Deaf Awareness Week

Signing with C

As part of Deaf Awareness Week, we welcome GLD team member and blogger, Mary Elizabeth. Here is a guest post originally published on 3 Times Blessed.

Deaf Awareness Week

It is Deaf Awareness Week this week! The point of this week is to raise awareness for signs of hearing loss and also Deaf Culture. I thought I would share a bit about our family’s journey with…

Sign Language

Between words and signs C has over 30 words to communicate with our family at under 15 months old. It has been incredible to watch her and quite often strangers will comment on it. She also doesn’t get frustrated the way that I remember A and E getting at this age. She can tell us she wants to eat, or that she wants water. The frustration really begins when she doesn’t get whatever it is that she wants, because she is the princess and has requested said item… Why would we not provide it?

How we started

In July, after we started with her hearing aids, we began to be set up with several programs in our state for children who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf. One program covered the cost of having a therapist come into our home once a week and help us with our signing. We had a few individuals but finally settled in with Miss M. She is fantastic! She has helped instruct me in ASL and incorporate it into my daily life. More than that, the therapist is able to recognize when C isn’t hitting a milestone that she needs to, or when her molds are getting too small for her ears.

We started by signing Mom, Dad and the name signs we had created for A and E. We also signed “dog” a lot, because we have two pups – Daisy and Simon. From there, we have expanded to signing books that C likes (Brown Bear, Brown Bear was our first book to sign) and routines. However, kids only learn what is modeled. That is how they pick up words when they are Hearing and how they pick up ASL at any hearing level. If we don’t use it, they will not.

Our family started signing when C was about 3 months old. It’s not like she started signing immediately, but she was familiarized with what we were doing and when we did it. So, we sign all the time. As I learned sign with the rest of the family, we tried to communicate via sign with each other. We would play games at dinner like picking a category and continuing to use a sign that fit in that category until we ran out. It was fun and we were busy learning a language! Now, we sign in the morning to C as we dress her. We sign at meal times and as we dress in the morning. We talk about the weather and sign about bathing rituals. The more I learn, the more often we sign.

The more that we sign, the more we retain and the more that C learns. It is fantastic that she can now let me know that she is ready to eat or is thirsty. C has never been a fussy baby but her ability to reach out and tell us what she needs reduces the fussiness even more. It has been a huge blessing to communicate with my one year old!

As I said above, we started signing with C when she was about 3 months old. When she was six months old, her first sign was Mom. About a month later she began signing dog insistently. Almost 8 months later, her favorite sign is most definitely dog. She signs dog for any animal, really. Now, she says “dog, dog” as she signs “dog”. By her first birthday, she had over a dozen signs including “more, nurse and all-done”.

Now

Now, C has a ton of signs. Some of these she uses daily, others she will use and then decide she doesn’t really require it. Either way, it is pretty neat! Every morning she wakes up and signs and says “dog, dog”. I sign to her that we are going to go change her diaper and then I ask her verbally and with sign if she would like to eat. She signs “eat” back to me. As we prep breakfast, I show her the fruits or other breakfast items that we are having and she will typically sign “more” or “all done” or “please” if she wants them.

I am shocked with how easy it is to communicate with her. She still fusses but nowhere near the children I have observed in her peer group or as much as her siblings have. We are convinced that signing will happen with all future children because of what a positive experience this has been!

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. Every single animal was a “dog”. That makes sense because this is what she has experienced. There is a beautiful bird exhibit where birds are flying all around you. C very quickly picked up the sign for “bird”. I have found that at this age, signing is very experiential.

My Tips

If you want to start signing with your little one, this link provides several useful signs and instructions on how to do them!

  • Don’t become discouraged if it takes your little one a while to start signing. They are learning so much about the world around them and we didn’t see our first signs until 6 months even though we started signing at 3 months!
  • Teach signs that you will use. If you never see fish, it might not be a useful sign.
  • As your child masters a sign, start a new one. You don’t want “more” to become a child’s universal sign for every need.
  • Have fun with your new communication tool!

Have you used baby sign? What were your thoughts about it?

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Stretch your budget

Stretching Your Student Budget To The Max

Student debt in the US has skyrocketed to over $1.3 trillion in the past few years, with average student fees amounting to around $25,620 per year and top-tiered universities often setting individuals back around $60,000 a year. Education is a secure investment; as noted by U.S. News’ Deirdre Connelly, “…you don’t drop your most promising product simply to cut costs; which is essentially what we as a nation would be doing if we fail to provide the educational opportunities needed to secure a prosperous economic future.” Although it is a big challenge to make it through your college years without succumbing to financial stress, there are many seemingly small steps to take that can make a big difference in terms of providing relief.

stretch your student budget

Picking the right financial institution

A recent publication from Quartz, relying on information provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, found that one of the most common complaints on behalf of student borrowers is a lack of flexibility when it comes to repayment options. From the time you decide to take out a loan, it is vital to conduct research into different payment options and possible refinancing or consolidation options for students should the need arise. You can also look into other options to pay off debts in a more convenient way. If the topic of finance is not one you are comfortable navigating, consider enlisting the help of family members who specialize in areas such as loans and similar transactions or think about hiring a financial advisor for this specific purpose.

Stretch your student budget to the max

Technological help

There’s an app for that… including your student loan. In fact, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to budgeting for everything from entertainment to groceries, and college supplies. Some commonly downloaded apps for this purpose include Mint (which collects to your bank account and allows you to set many different budgets), Check (which ensures you remember to pay all your bills) and TextbookMe (which compares prices of textbooks so you can pay less for the same thing).

Keeping credit low and income high

Repaying your student loan is challenging but doable; it is still possible to have all you dreamed of: a home, a car, stability… whenever your loan isn’t inflated by unnecessary expenses. Try to rely on a debit card alone and if you do have credit cards, take a good look at the interest charged by each, ensuring those with higher interest rates are paid off first.

Research indicates that roughly a quarter of college students work full-time and study full-time, while around 40% of undergraduate students and 76% of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week. This can be tough, particularly if you are a parent and are struggling to get ahead. Still, the pay gap between college graduates and others are at a record high, which is inspiration enough to keep forging ahead.

Making the most of your student job involves cutting on luxuries, keeping a firm eye on your budget with the help of student apps, and trying your best to work while you study, as hard as it may be. If the need arises, consider part-time study; paying the bills and refraining from sliding further in debt should always be a top priority.

Guest posted by Jane West

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How To Host Your Own Family Summer Book Club in 5 Easy Steps

Does your library sponsor a summer reading club? Some do and some don’t. At some libraries the book clubs are restricted to a certain age group or a short period of time.

Either way, summer is the perfect time to get in extra reading and keep the learning going. So, here is a guide to establish your own summer reading club within your family (or even your neighborhood) in five easy steps!

1. Choose a Time Frame

A family reading club can last just a week or the entire summer. Be sure to set a start and finish date, though, from the beginning. This gives everyone a fair chance to plan their reading out.

Pick a reasonable amount of time. A few weeks is ideal. If the club goes too long, it loses momentum. If it is too short, there’s not enough time to really get immersed in the world of reading.

In my family, we are having our reading club from July 1st-29th. We have done as short as ten days, though, and it was still worth the while. A short term reading club is a great change of pace, especially for homeschoolers, in the winter months, or if life gets busy with a new baby or move. (The kids will still be learning, but you don’t have to be teaching.) It’s like a mini getaway without having to pack!

2. Set Up a Point System

Determine how you will award points. With a large age span, it is difficult to just award a point per book. So, give points based on one short book or twenty pages of a longer book, for example. This allows the older children and adults to delve into great literature without feeling like they have short changed themselves as younger siblings zoom ahead.

It is also a good idea to assign different point values for different types of reading.

Here is a sample points plan:

  • Two points per book or twenty pages read independently
  • Two points per picture book read to a younger sibling
  • Three points per audiobook completed
  • One point per chapter of family read-alouds

3. Make a List of Rewards

Rewards do not have to be expensive to be meaningful and enticing.

One of our family’s favorite rewards is a living room camp-out. We set up air mattresses in the living room, read stories by flashlight, and watch a movie. It costs nothing, but it is always at the top of the request list, so I make that worth forty-five points.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Get to watch an extra thirty minutes of educational television
  • Have a picnic at the beach
  • Invite a friend over to play
  • Take a friend ice skating
  • Pick what’s for dinner
  • Have a family movie night including popcorn
  • Earn a new book worth $10 or less
  • Get a day off of chores
  • Spend the afternoon at the park
  • Have a make your own pizza party
  • Go out for an ice cream cone
  • Get a $5 gift card to the Dollar Tree
  • Eat whatever you want for breakfast–yes, cookies count!

As you can see, most of these rewards cost very little, if anything. The children are working more for experiences than physical prizes. This makes running the reading club easy on the pocket book and prevents extra clutter. Both are wins for any family.

4. Remember Family Reading

Pick a book or two to use as a family read aloud. It will be fun to all experience the same book, and it also levels the playing field since everyone is reading together. Knowing that everyone is reading will encourage the reluctant readers, as well.

Note that this is a FAMILY reading club. So, mom, dad, even grandma and grandpa, need to pull out their books and start saving up the points! Add a few prizes for parents to the list!

Experiencing this as a family emphasizes the importance and joy of reading. It’s also a good excuse to catch up on that novel you have been wanting to pick up, but couldn’t because of work, school, or housework.

5. Tally the Points

At the end of the reading club, have everyone submit their tally sheets. Give each participant his grand total and see who earned the most points.

As a family, celebrate completing the club together. Again, pick something simple but meaningful. The best part is spending time together and relishing your accomplishments.

Just as for the actual reading, set a time frame for redemption of prizes. This may seem legalistic, but it prevents mom or dad from losing track of which prizes have been awarded.

Nothing is worse than a child claiming a year later that he never got his prize, and you can’t remember if he did or not. A time frame keeps up the excitement and allows for a completion of the project, which makes for a better transition back to everyday life.

How are you getting your family reading this summer?

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Five Fabulous Youtube Channels for Lifelong Learning

Learning is a journey that never ends and the Internet is a treasure trove of information. So, it is exciting to live in an age of such easy access to information. Youtube has become synonymous with funny cat videos and death defying stunts, however it also packs a mean collection of tutorials, informative videos, and documentaries. One of the true gems on Youtube is the collection of educational channels teaching everything from quantum physics to DIY home improvement.

5 youtube channels you must watch

Here is a list of five channels that will upgrade your entertainment hours into brain building workouts!

Crash Course

Crash Course is  channel offering micro learning bites of deep education. Topics range from science and history to life hacks and “adulting,” and are presented in easy to follow, entertaining videos. There’s even a Crash Course Kids playlist. With over 7 million subscribers, Crash Course is one of the most popular free learning channels on Youtube.

Numberphile

Think you don’t like Math, think again! Perhaps you just haven’t learned from the right teacher. Numberphile teaches complex math concepts in a way that everyone wants to learn. It’s tagline says it all, “Videos about numbers, it’s that simple.” Find out how simple and amazing math can be.

Yousician

Have you always wanted to play the guitar? Yousician offers free, world class guitar lessons that will have you rocking in no time. Yousician teaches both acoustic and electric guitar through the efficient tab system. It is the most popular guitar learning app in 30 countries, so of course it is our favorite, too!

 It’s History!

You know what they say about those who do not learn from history! You need to know history before you can learn from it, though. It’s History takes you on a journey through time to experience up close through the most important, but often unknown bits of history. It’s like your own personal time machine!

 Life Hacks

Not all learning needs to be serious, book learning! Life Hacks is a premier DIY channel that not only teaches you something new but, how to better do what you already know! From crafts and STEM projects to umpteen uses for toothpaste, Life Hacks keeps life interesting. Life Hacks is like the MacGyver of the digital age. (Seriously, check out all the uses for toothpaste!)

What are you watching on Youtube? Have any educational entertainment channels to add? Comment below!

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the right addition

Learn to Cook from Scratch

Banish the fear and learn to cook from scratch

If you’re reading this you’re probably one of the 28% of Americans who can’t cook. Many of us grew up on ready meals or just not getting involved in the kitchen. If you’ve never made a meal from scratch with raw ingredients then it can feel as if you missed the boat and it’s not something you’ll ever be able to do.

Don’t allow yourself to fall for that way of thinking, though. It is entirely possible to get past your fears and develop those new skills. Very few people have a genuinely phobic fear of cooking – known as ‘mageirocophobia’ for the geeks amongst you. For most of us it’s simply something we’ve never done and don’t want to fail at publicly. Time to embrace imperfection!

Start small

Start by getting a good book. Make sure it’s aimed at beginners and start with the basics – like boiling an egg correctly – and work your way up at your own pace. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way; remember, it’s about progress not perfection.

Get the right kit

Next, you’ll need to equip your kitchen with the basics. Don’t worry, it isn’t necessary to have every gadget and foodstuff going; most dishes can be produced from a pretty simple line-up of kitchen essentials. Before you get started, make sure you have the following: A good sharp knife, a cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, kitchen scissors, a sieve, a can opener and a couple of mixing bowls.

It’s hard to be too prescriptive in terms of pantry essentials as so much is dependent on personal taste, but I always make sure I have the following:

  • Dry goods – flour, sugar, rice and pasta

  • Oils, vinegars and sauces – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and mayonnaise

  • Herbs and spices – sea salt, peppercorns with grinder, dried oregano, dried mixed herbs, vanilla extract and stock powder

  • Refrigerated goods – butter, cheese, eggs, milk and plain yogurt

  • Canned goods – tomatoes, lentils and beans.

Set aside time

Make a commitment to set some time aside each day to cook. That time should be non-negotiable and in the diary. Make a list of different things you plan on trying each day and stick to it. It’s important to banish the excuses – we’ve heard them all. Whether it be not having enough time or having a tiny kitchen.  They don’t wash. Like with everything, it’s about practice and taking things step by step. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Make use of online resources

Take a look at TV programs and online videos showing cooking techniques to inspire you. There are even some channels you can cook along with in real time. Watching someone else physically preparing food can be hugely helpful and show you exactly what you need to do in a way that a book sometimes can’t. There is a wealth of information and help out there – you just need to look for it.

Why it’s worth the effort

Remaining curious about the world and being willing to try new things is the secret to being a lifelong learner. It’s good for the soul and keeps our brains agile. Developing culinary skills, in particular, can help connect us with people from different cultures through the exploration of dishes from far afield. The joy of discovering new cuisines and tasting new things for the first time is not to be sniffed at.

It’s better for you. We all know that cooking from scratch results in healthier food without nasty additives and preservatives. The process of choosing fresh ingredients and working with them also connects us with the earth and seasons in a way that can be calming and grounding.

When you start cooking from scratch you make all sorts of unexpected gains. Like how to shop for groceries, how to read ingredients labels, how to slow down and be present in the moment while cooking, for instance. Once you start cooking you’ll find you taste food differently, appreciate knowing exactly what has gone into the meal on your plate and enjoy having friends round. All of this is great for your confidence and it can save you quite a bit of money too.

So don’t be held back by fear of the unknown and get in touch with the lifelong learner within. No more procrastinating – just do it. Becoming a competent cook can enrich your life massively. And the learning part is huge fun; Try to ditch any perfectionism and remember to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

This post was written by a guest blogger, Jane West. Jane is a freelance writer who reached out to Global Learn Day to write one of our featured “How to” Blogs! Thanks Jane!

We hope that this has inspired you to pick up a cookbook and learn a new skill!

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