter, often initiated when someone’s grief is wildly disproportionate (at least, in your mind) to the actual sadness of the event. Last week, a friend poured out her heart about the disappearance of her child’s pet salamander, which, while being played with, had rather unwisely taken a dive into the air-conditioning unit. She was distraught; “Sammy” had become a part of the family. I nodded sympathetically, but I was struggling to stifle my giggles. This week Sammy (RIP) is making his presence known; my friend’s house reeks of deceased amphibian. I just received a third frantic phone call about how to get rid of the smell. I cackled away while I let my answering machine pick up.
Recently another friend was telling me about his aunt, who had attempted suicide–again. She was, fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), not particularly adept at the task. “She put her head in the oven and turned on the gas, but she mistakenly left one of the kitchen windows open, so that didn’t do much good,” Jack explained. I tried to murmur words of comfort, but I could feel myself beginning to titter, and I bit my lip. “Then she jumped out a window, but because she was (only on the second floor, she just broke her legs.” Jack sighed, and I dug any fingernails into my thigh to keep from guffawing. “Finally,” he said, “she climbed into her car and set herself on fire. When the EMS people pulled her out just in the nick of time, she screamed at them, `What does a person have to do to get off this planet?’ ”
That was it. I lost it. It was an appalling story, and I was laughing like a hyena. I felt like Mary Richards in what was perhaps the most famous episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the one in which the entire staff of WJM-TV dissolves into fits of giggles at the funeral of Chuckles the Clown.
Laughing at a seemingly sad event happens frequently, notes Karen O’Quin, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Buffalo State College in New York who studies the role of humor in social interaction. “When you’re experiencing grief, all emotions are closer to the surface.” Laughter and crying, suggests Provine, spring from similar physiological sources. “Sometimes, people ,say they’re so happy they weep. People probably pay less attention to the weeping at a Miss America Pageant than to the laughing at a funeral, but it’s really the same phenomenon.”
Adds Loretta LaRoche, who has just written Relax–you may only have a few minutes left, “Humor and laughter are coping mechanisms. They provide distance. Sometimes you laugh at the ‘wrong’ times because it keeps you from being too invested emotionally.” In other words, the human condition is inherently grim, and being able to see the humor even in sad events gets us through the day.
Laughter really is the best medicine
Laughter is not only essential to our emotional well-being, it also plays a surprisingly important role in our physical health as well. Nearly 20 years ago, the writer Norman Cousins explained how watching funny movies helped him recover from a degenerative auto-immune disease; he called laughter “internal jogging.” Since then, dozens of scientists have shown that his recovery was, in fact, no accident. In fact, today there is an organization called The American Association for Therapeutic Humor, consisting of more than 600 doctors and health-care professionals who study the effects of humor on our bodies. Two of these experts, Stanley Tan, M.D., Ph.D., and line Berk of Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California, have shown that laughter decreases the amount of stress hormones in the body and increases the activity of natural killer cells that go after tumor cells. Laughter has also been shown to activate the cells that boost the immune system and to increase levels of the immune system hormone that fights viruses.
According to LaRoche, upwards of 60 percent of all office visits to primary-care physicians are stress-related. “Our minds are so cluttered with things we have to do, we don’t witness our own comedy,” she says. In her lectures to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies (including the IRS), she uses what she calls exaggeration therapy to help clients see the humor in the daily aggravations of life. The point, says LaRoche, is to find something amusing in the annoying, and give yourself a laugh rather than a headache.
This is sometimes easier said than done. But I couldn’t help thinking about her words last week, as I stood on line at the grocery store. There were throngs of people; it was as if the store were giving the food away. One woman was apparently paying her entire $75 grocery bill in 20-cent coupons; another was cooing the Barney theme song–”I love you, you love me”–to her shrieking infant, over and over and over. I could feel a vein in my forehead begin to throb. Then my husband turned to me and said very quietly, “Don’t you wish cannibalism were back in vogue?”
Sometimes, the choice is homicide or laughter. Try to choose laughter.
March 18th, 2014 by admin
My mother’s in the car with me and she turns–she’s in her 70s and has this wonderful soft Brooklyn growl–and she says, “You know what all my friends are talking about? Everything’s sex now. I mean, even more than it used to be. You can’t plug in anything electric that it’s not about sex. The radio and TV–sex. The papers and magazines–sex. You go to the movies for a story, and it’s about sex. It’s really kinda…strange!”
From the mouths of former babes. My mother was a spiky and irreverent person in her youth, no prude, a Frank Sinatra Catholic who, late on Sunday morning as the neighbors went to Mass, listened to Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! on the hi-fi. She went out with her friends and my father, and they smoked and drank and told jokes and acted up. They were cool suburban hipsters home from thc war. They made Brando a star, and Marilyn, and Frank.
And when America threw off its last Puritan inhibitions in the sixties and seventies a lot of them welcomed it, as did their children, the thrower-offers. They–we–had reason to feel as we did. It’s good to have standards and decorum, but America was sometimes prudish and prissy. Lucy and Desi slept in separate beds; Lucy wasn’t allowed to say the word pregnant on the air. TV sometimes reflects life, and in this `case TV was reflecting American embarrassment about…well, life.
And we changed–with a vengeance. Today our culture has become sex saturated. Sex is relentlessly the subject of our news reports (Viagra, Monica, the latest controversy over condoms in the schools), our entertainment (Ellen comes out, Ellen departs; the TV show Dharma & Greg actually promotes itself by noting that it is not about premarital sex), our movies, and our magazines. It’s increasingly the subject of our children’s lives. My 10-year-old is not sure who Thomas Paine was, hut he knows exactly bow not to get AIDS. They tell him at school.
All of this has left me almost nostalgic for the old repression. For one thing, I realize America was, paradoxically, a sexier country in the old days–when sex wasn’t constantly sold, reported, and prattled on about, it had greater power. Mystery enhances power, forbidden fruits are ‘tastier. But more seriously, there’s something unhealthy about the way we are now. We are not acting like a people who are comfortable with sex but a people who are obsessed with it. I think it speaks not off a new maturity but of an increased immaturity.
And it has me pondering the subject of…food. Sex is a need and a hunger and so is food, but few of us lose sight of the proper place of food in the overall scheme of things.
Food is delicious, food is satisfying, and a good meal is something to really look forward to. Food can bc love–”Here, honey, have some more.” Food can be reward–”If you’re good, we’ll go to McDonald’s tonight.” Food can give comfort, as anyone who’s ever ended a bad day with a little Haagen-Dazs therapy knows.
But food is only part of life. It’s not life.
So if you knew someone who talked constantly about food, who obsessed about it and couldn’t stop thinking about how delicious it is and how much he loves it and where he can get it, you would wonder, fairly, if he suffered from a psychological disorder.
And what if you lived in a society in which, when you turned on the TV, all the shows were in one way or another about food, and all the news was about food controversies, and all the magazines were full of articles like “Ten Steps to the Most Satisfying Digestive Experience Ever,” and all the advertising featured beautiful desirable women looking longingly at macaroni or beautiful desirable men salivating at the sight of a rack of lamb…
Well, you’d think that was alt a little disturbed, wouldn’t you? And you’d start to laugh. You’d think: What crazy people, what a strange country.
And that is where I think our culture is now, only not of course about food. We’re like people who had a sickness called repression, and replaced it with a sickness called mania. And this is not progress…is it?
What is the answer? I do not know. The answer is not to go back, even if that were possible. The answer, I think, is to go forward–to a greater thoughtfulness about what we’re filling the airwaves and the newspaper pages with. And I think we should remember the advertising dictum: Sex sells. So far this is tree. So don’t buy. Then it won’t be true anymore.
February 16th, 2014 by admin
One of the best ways to get kids to learn is to turn ordinary events into educational experiences. “When a parent relates learning to something real–something concrete–it stays rooted in memory,” says Sylvia Rimm, Ph.D., director of the Family Achievement Clinic at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, anti author of Dr. Sylvia Rimm’s Smart Parenting. Here, practical strategies for slipping learning into everyday life:
On the Road
A car trip provides endless opportunities to challenge a child’s math skills, says Pamela Wheaton Shorr of the Family Education Company in Boston, a leading provider of educational products anti services. Ask, “If it’s one hundred and twenty miles to Grandma’s house, and we’re driving sixty miles an hour, when will we arrive?” Follow up with similar brainteasers.
If you’re traveling to a new destination–and feeling adventurous–assign a child the job of navigator to enhance geography and map-reading skills. “Take out a road map and ask her to chart the most direct route,” Short suggests. Have her use the map’s mileage key to estimate the distance, then check her calculations against the odometer.
At the Mall
Understanding the value of a dollar is a tall order for the typical spendthrift youngster. An easy way to introduce thc concepts of money management, prioritizing, and responsibility is to give your child a back-to-school shopping budget. Ask him to write up a wish list of clothing, shoes, bags, anti other must have gear, then encourage him to compare prices by leafing through department-store sale fliers. If $85 sneakers top his list, you might say: “If you spend less on shoes, you’ll be able to buy that Chicago Bulls jacket too.” If he insists on the overpriced footwear? “It’s a choice he may later regret,” admits Jerry Wyckoff, Ph.D., developmental psychologist and coauthor of 20 Teachable Virtues. “But it’s a valuable lesson.”
In the Garden
Some of life’s best science lessons can be found in your own backyard. As you rake leaves this fall, help your kids distinguish maple from oak. Discuss why leaves change color anti fall off trees, why birds fly south for the winter, why the sun sets earlier these days. (Not sure? Take kids to the library to look up the answers or go online.) In spring, kids can help prepare garden soil, plant seeds, fertilize, and water plants regularly. “It’s not only about science, it’s also about teaching responsibility and nurturing,” says Susan Witt, Ph.D., professor of Family and child development at the University of Akron in Ohio.
The all-important job of vacation photo-journalist will thrill youngsters while boosting writing and observation skills. Responsibilities entail recording memorable events (“Susie threw up in the backseat”) and photographing activities, such as meeting Donald Duck or sledding with Grandpa. When you return home, help your child transfer notes and photographs into a family scrapbook.
To build research skills, kids should help plan any vacation by checking out library travel books and writing to the destination’s department of tourism for a list of interesting events in the area and maps of places to visit.
Shopping for Groceries
Planning a well-balanced dinner challenges a child’s organizational skills and nutrition know-how, Rimm says. As kids choose from among their favorite recipes, review why a sensible diet matters. Ask, “Why is dairy important?” or “What vitamins are in tomatoes?” At the grocery store, encourage your child to read food labels to compare fat, salt, and sugar contents. For a quick math lesson, ask her to select the most economical package size based on price per pound. And don’t overlook the obvious: Always have her count the change.
Reading the Newspaper
There’s no better source for finding out what’s happening in the world than the newspaper. [lave every family member share an interesting item from the paper each evening–younger children might choose something from the sports page or the kids’ section. “It encourages reading as well as family communication, and it’s a great way to raise social awareness,” Wyckoff says.
Going to the Voting Booth
Studying the platforms of candidates running for local, state, or national office is a great introduction to politics, social issues, and economic problems. Encourage your child to consider all sides of an issue: “Do you think that empty lot should be turned into a park or a parking lot?” Then take her to the voting booth with you to watch democracy in action.