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My Theories

Through the course of my one year experience with my son, I have developed several theories such as the 4N and Power of No to better help me raise my son.
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Barack Levin

Author: Barack Levin

Life without TV and Video Games

Posted by Barack Levin on 9th January 2012

Many parents keep asking me:

“Barack, you always preach how TV and video games are so bad for our kids, but if I take them away what can I do with my kids”

My answer to them is composed on a list of various activities:

Cook with your kids, teach them how to play a musical instrument, teach them a second language, have them do some art projects, experiment with some woodwork project, teach them a third language, let them read, have them ride their roller blades, let them work in the yard, ask them to help with the laundry, tell them to write a story, let them take the dog for a walk, let them write a song and perform, ask them to clean their rooms, have them ride teir bikes, tell them to set the dinner table, show them how to clean the house and more and more. This is only a partial list of course.

Once I show this list to parents I always get the same answer:

“Barack, this is impossible. No kid can ever have such a to do list. They will never follow it and will never complete it. And your crazy idea about a second and a third language is ridiculous. It is simply unfeasible. “

I reply back with a smile:

“Not only that it is feasible, I have 2 kids who are already doing it – my two own kids”

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Playing with Nails

Posted by Barack Levin on 9th December 2009

Today we were playing in my daughter’s room, just goofing around. She and her brother like to wrestle with me. They jump, kick, climb and slide all over me. It is one of my great pleasures to play rough with them and they always come for more. After about an hour of wrestling, and after they exhausted all of their energy (and I was sweating buckets of sweat), we decided to calm down and play a game. My little girl went to the shelves and took out a game we have not played with for a long time.

The concept of the game is quite simple; take two dimensional shapes (circle, triangle, rectangular etc) lay them on a cork board and combine them into complicated shapes such as a plane, boat, rocket and more. But the concept of the game is not the reason for this post. It is the way these shapes are attached to the cork board which caused me to do some heavy thinking. In the middle of every shape there is a small radius hole into which the child needs to slide a nail with a large head (so that the nail would not slide through the hole), use a small hammer to drive the nail into the cork board. The nail holds the shape on the board.

I started thinking about this because I remembered that my kids got this game when they were two years old. That mean that already at that age, they were exposed to sharp small object that could potentially be inhaled or cause some serious injury. When I got the game the thought that something like this might happen, never even crossed my mind, and it never did so not because I am negligence father, but because I knew (as well as I know today), that it is enough for me to explain to my kids what is dangerous and what can or can not be done with these nails and leave them all alone in the room with this game to play with, knowing for certain that nothing out of the ordinary will happen.

I was remembering all of this because it just dawned on me, that kids can become very responsible and understand what is said to them even at the very early age of two years old.

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Crazy Glue

Posted by Barack Levin on 23rd November 2009

In my previous post I discussed how my son and I started building a model plane from a kit. We are advancing. This project is really not for my personality. There are so many small parts that only the Hubble telescope can locate them. But my son is having a blast and that’s all that matters. He is doing about 70% of the work. He reads the instructions, locate the parts by their numbers, detach them from their tray and glues them together. I am there for some help and support.

When we started the project we used regular white glue but shortly after we ran into a problem. Firstly it would take forever for the glue to dry which would slow down the process and secondly when the glue dries it always leave some residue on the parts and they look kind of dirty. I remembered that we had some crazy glue in the house and decided to give it a try.

My son, who is only 5.5 years old, never used crazy glue before but I was determined that he would handle the glue, apply it to the parts and continue just as before. I showed him how to use the new glue and off we go. First obstacle – my son got some glue on his fingers and when he touched his other finger they stuck together. He was somewhat perplexed and surprised. I told him to detach the 2 fingers and wash his hands. From there on, every time he felt some glue was still on his fingers he either washed it off, or simply let it dry up on his finger. The second obstacle came about with the small parts. As soon as he applied the glue and held them, they stuck to his finger. I had to teach him to put a very small drop and if the part stuck to his finger, to take it out and rinse the finger or let the glue dried.

Once we tackled these problems, work on the plane resumed as before. My son has now become an expert working with te crazy glue and enjoys seeing his plane taking shape.

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Model Plane

Posted by Barack Levin on 10th November 2009

My little boy is a little engineer. He likes to build, analyze structures and overall delve in the mechanic of things. For example, when we go to the fun fair, when he is on a ride he looks not at us or his friends, he is looking at the device that makes the ride go and tries to figure out its functionality. My little boy, who is only 5.5 years old, is also very good with hands. His drawings are very neat, he likes to construct things and he loves to take things apart and find out how they work.

I, on the other hand, am exactly the opposite. I have 2 left hands and the peak of my home improving triumph is changing a light bulb. Since I do not want my kids to grow like me I am taking the necessary steps to educate them as much as I can about things that I do not like even to do.

As winter approaches, I need to find some activities for my kids and decided to go ahead and buy a model plane for my son. We went together to the store and he picked a cool jet plane. We put it on the table and I told him we will start the next day. The next morning, as soon as he opened his eyes, he jumped out of bed and said: “Dad, can we build the plane?”. “You need to go to school”, I said, “when you come back we can start”. Later on that day I picked him up from school the first words out of his mouth were: “Can we build the plane?”. I was extremely sick that week and unfortunately had to disappoint my kid for several days but as I got better we got to the task at hand.

He took out all the parts, took the instruction booklet and started trying to figure out what to do. At first I helped him understand the concept that each part is numbered and he needs to find the right parts by their numbers. Next step was to show him how to release the parts from their trays without breaking them. The third step was to check the instructions on how to attach the different parts together and the last step was to glue them.

He was and still is having so much fun building the plane and I do my best not to get frustrated with all the small little parts and my clumsy uncoordinated hands.

As we are building our plane I was thinking on how this activity is better than any TV show or computer game. It helps my boy further develop his fine motor skills, it helps him with math and numbers, it helps with grasping 3D objects and their relations to each other, when the plane is done, it will help his self esteem, it helps in reading and following instructions and above all, it deepens the bond between a father and his son.

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