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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 15, 2006 / 17 Shevat, 5766

Today's toys: Where learning means earning

By Malcolm Fleschner


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As a typical modern, nurturing parent, I understand the importance of giving my two preschool age children every possible opportunity for growth and education (by which I mean: toys). Sure, there was a time — right around the development of the wheel — when toys were just supposed to keep kids occupied while their parents were busy hunting woolly mammoth.


But that was then. Nowadays we're more enlightened and recognize that toys are, at least according to the packaging, "Critical Learning Tools" that have been "Scientifically Designed" to help kids develop "Key Cognitive Skills" and as a result are "Not Exactly Cheap."


For example, this past Christmas my 2-year-old son Dashiell received a highly educational toy called "Fridge Phonics." This item features 26 plastic letter magnets that, when placed on the refrigerator in another magnet with a speaker, play songs about the sounds the letters make (or at least I think that's what it does). Frankly, Dashiell has more fun scattering the letters all over the kitchen floor, but this toy has nevertheless proven beneficial to his language acquisition, if only because of all the colorful expressions he gets to hear whenever Dad slips on one of the magnets and cracks his head on the countertop.


Call me old-fashioned (or just old), but when I was a kid, toys didn't have such a lofty agenda. It's not as if G.I. Joe aimed to teach you a few phrases of conversational Mandarin Chinese while also featuring Kung Fu Grip. Today, of course, marketers would put a whole new spin on the merits of some of my childhood's biggest time-wasters. They'd refer to the popular game Operation as "The wacky doctor game that also teaches your children how to perform complicated surgery!" The kid at the end of the well-known Connect Four commercial might say, "Pretty sneaky, sis, and educational too!"


Don't get me wrong. We did learn a lot from our toys back then. But, typically, we had to take the lead in turning them into educational tools. I fondly remember whiling away many childhood hours conducting such impromptu science experiments as "What's Inside That Makes Him So Elastic?" or "Stretch Armstrong Meets a Pair of Hedge Clippers" and "Are Army Men Flame Retardant?" (turned out that a cigarette lighter and some gas siphoned from the lawnmower reveal the surprising answer). Back then, all we needed for a quality, toy-based educational experience was a vivid imagination and a dismaying lack of parental supervision.


The latest educational craze to hit the marketplace is baby videos. Companies have discovered that, when shown to young children, these videos have proven remarkably effective at creating something magical: profits. But do the videos have legitimate educational value? Well, a big company suggesting that you prop your precious infant in front of a TV screen for hours on end would need pretty strong evidence to support their claims, right? Well, not exactly. It turns out that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children watch no television at all prior to age 2.


But what do a bunch of pointy-headed doctors know, anyway? It's more important to recognize that, by watching these videos, even the youngest children will get an early start on developing a critical life skill: the vacant stare they'll need to sit through the untold number of geometry classes, church services, business meetings and aircraft safety lectures that the future holds in store for them.


Just to be safe, I'm not letting my kids watch any of these videos. But that doesn't mean no TV. Instead, I've decided to monitor their viewing habits myself and offer instructive comments to guarantee that the experience is also educational.


"No, sweetie. Look at the replay. You see how the quarterback's hand is moving forward when the ball comes loose? That means it's not a fumble. So what is it? No, not a lateral; it's an incomplete pass. Come on, pay attention! This is important!"


Ultimately, of course, what matters most is that children develop a love of learning. That's something that will undoubtedly last the rest of their lives, which is more than you can say about even the most educational of toys — particularly if there's a lighter anywhere in the house.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Malcolm Fleschner is a humor columnist for The DC Examiner. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

© 2006, Malcolm Fleschner

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