My Baby Is So Smart….


I have to admit that I follow pop culture. I mean come on, let’s be fair, the allure of having perfect or funky outfits, exotic vacations, new experiences who wouldn’t. I’m not above it.

burn2learn_infographicAnd, I have to admit it’s been interesting following the sudden baby boom and health streak that has hit celebrities. And, I guess that’s good because we happily followed suit.

That being said, I couldn’t help but write this post after reading Kim Kardashian gush about how smart her baby is in a recent interview. And, No this is not an attack on Kim, I am not picking on her nor discrediting her observation.  I’m sure she is.

But here’s the thing. She’s not the only celebrity who feels this way, and perhaps it’s not fair to compare them to the average parents who have kids, since they do so much to separate themselves from “average”, but ALL of us parents feel this way about our kids.

That’s because at the end of the day they are human beings. And, we are F-ing amazing. We’d like to take credit for the miraculous creation we call a baby. But, we can’t.

And, it was that simple statement that had me wanting to pound my head against the wall.

If we all know how smart our children are, why do we repeatedly throw them into a learning environment where they are not allowed to learn?

You are probably thinking, what the hell are you talking about? My kids go to school, do their homework, the whole nine yards. And, yes they probably do and mine do too; some better than others.

But what if that is not learning?

Did you know that a preschooler – yes you heard me correctly – a preschooler should not be inactive for more than 1 hour at a time? Unless of course they are sleeping.  In addition to that requirement, they need 1 hour of structured physical play and another hour of unstructured physical play – daily.

What happens after that?

Let’s say, you think you are a pretty educated parent who is hands on and you work to achieve that; then what?

You throw them into a public school system that is stripping that FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENT away from the learning environment? Sure if we don’t like it I guess we all could send our kids to a great private school – right? Probably not. Besides Public Education is a great achievement for the United States or any nation for that matter.

And, don’t tell me it doesn’t make a difference. If you can’t look around at the mental and emotional state of our young people and know something is not right then wake up. Have you ever seen so many child suicides?

This is the first generation that is predicted NOT to outlive their parents.  And that’s a fact! I am not sure about you but I don’t want to live to see that day.  Come on!

Why are schools taking this away from our children? Why are we letting them?

Is it because we ourselves are too old, tired, depressed, fat and lazy to deal with the true energy and vitality of having a young child and raising a human being?

Let’s face it, we completely ignored nature in our current state of design. Don’t take my word for it – listen to the celebrities.  They’re up there advocating that every day – but I’m not sure we are listening and if we are we sure don’t seem to care all that much.

I wish someone else would get angry and get mad because I’m tired of fighting this alone.

If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.

If your baby is so smart – let’s keep them that way. Prepare them to learn how to learn.

Bring physical fitness back.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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Low Self-Esteem Is Like Driving Through Life With Your Hand-Break On.


Have you ever listened to a Muslim lecture?
Maybe the thought immediately turns you off.  Every week Sheik Yassir Fazaga, a friend of ours, provides a lecture spreading the message of Islam.  Challenge yourself to go beyond stereotypes and listen to what he has to say.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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The Answer Is Simple But It’s Not Easy


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The Benefits Of Movement In Schools


By Nina Fiore

Synopsis

Regularly-scheduled movement breaks throughout the day and movement used within and between lessons results in better-behaved, more engaged students who can more easily focus on and retain what they are supposed to be learning.

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Movement has been shown by educational, cognitive, psychological, medical, and behavioral research to be one of the best ways to get all children – typical and special needs alike – to gain control over their behavior and to engage with and retain what is being taught to them.  When you look at the research around movement and productivity/engagement – for children of all ages and a variety of learning styles — what is truly shocking is that every school does not already schedule movement into the school day and incorporate movement into school lessons.

If you read my last post, on the ever-growing Need for Inclusion Schools you’ll already be familiar with my argument for why Special Needs children and typical children all benefit from being in classrooms together, and how regular movement in those classrooms can help facilitate this inclusion.  You would also be familiar with my point that regularly-scheduled movement breaks throughout the day and movement used within and between lessons, help all children (both typical and special needs) regulate themselves, which leads to better-behaved, more engaged students who can more easily focus on and retain what they are supposed to be learning.

Most schools not only ignore the latest research on best teaching practices, but the teacher-centric, “sit still and listen” method of teaching still employed is one of the main reasons so many special needs children are not able to be in regular schools to begin with,[1] why so many children are said to have “behavioral problems” in schools in general, and why so many school children are being diagnosed with ADHD[2].  It seems that the problem is less with the children, and more with the way schools are typically organized and run. Schools need to change with the times, become more flexible, more relevant, and more engaging, so that all students can connect with and learn from the material presented to them more effectively.

Regular movement has been shown to increase focus and retention in children and adults of all ages.  Movement also helps all children regulate (ie, adjust their energy), and it therefore has been shown to lower rates of behavioral problems such as fighting and bullying[3]. Much of the “behavioral problems” in schools today would be eased, and diagnoses would be lessened if more movement was incorporated into every aspect of school.[4]

There is no better time than the present to advocate for this change in schools.  Every day, there is a new article highlighting research which shows how bad sitting for long periods of time is, not only for productivity, but for overall health. A recent article even cites an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic as saying, “If you’ve been sitting for an hour, you’ve been sitting for too long.[5]” And yet, in all these articles that go on about treadmill desks, standing desks, fitness bands, fitness trackers, and about the physical, emotional and mental problems that arise from sitting, there is no mention of how this issue concerns children and schools.”[6]  This needs to change.

If children are being forced to sit still in school for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, year after year, for fear of punishment, suspension, expulsion, and psychological diagnoses if they actually do need to move, then how on earth do we expect them to have healthy, active lifestyles when they become adults?!  How is this transformation supposed to happen?  Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to institute healthy active policies into school so that all children grow up with the habits that not only help them learn best but also help them become healthy, active adults?

For many years now, Finnish schools have understood the importance of incorporating regular movement into the school day, and approach it in a variety of ways. Most Finnish schools provide regular recess periods – 15 minutes of break for every 45 minutes of instruction. Researchers say this accounts for part of their ongoing academic successes.[7]  During the same time period, US and UK schools have, alternatively, reduced the amount of movement and recess time or break time that they offer primary school students, and students’ performance has suffered accordingly.

Individual teachers and schools can make a big difference in their students’ lives by incorporating movement into the lessons, classrooms, and/or school day.  It also helps, of course, if larger and more general school policies support their efforts.  An emphasis on regular breaks for movement should be incorporated into EVERY classroom, into every lesson, and be made an important part of overall school policy.[8]  US schools are slowly starting to return to the ideas of a need for children to have recess and movement.  Whether implementing school-wide movement breaks or recess, introducing movement breaks between lessons, or even incorporating movement into the lessons themselves, schools are realizing how beneficial movement is to boosting academic performance and to regulating behavior and attention.

Schools don’t need extra space and they don’t need special instructors in order to do this.  They mostly need to change their mindset and accept that movement is beneficial.  Movement breaks can be included between lessons very easily.  Teachers can reduce the amount of instruction time per lesson from 40 to 30 minutes, and then use the remaining 10 minutes for movement breaks, so that children are clear and focused before the next lesson begins. There are a number of movement-in-school programs that train teachers with moves for calming or invigorating students (whichever is needed at the time).  There are also instructional podcasts, apps, and DVDs that can be purchased by a school in order to give teachers some ideas on what moves to give their students at what times.  However, basic jumping jacks, running in place, and some stretches behind the desk are also very effective in helping students get the movement their bodies and brains need in order to perform at their very best.

The movement breaks cause a win-win situation, because the children are getting some exercise and regulation and, in addition, the shorter lessons are more easily remembered.  The movement itself also helps children focus and retain more information from the lesson.  Therefore, having 30 minute lessons plus 10 minutes of movement in between them, means a happier, more engaged student body, as well as students who will retain more information over the course of the day than would be retained from regular 40 minute lessons.  More time teaching is not always better, especially if the lesson is not being absorbed and retained.[9]

Other schools are incorporating movement into the actual lesson plans because they have found that the lessons that students understand deepest and retain longest are those lessons which incorporate movement.  Whether it is using your own feet as a source of measurement, role playing a fight between the Aztecs and the Conquistadores, or having students circle and crash into one another to physically demonstrate how atomic particles behave during fission and fusion, students are more engaged and have better retention of subject matter when they are physically active during the lessons. The New Jersey Education Alliance prepared informational booklets and a website to give examples of movement-based lessons.  They emphasize that “Students often learn better by doing.”[10]

The benefits of incorporating movement in lessons is supported further by research currently being done in “embodied cognition”, in the field of Educational Technology.  It shows that children, especially when they are young or if the material is difficult, can better understand concepts when they use movement to physically act out the concepts. Researchers at Columbia University show that embodied cognition “allows the learner to develop a “feel” for the concept being described, a physical sense that is more comprehensible and compelling than a concept that remains an abstract mental entity.”[11]

Still other schools are recognizing the benefits of giving the entire school 30 minutes or more of movement per day, either in the school gym or playground or even in a local park. The principal of a progressive inclusion school in Upper Manhattan, NYC, guides children through a series of warm ups and supervises Free Play every morning and afternoon in their school gym.  She says it helps all the children, special needs and typical children alike, with both behavior and attention.[12]   Studies show that Recess, or Free Play (movement activities where children direct their own activities and are not directed by adults) is incredibly important to children’s development of executive functioning and coping skills they will need in order to be successful adults, such as negotiating, planning, and coordinating with peers, making decisions on their own, and overall executive functioning and coping skills. Yet, studies show that the amount of Free Play in most American children’s lives has declined tremendously over the past few decades, and researchers attribute many problems – including increases in children’s behavior problems, anxiety, depression, and other psychopathologies, over that same time period – to the decline in free play.[13]

A school district in Milwaukee, for example, brought back previously-cut phys ed classes 3 days a week this past year, in order to improve attendance records, boost academic achievement, and to increase student and parent engagement in schools.[14]  They found that kids came to school more often when they knew they’d have physical education that day and recitals while sporting events brought parents into the school more often, making them more engaged in their children’s learning.  The trial was so successful, the school district will be offering physical education every day next year.

Movement benefits students’ work and behavior in school, their understanding of difficult concepts, their retention of learned information, and their lifelong health and well-being.  Movement is one of the most beneficial ways for ALL children to engage with and retain the information they are being taught in school. It makes lessons more engaging and memorable, it helps students focus, it regulates student behavior, it helps foster inclusive environments for all children, and it makes children want to come to school every day.

Keeping children active, engaged, and healthy, in the environment where they spend the majority of their waking hours, should be a top priority for all schools. Luckily, regular movement does not require a lot of space, a lot of time, nor a lot of money to implement. It mostly requires a change in teacher and school attitudes where children’s need for movement is not perceived as a negative.

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[6] The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Adjustment by Anthony D. Pellegrini and Catherine M. Bohn (PDF)

[8]Department of Multicultural Education (Palm Beach School District)

[9] Get Your Students Moving by Mike Kuczala and James McCall

[11]http://insideschools.org/component/schools/school/8205 Castle Bridge School, Manhattan on InsideSchools.org

[14]Action-Packed Classrooms, K-5 , forward by John Joseph Ratey

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Like A Rubber Band, We Are Only Useful When We Are Stretched.


GOD made the human body in such a way that we can take a lot of physical training and stretching without breaking down and in fact grow stronger from there each time.

One may not realize it, but we have a lot to learn from the rubber band.

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Most people only ever use a tiny portion of their potential. They live their lives getting by and for the most part settling for mediocrity. Unwilling to stretch and leave their comfort zone, they never find out what they are truly capable of or reach their ultimate dreams.

Reaching your potential is a ‘unique’ experience.  It needs to be something you understand.  It cannot be compared to the person sitting next to you.  Don’t get caught up in the ‘rat race’ thinking life is about beating the person next to you in the race—your ruler to measure up is your own potential and not someone else’s.

Take a few seconds and think of all the possible ways you can use a rubber band. The possible uses of a rubber band may be in the hundreds or even the thousands. Now try thinking of all the possible ways to use a rubber band without stretching it. My guess is the answer you came up with there is zero. A rubber band is completely useless without its ability to stretch.

It doesn’t only apply to physically stretching although stretching and exercising can hurt.

What it means to stretch means to reach farther than you ever have before, and extend your abilities beyond your comfort zone.

We can’t improve our current way of life if we aren’t willing to stretch a bit farther and a bit faster than before. Our comfort zone has to grow, it has to develop and improve. This is vital to life improvement.

Every life form seems to strive to its maximum except human beings. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. Human beings, on the other hand, have been given the dignity of choice. You can choose to be all or you can choose to be less. Why not stretch up to the full measure of the challenge and see what all you can do. – Jim Rohn

Pick up a rubber band. (Imagining it will be fine. :))

Put it between the biggest finger on each of your hands. Pull your fingers apart, stretching the rubber band. Now, imagine that your right hand is your ideal, pulling away from your left hand, which is your current situation.

Feel the tension?

That tension between your fingers is the same type of tension that exists when you dare to dream and envision your ideal life. The moment we do that, we create what David Emerald calls “Dynamic Tension” in his great book, The Power of TED.

Here’s the challenge: What do we want to do when we feel that tension between our fingers and between our ideal and where we are? Relieve it, right?

As TED advises: “In the case of dynamic tension, you can resolve the tension in either direction. You can let go of your vision and snap back toward your current reality, or you can move from your current situation toward your vision.”

As Victims, we compromise our ideal vision and then complain that someone’s persecuting us.

As Creators, we know that “It’s impossible to invest your soul in a compromise.” So we hold that tension and take what Emerald calls “Baby Steps” toward our goal.

As you stretch yourself, the strength at first is in the resistance of the band. If you aren’t really committed to your goal, the band will bounce back at any sign of discomfort. Sometimes it feels like the world is against you and everything can be going wrong, but that is just a false perception. Your ego is making up stories to get you to retreat. Most of the time, the ego wins. That is why people find it hard to change.

People don’t like change. But in order to grow, we must be willing to embrace positive changes in every aspect of our lives.

Here is what is really happening. You are moving out of your comfort zone and the fears that kept you there for so long are going to rear their heads to tempt you to go back to safety. You are stretching like a rubber band and feeling the resistance of your ego-self.

Your ego is in charge of your survival. If you weren’t afraid of new things, you would probably not be alive today. Although handy in keeping you safe from mortal danger, the ego doesn’t know the difference between a life-threatening situation and an imagined fear.

The rubber band conditions you to expand your consciousness and is actually an ally in moving you forward. Disguised as the enemy, this stretching and pulling builds your character, your confidence and courage so you can be ready to receive what you want.

If you want to move beyond your conditioned life patterns, you must face the discomfort of the resistance and WELCOME IT. Anyone who tells you there is an easier way is selling you snake oil. You must move through the resistance to build your mindset muscle to handle the new life you want.

“The way you create any outcome in your life is to hold the vision of your deepest desires. At the same time, though, you must honestly and accurately assess your current situation and how it relates to your greater vision. By doing this, you engage tension between what is and what can be. This tension is the primary creative force behind the manifestation of any outcome. It’s as natural and powerful as the force of gravity.” ~ David Emerald

The pressure and stress that the rubber band encounters is, in most cases, not enough to break it.

We get upset and angry; it’s a part of life. But the important thing is the overall trend. We must be able to remain persistent even when things don’t go exactly the way we had planned. Accept that tension and stress will come your way, keep it together, and move ahead.

We may create the greatest plan on Earth, but chances are our plan will encounter trouble, change and setbacks. If we can’t deal with these things, the plan that we spent so much time creating is useless.

Things will not go 100% according to our plan. It simply isn’t possible. When a problem flies in from nowhere, don’t get frustrated and give up. Simply accept the change and adjust.

If you are tired of settling for average and mediocrity it’s time to stretch yourself. Do things that scare you. Leave your comfort zone. Embrace new opportunities. Stretch the rubber band.

We must be flexible and see change as a natural and helpful element of life.

The greatest people in the world, the ones who have made the biggest difference and touched the most lives, have lived their entire lives stretching themselves to the very end.

Like rubber bands, we must constantly be stretching ourselves in order to reach our potential.

Happy New Year!

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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‘Tis The Season Of Sobriety


This is a freelance article by Helen Norton

Christmas is just around the corner now and the party season is already in full swing. Whether it’s office parties, family gatherings or new years celebrations, the chances are many people will increase their alcohol intake over the festive period. For most, this won’t cause any lasting damage but for people with existing alcohol problems it can be a common time for relapse and risking over indulgence.

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Not only that, but one report links alcohol with statistics that put Christmas and Thanksgiving amongst some of the most dangerous holidays of the year. With this in mind is it really necessary to drink heavily this year? Sure it might be nice to enjoy some festive fizz and a toast with your turkey but there are plenty of ways to enjoy a sober season and still have a great time. Here are some reasons why cutting out alcohol this Christmas could give you a new lease on life  and make you merrier than ever.

No hangovers

Roughly 75% of drinkers are thought to experience some hangover symptoms after bingeing on alcohol. If this includes you then you will be familiar with the headache, dizziness and nausea (often caused by dehydration as alcohol is a diuretic) that you may experience the morning after the night before. Many people also experience mild depressive symptoms on these ‘booze comedowns.’ Doesn’t sound very merry does it? For every night you spend drinking the chances are you’ll waste a day, or at least a morning, feeling ill, tired and blue. That time during the festive period that could be better spent enjoying yourself.

Save money



Those Christmas nights out really do add up financially. Take into account the cost of your cabs, post-alcohol takeout, the drinks themselves and any other poor spending choices you may make under the influence and you will find those dollars racking up. Then there’s the added cost to your shopping cart as you stock up on wines, spirits and beers for the family at home. Christmas is already an expensive time of year so why not cut out one unnecessary cost and encourage those around to you opt for alcohol free wine, cheap soft drinks or better still, a free tap water so that you can all put the money to better use – think extra gifts or even a family meal out sans the cocktails.

Be more productive



Around the festive period we spend a lot of our free time socializing and this often includes dining, drinking and not much else. Of course Christmas is a great time of year to catch up and spend time with family and friends but don’t feel pressured to attend every single social engagement going – there will be many of them. Instead spend your time more productively. Take on a project such as clearing out your old junk to make room for this years gifts. You could even donate any unwanted toys or clothes to a homeless shelter to try to help someone else have a happier Christmas. Or why not set about making some handmade cards, gifts or Christmas baking? Ultimately you will have more to show for your time than a sore head and this will improve your morale and Christmas spirit too.

Look better

Christmas time is often a time for indulgence and unsurprisingly the average American will put on weight during the festive period as they load up on comforting carbs, sumptuous sides and sweet treats. Alcohol is also responsible for bumping up your calorie intake so cutting it out can be a good way to try to keep weight gain to a minimum and reduce cellulite which experts believe is worsened by the toxins in alcohol. Aside from that, alcohol can dehydrate the skin and deprive it of vitamins and nutrients which may lead to a breakout of spots – not a good look for the office party – and can also give you bad breath and bloodshot eyes.

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This is all before you lose you inhibitions and begin dancing drunk on tables. Trust us, the best look this season is sober.

New years resolutions

It’s never too early to begin your new years resolutions and if staying sober is something you’d like to take into the new year then getting through Christmas is the ultimate test. During the holidays everyone seems to drink a little more so the temptation is greater and attitudes are more relaxed. If you can abstain through this period then you have a much higher chance of sticking to your resolution come January and with that you can enjoy the perks of sobriety – good looks, better health, productivity, more cash and a general new lease of life – all year-long.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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Origins Exclusive Worldwide Premiere WATCH NOW!


Four Years, 19 countries, and 24 experts in Anthropology, medicine, ecology, and health have exposed the roots of our DNA and how to prevent the modern world from making you sick. Watch FREE November 13th – November 22nd.

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