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International Day of Happiness!
NEW!

March 20 is the International Day of Happiness! Start off by watching this great rendition of the Pharrell Williams song "Happy" and spend your entire day in a great mood! Spread the word and make sure everyone you meet experiences your positivity!







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100 Happy Days! (February 14, 2014)



As you may have noticed, I have started a project entitled '100 Happy Days!'. This project was not started by this website (the link to the original site can be accessed when you click on the picture below) but I have taken it up, using an educational focus. This means that each day, I will provide a picture that focuses on education and events/reports that show positive developments in education or for children in global society more generally.






Check back on this website every day to see a new picture and in 100 days, there will be the same number of positive stories that should show how education is developing around the world! I hope that you enjoy these as much as I had fun creating it - it was really good for the soul and helped me smile everyday thinking of the impact that the events had on the young generation in the world today! You can find the link here. Let me know what you think!



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Free e-Book Giveaway!!! (January 8, 2014)


Education Not Just 9 Until 3 is giving away free copies of its latest e-Book! This is a collection of a selection of previously uploaded activities for kids, as well as a host of new ones that have yet to be released! To get your hands on a free copy, simply contact using the form and provide an email address! Feedback would be greatly appreciated!







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Christmas Time (December 19, 2013)


Hello! As always, I must start with an apology for my lack of communication over the past few months! It has been a busy time while also playing with the idea of publishing the activities in book format. However, the focus is now back on the website and I wanted to begin this blog with a remark about Christmas. I am a great believer in the use of technology (as highlighted in the activities on this website). However, I was sat thinking the other day that technology is such a big part of our lives now that we often do not indulge in pre-technology activities. I think that maybe society as a whole is rethinking its constant use of technology and that this is possibly why shows such as Downton Abbey, (set in a time before technology) are now so popular!

This assessment made me think of the need to re-introduce activities this christmas that focus on communication and do not use technology. I must admit that initially, I struggled to think of a large number of activities but then I stumbled across the BBC's 'Victorian Christmas' page. This is a great throwback to an era in which homemade craft was vital and it provides the major focus for this blog. Click the link below to see the great activities that have been created by the BBC.




The activities listed here are still relevant and very enjoyable. The creation of items such as christmas crackers can also be used during the holiday and could save you money!!! Anyway, these are just a thought but introduced because although technology is a fantastic development in society, occasionally it is fun to return to a period in which it was not so dominant!

Finally, as it is christmas time, spare a thought for those that are less fortunate that you. Make sure you remember the true meaning of christmas and make an extra special effort to be kind to all that you meet! Speak to you in 2014!



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Summer Vacation (August 9, 2013)


First it is important to apologise for the lack of posts recently in the blog. Unlike most readers of the blog, I have not been busy with kids during the summer holidays but as is custom in Canada, the summer months are super busy with weddings, fun weekends away in rural areas surrounded ny nature and other reasons that have prevented any form of blog from being written until now! Anyway, I wanted to write a really quick blog about summer vacations / holidays! I know that adults always look back on their school holidays through rose-tinted glasses and reminisce about days gone by, the wonderful activities that were thought up and the fact that technology was not needed or wanted in those golden days! This is true for most adults and it is important to remember that kids these days are still the same kids that we were twenty years ago (or longer!) While many children do like spending time watching television or playing on a games console / smartphone, it is also vital to recognise that these same children also jump at the chance of going outside into nature and exploring the world around them!

This blog entry highlights that it is crucial to take kids outside and explore physical activities with them, whether it be fishing in the local pond, playing sport or even simply playing games such as manhunt in the local park. When I think back to the summer holidays that I really enjoyed as a child, it was not those days that I spent playing on the games console (in my day it was the SNES and N64 - showing my age here slightly) but it was those days that friends of mine and I went off on long, random bike rides or decided to play army in the field near to the house. Click on the link below for some awesome outdoor activities to try during summer!



What I am trying to get across in this blog is that the summer holidays should be a time when kids explore the environment around them. There is plenty of time for them to stay indoors and play video games and watch television in the months that lead up to winter but for now, make sure that they get off the couch and take in nature! If you have to, go with them! I am sure that you will re-discover a lust for life outside of the home. The link above provides a number of possible activities (check out real life Angry Birds!) that can be undertaken to increase the enjoyment of being outdoors and it will help create memories that will last for a life time! Even if your child is not grateful immediately, when they are my age, they will look back on this time and smile - trust me!



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Winning the Lottery of Life (July 3, 2013)


This week's blog entry has been written for a number of different reasons but mainly because I want to highlight how lucky we are to live in our particular society. Whether you live in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada or another developed nation around the world, the vast majority of us have truly been blessed. This is not to say that every aspect of our society is perfect (far from it) but when looked at relatively, we are far better off than the majority of the global population. Read this blog and feel free to argue against the opinion provided but I wanted to underline why it is that we have well and truly 'won the lottery of life'.

There are serious concerns in developed society about the systems of education that are provided to children and adolescents alike. There still exist huge gaps between the quality of education given to students in private schools as opposed to state schools, difficulties in attaining full inclusion, staffing issues and the lack of progress made in the teaching of technology. These are all important and remain key concerns as we move forward in the twenty-first century. HOWEVER, these issues pale in comparison when placed alongside social and educational issues in the developing world. The resources and nature of the educational system available to all children in developed nations is far superior to that of those children in developing countries that are beset by problems of mass starvation, widespread poverty, gender inequalities, civil war, the spread of disease.. the list goes on. The video below is one from 2010 and is another TED Talk. As a side note, this website and institution more generally is fantastic and deserves being explored if you ever have time.



Sheryl WuDunn's speech on the gender inequality in the developing world is eye-opening to say the least. I know what you are thinking, using a talk from 2010 is hardly a ground-breaking blogging technique! BUT, the speech is as prevalent now as it was back in 2010 and that is why it has been embedded into this blog. It is also a fascinating insight into gender inequality around the world and helps to reflect why we are so lucky in developed society. This video was one of many that could have been embedded and only highlights one issue (albeit a major one) that currently plagues global society. The point is that through these difficulties associated with developing society, it is important for us to realise that here in our own society, we have been blessed with a relatively safe and secure lifestyle. This point needs to be understood by all adults but parents in particular.

The main point of this blog is that we in developed society should never take for granted the opportunities afforded to us. The speech by WuDunn finishes by stating that 'with that great fortune, comes great responsibility.' With this view in mind, it is vital that parents take all opportunities available to them and their child to help with cultural understanding and a realisation that we are the lucky ones in life. Therefore, our lives should be used to help make others achieve the same security and opportunities that we have been blessed with. This is not to say that we all need to go out and join the peacecorps but it does express the opinion that we should make the most of our lives. Moreover, children should be encouraged to become upstanding members of the community and society at large, making positive contributions to the local, regional, national and international communities.

The ability to achieve this starts with parents. Teaching children to be culturally aware and sensitive to others needs is a key part of this holistic development. Furthermore, parents need to encourage their children to make a difference on society regardless of their gender. It is only through this social development that those in developing nations are likely to realise their goals of security and stability, two aspects of our society that we should never take for granted!



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Are Children Active Enough? (June 20, 2013)

This week the blog follows on from the previous entry on healthy eating. The concept of physical activity and how important it is for children is one that is very close to my heart. I spent my youth growing up playing football, (both organized and as a fun activity with friends), participating in the sport whenever I could and often playing until it was far too dark to see properly. Looking back now, I realize that this was because football was a passion of mine (it still is as I play three times a week currently) but I never understood how important it was to participate in physical activity until I started teaching.

As a child, you play sport or exercise because it is enjoyable or because you want to fit in. However, what you do not necessarily realize is how good it is for you and your overall development, nor are you likely to understand as a 7 year old, even when it is explained to you. This is where the role of the parent comes in. The previous blog underlined how society has become more obese and the reduction in exercise of the average individual goes hand in hand with this. When looking at statistics for Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, 31%, 33% and 31% of children respectively are overweight or obese (2010-2012 studies) and the numbers are rising! Therefore, it is crucial that parents encourage their children to participate in physical activity and this could even lead to a change in lifestyle for the parent. The video below provides information about active play and highlights how children can benefit from being physical, developing social and emotional skills. It also shows that being active is not necessarily confined to playing a sport and gives tips about activities that can been done at home.



An article written by the American Heart Association (AHA) provides a host of reasons as to why children should be encouraged to participate in sport. From personal experience, I can give an example of how important sport has become to my oldest nephew. His love for playing tennis has developed over the past few years and it has aided him not only through regular exercise but also through social and emotional development. Playing competitively, he has learnt to communicate with his peers, develop discipline and has begun to learn how to deal with losing and winning in equal measure.

The AHA article provides key reasons for taking part in regular exercise as a child. Their study stresses that those children that are inactive are often likely to become inactive adults and this could lead to weight problems, raised blood pressure and increased risks of diabetes and certain forms of cancer. I am not saying that each child needs to suddenly develop a passion for a particular sport or spend all hours of the day exercising. The AHA recommends that children older than 2 should take part in 60 minutes each day of physical activities that are moderately intense in their output. This could be through an organized 1-hour activity (swimming or other sports clubs) or it could be 60 minutes broken up into smaller chunks, such as playing football or playing in a park for 15 minutes on your way home from school.

The opportunities are endless but it seems that not enough children are taking part in exercise on a daily basis. The hours spent watching television or playing video games need to be reduced and children need to be encouraged to partake in a physical activity every day. Otherwise, the global trend of rising obesity rates in children will continue to rise, with children also missing out on the social and psychological benefits of exercise that could stand them in an advanced position as they develop into adulthood. Communities as a whole need to take a stand against the rise of obesity in children but parents must also be proactive. Simple steps include reducing the amount of fatty food that you consume each week, perhaps walking to and from school instead of driving if possible and encouraging your child to take part in physical exercise!



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A Healthy Future? (June 12, 2013)


Welcome to the first of many blogs from Education Not Just 9 Until 3! This addition to the website has been long in the making, mainly because I was not quite sure of the type of content that should belong in this section. After having the website up for a few months, it is clear that parents are enjoying the activities posted in the activities section. However, the feedback from parents has been that they wish to know about wider issues and so this blog section is not always necessarily linked to the activities on the website.

This first blog discusses a key issue in modern society. I know that the TED talk below by Jamie Oliver was first released in 2010 and that I may be a little late to the party but it is a fundamental discussion that needs to be brought up and is as valid today as it was three years ago. His video is interesting for a number of reasons. First, the statistics that he throws out such as the fact that 66% of Americans are overweight and obese are shocking and even more so, the clip from the elementary school shows that children do not even know the names of common vegetables!




While watching this, I thought of the obesity problems in the United Kingdom and around the world. I have been lucky enough to travel the world. I have lived in South East Asia in a society that has a relatively low number of obese people in the population. The differences between the two food cultures of countries such as Thailand and that of the UK and the US are striking. The majority of meals cooked and eaten in Thailand are home cooked with fresh ingredients as opposed to the meals consumed in developed countries. It is apparent that the fast food culture has impacted negatively upon society. It should also be acknowledged that this is spreading to countries that have traditionally had low rates of obesity.

The use of the video in this blog is to highlight the importance of improving healthy eating in the home. This is not a blog that demands great change, expecting those who have never cooked to begin making all of their meals from now on. BUT, it is important for people (whether parents, couples or single people) to begin to eat in a more health-conscious manner. It is ironic that in the age of the Internet, levels of obesity are raising in society. Using a Google search, healthy menus and food options are so accessible and it can be so easy to prevent obesity, but it must start at an early age. Children need to be taught about healthy eating, the importance of fruit and vegetables and should not become dependent on fast food as they grow up. In conjunction with this, it is crucial for children to become involved in exercise over the course of the school week. This will form the content of the next blog entry though so I will keep you all informed of this!

(Click here for our Fantastical Foods activity designed to help children get used to cooking in the kitchen!)

The crazy thing about this current problem in society is that it is easily preventable. Jamie Oliver highlights the importance of key life skills (cooking basic, quick and cheap meals) and it should be known that healthy eating is not an unachievable or unrealistic aim. It is an aim that is easy to engage with. This type of change really could help save and prolong lives and could help to reduce health problems for you and your children as you develop!



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