students in class

Private vs. Public: Where Should You Enroll Your Teenagers?

Salt Lake City is one of the best places to live in Utah and start a family. It’s a modern city, and there are plenty of dynamic highschools worth looking into if you have a teen or a pre-teen.

But, people have been debating for so long which is better: private or public schools. There are a few distinct differences. But, is it true that your child will get a better education from one or the other? Or that they will have a better attitude when attending a particular school?

How Does One Differ from the Other?

The most significant difference between them is money.

Public schools are typically the perfect choice for families on a budget. The government funds these institutions, and they can’t charge tuition from the students. The downside is they are often underfunded— which has a direct impact on low-wealth areas, especially; thus, on the students who need it the most.

Additionally, public schools can be significantly influenced by politics. They often have to follow the regulations that are set by politicians.

On the other hand, private schools have their own funding from various sources, primarily the tuition you’ll have to pay. Aside from that, they are free to have fundraising activities that tap the students, parents, alumni, and community members.

But, private school tuition fees can be exorbitant.

Is the Level of Education the Same?

students at the hallway

Here’s where the debate usually starts: is the level of education the same for private and public schools?

Yes and no.

Private and public schools teach the same thing to their students. They cover the same subjects. Both are likewise free to provide a flexible curriculum that can help their students.

Then again, private schools have better funding and can have more flexibility when it comes to their curriculum. However, they don’t necessarily hire certified teachers, often choosing to look at areas of skill other than certification. But, private schools often have higher results in standardized tests.

In public schools, the underfunding of certain departments can hinder the students’ learning. The bigger class size may also make it harder for some students to catch up or pay attention. Teachers, on the other hand, also have a harder time monitoring each and every student, especially during class.

The good thing is they guarantee that they hire certified teachers. It’s an advantage that can ensure the quality of education each student gets.

Bullying and Other Issues

Private schools tend to be more accepting of students from minority groups. They are also more prepared to combat bullying, which is prevalent in high schools. But, there can be undercurrents and more subtle forms of discrimination, especially in the area of finances and level of wealth.

Although private schools are known to be more accepting, public high schools are more diverse and can help to build strength of character in a young adult. But, bullying can be a problem. With the sheer number of students, some forms of bullying can’t be monitored and resolved.

What is the Better Choice?

Generally speaking, private and public schools both have their pros and cons. They serve the same purpose and provide the same level of education.

It all boils down to your choice—and, of course, the district in which you live.  Both types of high schools have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. However, it’s not entirely true that one is better than the other. In the end, what you choose depends on a few factors, such as your budget and location, and, of course, your child’s personality.

exchange student girl having fun in town

For Expats: How to Help Your Kids Adjust and Feel at Home

Life as an international business consultant, trainer, lawyer or diplomat may be fun and exciting. You travel all over the world for work and in the process, get to see different countries and experience various cultures.

It is a constant vacation for many, but there are some who seek the permanence of being able to grow roots and develop lasting relationships. Children of expats often feel this way since they have to bounce around from school to school while their parents travel.

Finding a suitable international school for your children is a great option. This type of school has an internationally approved curriculum and hosts kids from different nationalities. The standards here are the same with international schools in other countries, which means that your children will be able to continue their studies with the least difficulty in case you need to transfer to another assignment.

International schools in Manila enjoy a healthy enrolment rate because of the location, areas of expertise and strong ties with the community. This just proves that there is more to choosing a school than just a good sounding name.

Ensure a Smooth Transition

Starting at a brand new school can be a huge challenge for any kid. Help make the academic transition as smooth as possible for your children. Take time to sit down with the school heads and administrators to get to know the house rules.

Get in touch with an expatriate like you who have stayed in the country and inquire for any advice in regards to the educational system of the place. Are there any first-hand experiences and setbacks you can learn from?

Think of What Your Children Will Like

Ask yourself what your children like about school. Alternatively, what are the factors that would cause them not to like the new school environment? This can be a great starting point in finding the right school. You are in the best position to assess what kind of environment your kids will thrive in.

exchange students with uniforms

If they are into sports like soccer, lacrosse or tennis, for instance, find one that has a strong athletics program. On the other hand, if your children are more into theatre and other forms of the arts, this should be what you focus on when you inquire.

Be Part of the School Community

Finding the right international school for expat children is also training for parents like you. Learn exactly how you can be a part of the community and be involved. Commit time to volunteer and make the school community a big part of your kid’s life.

You can also get acquainted with the other parents and make sure to be present in all the important school events, whether or not your children are involved. This will ensure that your time overseas will be more enriching and meaningful. It will also help your kids adjust much faster to the new country, culture and environment.

Besides these points, it will also help to have a look at the school curriculum and if it conforms to international standards. This will help you and your children in case you need to move to a different country for a new assignment. While moving is certainly not easy on kids, knowing that they can pick up from where they left off in terms of lessons and modules is a big advantage.

a teen looking at a broken mirror

What to Do When Your Tween Has Low Self-esteem

Sometimes, it’s hard to understand how your 4-year-old daughter who was so fond of beauty pageants, ballet recitals, and summer camps grew up to be this shy, aloof tween in middle school. Once, they were all about saying yes to new things and people; now, every opportunity is met with “I can’t do that” or “I will never fit in.” Believe it or not, this phenomenon is universal. Kids tend to have a healthy self-image in their early years, but as they progress into adolescence, they experience low self-esteem. This affects their academic performance, peer relationships, and family life.

Why Some Tweens Have Low Self-esteem

There are lots of reasons why a young person develops a negative view of themselves. For one, it can be a result of comparisons. Between ages 6 and 11, children become more aware of their differences from their friends. For sure, you’ve heard them saying that their classmate is way more beautiful than them or that their friend plays basketball better. This is normal behavior, but if the comparison keeps them from seeing their worth, that’s when it becomes a problem. When they reach their teen years, which is when lots of changes happen to their body, they might grow insecure about themselves.

Another reason why your child suffers from low self-esteem is that they think that people around them disapprove of them. They can be wrong, but that’s what they feel. Disapproval can take different forms. It can be you saying an offhanded remark when they failed to get into the soccer team. Or it can be their favorite teacher telling them that they’re disappointed by their math performance. When these things pile up, over time, it can result in lower self-esteem. And the closer they are to the person “frustrated” with them, the more they’re pushed into the pit of an unhealthy self-image.

How You Can Help Bring Back Confidence

smiling young woman

Although there are many reasons behind your child’s low self-esteem, there are many ways to restore it. Start with honest communication. Tell them that you notice that they’re going through something and ask if they want to talk about it. Never ask them what’s wrong. That’s only going to discourage them from opening up. Once they start talking, listen and don’t judge. Don’t invalidate their feelings, too. It seems petty to hear statements like “Olive is prettier than me” or “Leo always gets higher math grades,” but don’t ever belittle such sentiments. Instead, direct them to positive, unique things about them. Remind them of their worth.

It also helps to have them talk to a guidance counselor in school. Sometimes, when the issue is too personal, some kids don’t want to open up directly to their parents. They prefer strangers who have no attachment whatsoever to the problem. If you’re still on the search for your child’s middle school, consider sending them to elementary schools in Gilbert, Arizona. Doing so will help your child understand how God sees and values them. If you’re looking for hassle-free student application, try online enrollment.

Finally, if your child’s self-esteem comes from something negative that you’ve said intentionally or unintentionally, apologize. It doesn’t matter if it was a joke. What matters is that they’re hurt. So tell them you’re sorry. Ask them how you can make things better.

Overall, remember that your tween’s unhealthy self-image affects everything in their life. Don’t let them stay in this pit. Restore their confidence by always reminding them of their worth.

Child coloring a book

How Can You Tell If Your Child is Ready for Preschool?

As soon as you see your toddler begin to walk on their own or communicate in words and phrases, you might consider enrolling them in a preschool. Child development is important to nurture at an early age, but one of the critical things that you should consider is whether your child is ready for preschool. Determining if your child is ready to start preschool can be an anxiety-inducing process. As much as possible, you want to make sure that your child feels safe and comfortable in a new environment.

While most preschools accept children between two and four years old, educators also look into a child’s preschool readiness – whether the child’s is ready to make a transition into a preschool environment, including its routines and expectations. Thing is, certain building blocks or skills are necessary to develop preschool readiness, including language, sensory, social, and self-care skills. Establishment of these building blocks will help your child adjust easier, allowing them to make a smooth and successful transition into the preschool environment. You can identify whether your child is ready for preschool by considering these following factors.

Separation Anxiety

Child hugging his fatherIf your child is used to having you around every time they need you, then it might be difficult for them to be apart from you when the time comes that he starts going to school. They might feel distressed, anxious, or scared when they see you leave, causing them to throw a tantrum. Before your child starts preschool, try creating opportunities that will allow your child to be away from you. You can schedule a weekend with their grandparents or you can ask a babysitter or a relative to care for your child. Do this gradually, until your child starts to feel comfortable spending time away from you. However, if you can’t workout separations anxiety upfront and if your child cries during their first few days at school, don’t worry. Many preschools would allow parents to spend a few minutes in the classroom to help children calm down.

Self-Care Skills

While some schools are more lenient, there are preschools that will require children to exhibit independent behavior. This may include potty training, being able tie shoelaces, eating with utensils, or opening their own bags. Though children are not expected to fully master these skills at their age, being able to do these tasks will make the adjustment period less stressful.

Comfort with Routine

Preschools usually follow a predictable schedule. When the same things happen every day, children feel more comfortable and in control. It will help if you and your child establish a routine at home. Schedule time for reading, play, bath time, meal time and bedtime and stick to it.

Social Interaction

One of the activities preschool usually have is “circle time”, allowing students to learn and play together, sit still, and listen to stories. This can be difficult for children who are still more focused on exploring their surroundings or those who have short attention span. You can help prepare your child for such interactions by scheduling play dates or signing them up in a summer class so they can experience how its like playing with other children.

Before sending your child to preschool, it is important to look into these factors. Pushing your child to adjust in a new environment when he is not physically, emotionally, or socially ready might just make it a traumatizing experience for them, and in the end could only hinder their learning and development.

Male high school teacher

How High School Teachers Engage Students to Learn

It is a sad truth that some high school students do not feel inspired to learn in school. This leads to not only lowered achievements but also an overall disinterest in learning.

While there are lots of school strategies to motivate students to focus on their subjects, many high schools in progressive areas like Salt Lake City continue to look for ways to inspire and encourage students to become more engaged in learning. Here are some strategies that teachers and instructors apply to make a difference.

Giving Students Control

Sometimes, teachers become too attached to their manual and modules that they forget about the capabilities of their students. They hardly ever track each student’s learning progress because of the unending list of to-do’s.

Some students begin to lose interest in learning when they cannot cope and feel overwhelmed with lessons and schoolwork. Teachers can counter this by allowing students to track their own progress with simple lists to empower and motivate them. Students who are in control of their learning become more interested and feel more accountable to deliver.

Focusing on Short-Term Goals in the Classroom

High school students may not care much about long-term goals because the future is a long time away for them. Teachers can focus more on visible and easy-to-reach goals.

This can be incorporated into learning activities like using writing prompts for better writing, reading aloud activities for low ability students. Teachers and students can become more engaged when they pay attention to their present actions and activities.

Using Passive Learning for Disengaged Students

Relying on positive attitude for students to learn will not work for those who are not interested or are disengaged. Students will absorb knowledge better when they are exposed to it via oral language and listening.

One way to use this is through instructional videos on different subjects to build background knowledge. Reading aloud to some students is rarely done in secondary students, but it is actually a great strategy to engage students to listen and learn.

Using the Power of Imitation

Teachers can ask students to copy and imitate good examples that they see around them. It is not teaching them to cheat; rather, it is a passive way of internalizing basic and social skills. Help them to learn from one another so that they can improve.

Coaching and Mentoring

Female high school teacher and her student

Teachers are regarded as evaluators and judges of a student’s learning progress. To become their coach and mentor means that a student has a helping ally that will guide them to reach their goals.

Coaches and mentors will have tips to help the student excel, and if students trust their teachers as they believe their sports coaches, they will be more engaged in the learning process.

Student engagement is necessary for academic growth and development. Disinterested and disengaged high school students may be undergoing life changes that affect their ability to focus. Teachers can help students out by using strategies that will reverse disengagement and encourage them to love and own their learning.

Student answering an exam

Accepting Your Child’s Choice of College

The college dream starts as early as primary school for some. It’s usually fueled by their parents’ aspirations, especially if they graduated from a prestigious school and they want their child to attend when it’s time. Young hopefuls may also want to attend the same university that taught an influential person they admire. They may even get their first university merchandise as a Christmas gift as a sort of encouragement for their dream.

If that’s how it was for your child, they may have a hard time admitting that they had changed their mind. Maybe they’re considering a different, but equally prestigious university. Maybe they wanted to change their plans for their life. Whatever it is that changed their mind, you should show support unconditionally. Do the following to show them that you have their back:

Help Them Fill Out Their Application Forms

It’s normal for students to have a backup, so they will have other options should their original plan fails. However, if they’ve changed their heart and would prefer to go to a university known to compete with the one everyone expected them to attend, they may not have prepared to apply for it.

Now is your chance to show them your full support by preparing everything they need. You may even find a college admissions consultant to inquire about differences when it comes to the different universities. Each one may consider different values, so you should know how to apply in a way that sets your child apart from the thousands of other applicants.

Encourage Them to Talk Openly About Their Choice

Mother talking to her teenage daughterIt can be scary for your child to openly admit that they don’t want to go to the university everyone else in the family went to, but if they are sure of their choice, you should not make them regret it.

The choice of campus should not be enough to strain family ties, especially because no one knows whether they’ll get in. When they do get in, they will appreciate having the family congratulate them and being proud of their achievement. Remember that the choice of campus is not about prestige, it’s about getting into the academic institution that best fits your child’s interests.

Talk to the Family

It’s one thing to encourage an applicant to talk about their choice, but it’s even better to see everyone accepting the change openly. For family members who are deeply loyal to their university, they may feel betrayed or let down. They may even think that your child is choosing a different school just to spite the family name.

It’s your job as the parent to protect your already-stressed child from all the unnecessary drama over something that will benefit your child’s future. Everyone may have their opinions, but talk to them so they can express their feelings and not hurt or belittle your child in any way. The last thing you want is for your child to go through all the discussion with their relatives, and for it to stress them enough that they end up not getting into the university they want.

The choice of college is your child’s prerogative. Remind everyone that while their opinion is appreciated, this is not about them.

Public School System

The State of the Public School System

With the student debt crisis in full-swing in our country, and with faith in the public education system at an all-time low, it’s time we took a hard look at our public schools and see what’s going on, what we can do to improve it, and how we can make it beneficial for students again. With around 13,000 school districts spread across the country handling almost 100,000 public schools, it’s hard to paint with a broad brush with regards to how the entire system is holding up.

But even with the daunting challenge of analyzing and evaluating all those schools, many people have come to the harrowing conclusion that the Amercan Public Education System is at the brink of collapse. Critics cite the performance of public schools over the past 40 years, beginning with the “Back to Basics” program of the 70’s and all the way to 1983’s “A Nation at Risk”, critics of the education system state that public school performance has been on a downhill slope. However, with the introduction of the No Child Left Behind policy in 2001, a slight uptick in performance was observed and lauded, even by some of the education system’s harshest critics.

Despite the NCLB, views of the public school system’s future remain bleak. But is this because of real-time results, or the result of vitriolic rhetoric?

Losing Faith

In a 1976 poll by Gallup, 62% of people surveyed say that they had a “great deal” of confidence in the public school system. However, in under a decade, confidence level in the public school system dropped to 39%, and has not risen above 50% since 1987.

The confidence in public schools remained in the high 30’s and mid 40’s from 1999 to 2000. But by the first few years of the 21st century, confidence petered out and averaged in the low-to-mid 30’s. By 2007, one year before the Great Recession and a few years before the start of the student debt crisis, that figured dropped further. With the once-sterling no Child Left Behind Policy cracking under budget constraints and failures of implementation, people started losing faith in our public schools, and in essence, losing faith in students of those schools. By 2014, confidence rate was at an all-time low: only 26% of Americans had a “great deal” of confidence in the public school system, a far cry from the 62% it enjoyed 40 years ago.

public school

These numbers would be understandable if the quality of education in public schools actually did decline. In fact, for all intents and purposes, these confidence levels are a great indication of the American people’s outrage over the government’s failure to provide quality education to our nation’s youth. A decline in quality, therefore, should be the only reason for people to lose faith.

However, that wasn’t the case.

The Numbers

A comprehensive and standardizes testing system that measured student performance was not implemented until 2001. However, through the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, the federal government had been able to track and monitor student performance over 50 years before 2001.

Despite the narrow focus of the NAEP (it only measured basic academic skills), and the fact that it was not given to all students across the country (only selected schools every few years), it still showed something surprising: public school performance is great. In fact, it’s even better now than it was back in the 70’s.

It’s worth noting, however, that standardized tests, both by the NCLB policy and the NAEP, show only a fraction of what is actually going on in our public schools: it doesn’t, for instance, measure student engagement, or if students are happy, or if the education they receive is molding them into high-functioning and contributing members of society. But if it’s just academic performance being talked about, it’s showing everyone a snapshot of a school system that is thriving with minimal resources.

So where is all this vitriol coming from?

Theories abound trying to explain the decline in confidence. Some analysts say that this is a symptom of the public’s lack of trust in institutions as a whole, an effect of a floundering economy made worse by wars in the Middle East, gun violence, and a general sense of discomfort with the American government’s questionable ethics over the past decade or so.

But polls show that this is not the case. While confidence levels have declined for public schools, and even more so in Congress, institutions like small businesses, organized labor, and even the military have enjoyed high trust levels from the people.

Perhaps the biggest culprit: strong rhetoric in support of national reform. Over the past few decades, the American public has been bombarded by political messages talking about a crisis in public education without offering much in evidence or numbers. These messages, however, aren’t just confined to politicians: many NGO’s and even philanthropic organizations have constantly complained about the lack of quality in the public school system, while simultaneously promoting their version of educational reform (reform that, arguably, could benefit their organization in the long run).

What It’s Like Right Now

The truth of the matter is, however, that many schools don’t actually need reform. In fact, a majority of the 100,000 public schools (at least, the ones that have been tested) are thriving without it, and have been doing so for several years. Of course, some reform wouldn’t hurt, particularly for schools that are serving financially disadvantaged students. But they don’t reform: they need more funding, more school integration, and more attention.

public schools
Source: National Public Education

The rhetoric that has fueled the distrust of the public school system is not only damaging to the schools themselves, it’s also an indication of our nation’s moral failure. Instead of providing the system with what the law requires, politicians and organizations are twisting the mindset of the general public in order to serve their self-interests.

So, perhaps, a reform is needed, but not the one we think: America’s public school system is fine, people just need to recognize its achievements and stop talking about as if it has failed, because for all intents and purposes, it has succeeded in its mission of providing its students with quality education and stirring interest both in the academe and in civic issues.

If the millennial generation is any indication, it’s safe to say: the kids are doing alright, thanks to the public school system.

Comic Strips to Teach

Using Comic Strips to Teach

Despite the negative press they’ve gotten over the past few decades, comic books and cartoons are actually very effective tools that teachers can use in class. They’re colorful, versatile, and interesting, comic strips can be used for students of various grades, from kindergarten all the way to 9th, even 10th, grade.

An Effective Teaching Tool

The reason behind the efficacy of comic strips as a teaching tool is that it engages students of different learning styles and engaging multiple senses at once. Comic strips help students practice essential skills like reading, understanding visual concepts, understanding context clues, speaking, and ultimately, communicating complex ideas in the span of 3-4 panels. It also evokes thought about provocative issues and can help students understand highly complicated matters in a condensed and succinct form.

Using comic strips can also help young students develop empathy, particularly if the characters in the comic strips are someone they can relate to. In this way, you are teaching them a valuable soft skill that will help them be well-rounded individuals in the future. Depending on the comic strip, it can also make them laugh, helping you ease the tension and stress they may be feeling after being in school for hours.

Again, depending on the comic strip you choose, it can also teach your more mature students about cultural issues surrounding them. Editorial cartoons are a great way to get students thinking; they don’t necessarily have to agree with the image that’s being presented, but they are encouraged to think about the issue and hopefully create logical arguments that will help them make sense of what they’re feeling.

Comic strips are also versatile; they can be used in a wide variety of subjects, ranging from history and literature, to math and science. With the right comic strips, teachers can help students develop their higher-order thinking skills like analysis, evaluation, prediction, inference, and many others.

This multimodal text also helps students gather information from multiple sources; a valuable skill in our post-digital world. This helps them prepare for a digital landscape that is rife with fake information and unresearched data. By teaching them to read comic strips, these students will learn not to take things at face value, but rather delve deeper into a particular thing. It helps them pay attention to detail, and thus, are trained to be aware about the different ways meaning is constructed and communicated.

Comic strips are also a great learning tool for students learning a foreign language. This is because the visual element of it makes it more interesting and easier to process, thereby helping students retain more information about the language they’re learning.

By presenting old information in a new way, you can help students become more engaged and more interested in learning.

comic strips

Integrating Comic Strips in Class

In as much as you, the teacher, can use comic strips to teach, students can also use comic strips to learn. There are various activities that you can moderate that uses comic strips as the main mode of teaching:

Story Telling:

  • Introduce a topic and then task your students to create a 4 to 5 panel comic strip that discusses that issue. Ask your students to create a narrative storyline that is coherent and encourage them to write dialogue that uses natural speech patterns. You can ask them to draw their own panels, or to use resources they find online.

Story Retelling:

  • After making your students read a story, ask them to retell the main plot points of the story using a comic strip. They can draw their own, or, if you want to add a degree of difficulty, ask them to find an example from existing comic strips.

Story Completion:

  • Provide your students with a 4 to 5 pre-designed comic strip panel, but leave the dialogue boxes blank. Then, ask your students to fill in the blanks, making sure to tell a story based only on the other visual elements of the strip. Alternatively, you can also use pre-designed comic strips but with the final panel missing and then ask students to complete the story using inference, prediction, and context clues.

Topic Introduction:

  • Discuss a new topic or issue using a comic strip. The comic strip you choose must reflect the primary idea of your topic without actually revealing it. Ask your students to brainstorm about what they can infer from the comic strip and perhaps try to predict what comes next.

Raise Awareness:

  • Comic strips are a great way to discuss sensitive issues like bullying, sexual misconduct, politics, racism, and other things because it presents these topics in a non-threatening and non-preachy way. Ask your students to emphasize with every character in the comic strip and help them understand the motivation of the characters and the moral implications of their actions.

Teaching Foreign Languages:

  • Comic strips have been shown to be highly effective in teaching foreign languages because it communicates different ideas via multiple mediums. It also gives students a visual image to anchor their lesson on and provides them a clearer mental picture of the contextual situations wherein they can use the phrase or words that you are teaching at the moment.

Practice Speaking Skills

  • Improve your student’s speaking skills by asking them to read aloud a comic strip that you presented or a comic strip that they created, making sure that they are aware of the character’s motivations, speech patterns, and encourage them to give life to the character by adding personality quirks that make sense with context. Alternatively, you can also ask them to continue a comic strip’s story in character in order to flex their inference and communication skills as well as their creativity.

Integrating Comic Strips in Class

Modern and Creative

Many teachers are still hesitant to use comic strips, viewing them as “low brow”. However, there are plenty of comic books and graphic novels out there that are not only visually stunning, they’re also extremely well-written. Educate yourself about the value of comic books and comic strips, and pass on this appreciation to your students.

The Pros of Reading Books and E-Books

On Paper or On Screen? The Pros of Reading Books and E-Books

In the digital age, it seems like anything that can be put on a computer screen will be put into a computer screen, from food delivery and hotels, to taxis and furniture delivery. Over the years, I’ve tried to embrace as much of this technology as I could (for fear of being called a Luddite!), but there was one thing that I only recently started embracing: e-books.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I still love my hardbound collection (even the paperbacks), but e-books have really opened my eyes to the possibilities of technology. But more importantly, it’s also shown me how this technology can inspire the younger generation to read more.

Reading is a fundamental skill most people should know. Unfortunately, the global literacy rate is 86.3 percent which means that a few hundred million people cannot read regardless of the type of literature they are presented with. And in this age where physical books may still be inaccessible to kids learning to read at a young age and even older adults, e-books may be the solution.

ebook vs book static image

I can hear the purists now though, “e-books aren’t real books! Nothing beats paper!” And believe me, I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but trust me, there’s a lot of benefits to e-books. Which isn’t to say that traditional books aren’t great too, they are; it’s just that e-books are not the hardcover killers that people make them out to be. In fact, if done right, e-books can help students appreciate traditional books more.

While browsing the bookstore to buy a gift for that special someone (or yourself), you may be faced with a tough decision: e-books or the old-fashioned kind? The pros and cons of ebooks vary, and choosing the best option depends on a number of factors.


For a bibliophile like myself, there’s nothing more impressive than seeing a room with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookshelves filled with all manner of books. But the problem with that setup? I can’t bring all of those books in my backpack!


With e-books, you can fit entire libraries into a single electronic reader. If not a NOOK eReader or any tablet that can read e-books, most smartphones nowadays have apps automatically installed to read e-books. And if it doesn’t, there are many free apps you can download. This makes it convenient when you want to take a break from reading Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and want to continue your reading of Hegel’s Dialectics.


I love the smell of books: the ink, the paper, oh that wonderful smell of paper! Unfortunately, because of society’s mass consumerism and unchecked industry, our forests are being destroyed at a rate that is not only alarming, it’s catastrophic. Aside from the fact that mass book production means tapping into virgin forests to make paper, the process of making books consumes 153 billion gallons of water every year. And that’s not even including the chemicals and organic and inorganic matter released into the oceans and the air because of book production.

While there are few things in life that make me as happy as that new book smell, I need to be practical. E-books are digital, which means there’s no environmental impact in their creation. Yes, the digital readers require resources like rare earth materials and alloys and such, but they are, in the long, more sustainable than buying paper books day in and day out. While the written word on paper is magical, we also need to be practical. Besides, a real reader will find that magic anywhere, whether it’s on a standard 6”x9” sheet or on an electronic screen.

water consumption for book production

The Kids Are Already On It

In 2014, the Library & Information Science Research, a journal dedicated to all things books, conducted a study that focused on more than a hundred 10th graders and their reading habits. They found that an overwhelming majority of these kids preferred e-books over traditional books.

This is an example of technology helping kids to read: newer generations of students are more comfortable with electronic devices, so reading an e-book is more than just preferable, it’s actually interesting for them.

It also helps that most e-book readers also have options to adjust the font size, offer on-screen explanation of difficult words, increasing the brightness, etc. all of which make them more accessible to kids.

So the next time you feel the urge to scold a child for spending too much time on their computer or tablet, bear in mind that they’re probably just reading a book!

E-books help the visually impaired

Children with dyslexia are often turned off by the idea of reading. Unfortunately, because of their condition, dyslexic children are lacking in terms of reading skills and thus have a harder time progressing with their education. However, scientists are discovering that e-book readers might just be a solution to that problem.


A component of dyslexia is its inefficiency of processing visual information. Because traditional books are static, dyslexics have to struggle with understanding every sentence. However, e-book readers give them an option to increase the text size. This might not seem like much, but for dyslexics, it’s a godsend: studies show that it helps them read more efficiently, and has in fact made it easier for some. This is because larger text sizes mean shorter lines of text, which helps them process information more effectively, and ultimately, making book reading an accessible and enjoyable activity.

E-books Can Provide a More Immersive Experience

I’m not talking about the immersive experience you get when you get so enthralled by a book that you forget you’re sitting in a coffee shop and are suddenly a person inside your book’s universe. I’m talking about the immersive experience of actually hearing and seeing the book come to life.

E-books and audiobooks are on the same wave and can be used for a better reading experience. I’m the type of person who wants to see things or else I get distracted, so I’ve never really been a fan of listening to audiobooks on their own. But I’ve also heard a few audiobooks and how some books hire voice actors to really make the story believable.

books with headphone, metaphor for audio books

Some e-books come with audio files to help improve your reading experience. Unfortunately, not all e-book formats provide this. But if you want this experience, your best bet is to get a Kindle, Nook, or Google Nexus 9. It can make all the difference if you want to hear what the dialogue sounds like (and maybe a guide on how to pronounce those alien names like a true book fan).

But before you start thinking I’m some kind of e-book zealot, let me remind you why I still love traditional books…

People Retain More Information from Paper

Scientists from around the world are finding evidence that reading on paper might actually be much better for retaining data as well as remaining focused. Researchers from Norway’s Stavanger University conducted small-scale studies that tested people’s ability to remember key plot points of stories when read from either a traditional book or an e-book. They found that readers who were using a Kindle scored higher in memory tests as opposed to those reading from paper.

They believe that the tactile sense of paper is what gives it an edge in terms of retaining information: because the book’s weight shifts from right to left as you progress, the brain is more engaged and focused on processing all this data at once, helping it retain as much information as possible. Feeling the weight of the book shift dynamically while you’re reading the story makes it easier for your brain to visualize plot points and other story details.

I told you books were magic!

Traditional Books Help with Eye Strain

One of the biggest drawbacks of e-books is its screen luminance. Even e-book readers that have low-light screens are still emitting artificial light, which interferes with a person’s ability to sleep and putting strain on their eyes. Reading from an e-book reader at night can also impair your body’s production of melatonin.

traditional book

Traditional books don’t have that problem. When reading from a traditional book under good lighting, your eyes relax over time and do not interfere with your body’s sleep cycle. Any reader who’s ever fallen asleep reading a book will attest to this!

In my opinion, one type of book isn’t better than the other: they both have their pros and cons, and at the end of the day, it’s all about preference. If you prefer the smell of books and the thrill of manually turning every page as you make progress with a book, there’s no reason to go digital if you don’t want to. And if you prefer the convenience, ease, and unlimited options you have while using your Kindle, then you can save up on a ton of shelf space and never have to buy another book again. You’ll actually be doing the environment a favor, too!

As for me, well, I like my Kindle; I take it everywhere I go, but that doesn’t mean I’m getting rid of my physical library any time soon!

Kid with special needs being hugged

Amazing Back-to-School Tips for Children with Special Needs

A new school means a set of new teachers, new grade, and maybe even a new school for your child. That’s why it’s best to find ways to help them be as successful as they can be. Back-to-school time can be busy, and it can get twice as much when you have a child with special needs. Before you find a special needs school in Bali, here are a few things that you can consider:

Give them an idea of how it will go

You can start your child’s summer days early and give them something they can look forward to this coming school year. One suggestion that provides is to tell them you’ll go some place else right after breakfast. If you’re going to be home after the day ends, it’s best to tell them how their day will look. You can finish it with an art project or even with a game.

Connect personally with the teacher

It’s best to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher as well as the therapists. Get to know them better and connect with them. You can set up a time to come to their school and meet up with your child’s staff. You can also provide them with a few information about your child’s strengths and challenges. Very Well Family also suggests to let everyone know that you’re willing to talk and consider options that are best for your child.

Connect school with the word fun

Little girl in the playgroundTry to visit the school as often as you can. You can also do regular weekend visits to the playground to help your child familiarize themselves with their new environment. As soon as the school year approaches, it’s best to call ahead and see if you can schedule a meeting with the principal as well as the teacher.

Create a checklist

As much as you would like to monitor your child’s development, you will probably be hearing about their progress only when their report card comes. The easiest way to address this problem is to provide your child’s teacher with a checklist that they can answer every day. It should only be a quick yes or no question that the teacher or aid can easily answer before your child gets home.

Ease their anxiety

If it’s challenging for your child to adjust to their new environment, it’s best to have them familiarize with the faces that they will meet at school. If the staff agrees, you can take photos of the principals, teachers, aids and nurses, the cafeteria, and the gym. You can show it to your child before school starts to give them a sense of reassurance.

Starting a school year at a different school can be a challenge. That’s why it’s best to show them your support especially while they’re adjusting. You can ask them how their day went and made them feel that everything is okay. Have an open and constant communication with the school staff so you will be aware of your child’s progress.