Homework blues | Handwriting clue to heart disease
Homework blues: Improving your child's study habits
Sep 05, 2008: Do you find yourself constantly battling with your kids to study and do their
homework? You are not alone. The truth is, kids are not born with the study
habits needed for them to do well in school. They must be
Homework gives children a chance to review what they learned in
class. It also teaches them to work independently and encourages self-discipline
Good habits are best formed at a young age, but it
is never too late to start. Use the following guidelines as a place to begin
with your kids. The more involved your children are in the discussion, the more
likely they will develop good study habits that will follow them into high
school and beyond.
* Determine a good study time. Some kids work better
right after school; some need some downtime first. You may need to work around
an after-school activity, team practice or religious school. Set a schedule and
stick to it. If there is no homework one day, have them use this time to read or
work on long-term projects. It's important for children to get used to studying
* Get organized. Pin up a school calendar where your child
can record assignments and then check them off when they're completed. Have
pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, calculator and paper handy. This will also
show how much you value their study time and space.
interruptions. Take messages if the telephone rings and turn off the TV and cell
phones. Don't let children play video games until homework is done. The fewer
distractions, the better.
* Take a break. Research shows how long
children in different grades can stay focused:
o First- and
second-graders - about 15 minutes
o Third- and fourth-graders - about 20
o Fifth- and sixth-graders - about 30 minutes
kitchen timer to allot 15 to 30 minutes for focused study, and then give your
kids a five-minute break. This will help them be more focused during the set
* Find a comfortable study space. Make sure that the study
area has good lighting and is kept at a comfortable temperature. Provide a table
or desk that has enough space for writing.
* Ask to see your child's
work on a regular basis. Show interest in what your child is learning. Ask
Many children have planners where they are required to write
down their homework for the day or week. This is another way you can help them
stay organized and on top of their assignments.
* Stay connected with
the teacher. If you see grades that are below par, ask to meet or speak with the
teacher to see what your child can do to improve. Most teachers are glad to give
parents their school extension and/or e-mail address.
* Give children
the responsibility for their own homework. Children need to know that
ultimately, they are responsible for doing their homework and for studying. The
parents' role is to provide support. If you put too much effort into your
children's homework, they will not learn how to do it themselves. They will also
not learn the consequences of being lazy and getting poor grades. Let your kids
see that their own hard work can reap benefits they can be proud of.
Most important, emphasize progress in your children's school work - not
perfection. At the end of a marking period, talk to your kids about how they can
improve their grades. Let them know you have high expectations, but that the key
is that they always do their very best. Putting extra thought and effort into
their work should be rewarded, too.
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Handwriting clue to heart disease
A graphologist is conducting a study to find out whether handwriting can reveal
the early signs of heart disease.
Christina Strang, from Wiltshire,
compared handwriting samples of 61 cardiac patients from Swindon with those of
Ms Strang says that when writing we rest the pen for
milliseconds and these so-called "resting dots" could show possible heart
Her research showed twice as many "resting dots" among the
Ms Strang, 53, has worked analysing handwriting for 12
years and is based in Chippenham.
She was inspired to investigate the
link between potential health problems and handwriting after learning about the
work of Professor Alfred Kanfer.
Professor Kanfer, born in 1902, was a
handwriting consultant in the Austrian government who was sent to Dachau
concentration camp during World War II and then lived in the United States.
He worked with the American Cancer Society in the 1950s, exploring the
possible early detection of malignant diseases through the analysis of
Ms Strang said: "I managed to find a statistically
significant difference in the writing of patients with cardiac disease and my
"I've found one particular movement in the writing,
although I actually believe there's far more than just the one link, and my
research is going to be continuing, looking to see if I can find those other
links as well.
"In the group I used, some had been diagnosed and some
hadn't, so I'm hoping to do a completely new group of people who have not been
diagnosed with heart disease and the idea is to see if I can pick out the ones
that will ultimately be diagnosed."
She explains that she examines the
number of "resting dots" - the place where the pen stops momentarily in the
course of a stroke - as part of her analysis.
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Education for the forgotten children
Karachi: While the education system of the city is perhaps in its worst
ever state, the education boards and government sector schools as well as the
concerned authorities are frequently accused of corruption. Still there are
people who have been devoting themselves to the deprived sections of the city
without any interest of reward under the umbrella of particular
A worthy social effort, in this regard, by the Citizens'
Education Development Foundation (CEDF) pertains to promoting education among
less privileged children. The CEDF was founded in 1986 when a concerned citizen
opened her own house and her heart for the well-being of children who lived in
her own neighbourhood. Dr Naseem Salahuddin a well known doctor has been running
several home-based schools and a mobile school for decades now to educate the
forgotten children of our city.
The organisation started off with a
single home-based-school at the founder's own house. Gradually the need was felt
for more home schools in nearby Katchi Abadis of Gizri and Shah Rasool Baksh
Colony. Later a bus designed as a school on wheels for about 40 children was
purchased. This mobile school goes to the areas where there are either no
schools to meet the demand for education.
According to the CEDF
administration, the home-based-schools and mobile school are open for children
who have never been to any school and live in Katchi Abadis around DHA. These
children have missed formal schooling because of the financial inability, the
absence of a school in their area, lack of transportation, social restriction on
girls, or the apathy of parents who are themselves illiterate.
the CEDF has 13 home-based-schools with 274 students and one mobile school with
160 students. Each school runs a two-hour shift from Monday to Saturday with
about 20 students of which about 50 per cent are girls. The CEDF also has a
student sponsorship programme under which students graduating from the CEDF's
home or mobile school get funds for purchasing books and uniforms for their
higher education. The CEDF's student sponsorship programme sponsored more than
600 students in 2006 to attend the nearest government schools. For a mere Rs2000
a needy child receives education for a whole year, claims
Organisations such as these are instrumental in promoting female
literacy, as about 50 per cent of the students in the CEDF schools alone are
girls. In some cases the educated girls have gone on to complete their
matriculation degree or are in college while others are gainfully employed.
Dr Salahuddin while speaking about the foundation of the CEDF explained
saying, "When I used to go to my workplace (Liaquat National Hospital), I would
observe these deprived children from some 20 to 25 shanties near my house
playing in mud and wandering about. I called their parents and offered to teach
them, which is how my home school started." Later she arranged a teacher and
even her own children helped. "My employee who is literate (Matric) also gave
them basic education at my home that is how my first informal home school came
into being," she said, adding, "I gave different incentives to students such as
food, drinks, milk, eggs, ice creams etc to attract them to home school."
The school would be of two hours that these children attended including
my maid's children, she continued. "I started off with some 10 children, which
gradually increased and it became difficult to manage such a large number of
students at one place. Therefore I asked my neighbours for another home school
and then gradually more home schools opened. "We went door-to-door to ask
parents send their children to home schools and from there we educated several
children and sent them to nearby government schools," she added. Some 7,000
students were given basic education by home and mobile schools of the CEDF,
while some 500 students are educated every year, claimed Dr Salahuddin. The News
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