children

The Importance of Reading to Children
Mother with her daughters reading a book at home.

Reading to children has so many benefits that will help them to develop.

Do you remember the movie, “Three Men and a Baby?” There’s a scene in the movie where Tom Selleck’s character is reading a sports article to the baby. He says something to the effect of, “It doesn’t matter what you read to a child. Reading is beneficial to the development of a child.” Most people know that reading to children is fundamental for academic excellence. However, there are a number of other benefits of reading to toddlers and preschool-age children:

  • Children have a stronger relationship with the reader. Cuddling up while sharing a good book keeps you in touch with each other.
  • It promotes basic speech skills. It reinforces speech and language sounds.
  • Children who have books read to them have better ways of expressing themselves. They can relate to how the characters of a book talk to each other and can use those skills in their own relationships.
  • It teaches children how to read a book. No one is born with an innate knowledge of reading left to right.
  • Toddlers learn to increase their attention spans through with books. Even though many children squirm when they start out with story time, as you practice reading to them, they’ll find more discipline to sit still and enjoy the story.
  • Reading also helps children adjust to new experiences. A story about starting school to a child who is anxious about going to school all day helps a child see that he or she isn’t the only one who is scared.
  • It can also expand a child’s vocabulary.

In a 2014 study out of Harvard University, it was discovered that when dads read to children, especially girls, there is an even bigger benefit than when moms read to children. Additionally, men tend to be more abstract when talking about what they’re reading. For example, a woman approaches reading very factually. An example might include a mom asking a child, “How many blue fish do you see?” Men ask questions that challenge the child’s brain. For instance, a dad might say, “Look. Do you see the bus? Remember when we rode the bus to go to the zoo?”

Teenagers Benefit From Reading, Too

Preschool children aren’t the only ones who need to be engaged in reading. Once your child begins junior high and high school, reading a book out loud is very beneficial to development and cognitive thinking skills. You may have to be crafty at first, because your teenager may see the practice as childish. Start out with short articles from the newspaper or magazines, or maybe some poetry that you enjoy. Read during a meal time, then discuss it.

Take advantage of car rides. Listen to an audiobook that your children might enjoy. Listen to one chapter, then turn it off. You might be able to read something to your child when he or she is loading a dishwasher or doing another chore. Use the moments when you have a captive audience. Choose adventure stories that keep a child engaged from the very first chapter. Limit reading time to one chapter a night, kind of like Scheherazade. Ask your local librarian for books that fit your child’s interests and age level. Read biographies of people who did great things.

Most pediatricians recommend that a child’s screen time be limited. It’s very difficult to keep children from watching television or using their smartphones. You have to give them an alternative activity to make it feel like a privilege instead of a punishment. Reading can be this activity. Model good reading skills to your child, and help him or her find worlds that can only be imagined in words. You may not immediately see the benefits, but years later, your children will thank you.

Organ Donors and the Demand for Them
An organ donors organ being prepped for transplant.

Simply by signing up to be an organ donor, one can help give the gift of life to someone in need.

The world’s first single and double lung transplants were performed in Ontario in 1983 and 1986 respectively. Canada is a leader in the field of transplantation when it comes to medicine and technology, but when it comes to the number of organ donors, we’re lagging behind the rest of the world, including the United States.

In the last 10 years, the number of deceased organ donors has increased in Canada, but the number of people needing transplants has also increased. In 2014, there were more than 4,500 people waiting for organ transplants. Doctors performed 2,356 organ transplants, and 278 people died waiting for an organ. Kidney transplants account for 77 percent of the need.

Surprisingly, 90 percent of Canadian citizens support organ and tissue donation. It’s something practically everyone agrees on, but according to the Canadian Transplant Society, only about 20 percent of the population has actually made plans to donate.

Qualifications for Organ Donors

Don’t discount your health, age or other factors when determining whether you should be a donor. Your health today doesn’t determine whether your organs qualify to be donated. There are many different organs that can be donated. Your organ donation could save up to eight lives. Tissue donations could improve the quality of life in up to 75 different people. Also consider the improvement in life quality for the families and friends of those individuals who are helped.

There are many myths about organ donations. Some people worry that the hospital staff won’t work as hard to save your life if they know you’re an organ donor. This is simply a myth perpetuated by the tabloids, urban legends and television. Doctors have to focus on your life, not the life of another person.

Another myth that is perpetuated by the tabloids is that you may not really be dead. Doctors perform even more tests on organ donors to determine that they are really dead than they might on someone who hasn’t agreed to organ donation.

If you’re concerned about your religion’s position on organ donation, check with your clergy. Most major religions support organ donation, but you should discuss your theological concerns with someone who is knowledgeable about the tenets of your faith.

Legally, children cannot decide to be an organ donor, but children do die every day, and other children are waiting for organs from smaller people. Parents and legal guardians can give permission for children to be organ donors. There’s no denying that it is a difficult decision. Thinking about your position on organ donation before something happens is one way to have peace about it if it ever happens that you do need to make the choice. 

How to Register

Registering to be an organ donor is the most effective method of identification. You may lose a wallet card, or it might be unavailable when it is needed. Telling one family member is recommended, but again, in the stress of the moment, your decision may be forgotten. Registration is quick and easy.

It actually takes very little time to register as an organ donor. In Ontario, the website is beadonor.ca. You’ll need your health card number and some basic information about yourself. If you’re in another province or territory, the Government of Canada’s website, under health, diseases and conditions, has links to instructions for your place of residence.

Loved ones are asked about your wishes at your death, which is why it’s important to talk to them about your decision. The Canadian Transplant Society has some resources to help you talk to your family, and it offers an End of Life Wishes form for download. Make a difference in people’s lives after your death by choosing to be an organ donor. Get informed.

 

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Teach Charity to the Children

canada 1.2.14Whether you belong to an organized religion, or do not do the religion thing, you can still enjoy everything that the winter season brings. The holidays are not just for individuals who believe in Christianity, but are for people who are looking to enjoy a little charity and good cheer. If you are trying to help your children or the children of your church understand that the holidays are more about giving than receiving, the following should help you get started:

 

     1.     The Food Bank

There are so many families that struggle any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. Christmas is a time when families get together and share in the joy of the season. Without a good meal, and often times without a place to eat, families are unable to enjoy the holiday. Contact your local food bank to see what types of food they need. Head to the grocery store with your children and let them pick out food items from the list that they would enjoy eating. Point out that if they would like the food, then other children will probably like it, too. This will help them realize that actual people will be receiving the food, and they want to enjoy what they eat as much as your children do.

     2.     A Toy Drive

Children love nothing more than to peruse the aisles of a toy store. Look online or ask around town for information on any toy drives that are going on in your area. Find out what items are needed and take your kids to the toy store. As with the grocery store, allow the children to find toys that they would enjoy playing with. It might be harder to purchase the toys for someone else, rather than keeping it for themselves, but that is what will make it memorable and special for your children.

     3.     Your Neighborhood

Charity during Christmas doesn’t have to come from a store. You do not have to donate to a local charity. Service can be done in your own neighborhood for people that you already know. If there are shut-ins or widows in your neighborhood, have your children draw some special holiday pictures for them. Allow your kids to help you bake a batch of cookies. Take a plate of cookies and the drawings to your neighbors who are unable to get out and enjoy the season. Encourage your children to visit with the elderly individuals so that they can get the most from the experience.

In addition to these tips, look up other organizations that take donations during the holidays, or that will benefit from your service and allow your children to do their part. While they may complain about doing charity for another person, it will instill in them the values of service and caring for others. Christmas is the perfect time to get started, whether you believe in Christianity or not. If you do want to serve in the name of religion, contact the Universal Life Church Canada and consider becoming a minister yourself.