Fidget Spinners – Helpful or Harmful?

Fidget spinners are the newest trend for kids everywhere. These little triangular toys are extremely inexpensive and fit in a child’s hand and spin around. You can even learn how to perform tricks with fidget spinners with video streaming services inundated with how-to tutorials. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a kid who doesn’t have, use or want a fidget spinner and because they are relatively cheap, it seems like an easy toy for parents to gift to their children that will keep some of their time preoccupied.

Although, fidget spinners are considered toys, their original use was seemingly more noble. Fidget spinners were originally marketed towards children with ADHD, anxiety, or being on the autism spectrum.

Helpful

Fidget spinners are being marketed at those with challenges concentrating in class. The idea is, if a child with problems concentrating has an outlet, they won’t be as distracted and “fidget” in class. Fidget spinners are small, handheld and because of this are said to be a good tool in schools for children that have challenges concentrating. Instead of moving around in their seats, looking out the window and having a hard time paying attention to their teachers, children can focus their extra energy into this small toy.

One of the biggest pros of fidget spinners is that they have become mainstream. A lot of students who used to feel like tools like this marked their differences and made them stand out as needing extra help in class, now feel as if this standout tool has been normalized. Learning challenges can be stress enough for a lot of children who don’t want to stand out or be different from their peers. Fidget spinners are regular and common and not only do kids with learning challenges have them, but their friends do as well.

Harmful

There has been a huge outbreak lately with classrooms and schools banning fidget spinners and for good reason. This toy which was originally intended as tool for children with specific concentration challenges ahs become “on trend” and now instead of a few kids in class using these toys, it’s most kids. For children who do not have challenges focusing, the fidget spinner has become an extremely large distraction. Teachers are finding that they don’t have the full attention of their students anymore and that fidget spinners have become less of a tool and more of a toy.

Fidget spinners have evolved from just a triangular device on a ball-mechanic system that you spin in your hand to help avoid fidgeting throughout your whole body. With the multitude of available YouTube tutorials teaching children how to do tricks, its no wonder the tool has become more of a toy. Children are using these spinners in class and they have become a massive distraction.

Other Options

Tactile discs, putties, clays, stress balls, or even fidget cubes are all great options as replacements for fidget spinners. These options can all be used as tools for students that need help focusing on class and their teachers and are often used for children with sensory challenges.

 

 

Challenges of Childcare Centers

It’s becoming more rare to find a family that has a “stay at home parent”. Childcare in some way, shape or form has become a large burden on most families as they are outsourcing the job just to make ends meet. There is a vicious cycle of families needing to work to be able to afford life’s expenses and extras like childcare, just to be able to afford things like childcare. Childcare centers are becoming more expensive and it seems, also problematic for a lot of families in the way they are raising their children.

Affordability

Most families aren’t able to afford a single-parent income with all of life’s expenses like food, rent or mortgage payments, transportation, or any other fixed or extra costs. For most families, it makes more sense to have two incomes and hire a childcare service for their children because of all of the other expenses they incur. Most families cannot afford all of their expenses on one income alone and so one parent is unable to stay at home to take care of their children. In Ontario, full day, play-based kindergarten was implemented to try to help offset the costs and stress of childcare for children, but before and after school care can still be extremely expensive.

Different Children Have Different Needs

It’s commonly known that children do not learn or grow at the same pace and that they don’t all have the same preferences or needs. For childcare centers, it’s impossible to program a full day or half day that will meet the needs of each child. Common issues that will arise for children in childcare centers is the food that is offered. Although, healthy meals and snacks are mandated, that does not mean your child will want to eat it, which can be difficult. Naptimes can also cause friction. Some children may not be tired, or they take a nap and then have trouble sleeping later at night. Since every child is different and has varying needs, childcare centers can only really base their programming on the needs of the average child and try to alter and adjust it for children that are exceptions to the general rule.

Homecare

Home care can be a great option for a lot of families. Oftentimes homecare is charged by the hour rather than a fixed price per child, per day. This is also a great option for parents who work part-time. Home care is a great option for children because they don’t have to be uprooted to a new location and instead their caregiver will come to them in a place they are familiar with. Parents will find that instead of having to arrange drop off and pick up times, having a caregiver come to them will help with their overall flexibility. Childcare centers usually have set hours that parents must work around, but by hiring a homecare worker, you get to choose the times that work best for you.

BookJane can help you with all of your childcare homecare needs. We have many highly skilled and qualified caregivers who are just a click away on our app. Each caregiver has undergone thorough background checks and comes with great references and recommendations. You can hire a BookJane caregiver ahead of time, or if something comes up last minute.

Great Children’s Books to Teach and Help Develop Empathy and Acceptance

One of the most important things a child can learn is to empathize and to be accepting of others. Children often see things through a selfish lens because they haven’t yet learned the importance of different perspectives. Its vital for children to learn from an early age that despite our differences, living creatures all have emotions and can feel hurt by the actions of others. When children are exposed to the idea of acceptance and are taught to empathize with the struggles of others, they become more well-rounded adults who can co-exist more peacefully. Here are some books that explore themes of acceptance and empathy that you can read to or with your child to help them to learn a valuable lesson through story as opposed to a lecture.

Picture Books

One by Kathryn Otoshi

One is a story about colours and their differences and the number that comes along to teach them how to come together and count. This story teaches young readers about numbers and counting as well as primary and secondary colours, all the while also how to learn to accept each other’s differences.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

This story is about a blue crayon that has been mistakenly labelled red. The blue crayon has an identity crisis when everything he tries to colour doesn’t look the way it should. Red, the blue crayon, must come to terms with his inner self despite what his outsides say. This story will teach children that labels aren’t important and that people aren’t always what they seem on the outside.

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

The Sneetches is a classic story by Dr. Seuss about two distinct kinds of Sneetches. The plain-bellied Sneetches and the star-bellied Sneetches and how this physical difference keeps them separated. This story discusses segregation and discrimination in a simple way that really gets the point across and will help children to realize that even if they don’t look like someone else, it doesn’t mean they can’t be friends. We can’t judge others based on physical differences.

Chapter Books

El Deafo by Cece Bell

This is a graphic novel/memoir detailing author Cece Bell’s younger years with severe hearing loss and the Phonic Ear that sets her apart from her classmates. At first, the hearing aid, which is bulky and awkward, prevents Cece from making new friends, but in this funny and truly beautiful graphic novel, Cece is able to learn to control the Phonic Ear and become her own superhero. This is a heartwarming tale that shows its readers that being different isn’t a bad thing.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B White

Charlotte’s Web is a classic and well-beloved tale about a girl named Fern and the love she shares for a pig named Wilbur. This is a must read for all children because of Fern’s true compassion towards animals. Fern looks after Wilbur because he is the runt of his litter and saves him from an awful fate. This is a novel of friendship of a different kind that will teach children the intelligence of animals and that having compassion for all living beings is important.

Wonder by R.J Palacio

This is a book about a young boy with a facial difference that has prevented him from attending regular school. Starting in the 5th grade at a mainstream school, the protagonist, Auggie Pullman, just wants to be treated like a normal kid. Unfortunately, it seems that his classmates have a hard time looking past his facial difference to meet the real Auggie. This is a great book for middle grade kids that tackles feeling different, standing up to your bullies and the struggle of trying to find acceptance.

Each of these stories offer a unique perspective on the differences of those around us that will help your children to learn to find acceptance and be able to empathize with their peers. The younger children are able to learn these lessons, the more tolerant they will be as adults.

The Top Concerns for Seniors Today and How You Can Help

As a group, seniors are facing everyday challenges that are causing stress, feelings of incompetence or failure and instead of being able to solve these issues, it seems only more are added.   It is important that we understand and empathize with these challenges so we are able to provide solace and assistance to our elderly loved ones. Here are some of the main concerns facing seniors today:

Loneliness

A common social concern for seniors is that as they grow older, feelings of loneliness creep in. As we get older, our friends and partners also grow older. A lot of seniors lose these friends and their spouses either to growing health issues or even death. It is important that we spend time with our loved ones and encourage them to spend time with any of their remaining friends. This will help to ensure they feel they have support systems and they are not alone. Considering a pet can also help to create daily companionship.

Financial Issues

Living is expensive and as a senior, a lot of healthcare costs can become cumbersome. As we grow older, it becomes more and more important to keep an eye on our health. This means doctor’s appointments, testing and medications. Although in Canada, we do have great healthcare coverage, it does not cover all of the costs. There is also a higher mortality rate and seniors are living to be a lot older than they once were. All of these possible health concerns and medications can end up costing quite a bit of money, which will impact a senior’s retirement savings.

Other unexpected costs can also affect a senior’s retirement savings. The rising cost of living affects seniors who are on fixed incomes. Their savings won’t cover the higher and higher inflation we face in today’s society. If seniors run out of money, the logical option would be to go back to work, but this isn’t possible for a lot of seniors who are either unable physically or who face possible ageism in the workplace market and can’t get hired.

For most people, it is hard to take on another’s financial burden, but if you are unable to help your loved one’s by providing financial assistance, you do have other options to help tackle some of the stress they can cause. For some this could be providing transportation to medical appointments or coming over and helping your loved one to prepare meals. This is not a huge financial burden, but has the ability to alleviate financial stress for your elderly loved ones.

General Health and Lack of Independence

One of the largest frustrations for seniors is the physical ageing and the lack of independence it brings with it. A lot of seniors become dependent on loved ones or support workers to help them which can be extremely frustrating. Seniors aren’t able to see as well as they once did or move as quickly as they were once able and often require assistance to do tasks they once found menial or simple. In order to help your loved ones to feel more independent, encourage them to do as much as they are able on their own. Good nutrition and exercise can often help to strengthen the abilities of seniors so they are more able.

The Changing Social Climate

One of the largest hurdles for seniors can be the changing social climate which includes a lot of technological inventions which are ingrained in the abilities of younger generations. Using computers, cell phones and other advanced technologies can prove to be a large challenge for a lot of seniors. Either you can try to help give them lessons on how to use these technologies or look into local classes. A lot of libraries and community centers offer free classes (and wifi) which can help to assist seniors with technology. This way, they also won’t feel dependent on you

Fun Activities for Your Kids This Summer that Still Use Brain Power!

It’s the beginning of June and the end of the school year is quickly approaching. It’s time to start planning some fun summer activities for you and your kids. It’s always good to have a mix of relaxing and stimulating activities. Just because school’s out and your kids are on vacation, doesn’t mean that they have to stop learning. Try to use any opportunity you can to keep their minds curious and exploring.

Here are some ideas for activities for your kids that will keep their minds fresh for school in September:

Attractions to Visit

Zoo’s, museums, science centre’s and other great attractions can be found all around the country. These places offer great resources and learning opportunities. Animals and nature and cultural and scientific experiences all offer learning, but at these establishments, children are interacting with creatures and experiments. They are learning through doing, rather than by listening or watching. Not only will your kids be learning, but they’ll be having fun while doing it. Nothing about going to the zoo or a science centre will feel forced. This will be a fun outing for the whole family that won’t feel like learning. The best part of these types of places is that they often offer group discounts or cheaper tickets for children’s entry. This makes going to these attractions affordable and worthwhile.

Everyday Simple Activities

Oftentimes, we overlook the simple and free activities in local areas. A lot of parks hold free (or donation only) events throughout the summer. These are a great option for you and your kids. Art in the Park is a staple in most towns and cities (or will be in a town nearby) which will allow you and your children to wander through a festival in the summer weather that has lots of ways to get kids involved. Usually there are bouncy castles, face painting and kids crafts stations that your child will love. These days in the park pair perfectly with a picnic lunch. You can also take your children out for hikes, walks and bike rides. These are activities that take up a lot of energy, and are great exercise. These activities can be combined with a beach day.

On Their Own

Do some research to find out about day camps and special programs being run in your area. Many community centres and libraries offer events for children throughout the summer. Summer Reading Challenges are common at local libraries and usually they offer prizes to children who reach certain reading goals. These are great programs to keep your child’s mind sharp throughout the summer. Community centres sometimes offer craft days, dances (for older children), classes and movie nights. All these activities will keep your children entertained with very little parental effort.

Camping/Cottage

Although not all families have access to a cottage each summer, take advantage of the outdoors and try to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and technology. Spending time at a cottage or going camping lets kids spend time outdoors and with their families. Children have to use their imagination and creativity to play games and make the outdoors fun. Plus, nothing beats eating hotdogs and marshmallows roasted by the fire.

If you find you don’t have the time or money to get away to a cottage or on a camping trip, why not choose a night to go camping in the backyard. This will be a great experience for your kids this summer!

Sports & Games

A lot of kids are excited about being active. There are many summer sports leagues that you can enroll your child in. Some of the more popular summer sports are soccer and baseball. There are a lot of kids leagues out their that don’t take up a huge time commitment. Not only is playing a sport great exercise for your child, but team sports will help your them to socialize and learn to be as part of a group.

Alternately, you can take your children to see an amateur or professional sports game. There are a lot of amateur teams playing in the summer. You’ll get to watch a sport together and maybe teach them some of the rules and pique their interest in learning to play.

As a parent, summer can be hard. Even though your kids have two months off, you still have work and other responsibilities. Trying to get your children engaged in activities with others and on their own will keep them entertained, active and still learning.

 

Canada’s Shortage of Personal Support Workers

It has become clear over the past few years that personal support workers are a dying breed. There are less and less care workers in an industry that is growing due to aging populations. The Baby Boomer Generation, which has the largest amount of people in any generation, is aging and are just starting to need Personal Support Workers. Over the next 20 years, as Baby Boomers retire and begin to need more support, the need for personal support workers is going to increase drastically.

This is a growing issue that needs to be solved sooner rather than later because already personal support workers are facing longer hours in what can be considered an extremely tough job. The job can be physically rigorous, but can also have an emotional toll as well. Personal support workers truly connect with their clients and watching them struggle or having to deal with sickness and health can be extremely difficult. It’s a hard job that receives little thanks, which is part of the reason that the amount of personal support workers available is decreasing.

More workers are leaving the industry than are being trained and qualified per year. This is a dangerous truth for our country because without the proper amount of workers in the industry, a lot of people will not receive the care they need and in the years to come it is only going to get worse. It seems that part of the reason this decrease in workers is occurring is in fact the nature of the job. It doesn’t offer a very high salary and requires long and hard hours. The people who become personal support workers do it because they want to help others and this is their passion. Unfortunately, a low paying salary will discourage many from entering a position despite their level of passion.

Personal support workers who work for institutions such as hospitals or nursing homes and generally have a more steady, balanced schedule. For home care workers, a much different schedule is necessary. Oftentimes these workers start in the very early morning and work until the late hours of the night. These home care workers will have multiple patients per day that they must try to administer medication, prepare meals, clean the house, etc. With the decrease of these personal support workers, hospitals and nursing homes will be more understaffed than they already are and many patients who require home care, won’t be able to receive it because home care workers will have too many clients already. The workers are being stretched too thin.

Although this shortage has increasingly negative connotations on our society and the care of our people, it is important that we brace ourselves and try to fix the issue before its way too late. Not only do personal support workers deserve higher wages, but support systems should be put into place for those interested in working in this field. Incentivising learning programs and trying to get the younger generation interested in this industry has become increasingly important. No person should ever feel that they or their loved ones are at risk of not receiving care and it should be one of our highest priorities as a country to ensure this never happens.