Virtual Reality might help with Goldfish attention spans

Eidy in game screen shot

Educators are concerned that kids don’t seem to have the attention span to engage with conventional learning.

In the article “How Virtual Reality can close learning gaps in your classroom”, the author states that “Much has been written about social media’s impact on our diminishing attention span, which may now be even shorter than that of a goldfish.

There are exceptions; many of us are able to engage for extended periods of time when gaming or using simulations.Research has shown that we remember 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, and up to 90% of what we do or simulate. ”

Virtual Reality companies hope that the full immersion of the virtual reality environment will ensure the child will focus.

Perhaps full immersion is not even required to provide “simulation”.  Children also seem to be able to focus when “immersed” in games that simulate a world.   The interactivity of Minecraft and games like it enable kids to focus, learn and be creative.

Perhaps interactive story telling, aka “simulation” is the future of learning.  With or without VR goggles.


How Virtual Reality can close learning gaps in your classroom:



Taken from:

Asking kids the right questions – What? not Why?


“What was the best thing about school today?”, “What games did you play today?”, “Do the kids at school ever talk about boyfriends and girlfriends?” “Who did you sit with at lunch today?” or “How did the soccer game go at recess?” will get you a lot further than “How was school today?”

Questions that begin with “Why” often make kids defensive; “Why did you wear that?” won’t work nearly as well as “What do you think most of the kids will be wearing to the bbq?”

What questions are conversation openers.  Why questions are a challenge.  You want relating, not conflict.

Remember that to build a good relationship takes time.  It is made up of small things.  Using leading questions will slowly open up those lines of communication with your kids.

Get kids talking with magic conversation openers

Pay attention to the little conversation openers your kids make and respond immediately, particularly if they’re nine years old or over.

An example of a conversation opener might be something like “I don’t like school.”  You might respond with something like “What’s a thing you don’t like about school?”

With limited talk time it can be hard to hold to focus on the child’s question.   Nevertheless, how you respond changes everything.

How you respond is an indication of whether your child can rely on you to talk when he needs you.   Conversations started this way will be more important in the long run than the usual “What happened at school today” questions.


Young people who believe that their parents are too busy for them often look in other places when they’re emotionally needy.  You need to gradually build that feeling of trust and safety.

Most parents who have close relationships with their teenagers’ attribute this to their being available.  Like many teenage boys my son likes to show people how indestructible, resilient and how independent he is.  It’s tempting to give lots of advice.  Wrong move.  I’ve found it’s much better to go with the flow of conversation.  It builds rapport and has meant I’ve been there when he needs me.  It’s a part of parenting you shouldn’t miss.

Taking advantage of conversation openers will help the child believe you are available when they need you.  Of course you do actually have to be available.  More about this later.

Letting your kids know by saying nothing at all!

Say it all

When using video, phone or even texting, our tone and facial expression can determine what is really said.

Your posture also carries through to your voice.  As an experiment, try slouching in a chair, putting on a sad face then trying to sound engaged and excited.  It doesn’t work. (even when texting)

Try a calm voice and a relaxed body posture and facial expression, you’ll seem approachable to your child.

‘Mirroring’ is a way of building rapport with someone.  For example, try using the same tone of voice as your child (within reason).  This is an easy way of showing how much you like what the child is doing.

It also sends a message that you’re trying to understand how she’s feeling.  For example, if your child sounds happy and speaks quickly, do likewise.

The benefits here stack up – body language builds emotional connection over time.

Talking to kids – start by listening

Listening is the important first step to helping kids to open up.  This means you’ve got to stop talking and listen.  You may have a lot to say, and you may have little time, but we’re looking for long term benefits here.

Usually there’s silence at first.  That’s ok.  Be patient, things will change.

When they finally talk, restate what they’re saying so they know you’ve understood.

…then be quiet so they can talk some more….

If they don’t keep talking, you can ask another question, but keep your tone friendly, this isn’t an interrogation.

It sounds easy, but being a parent means you may have alot of wisdom to share and it’s right that you want to share it.  But to share, you need to build trust.  That means listening.


Need some help – Try EAP

How are things with your family? The December period is not always a joyous time of year for all families. Even the “Christmas spirit” is sometimes not enough to give harsh reality a break.

Something that might help is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This is a work-based intervention program designed to enhance the emotional, mental and general psychological wellbeing of all employees and includes services for immediate family members.

The idea is to offer preventive and proactive interventions for the early detection, identification and/or resolution of both work and personal problems that may adversely affect performance and wellbeing. These problems and issues may include, but are not limited to, relationships, health, trauma, substance abuse, gambling and other addictions, financial problems, depression, anxiety disorders, psychiatric disorders, communication problems, legal and coping with change.

Nicole from FIFO Families gives a good overview of Australian programmes here:

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Find out more here:

Teaching Kids the Art of Conversation – Questions

A big part of a child’s development is the ability to converse with others.  It has been found that asking questions can help a great deal.

In the past, test-centric education was about asking direct closed questions.    Questions that require a “right” answer.  Open ended questions are different.

Even in adults, open ended questions can stimulate creativity and a comprehension of ambiguity.

The article “Scientific Studies explain the best ways to talk to Children”,  a study is cited on asking questions, where over 70 kids aged between 5-8 were asked 3 sensible open questions (eg: “What do birds eat?”), 3 sensible close-ended questions (eg: “Is summer hotter than winter?”), 3 nonsensical open-ended questions (eg: “Where do circles live?”), 3 nonsensical close-ended questions (eg: “Is a box louder than a knee?”), and two “scrambled” questions (eg: “Than is louder thunder whisper a?”).

All the children were told that they could say they didn’t know the answer and, when asked three weeks later, nearly all of the children correctly identified the questions as making sense or being “silly.” Almost all of the children answered the sensible questions, both open and closed, correctly. And 90% of the children answered the open-ended nonsensical questions correctly, saying they didn’t know. However, 72% of children tried to answer the nonsensical close-ended questions, even though they later said that the questions were “silly.”

Now, as much fun as it is to ask children nonsense questions and watch their faces as they try to answer them, if the goal is have a conversation, stay away from close-ended questions.”

Obedience in the 21st Century

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Have you ever heard this?  “This way mum, not that way” as a child tells you how to use your phone?

Seeing our children use technology effortlessly may make us feel helpless in guiding them.   How can we enforce rules around technology?

The familiarity that kids have around technology means they treat it as normal.   Don’t give up!  Rules about devices should be treated the same as any other rules.

“there are several ways to approach rules,” advises child-development specialist Phyllis Gilbert, M.S., M.Ed., of the child development and family living department at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. The secret is finding the one that works for your particular child.

“First of all,” said Gilbert, “make sure the rule is age-appropriate. A curfew that is appropriate for a 12-year-old may not be appropriate for a teenager.”

Age is also a factor in explaining the rules. If your toddler is slamming the door repeatedly, you may need to make a game out of practicing how to close the door appropriately. A teenager, however, can understand the direct approach of a statement that incorporates consequences, such as, “Slamming the door may cause the glass to break. I don’t want that to happen, and you don’t want to have to pay for it, so please be more careful.”

When we create rules around technology the same applies.  Take the time to sit beside your child and work together to decide which games might be for which times.

There is so much available “out there”, it’s inevitable that we will have to step in and discuss boundaries.  When you do, the key is not to overreact, but instead calmly measure up to the rules.  Gently persuading will take a while, but is ultimately more effective in the end.

Quote From How to Make Kids Obey Your Rules


Let them draw – it’s only printer paper!


All my kids love to draw. Usually this is an act of the moment that isn’t thought through very well – They grab the materials at hand and go for it.

No problem with this, only that the most convenient paper to hand tends to be printer paper.

In the past I found this really annoying and I set out to teach the kids that this paper was not for drawing. It seemed like the right thing to do – until my son stopped drawing altogether. This may not have had anything to do with the availability of paper…or it may have.

Kathy Eugster a “Certified Play Therapist” (which sounds like fun!) says that “Even though it is important to encourage your child to help in cleaning up the toys, it is your job to provide your child with a clean and organized play space and with the necessary toys and materials for creative and imaginative play.” Google tells me that Kathy’s opinion on such things ranks very highly.
My youngest daughter does her best to ask for art materials. Sometimes she has them, sometimes she doesn’t, and the printer paper goes missing. And now that’s ok with me! She is unaware that I have a new rule :

“Let her draw – it’s only printer paper.”

Also she’s unaware that I have a hidden ream of printer paper in the cupboard. 😉
For more information, take a look at Kathy’s article on her website at


Kids love rules! The secret to making rules stick


Surprisingly enough, rules can help kids feel safe.  What kind of rules?

Consistent Rules

“If your rules vary from day to day in an unpredictable fashion or if you enforce them only intermittently, your child’s misbehavior is your fault, not his. Your most important disciplinary tool is consistency. Identify your non-negotiables. The more your authority is based on wisdom and not on power, the less your child will challenge it.” says Laurence Steinberg, PhD, author of the book The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting.

Sourced from WebMD