How Music Affects Kids’ Intellectual and Creative Development

Music and the Brain!

Study after study has shown how music positively affects children’s developing brains.

Music enhances intellectual development in various ways. Here are some of them.

Math – Math and music are natural partners. Even on a very basic level, understanding and reading music requires some math skills. Rhythms are expressed in wholes and fractions (whole notes, quarter notes, half notes, etc.), and even the measures in written music are divided into equal sections. So it stands to reason that math and music enhance each other.

Reading – Interestingly, reading skills can be enhanced by music study. A 2009 study took a look at this and concluded that music training (not just listening to music) gave children an edge over their non-musically trained peers. Kids who took music lessons showed better reading skills when compared to their non-musical counterparts.

Overall academic performance – Adolescents can also benefit from the intellectual effects of music. Studies have shown that kids this age who participate in music lessons and attend concerts with their parents do better in school.

Music and creativity – Let’s not forget the creative side! Music also affects children’s creative development.

Creative thought patterns – At its core, creativity is basically a particular type of thought pattern. Music encourages this type of creative thinking. After all, the number of pitch, rhythm, and note combinations is practically infinite!

Imagination – Listening to music evokes all sorts of wonderful, imaginative images. Children can conjure up all kinds of scenes and pictures in their minds based on music. And sometimes, these can come out as artwork.

New worlds – Music spans the globe. Listening to music from different times and cultures gives children “fodder” for wider expanses of thought. It stimulates creative thinking by giving them something new to think about.

The art of dance – Dancing is a very creative art, and as children learn to move to music, it can open up creative ways of self-expression.

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How Hashtags Work and Using Them to Grow Your Traffic

Most people discover hashtags quite early in their Twitter journey.  And many more ignore them till much, much later, when their Twitter habits are set and established.  If you are new to this unique social network, you need to know that you can instantly attract the right followers, find the right people to follower and hook into the best network segment for your goals straight away… simply by using and following hashtags.

This is what an effective hashtag (Penguin’s “#DailyDeal”) looks like, in action:

It doesn’t have to be used for just promotion or branding.  A hashtag can be a keyword, hook, topic indicator, community connection tool and search filter all in one go.  It strains out the hordes of spammy tweets that seem to populate the Twitterverse at times, and instead brings up ones relevant to your interests – specifically, to the keyword (hashtag) that you chose as your filter.  It also makes your tweets easier to find for your audience, when you share your hashtag.  (Get it right, and it may even go viral!)

What is a Hashtag?

Hashtags look like this… A word, acronym or collection of characters preceded by (#).

The above screenshot shows one quick way, incidentally, to find out which hashtags are trending right at the moment, while you’re logged in:  By glancing over to your left-hand menu bar and checking the top hashtags that are trending, under the “Trends” window.

You can create your own hashtags.

You can follow other peoples’.

You can follow company or resource hashtags too (e.g. “#Nike”, “#freefood”).

Google+, Pinterest, Pheed, YouTube and Instagram also allow hashtags.  Pinterest and Pheed hashtags in particular, however, are not the same as Twitter hashtags, so make sure you study each network’s specific hashtag guidelines.

8 Benefits of Using Hashtags

You can use hashtags for a variety of functions – and reasons.  We’ve already mentioned narrowing the focus on who to follow, and you can create your own hashtags to serve more than one purpose too.  But before you start using them, you have to be aware of their specific benefits.  Knowing these will affect how you choose to use hashtags.

  • Grow your following and extend your reach
  • Find relevant people, companies and organizations to follow
  • Brand a product or business (e.g. “#Nike”)
  • Brand, promote, manage and track an event through its distinctive hashtag
  • Participate in Tweet Chats and Twitter Parties
  • Quickly tweet information to people (Twitter followers, forum members, subscribers, etc.) who follow your custom hashtag
  • Networking with industry or niche influencers and peers
  • Grow traffic

Creating Your Own Hashtags: 101

Creating your own hashtags is a wonderful way to brand a product, business – or a particular promotion.  (You can use your hashtag as a metrics tool, if you create one for a campaign.)

But it’s like anything else in marketing:  You need to know what not to do, and how to get the maximum effect.

Don’t…

  • Use hashtags containing more than two words (e.g. “#marketingmythsfifteentips”)
  • Create hashtags that are too quirky – unless you have a whole army of promotion tactics to spread it. (Example:  You want to create a unique identity for an event)
  • Start your tweet with numbers (e.g. “#999”). You can include numbers – but only after alpha characters (e.g. “#fuzzimals123”)
  • Overuse hashtags. Keep them for important and highly relevant use.

Do…

  • Make your hashtag short
  • Make your hashtag easy to read (e.g. “freepizza”)
  • Make your hashtag as vividly descriptive – and simple – as possible (e.g. “freepizza”)
  • Remember to use your hashtags to designate topics, subjects or categories

So how do you make a hashtag?  Simply preface any word or word combination with the “#” sign (#MyHashtag) – and share it in a tweet.

You can make your hashtags all lower-case, or use initial caps as above, to help people make visual sense of your combination hashtag.  (“#MyHashtag” is easier to read than “#myhashtag”.)

That’s the easy part.

Making your hashtags go viral is the real trick.

Making Your Hashtags Go Viral

The only way to grow traffic with your hashtags is to make sure they are shared – and more than shared.  You want them to explode on the scene like a spectacular firework and go viral.

We’ve already spoken about the importance of creating hashtags that are short, catchy, easy to read and relevant.  The real trick is to pick the right keyword(s); then pair your new hashtag with a relevant, active hashtag.  For example, if you have created “#FBbloopers”, pairing it with the existing, highly-active hashtag “#socialmedia”.

And, of course, the bigger your list, the more likely your hashtag is to be retweeted and followed.  If you don’t yet have a big list, introducing it on membership sites or forums (if allowed), as well as the above tactic of pairing it with an existing, relevant hashtag should help you get started.

Finding Good Hashtags to Follow

Following the right people via their hashtag can also help boost your own credibility (think  “credibility-by-assocation”), which can net you followers of your own.  You become part of any community built around a strong, evergreen hashtag.  But how do you find them?

In addition to simply searching via the Twitter search bar, there are even more focused ways to find hashtags to follow – especially off Twitter.

1. TweetChat – You do have to log in with your Twitter name and password. What this does is allow to focus on one hashtag, each having its own dedicated chat room.

This can save you hours of monitoring tweets you’re not interested in on Twitter by allowing you to focus just on that particular discussion/hashtag.

2. Twubs – Another strong hashtag directory, which also shows you hashtags and conversations to follow, and allows you to register your hashtags in their directory

3. Hashtag.org – allows you to analyze which hashtags are trending, allowing you to “listen, measure and engage”… as well as track!

There are many more Twitter sites and online management tools.  Pick one that feels a comfortable fits for you.

Hashtag Mistakes

Yes, you can dilute the effectiveness of hashtags – or even do the opposite of what you intended.  For example, if you load each tweet with too many hashtags, people will eventually mentally and literally skim over them without reading.  They’ll feel like “spam”.

So here’s what not to do with your Twitter hashtags, starting with the tip we just mentioned:

  • Overloading your tweets with multiple hashtags. It looks and feels aggressively spammy; it’s confusing; it’s hard to read the message you presumably wanted people to read.
  • Following hashtags that are not consistent with your brand or stated core values. Doing so is okay if you are using Twitter as personal recreation – but not if you’re using it for business purposes.

(Example:  Following “#ReallyHateSmallKids” if your business is all about selling quality toys suited for the 3—7-year-old age range to university-educated mothers in a high income bracket.)

  • Inserting popular, trending hashtags not relevant to your tweet content just to ensure your tweet is seen. The only thing does is annoy the people who are seriously follow that hashtag.
  • Going off topic while using a hashtag. Don’t get sidetracked into personal discussions that have nothing to do with the hashtag while still using it!
  • Not tracking your hashtags. Sites such has Hashtags.org often provide easy and thorough tracking tools (free or at paid levels of subscription)
  • Trying to use other special characters in your hashtags. It’s alphabetical characters only – with numerals allowed in the middle or end.

Don’t overcomplicate things. Focus your hashtag on your goal and your followers.  Make it easy to read and catchy to remember and share.

Now that you know how hashtags work, and what to do/avoid, put them to use.  Make your traffic grow.

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Use Your Words: Teaching Your Child to Communicate

Especially in the very early years, it can be difficult for your child to communicate how he (or she) is feeling. Instead of being able to use words to properly express themselves, children often do a lot of pointing and grunting. And if that doesn’t work, they proceed to throw tantrums. Tantrums might include hitting, kicking, screaming and crying.

None of these behaviors are effective, but your child doesn’t understand that. All he understands is that he wants or needs something he cannot find a way to vocalize, and he is frustrated that you cannot understand what is wrong.

Teaching your child to communicate can be beneficial at virtually any age. As soon as your toddler is old enough to know what they want, and distinguish that item from other items, he is most likely ready and willing to learn how to communicate that information to you. You are responsible for teaching your child productive means of communication instead of using his fists and teeth. This can be a daunting task, but children are built to learn.

Here are some helpful tips for teaching your child to communicate:

Listen

First and foremost, let your child know that you are listening to him. He needs to know that someone is trying to understand his needs. So when he is trying to tell you something, give him the benefit of your undivided attention. Tell him that you are listening and that you want to help him. Explain that you know he wants something; can he let you know what it is he needs?

Listen closely to the words (or partial words) that he is saying. If he is trying to say a word, but can’t quite form the syllables, try to help him out a little without pushing. For example, if he is saying “Tees! Tees!” try to think of what he might be referring to, and then ask him. “Honey, are you saying ‘Cheese’?” If he nods encouragingly, you know you are on the right track. If not, keep trying.

Speak Up

Sometimes, your child might not be willing or able to speak up and tell you what it is he wants. It is up to you to vocalize his needs for him. If he isn’t quite up to using words, instead let him rely on leading you to where the object is and pointing. Then, once you have found what it is he wants, tell him the word.

“This is a cracker. Do you want a cracker?” When he nods, hand it to him and repeat the word. If he responds by saying the word himself, reinforce that milestone with praise. Let him know how proud you are. Talking to your child in a calm and friendly yet adult voice is one of the ways your child learns language skills.

Explain and Enforce

When your child is acting out, especially in public, it can be beneficial to pull him aside and take the time to figure out what is wrong. If there is a lot going on at once, your child might simply be over-stimulated. Pulling him aside for a little one on one may help. Your example will also teach him patience.

Explain to him by bending down and talking to him eye-to-eye, in a quiet, calm voice that he needs to calm down for a minute, and then he can tell you – with his words – what is wrong. Once he is able to articulate what is wrong or what he wants, you can explain to him, patiently, that throwing a fit is not the right way to get what he wants. Instead, if he can ask nicely, he may get it.

Always use positive reinforcement. When your child is finally communicating what he wants, praise him for using his words. Teaching your child to communicate without throwing a tantrum takes time, but with a little patience, you can help your child talk through his problems.

Fat: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Not all fat is equal. There are some fats that are essential to healthy living, and some that are harmful. Telling the difference is often difficult. This article will help distinguish between good and bad fats.

Fat itself is a nutrient. It is vital to your body’s functions. Fat helps your body absorb many needed nutrients and also supplies your body with energy stores. Too much fat is harmful to your body. When you consume too much fat, your body can become overweight or obese. Eating too much fat also puts you at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.

Too little fat, however, is also harmful to your body. If you do not consume enough fat, you are just as much at risk of being unhealthy and having health problems as you are if you eat too much. Heart problems, having little to no energy, and severe vitamin deficiencies can all be risk factors of not consuming enough fat.

There are many types of fat in the foods we eat; some are good and some are bad. There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated.

Fatty acids are basically the building blocks that make up the different types of fats. Both saturated and unsaturated fats are made up of fatty acids. The difference between the two and the way they act differently in your body comes down to a molecular difference. The way the fatty acids are combined into different shapes decides whether the fat is unsaturated or saturated.

Saturated fatty acids are considered to be “bad” fats. These are the types of fats that are found in chips, greasy meats, and dairy products. Saturated fats are typically animal-derived fats such as butter and lard. Saturated fats are most commonly linked with high cholesterol and heart disease.

Unsaturated fatty acids are considered to be “good” fats. These fats are most commonly derived from plants such as vegetables and nuts. Olive oils, avocados and peanut oils all contain unsaturated fats. These types of fats can lower cholesterol and contribute to a healthier diet.

Unsaturated fats are more complex than saturated fats, and come in many forms.

Monounsaturated fats, for example, are the most preferable type of fats. These are the fats that are most typically responsible for lowering bad cholesterol and also maintaining good cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, olives and olive oil, canola oils, and nuts.

Polyunsaturated fats are also mostly good for you. They have been linked to lowering bad cholesterol, but can also lower the good cholesterol in your body when too much is consumed. Polyunsaturated fats are found in corn, sesame, and soybean oils.

Fats are important to a healthy diet and lifestyle. While you do want to stay away from unhealthy saturated fats, you should not cut all fats out of your diet. The types of fats that you consume are extremely important. Consuming a fair amount of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil and avocados, can be an important addition to your healthy lifestyle.