Tag Archives: current events

10 Things Kids Should Know About Greece

With the European debt crisis in the news, children are hearing about Greece only in terms of its economy.

But Greece is more than its headlines. The truth is Greek culture has had an impact on daily life in America and around the world for more than 2,000 years.

While adults struggle to understand the ramifications of the debt crisis, kids should sit back and learn more about Greece, starting with its official name: the Hellenic Republic.

1. Greece, while an ancient civilization, became a modern, independent nation when it won its sovereignty from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. For 2,000 years, Greece had been ruled by non-Greeks, including 400 years when it was governed by Turkey.

2. In 1981, Greece joined what is now the European Union. It gave up its system of currency, the drachma, in 2002.

3. Greece is slightly smaller than the state of Alabama.

4. Made up of mostly mountains and islands, Greece borders three seas: the Aegean, the Ionian, and the Mediterranean.

5. Mount Olympus, the highest point in Greece, is the mythical home of the Greek gods and goddesses. It was also the country’s first national park.

6. Greece has a population of more than 10.7 million people, making it the 76th most populated nation in the world.

7. 61 percent of people live in cities. The two largest cities are Athens, the capital, and Thessaloniki.

8. In 508 BC, the people of Greece created a new system of government. Democracy, the system they created, allows people – not kings or generals – to make decisions about how they wanted to live. Today, Greece’s form of government is a parliamentary republic. That means its citizens elect a prime minister and a parliament to make laws and decisions for the people.

9. The Olympic Games started in Greece in 700 BC. Only men competed in events such as javelin, long jump, and wrestling. The games were outlawed after almost 400 years but were reinstated in 1896.

10. Families are very close in Greece and children often live with their parents even after they get married. Meals are an important part of this family life and their favorite foods, olives, chickpeas, squid, and lamb, are credited with keeping Greeks healthy and able to live long lives.

Although 10 facts cannot give the whole picture of Greece as a country or a culture, it’s helpful to remember it has had an historical and cultural impact on the world that extends beyond its economic impact to the world. Knowing more about any country also helps to understand why they make the choices that they do.

To get more of a taste of what Greek life is like, try making some traditional Greek foods from fish stew to meatballs. Here are some recipes from Good Housekeeping.

If that’s a bit above your skill level, just buy a tub of hummus and some pitas for a fun, Greek snack.

 

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Filed under Eat, Europe, Learn

Talking to Kids About Bin Laden

Child watching TVMany American parents woke up May 2 to the news that Osama bin Laden, the strategist behind the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, and the American embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, along with many other attacks on innocent people around the world, had been killed.

As we watched the news coverage we struggled with what to say to our children, most of whom had been born after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In order to explain today’s news and why people were celebrating, we had to weigh how much to tell our children about the events of Sept. 11, a day which was  for many of us the worst day of our lives.

There’s no one right way to deal with news events like this. Parents have to trust their instincts on how much to tell their children, depending on their age, sensitivity, and other factors.

But here are some things to keep in mind to help you – and your children – understand the situation.

Make sure children feel safe.

In talking about what happened at the compound in Abottabad, children are likely to feel afraid. Children interpret every event in relation to themselves. Could bad people hurt me and my family? Are we in danger? Help your child feel as secure as possible. Tell him or her that you are there to protect them and that nothing bad will happen. Children need reassurance in order to feel secure. Insecurity in children can lead to behavior problems, nightmares, and more.

Help children understand why people are celebrating.

As much as we would like to protect our children from some of history’s darkest moments, we need to explain and interpret that history for them. This is an opportunity for parents to frame these events in ways children can understand and in keeping with your religious, ethical, and moral beliefs. You cannot teach children how to process frightening events, which they are certain to experience in their lifetimes, if you don’t talk to them.

Listen to – and answer – the question they’re asking.

You don’t have to give a multi-part lecture on the rise of extremism or provide an in-depth geography lesson on south Asia. What your children really want to know is how this information affects them, their family, their school, and their community. You don’t have to be an expert on global terrorism to answer those questions.

Know when enough is enough.

Sometimes parents over-talk a topic. It’s important to give children information appropriate to their age and understanding and then talk about something else. Answer their questions, but don’t revisit the topic again and again without them asking about it. If you do, you’ll unintentionally diminish your credibility. Children will believe you’re hiding something or that you’re more concerned than you’re letting on, and that will lead to greater fear on their part.

Model the behavior you want them to copy.

Show your child how to react by modeling the behavior you want to see them imitate. If you rely on prayer in challenging times, let your children see you pray and permit them to pray with you. If you seek out a lot of news and information, let them see that, too.

Keep in mind that children have a hard time understanding that when news stories are repeated on television or the Internet that they are not happening over and over again.

There are many times when parents wish they had a guidebook for how to deal with some issue confronting their children or their family.

At such times, it’s important to remember that no one knows your child the way you do. Only you can determine how much and what information is appropriate for them at a given time.

Do not try to prevent your child from knowing about – and participating in – world events but instead give them the tools they need to process the information.

It’s a skill they’ll need throughout their lives.

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Filed under Asia, Learn, Middle East

Japanese-Americans Standing Up for Muslims

Here’s an interesting article from the Washington Post about how Japanese-Americans, who remember how they were treated in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, are responding to House Homeland Security Chairman Peter T. King (R-NY)’s decision to hold hearings about Muslims in America.

It’s wonderful to read how times of crisis can bring what we think of as disparate groups close together. And it’s definitely a message worth sharing with our children.

In school, at the playground, and in life they may be the only people available to stand up for someone else. Especially in this time of heightened awareness over bullying, it’s important to recognize that the skills they develop to deal with it in childhood will be useful to them throughout their lives.

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Talking to Kids About Egypt

For the past two weeks, Egyptians have been protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, calling for the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty years in power.

Close on the heels of a similar – but more quickly resolved – crisis in Tunisia, the situation in Egypt has been fascinating to watch on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and – oh, yes – the evening news and in newspaper accounts.

Those accounts have shown that children have been involved in the protests – almost from the beginning – and that they are playing a role in Tahrir Square as well as in their own homes, pushing their parents to join the protests.

This is not a revolution being waged by children, but it is clear that they have something to say – and it’s a great way to encourage greater understanding of power, politics, and personal freedom in your own children.

If you’d like more information on what’s happening in Egypt, read the Washington Post (yes, a daily newspaper) timeline here.

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