Avoiding the Social Media Trap

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A couple of weeks ago, I did an Instagram giveaway for one of my handmades.

So I just went through the motion of asking people to share my post on Instagram, so as to qualify for an entry in the giveaway. Coupled with the requirement of being a follower of my Instagram feeds. One of the Instagram accounts that I am connected to recently did a giveaway, so I blindly followed suit thinking it will be nice to have more followers.

Right after the giveaway winners were drawn, items mailed out to the winners. Then it dawned on me.

Why will I need more followers?

I have never planned to monetize this blog, so having more followers on my social media channels or readers to this blog don’t make a difference. In fact, from last year, I have ceased taking on product or service reviews and I have been turning down invitations for any launch or event.

So why have I stopped doing reviews or to cover activities that benefit my child or the family?

I am embarking on an effort to simplify my family life. You can say that I am depriving my child of being exposed to ‘new and fun experiences’, but I am leading the way for him to learn that joy and contentment doesn’t just come from external stimulation or experiences, but true contentment and joy comes from Who we are spending time with, and NOT What we are seeking it from.

The other reason is, I do not wish to participate in any form of activity that measures this blog or the ‘performance’ of my social media channels.

As a blogger, I think it’s all too easy to fall into this social media trap, where most look to our blogging metrics to define our self-worth in terms of what we think we have accomplished in the blogging world; though our blogging reach, social media followers, or from awards.

The recent reported spat between 2 popular lifestyle bloggers was a good example. So what does it mean to be a ‘top blogger’? If we look beyond the nice-to-haves; being paid to blog or not having to fork out money for some things. Popularity from the blog, or any form of success that we see from our pursuits, do tend to feed the ego.

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I think this quote by Henri Nouwen puts it very aptly, how our ego can be our greatest enemy;

When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us. And we are important because someone considers us indispensable. In short, we are worthwhile because we have successes. And the more we allow our accomplishments — the results of our actions — to become the criteria of our self-esteem, the more we are going to walk on our mental and spiritual toes, never sure if we will be able to live up to the expectations which we created by our last successes. In many people’s lives, there is a nearly diabolic chain in which their anxieties grow according to their successes. This dark power has driven many of the greatest artists into self-destruction. – Henri Nouwen

 

I realized that as we age, we have less and less opportunities to experience the feeling of success from what we do, and social media can often give the instant gratification and re-create the feeling of success. It’s the same kind of feeling that we get from positive evaluation of good results, thank you-s from others, or having a popular blog. This immediate feedback of LIKES, Shares and hits on the blog and social media posts, not only gives a value to what we do online, but eventually who we are.

So what does it mean after saying these things?

I think metrics are good indicators of how we are performing on a certain task, in this case, blogging or interaction on social media. However, these metrics or the popularity of your blog or following can’t be the focus of your self-worth or success.

Our self-worth, is shaped by the mundane things that we do, the daily decisions that we make as a mom, wife, daughter, sister and a friend. Getting approval from others from what we write on a blog or through social media, isn’t going to provide us with a sudden revelation of self-discovery.

Self-worth is formed through the slow prodding journey that we take towards being a person of value.

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As for what this means for my blogging journey?

I will continue write about what I am able to see beyond what’s right in front of me, finding meaning and faith to this thing called life.

I will still do giveaways on this blog, on Facebook or Instagram. But the focus will be through sharing  ideas, joy and hope with others, or simply just giving away what I have hand-made or things that I like.

So even if it is just 5 or 50 people reading this blog, I am encouraged to keep on writing in this space.

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Do Art with your Child – Tips and Giveaways!

The last time I was exposed to any form of art training was in Secondary School. With a teacher teaching art to a class of 30+ other classmates, there was hardly any art techniques that I could learn effectively. All I recalled from my past art learning was that I detested doing Still Art.

So when K turned 2 years old, I was determined to expose him to as many art experiences during home-learning.

Open-ended art were the first experiences in art that got him to try. There were no set ways to create something, these art experiences were just focused on new art mediums that supported his self-expression. Having an empty canvas and tools to create anything he wanted, was rather engaging for a child below 4 years old.

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Nonetheless, open-ended art experiences can get rather haphazard and it often ends up to be just an exploration of art materials for the child.

It is good to provide opportunities to explore art materials and tools, but when a child approaches 3-5 years old, parents need to start thinking about how they can seamlessly expand ideas to foster the child’s mental development through open-ended art experiences.

Here are some methods I have used to maximize learning during open-ended art experiences;

1. Ask open-ended questions and prompts, “Tell me about what  you have drawn?”

2. Make objective observations about the process to the picture, “I like how you have used yellow for the tree and how it blends into the green color,” instead of “I like your picture.”

3. Encourage the integration of language and writing, by encouraging a dictation of the child’s story behind the art creation. Often children will have their own stories and will want to expand on their art piece as ideas start to develop further.

4. Write a verbatim of the child’s explanation of his creation, either behind the art piece or a separate piece of paper. Eventually the child will be encouraged to model this behavior and want to start writing their own stories and creations.

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Here’s how I managed to incorporate language into an Open-ended Art experience with K when he was 5 years old.

There are many advantages to open-ended art experiences, as it can give the child opportunities to expand basic concepts, use problem solving skills and language expression. It also fosters mental development, as he expresses his feelings, thoughts and ideas that he wants to communicate. The child will strengthen his ability to observe, imagine and create with open-ended art experiences.

  How about Structured art experiences?

Some art educators frown upon structured art lessons for children below 7, as they feel that structured art stifles a child creativity. But I think that children can be exposed to both structured art and open-ended art experiences from 4 years old onwards.

Structured art is more product oriented, as it is useful to cement the ideas learnt from the process, may even come in the form of doing craft that is related to a theme that the child is learning. Or a set process for the child to learn a particular art technique.

I did not have any proper form of art training before doing structured art with K, but learning from books like Maryann F. Kohl, Mona Brookes, doing read-alouds with K using the Katie series of books were pivotal to encourage art appreciation and instrumental to introduce Open-ended and Structure-Art experiences during Home-learning sessions.

Here’s an example of a Structured Art Home-Learning experience I had with my son, that incorporated an open-ended outcome.

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Effective Art Home-Learning experiences will give children the opportunity to connect to other curriculum areas, while focusing on creative thinking and problem solving. Modelling technique are necessary to guide and empower the child through the creative process, as most children might be overwhelmed by a new concept or new art materials and not know where or how to begin.

Remember to focus on the process and not the final product!

Children s Art Books 7 Have you tried art experiences at home with your child? And what are your favorite mediums (craft, paint, color pencils, pastels etc)?

 

Giveaways for Catch-Fortywinks readers! 

To help readers of this blog guide your children along on their Art Home-Learning experiences, I will be giving away 4 sets of art-learning books.

All you need to do is to answer the above question, leave your children/s age in the comment, and I will be doing a random pick for 4 winners. Don’t forget to leave your email address when filling up the details of the comment form, so that I can drop you an email if you have won any of these books.

Giveaway closes 31st July 2014.

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For other Home-Learning tips and ideas, view article links from this page

The Giveaway Winners are;

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Why should parents care about the Maker Movement?

With the Rainbow Loom trend taking off locally, and hearing that some mums are organizing Rainbow Loom parties for their kids, it is a good indication that Singaporeans are warming up to the idea that ‘I can actually make stuff!’

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Yes, there is more to life than our National Library banning books, lack of places in Primary school and the focus on our children’s academic achievements .

And why should parents care about the Maker Movement?

If you have noticed in the last 10 years, having aspirations like doctors, lawyers or even bankers just will not cut it anymore. Besides we can’t have too many of these.  We need more than just people who can save lives, fight for rights, or invest money for the well-to-do.

People who can invent, create, modify, hack, tinker, craft or just simply make, is more creative and productive than a group of people who refuse to make anything but plenty of noise.

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This is not a new idea, since artists have been doing it for thousands of years. But with technology and the internet, this movement have been transformed into a community activity.

 

What is the Maker Movement About?

The fundamental motivations of the Maker Movement stems from human needs of being creative and purposeful.

To be fully human is to reflect God’s creative, spiritual, communicative, relational, moral and purposeful capacities. But don’t confuse being created in God’s image to being God.

We are creative, even though many of us don’t think so.

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If we never get to expose our children to their creative and purposeful capacities, how much of their potential is being unrealized?

 

How does a parent introduce the Maker Movement at home?

Instead of running out to buy the next construction building toy (i.e., Lego), play dough set, download Minecraft on your mobile phones, buy an expensive 3D printer or buy the Rainbow Loom, if you haven’t got one yet.

The Maker Culture can span from traditional art and crafts, cooking to technology (e.g., building robots with LED lights or designing a new avatar).  Introducing the Maker Movement is a better alternative to the iPads and game consoles that so many children are obsessed with these days.

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Many of the home-based Maker projects are all about embellishing, decorating and seeking the beauty in life, or simply, just creating something made with love. Find projects that your child can personalize and make with pride.

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You really don’t need schools to introduce this to your child. However, if the local government recognize this trend, there could be more opportunities of hands-on learning for our children in school.

In the meantime, look to the internet and Pinterest for plenty of project ideas.

One word of caution though, the internet has a tendency to keep you mesmerized by the amazing number of things that you can create and DIY. So be careful not to be flooded with lots of information, and lose track of the focus to translate this information to something productive.

So just go and make something!

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So what’s my latest craft obsession? Connect with me on Pinterest.

To explore the Making Culture on a public arena, you can check out the Singapore’s Mini Maker Faire at the end of this month.

** This is not a sponsored post. I personally advocate the Maker culture at home with my child, as I see the benefits and the purposeful-ness of being able to make your own things and express your creativity.

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