Advantages of Learning Musical Instruments

music_notes_stock_by_bassgeisha-d3h9mpvExposure to music is highly recommended to children. Being able to play a musical instrument has lots of advantages. Here are some of the advantages:

  1. It improves memory. Listening and playing musical instruments can help improve memory by stimulating brain development.
  2. It builds confidence. It teaches the children that they can develop themselves and be better by practicing and doing their best.
  3. It teaches perseverance. If they don’t get it the first time, they can practice again and again. They not only develop their skill, but they also practice perseverance in doing so.

There are many instruments the children can try including the tama snare drum, the guitar, the ukulele and the keyboard. Let your child try one and see if it fits him! Encourage them to try and learn while they are young.

Childhood Eye Development: Your Baby from Birth to Three Years Old

As the vision of your child develops rapidly during the first three years of their life, it’s important to know how their eyes are changing and what you should be looking out for. By understanding the various milestones over the first three years, there are a number of ways you can help your baby’s skills to progress.

0-3 Months

At the start of their life, your baby will see the world in a hue of dark patterns and lights, but during the first month, things will start to take shape for them. They’ll start to recognise faces, will make eye contact with Mum and Dad and will eventually start to reach for objects nearby. Their light sensitivity will increase and you may notice them becoming transfixed with things that interest them.

To help enhance this period, you can move their cot around frequently, giving them other things to see and focus on. Hang a mobile from their cot and talk to your baby as you walk around the room, so they have sounds they can follow. When introducing new toys to them, keep them around 8- to 12-inches away from their face so they can focus on them.

4 – 6 Months

During this stage, your baby should start to use their legs and arms and will be turning from side to side. They’ll also be developing their hand-eye coordination skills, which makes this a great time to introduce games like patty-cake to your baby. Present them with different shapes and textures too.

6 – 12 Months 

Now, your baby’s eyes are almost the same as an adult’s, providing them with equal focus in both eyes and the desire to explore. Towards the end of this stage, they should start to use both of their eyes together, increasing the precision with which they grab objects and their perception of distance.

Hide-and-seek is a great game to start playing, as is interaction with other children that they can imitate. Give them toys that have different elements to them, e.g. stackable toys, and encourage them to crawl as this will further develop their coordination.

1 – 2 Years

Hand-eye coordination should be fully developed now so keep encouraging them with interactive toys and give them the chance to play in different environments, e.g. outdoors.

2 – 3 Years

Your toddler is now full of adventure and their eyes will have nearly reached full maturity. Let them engage in all of their favourite games while encouraging them to read, draw and paint so as to prepare them for the next stages of their life.

Warning Signs

Should you have any concerns over the health of your child’s eyes, you should seek the professional advice of an ophthalmologist, (i.e. someone who offers laser eye surgery in the UK), as these first few years are critical to their progress.

There are a number of warning signs that should be looked out for, these include: crossed eyes, shaking of the eyes and tearing excessively. If there are any eye problems in the family, this should also be noted, as should any irritation to the eye(s), drooping eyelids or over-sensitivity to light.

Lara Hall has a medical background but is currently on maternity leave preparing for her princess to arrive. She is spending her time writing articles and adding last minute cute additions to the nursery!

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How to Help Your Kids Practice for Their Practical Driving Test

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Practical driving tests are really stressful for kids and their parents. Everyone wants their child to pass first time (including them), but all too often, kids end up losing their nerve and making painfully silly mistakes on the day. It only takes a few mistakes to lead to a ‘fail’, which is disappointing for the candidate and their family.

Practice is the key to passing first time. It will probably take your child many hours of practice before he is ready to take his test, but all kids are different. Some teens are confident enough to book a test after only 20 hours of professional tuition whereas others need a lot more. Whichever camp your child falls into, taking them out for practice sessions in your neighbourhood will definitely help, so here are a few tips to ensure things run as smoothly as possible.

Is Your Car Legal?

You can’t take a learner driver out without having the right insurance in place. Never assume that your insurance policy covers your child, as it most likely won’t. You will need to pay extra to include a learner driver on your insurance, but it might not be as expensive as you think so call for a quote.

You will also need to stick L plates on the car. These are readily available from auto stores or online retailers such as Amazon.

Lastly, you must be aged 21 or above and have held a full UK driving licence for a minimum of three years to be able to sit with a learner driver.

Be a Patient Supervisor

There is no point offering to take your child out for a practice session if you spend the entire time shouting at them. This won’t benefit either of you and is quite likely to lead to a major falling out. Try and stay patient at all times, even if your child makes a few silly mistakes. If you do have to criticise their driving, at least make sure your criticism is constructive. For example, instead of screaming “slow down!” calmly ask them to put their foot on the brake. This should elicit a more favourable response.

Choose the Right Practice Routes

Until you are reasonably confident your child is a competent driver, stick to quiet roads where there are few hazards to deal with. Let them build their confidence (and yours) along routes free from complex intersections and multiple lanes of traffic. Later on, when their skills have improved, you can start taking them around the test routes.

Drive at Different Times of the Day

If we only ever needed to drive in daylight when the sun was shining, accident rates would fall dramatically. Unfortunately, most of us have to drive at all times of the day and night, and in varying conditions. To mimic this, go out at different times for your practice sessions.

Your child will need to pass his theory test before he is allowed to book a practical driving test. He can take try a few practice tests at

Reasons Pets Are Great For Kids

Everybody loves the family pet, seeing it as a source of entertainment and fun. But do you know that having a pet can also benefit a child’s development in significant ways? Research has consistently shown that children with pets have some serious advantages when it comes to acquiring important life skills over their counterparts. Here are some of the most important of these effects.

They Learn to Socialize

2494974941_3e115fc42fImage via Flickr by sneakerdog

Social situations are often fraught with anxiety for children, who have yet to learn the rules of etiquette and society that guide adult interaction. While obviously the best way for children to learn to socialize is with other people, particularly children of the same age, pets can play a positive role in this process. Pets have needs and wants just like people, and learning to understand what behaviors indicate those needs and wants lets kids practice the difficult process of decoding social cues and empathizing with other living things.

They Learn to be Physically Active

Many pets love physical activity, be it running around a yard or rolling around a living room in a ball. By encouraging your kids to play along with the animals, you can instill in them a lifelong commitment to physical activity that will help them stay in shape later in life. Although we tend to think of physical fitness as mostly involving workouts and strenuous activity, it also includes simply not being sedentary, and relatively low-impact exercise like walking the family dog around the block can help keep your kids from turning into couch potatoes.

They Learn to Care for a Living Creature

All kids benefit from learning to care for a living thing; after all, many of them will have kids of their own one day. Experience gained from raising a pet can teach them about caring for a creature that relies on you for its well-being. Involve your kids in the day-to-day care of the pet, through assigning chores like feeding the animal or taking it for a walk. It’s also a good idea to involve them in the process of larger-picture pet care, such as getting the advice of a vet through a service like Kuddly, or planning a diet.

They Learn a Routine

Another positive effect of involving your kids in the pet’s daily routine is that it helps them learn to plan. Kids aren’t born able to manage time and set a schedule; they have to gain those skills through practice. The distance from their own lives intrinsic to pet care can let kids separate themselves from the picture and approach the job logically, though not dispassionately. Setting times for specific pet care routines and creating schedules for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks helps kids see how time management works on different timeframes.

Of course, the main reason to have a family pet is to expand the family and bring more love into your home. At the same time, there are some very practical arguments as to why you should do so. Think over what kind of pet would work best with your family’s lifestyle, and bring home a new family member. One day, your kids will thank you.

Before You Board: Sanity Saving Strategies for Preparing for Your Flight


Vroom. You’re about to get on a plane. You know the feeling. The jitterbugs that creep up from your stomach. That nagging feeling that you forgot something, but you can’t remember what it is.

What you need is a simple checklist.


You know that you’re going somewhere, and you know where that somewhere is. So, spend some time researching it – like local laws and customs (if you’re traveling out of the country). If it’s domestic travel, you still want to get a lay of the land. Use Google Maps’ street view to see the area where you’ll be staying.

Get familiar with the roads near your hotel. Check out local restaurants and menus so you can get a feel for the food there. Hop on a travel forum or on City-Data and ask locals about the area. What do you need to bring? Where are the local hot spots? Where are the tourist traps?

Plan It Out

Time to buy your travel tickets. Do this at least 3 weeks out. More lead time is better than less. If you can, try to buy a plane ticket on a Tuesday when prices tend to come down a bit.

If you’re driving, prep your vehicle by getting some basic maintenance done. Or, research and book a vehicle for the trip from your favorite rental place.

Have Passport, IDs and Visas at The Ready

You have to get pictures done, fill out an application, and pay the fees for your passport. If you’re leaving the country, you can’t really travel without one. And, make sure you have any visas you need for travel too, along with a government-issued ID.

Get Travel Insurance

Just do it. It’s not a scam. Lots of people won’t buy travel insurance and their trip turns out fine. They then conclude that travel insurance is a scam. It’s not. It’s insurance. If you’re on a trip somewhere and something happens, it will probably be catastrophic because you’re away from home and cut off from your local network of friends and family. This is why people buy travel insurance – so they can get an emergency lift out of a strange country, get traveler’s checks replaced if they’re lost or stolen, and get comped for lost luggage.

Get Immunizations

This is super-duper important if you’re visiting a third-world country or a place where there’s an outbreak of a weird disease that you’ve never been exposed to. In the U.S., and most other western countries, we have clean water and different sanitation standards. Because of that, we’re not exposed to the same kinds of bacteria and viruses that other people in other countries are.

If you’re visiting some places in Africa, for example, there’s a real chance you could get yellow fever – something that’s been eradicated in the west. Or, ebola. You don’t want that.

So, make sure you check out the place you’re traveling to, and get all your immunizations.

Get Prescriptions

Don’t assume the country you’re visiting has the drugs you need. They may not. Fill your prescriptions before you leave so you’ll have them.

Prepare Your Home for a Vacation

Call friends and family and let them know where you’ll be. Either hire someone, or have a trusted friend watch the house, take care of your dogs, or do whatever needs to be done.


Here’s where things get tricky. You want to pack smart, bring luggage bags (get ones that are sturdy, like from Bed Bath & Beyond), or a rolling garment bag if you’re packing suits. Pack the usual – clothes for the trip, toiletries, a wool blanket, and tissues.

Bring some non-perishable food and snacks just in case you’re hungry and can’t find a place to eat.

Bring a basic first-aid kit with you if you can stuff it into your luggage. You’re in a strange place, and won’t know everything about the hospital situation or what’s available at local drug stores. Finally, bring an emergency cell phone with International prepaid minutes.

Molly Powell enjoys writing articles when not running around after her daughters! She writes about all aspects of family life from parenting to decor to travel related articles.

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