In the fast-paced world of business, there is one undeniable fact that holds true: employees are the key to success. Their commitment and expertise propel organizations towards their objectives, which is why investing in a learning culture is essential. The advantages are numerous and include improved staff retention, increased productivity and the goal of higher employee engagement.
Mindfulness activities for kids to reduce stress
How can we help children (and ourselves) deal with turbulent situations?
As humans, we are programmed to position ourselves according to the constants around us: people, structures and boundaries. When those constants shift, it can be unsettling for adults and children.
Sometimes we find ourselves in unprecedented situations, and we each have our own approach to managing things. If you feel confused and without direction because of a turbulent situation, please know that that is okay.
We’ll look today at why that is, to help us understand ourselves a little more and why these simple mindfulness activities can help us navigate it.
What causes social stress?
There may be many reasons for feeling stressed in life, but during turbulent times in society, it is often due to not feeling safe.
Something in our environment is alerting our survival instinct. This makes our brains produce stress hormones, which get us ready to fight the threat, run from it, or freeze until it’s gone away.
The threat might be to our physical or even social survival – and the two are linked. Things can feel even scarier when we also feel isolated from our social group, which keeps us protected from that threat.
Human beings are social by nature. We live and work in communities, we connect through love and empathy and we protect each other. There’s truth to the saying “there’s safety in numbers”.
But it’s not just about safety. We also define ourselves by comparing ourselves to others and working out what we are not.
Research has found that we identify deeply with our role in society and the ‘pack’ to which we belong. This holds deep ties with our sense of safety, contentment and self-esteem. If the boundaries by which we define and position ourselves have shifted or continue to shift, we will feel unsafe, threatened and therefore stressed.
Are children affected by social stress in the same way?
If we then apply this to children, the constants to whom they look for security are the adults in their life. If the adults are behaving differently, the children will feel a shift and feel unsafe and stressed too. If they don’t have their friends alongside them for social positioning, this too can lead to them feeling confused and uncertain.
Here are some key ways we can help:
Communicating and listening
Children may often lack the language to express what they are feeling, or even to recognize it themselves. Therefore, we must offer ways to help them make sense of the world around them, to help them feel safe and to help express their concerns.
Communication provides the necessary social interaction and models for them on how to handle the new situation. It firms up their boundaries, and provides a safe space where they feel listened to and acknowledged and this, in turn, helps diffuse their stress.
The activity below is a lovely way to invite children to express any worry they might be feeling, mindfully and with support – and give them something to do with their feelings. It also has the benefit of helping them breathe fully and slowly, which will calm down their nervous system.
Breath activity: Worry bubbles
- Sit together and invite your child to put their palms together.
- Invite them to take a big breath in. As they breathe in, they can draw their palms further and further apart, spreading their fingers as they imagine blowing up a big bubble between their hands.
- Invite them to whisper a worry into the bubble.
- Invite them to blow the breath out nice and slowly. As they breathe out, they can imagine blowing the bubble (and the worry) away with a big sigh.
- Twinkle the fingers back down to the lap, and start again, either with the same worry or a new one
Helping them find a safety anchor inside themselves
By helping children focus on breathing, we can teach them that even if things feel wobbly around them, their breath is always there. The act of focusing on the breath also helps settle the fight or flight branch of their nervous system into a calmer, more balanced state.
Breath Activity: Counting breaths
- Invite your child to sit with you.
- Invite them to place their hands on their tummy and breathe in slowly so they push into their hands, counting slowly up to four.
- As they breathe out, invite them to count up to six, as they slowly empty the belly and their hands lower back down.
- Continue until they feel calmer. You can do this every morning or evening to help sustain balance. With younger children, they might like a teddy on their tummy to push up and down!
These two activities can be lovely daily practices to try and provide some safety and structure to your child or students’ mental health right now. They are also enjoyable activities to try for yourself – you may like to increase the in and out count of the breath a little bit for an adult breath.
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You may have heard the term learning management system (LMS) at work or perhaps during your time in education. For many, this throws out images of clunky, outdated systems that clumsily distribute course materials and are tough to use. But that is no longer the case. Modern LMS's are far more user-friendly, and it's time to relearn what you thought you knew about these tools.
In this ultimate guide, we will look at everything you need to know about learning management systems and why they are so beneficial.
What is a learning management system?
The idea is that these LMS platforms offer one central place for users to manage and access courses and learning materials. Depending on the user, this could be anything from self-paced e-courses to classroom training.
This can help facilitate a range of training, studying and skills development, as well as assessments, exams and certification management.
Who uses LMS's and why?
There are many great uses for learning management systems but these are used primarily by businesses and educational establishments. Here are some of the most common use cases for these platforms:
HR and management - The HR and management team might implement these across the business to help with learning and development and make sure that organizational goals are being hit
Employee onboarding - Those starting a new job may be given training via an LMS; this can make the onboarding process much quicker and simpler
Compliance training - Lots of roles require compliance training, for example health and safety training, and this is a great way for businesses to stay up to date and ensure everyone complies with regulations
Customer support - Some businesses use learning management systems to onboard customers or clients. This might include sharing user manuals and product guides. Plus, sales professionals might also use them to train new partners or clients in using their services or platforms.
Classroom learning - Lecturers and teachers can create and share course materials and align content and tests from one place. These can also be used to put a twist on traditional classroom learning.
Blended learning - Schools, colleges and universities may use these for online lessons and blended learning, particularly for remote students
Volunteer training - Charities and non-profits may also use an LMS to educate volunteers and keep them motivated about the cause
Of course, these platforms can and will be used in other ways, but these are some of the most common and beneficial uses for LMS's.
Who has access to LMS's?
In most cases, learning management systems will have two primary user groups: administrators and learners.
Administrators are the people who create, manage and deliver e-learning. They may use these platforms to upload their own learning materials, or they may select courses and materials from an existing list given by the provider.
On the other hand, learners are the professionals or students who will use these platforms to train, study and gain new skills. Many modern LMS's allow multiple learners to train or access materials at the same time.
However, there is a third and final group that we have yet to mention: the parents of students using LMS's, particularly outside of school hours. In some cases, parents may have access to these systems to support students, track their progress or look at feedback from the teacher.
Key features in modern LMS's
There are a variety of learning management systems out there and some are more advanced than others. That being said, many modern platforms will share similar features to ensure they stay competitive. Some of these key features may include:
Authoring tools that allow administrators to upload or build their own courses
Access to subject matter experts who can contribute to learning and development activities
Automated workflows that allow for the creation of personalized learning journeys
A resources library that holds all relevant learning materials, such as guides, video clips and courses
Quizzes and surveys for a more fun and engaging way to assess learners
Compliance features, such as automatic reminders that notify learners when it is time to retrain
Certificates and diplomas that give learners recognition as they study and meet their targets
Insights and analysis for individual progress and results, allowing administrators to identify gaps or areas where support is needed
Compatibility with mobile devices for studying on the go
Integrations with other internal systems and software
This is by no means a complete list and different platforms will have different functionality. However, these are some of the most common and beneficial features of many modern LMSs.
The benefits of using learning management systems
Saving time and money
First and foremost, an LMS can be an excellent way for businesses to save time and money on training.
Of course there is an initial investment in the platform, but training can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if it must take place in a location outside of the workplace. Therefore, this can be the more cost-effective solution. Not to mention, the materials are quick to access and can save time and effort.
Ensuring compliance training is completed
These platforms are an excellent way to ensure that all mandatory training is completed on time and to the highest standard. For example, industry-specific training such as fire safety or cybersecurity training.
Provide accurate data
Administrators can access data and insights into their employee's learning. This can be a great way to see where more support is needed and to identify any skills gaps that need to be filled. Similarly, teachers can get to grips with how well their students are doing and if they need extra help in any subjects or areas.
Improves the learning experience
Whether in school or the workplace, LMS's can be a great way to improve the learning process. It allows users to study and access learning materials from one accessible location. Plus, through a multimedia approach, they can use guides, videos and more to help them learn. This can ensure they engage with the materials and stay motivated.
Finally, an LMS can make communication between students, teachers, employees and employers far simpler. For example, automated reminders keep everyone in the loop and ensure all training is completed on time. But more than that, there is one central place to communicate, review feedback and access the same materials.
November marks National Novel Writing Month, an excellent opportunity to improve your English skills. While there are several ways to enhance your proficiency in English, writing a novel is a lesser-known method that can significantly refine your understanding of the language. As well as enhancing your vocabulary and grammar, creating a story is an imaginative and fun way to unleash your creativity. So let's have a look at some things picking up the pastime can help you with.
It's a great way to improve your vocabulary naturally. As you create your story, you search for the perfect words to express your thoughts, which helps you explore synonyms, understand the nuances of language, and discover new phrases that can add depth and richness to your writing. Websites like Merriam-Webster and Longman English Dictionary are excellent resources to enhance your word toolkit.
Mastering grammar and syntax
When you're writing, having a good grasp of grammar and syntax is vital. To clearly express your ideas, you need to navigate grammar rules with precision. Platforms like Grammarly and Purdue OWL provide comprehensive guides and tools that can help you improve your grammatical skills. By regularly referring to useful resources as you write, you'll be able to identify and correct errors and also enhance your understanding of grammatical structures.
Developing writing styles
Writing novels are an excellent opportunity to develop a unique style of writing. You can discover your voice as a writer by trying out different narrative techniques and literary devices. Online writing communities like Wattpad and Scribophile provide opportunities for collaboration and feedback, allowing you to receive helpful criticism and refine your writing style in a supportive environment.
If you want to create an awesome novel, you've got to read a lot. By diving into the world of literature, you get to experience all sorts of writing styles and pick up some great tips for telling a compelling story. Websites like Project Gutenberg, Pearson Plus and Goodreads offer a plethora of literary works, providing access to various genres and writing techniques. This kind of exposure enhances your reading comprehension and helps you discern the subtleties of language.
Encourages critical chinking
Creating a coherent and engaging narrative requires critical thinking skills. As you navigate the complexities of plot development and character arcs, you'll naturally get better and better at it. Websites like TED-Ed and Khan Academy offer resources to sharpen critical thinking skills, complementing the cognitive benefits gained through the novel-writing process.
As well as having educational uses, writing is a powerful tool that can be used to process complex emotions and ideas in a therapeutic way. Whether you are dealing with stress, anxiety, or just trying to make sense of a difficult situation, writing stories can provide an outlet for your thoughts and feelings. So, if you're looking for a way to process your emotions and ideas while having fun, novel writing may be your perfect outlet. It's also something you can do without any technology, so a great way to technology detox.
Writing a novel is not just about unleashing your creativity but also refining your grammar, enriching your vocabulary, developing a unique writing style, enhancing your reading comprehension and fostering critical thinking. Make sure to use all available resources and take inspiration wherever possible. Creative writing is a journey of constant improvement and self-discovery. You might surprise yourself.
Need some inspiration? Check out 9 great novels to help improve your English or Books to improve your English: Sci-fi and fantasy edition.