(708) 524-5425

Oak Park, IL


5 Reasons to Put Your Child in Music Lessons

October 10, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

kids play music


Leslie Mason, guest contributor

When searching for an extra-curricular activity for your child, it can sometimes be difficult to decide how you want your child spending their time. Music lessons, however, are an activity that will continue to pay off well into your child’s adult years. Here are just some of the benefits your child will gain from learning a musical instrument.


1. Music Enhances Fine Motor Skills

When young children learn to play a musical instrument—from the piano to the violin—it increases their fine motor skills. Those skills are important for accomplishing a variety of tasks, from tying their shoes to reading and writing.

As they grow older, those skills will continue developing, particularly if they keep playing the instrument, and those finely-tuned skills will benefit them into their adulthood, especially with activities that require very precise movements of the hand, like drawing.


2. Music Creates a Haven for Self-Expression

Healthy children need to be able to express themselves, and music gives them an outlet to do so. As they get better at playing their chosen instrument, they will be able to play the music they want, or create music of their own. That outlet of self-expression becomes even more important as children get older: children who have a place to express themselves have a higher self-esteem and a more positive outlook on life than children who do not.




3. Music Facilitates Academic Growth

Music facilitates academic growth by improving comprehension and grades. Learning to play a musical instrument and read and play sheet music teaches a child the same skills they need to do mathematics like division. By the time they need these mathematics skills in school, they will already be adept at using them, and can learn math easier than most other students.

Moreover, music improves memory. Learning and playing an instrument stimulates brain function, including the areas controlling memory. Therefore, the more children play an instrument, the better their memory and overall cognitive function.


4. Music Encourages Hard Work and Perseverance

Learning a musical instrument requires perseverance and patience. Most people don’t sit down at a piano and immediately play Beethoven or the Star Wars Main Theme. You have to start out easy and build up to the proficiency required to play more difficult and complex music. This kind of musical prowess requires long hours of practice and hard work. Discipline and focus are necessary to learn a musical instrument well and play the songs of your choosing. These traits—perseverance, patience, hard work, discipline, focus—are all traits children will acquire as they learn a musical instrument.


5. Music Introduces Children to Other Cultures

Music comes from all over the world, from all kinds of cultures. Different instruments have multiple styles of music associated with them, and each style has famed composers. Children learning to play instruments could play a variety of different songs, originating anywhere from Austria to Zimbabwe. Music will familiarize children with many cultures, and that will help them be more open-minded when dealing with people of different beliefs and behaviors.

Music is an important part of the world, and putting children into musical lessons can have a huge impact on the mental, physical, and emotional growth of those children. No matter what instrument your child learns to play, the benefits are immeasurable. You couldn’t ask for a better activity for your child.


Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert, always on the lookout for programs to help her children and grandchildren, like nutrition for athletic performance. Leslie also enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and fixing up the house.

Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders

October 10, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)



Autistic spectrum disorders are a range of related developmental disorders that begin in childhood and persist throughout adulthood. Autistic spectrum disorders can cause a wide range of symptoms, which are grouped into three broad categories:

  • Problems and difficulties with social interaction

Such as a lack of understanding and awareness of other people’s emotions and feelings.


  • Impaired language and communication skills

Such as delayed language development and an inability to start conversations or take part in them properly.


  • Unusual patterns of thought and physical behaviour

This includes making repetitive physical movements, such as hand tapping or twisting. The child develops set routines of behaviour, which can upset the child if the routines are broken.


The term ‘spectrum’ is used because the symptoms of ASD and their severity can vary from child to child.

Children with autistic spectrum disorders usually have significant problems with language, social interaction and behaviour. Many children with autistic disorders will also have learning difficulties.

Children with autistic spectrum disorders often prefer to have clear structure and consistent support in their lives. It is important to find out what the child’s preferred communication method is, as a lot of behaviours which can be seen as challenging are often caused by an inability to communicate what they want, or to understand what is going on around them. Communication tools include pictures, photos, symbols, Makaton and choice boards.


An overview of Asperger syndrome

Children with Asperger syndrome have milder symptoms that affect social interaction and behaviour. Their language development is usually unaffected, although they often have problems in certain areas of language. For example, understanding humour or figures of speech, such as ‘she’s got a chip on her shoulder’ or ‘it’s raining cats and dogs.’

Some children with Asperger syndrome are particularly skilled in fields requiring logic, memory and creativity, such as math, computer science and music.


Frequency of autistic spectrum disorders

Autistic spectrum disorders are uncommon but not rare. In England it is estimated that 1 in every 100 children has an autistic spectrum disorder. Autistic spectrum disorders are more common in boys than girls. Boys are three to four times more likely to develop an autistic spectrum disorder than girls.

The number of diagnosed cases of autistic spectrum disorders has increased over the past two decades, but this does not necessarily mean that the condition is becoming more widespread. Some experts argue that the rise in diagnosed cases may be due to health professionals getting better at diagnosing cases correctly. In the past, many children with an autistic spectrum disorder may have been incorrectly labelled as ‘slow’, ‘difficult’ or ‘painfully shy’, and not given the support they needed.


The Future

Today, here is a lot more information and support available to parents of children who have autistic spectrum disorders. Children with mild to moderate symptoms often grow up to be independent adults with jobs, long-term relationships and children. Children with more severe symptoms may need additional support and assistance for the rest of their lives. However, there is no reason why they cannot enjoy a good quality lifestyle and live as independently as possible.


The author of this article, Crispin Jones, has first-hand experience of children with autistic spectrum disorders through his work with Voyage Care. He is currently campaigning to raise awareness about autism, and regularly takes part in fundraising activities for the cause.

6 Reasons to Enroll Your Child in Private School

October 7, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)



Melanie Hargrave, guest contributor

When it comes to your child’s education, you want to pick the system that will benefit your child the most. Do you choose to put your trust in the public school system or the private school system? Or maybe you’re considering taking the responsibility on yourself by attempting home schooling. No matter what your options and considerations, private school is often the best course of action, both for you and for your child. Here are 6 reasons why you should seriously consider enrolling your child as soon as possible.


High Parental Involvement

Private schools don’t come cheap. They require far more of an investment than public schools do, but that investment pays off. You can even make sure your money has been well-spent. Private schools expect you to be involved in your child’s education.

Where public schools typically provide one night a year for parents to come to the school and meet the teachers, private schools host many parent-teacher conferences and other activities to which parents are invited and encouraged to attend. The teachers strive to involve parents, and they encourage parents to discuss the educational needs of their children.

Generally, the administration and the teachers of private schools both want what is best for your child, and they want to show you that your child is getting that great education promised.


Dedicated Teachers

The classes at private schools are significantly smaller than the class sizes at public schools. This means that the teachers can dedicate more individual time to your child. They will know almost immediately if your child doesn’t understand a topic, and the teacher can focus on your child, teaching him or her one-on-one until your child understands.

The public school system is geared toward the mid-range of students—for children of average intelligence. If your child is above or below that range, they won’t get the attention they deserve, and their education will suffer for it.

Private schools, however, are a lot more flexible, lending to a better learning environment for children who are intelligent and quick to comprehend or children who are slower learners. There are programs, classes, and teachers for both types of students, where they can get the attention and the education they deserve.


Life-long Education

Unlike public schools, private schools aren’t funded based on test results. They’re not funded by the state, and the tests themselves don’t matter as much. It’s about teaching the students so the students understand.

The teachers focus more on the subject matter than the tests themselves, because they understand that when too much focus is placed on a test, students think that that’s the only reason they need to know the subject—to pass the test. Then, once the test is taken, the students forget. But when the teachers focus on the subject matter, the knowledge lasts a lot longer, because the students really understand the subject.


Balanced Program

Private schools have a balanced program for all of the students. They go through a mix of academia, physical fitness, and extra-curricular activities like music, drama, and debate teams. Many public schools don’t have all these options, because states choose to cut programs, like drama or music, in favor of more profitable events, like sports.

Private schools make a variety of programs available to their students, supporting a well-rounded education.


Teachers as Role Models

Private schools only have a limited number of teachers, so the teachers have to know multiple subjects and activities. This means that your child’s math teacher could also be the supervisor of the physical activities.

When teachers are over multiple subjects like this, it gives children more time to bond with the teacher and look up to them as role model. That helps when you child doesn’t understand a topic. They will accept help from the teacher they look up to and may even gain a love for a subject they otherwise wouldn’t have cared about.


Curriculums You Agree With

There are many different types of private schools available, and you can find one with a curriculum you agree with, so your child gets the education you want them to have. Private education gives you, the parent, the opportunity to choose a school that shares your values. Whether you prefer a more religious-centered curriculum, or appreciate the diversity that many private school programs offer in their education, you can enroll your child in an institution that fits you and your child’s needs.

Your child’s education is not something you should take lightly. Their education will affect the rest of their life, so put some thought into it, and give them the education that will put them on the path to greatness.


Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose pride and joy is her family. She is her daughters’ number one fan, always ready at a moment’s notice to grab her foam fingers and spirit shakers and cheer on her girls. In addition to spending time with her family, she loves being outdoors, playing sports, and sharing her experiences with others, through activities like yoga in Charlotte, NC.