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Cooking with Children: 5 Fun and Easy Tips

If you already cook for your family on a regular basis, why not let your children in on the fun? Yes, cooking with children can get a little messy sometimes, but the memories you create will stay with them throughout their lives. Not to mention the skills they learn and the treasured time they get to spend with you! Cooking and baking with your children can be great fun, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Read on for five easy tips for kitchen success with the kiddos:

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  1. Start before you even get to the kitchenin the garden! Have your children plant, maintain and pick their own vegetables. It’s important for them to realize where their food comes from (typically not grown in grocery stores) and appreciate the work that goes into cultivating it. Then, once the plants are ripe enough to eat, the possibilities are endless! See #2 and #3 for further ideas.
  2. Mini pizzas are quick and easy and allow for a lot of creativity. Dough and sauce can be bought at any supermarket (or homemade, if you’re ambitious), and toppings can include veggies from the kids’ gardens, meat of their choice, cheese – keep an open mind and they might surprise you. Another option is the ever-popular pizza bagel; bake a dozen at once and save them for lunches and snacks.
  3. Muffins make marvelous snacks, breakfasts and desserts. With thousands of simple recipes available, getting started is a piece of cake. Ask your child what he or she would like to include in the muffins – applesauce, raisins, blueberries, carrots, chocolate chips – perhaps something out of his/her own garden. If your kids help with prep work that includes chopping or slicing food, make sure they use a plastic knife and keep a close eye on their activities.
  4. Cookies! If your kids are less than enthusiastic about vegetables, chances are they won’t say no to cookie dough. My daughter did an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough fundraiser for school and it was a great stat to us spending time cooking together. Now we cook everything from vegetables to pasta but it wasn’t until we did cookie dough that she saw how fun it could be. Go through the options with him or her and pick two or three flavors that are irresistible; then bake away! Make sure the kids are in charge of at least one part of the process – such as breaking the dough apart or placing it on the pan – to ensure they gain real experience and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  5. Macaroni and Cheese: the ultimate comfort food for adults and children alike. Take your kids on a special trip to the store and let them pick out a type of pasta, a cheese (or three), and anything else they’d like to include. Think: hot dogs, bacon, broccoli, seasonings, tomato, etc. This can be a simple but wildly fun meal to make – and even more fun to eat.

No matter what you choose to cook or bake with your children, remember it’s not just about the food you’re creating; it’s about the lasting memories. Be patient, don’t expect them to learn and retain everything the first time, and let them amaze you with their creativity.

About Tracy

Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.

How to Improve your Attention Span When You Study

With a seemingly endless array of distractions, it can be different to truly concentrate your entire attention on a single task, no matter its importance. Typical techniques such as ingesting high quantities of caffeine are seldom recommended and can have more negative repercussions than positive results.

Whether you are studying for an important exam or as part of a continuing course, here are a few more natural methods for improving your attention span, helping you achieve a greater retention of knowledge.

Give your Body and your Mind a Workout

Research shows that physical activity can sharpen focus by releasing chemicals into the brain that aid attention. This method is so effective that results have even shown improvements in sufferers of severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The University of Illinois has published results from research demonstrating that just 20 minutes of yoga can vastly improve people’s cognitive function and attention span, making it ideal as a pre-study workout.

Meditation has also been found to be helpful for improving the attention span as the act helps to regulate posture, breathing and body function.

Embrace Single Tasking

Acclimatising your body and mind to completing tasks one at a time can help improve attention spans. It can be tempting to embrace multi-tasking in a day and age where stimulation comes in many forms. Avoid the temptation to sit in front of the TV with your laptop open and Candy Crush Saga playing on your phone and allow single-tasking to flourish. By attuning your mind to become used to completing one task at a time, it will not seem so alien when you open the book to study.

This is more of a long-term technique that may not render direct results immediately. Stick with the technique until single-tasking becomes second nature. Forbes Magazine also reports that single-tasking could make you smarter.

Adapt your Surroundings to You

Rather than trying to study whilst lay prone on the sofa with your line of vision blocked from natural light, customise your study area so it is beneficial to the work you are undertaking. This will help to keep you comfortable and ensure your mind remains on the task at hand rather than constant fidgeting and moving. This can even be extended to the clothing that you wear, ensure it is something comfortable.

Innova Solutions are currently designing bespoke classrooms to aid study and improved attention span. The Hot Corners concept is a design of desk that allows users to alter its shape, giving them the opportunity to customise the workspace to the needs of the day’s area of study. By creating your own version of this is your area of study, can help you retain the highest level of concentration.

Dedicate your Best Hours to the Task

Over the course of the day our energy levels rise and fall, often in a regular pattern. Sleep, nutritional intake as well as physical and mental exertions can all influence energy levels. Dedicate the hours of the day where you feel most energetic and vitality to the important area of study. This can help you perform at peak standard.

The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr discusses the finite nature of daily energy and how managing this can help improve the quality and quantity of a person’s daily output.

Eliminate Distractions

Possibly the most basic way to avoid be distracted is removing the factors which are distracting you. This may seem like a short-term solution but if you are cramming for one final exam then short-term solutions are all you need. If you keep getting distracted by Netflix, ask a friend to change your password without telling you what it is until the examination is over. If you are using the internet to study but find yourself surfing the web for funny cat gifs instead of completing the required reading, remove your mouse and put it in a different room. The shameful act of having to reconnect the mouse just to procrastinate could be enough to put you off absent minded browsing.

Pinpointing the root of distraction can help you alleviate the problem and vastly improve your attention span and subsequently your performance.


About Tracy

Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.

Think You Can Do Without Coaching? 3 Reasons Why Y...

Many would-be entrepreneurs think they can do without business coaching. And it’s not just limited to newbies wanting to save the pennies, but seasoned vets in the business world tend to shy away from mentoring or coaching programs. If you’re one of those that falls in the ‘coaching is a waste of money’ camp, we’re going to tell you that you’re wrong –and here are 5 reasons why.

You’re Working Too Many Hours

Business isn’t just about reading the bottom line – even if your company is consistently turning out healthy profits doesn’t mean that you’re healthy. In fact, most entrepreneurs work ridiculously long days and can often be found burning the midnight oil on a daily basis.

Try and work less. If you’re not able to make that happen, it’s a clear sign that you need coaching to try and figure out how you can streamline your business. Delegation is an important skill that often needs to be acquired through experience, hard work, and advice. Don’t shy away from coaching to help get you there.

Even Experts Need Help

You may know your industry to the smallest detail. You may already be running at a healthy profit as well. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a little bit of help. Even the most seasoned professionals that know their jobs inside out need a helping hand.

DC Mentors (run by Frank Sovinksy, author of the acclaimed E-Myth Chiropractor), for instance, runs a coaching program that’s built specifically for chiropractors. If doctors turn to coaching for their business, what makes you think you can handle it all on your lonesome?

Outside Perspective

Even if you think you’ve got it all figured out, you don’t. Successful business owners are aware that they have very real limitations and coaching won’t just help you find out what those are, but you’ll also be given the tools to leverage your strengths and have others do the heavy lifting on the items where you’re a little weaker.

Coaches, even if they don’t know a lick about your line of work, can give you a clearer perspective on both your organization and the industry you operate in. This outsider view will often lead to an ‘aha!’ moment that would otherwise never have materialized organically.

Coaching isn’t a gimmick and it’s not a waste of cash. Provided you do your research and weed out the snake oil merchants, it’s an opportunity that will allow you to leverage your core skills, identify where your flaws are, and how you can turn your business around to provide maximum profitability. Give it a shot – we’re confident you won’t regret it!

About Tracy

Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.

How do we learn?

Every person is unique. As a result, each of us processes information differently, depending on various factors including personality and cultural orientation, among others. A person’s learning or thinking style describes his or her typical mode of remembering, thinking, or problem solving. Basically, your learning style is the approach that best enables you to collect and use knowledge in a particular manner. Each individual may have a single learning style or a combination of different learning styles.

More often than not, the characteristics of a learning style can be observed early in life, and once it is identified, you will be able to determine the ways in which you can adapt the learning process to maximize your education.

There are several perspectives regarding learning styles, two of which are the global analytic continuum and sensory preferences. Sensory preferences indicates that individuals maintain dominance in one of the following types namely, auditory learners, visual learners, and kinesthetic learners. Visual learners, for example, may benefit from online revision tests.

Auditory learners are keen listeners who are inclined to absorb information more efficiently through the use of music, sounds, lectures, and discussions. These learners tend to record teachings so that they can replay them for future reference. They appreciate reading material on tape and may find that reading aloud will allow them to retain information better. Instead of written reports, auditory learners are more likely to perform better on oral reports and presentations.

Kinesthetic learners, on the other hand, are tactile learners. These individuals receive information best through acting out, doing, moving, and touching. Hands-on projects are best assigned to kinesthetic learners as they tend to become restless and frustrated when they must stay put for long periods of time. They thrive in activities that involve conducting experiments, as well as exploring and performing tasks.

Visual learners typically learn through the things that they are able to see with their own eyes. Students who fall into this category are usually found at the front of the class; other visual learners can be spotted on the front row of the theater, and prefer to watch sporting events from the first rows of the arena.

Knowing your learning style has numerous advantages from academic, personal, and professional standpoints. Students who are able to gather knowledge through their learning styles can maximise their learning potential, understand the best way to study, overcome classroom limitations, expand existing learning strategies, and lessen their stress levels. From a personal perspective, you can gain insight into your own strengths and weaknesses, boost your self-confidence and self-esteem, hone your skills and natural abilities, and learn how to enjoy learning more. As a professional, understanding one’s learning style can help a person increase his earning power by staying up to date on the latest business topics, improve communication skills with colleagues and clients, and manage more effectively.

That being said, it is safe to say that there is really no correct or even incorrect way to learn. When a person is having difficulty studying in school or adjusting to their job, it could mean that the learning style being applied is not appropriate for them. On the other hand, if you apply the most effective and efficient learning methods based on your learning style, you can enjoy improved academic, personal, or professional success.

About Tracy

Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.

What you can expect when you study for a part-time...

Fitting in a full-time degree course when you are young is far simpler: the chances are you won’t have many, if any, commitments and you can throw yourself in whole-heartedly to a new venture.

For anyone interested in completing a degree course slightly later, the options can be rather more complicated. Whether it’s being able to cover financial outgoings or the dilemma of whether to give up your current career, there may be many compromises to make either way.

Unless of course you opt for a part-time degree course.

Providing you with exactly the same qualification upon completion, part-time degree courses are specifically designed for individuals who are unable to attend on a full-time basis but still want to strive to reach their full potential.

A degree will help you advance in your career.


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We take a closer look at part-time degrees and what you can expect if you choose to study for one.

How a part-time degree works

There are a few very select types of degree (often in the medical profession) which require the course to be completed on a full-time basis. However, these are few and far between.

The vast majority of courses are suitable for studying on a part-time basis; you simply need to find a university who offers the degree you want.

Don’t fear that you may be the odd one out at a university if you are only studying on a part-time basis; most universities will have thousands of students who aren’t there on a full-time basis. And there are lots of reasons for this, including younger students who simply want to find a more economical way to get a degree or who wanted a more versatile way of studying! Of course part-time degrees are perfect for those with outside commitments such as a young family, or who want to carry on working alongside.

Undertaking any kind of degree course requires commitment and dedication, and part-time study is no different. However you can usually choose how long you want to spread your degree course out for; the typical lengths vary from four to six years.

There may well be a minimum number of hours which you need to be able to study for in order to sign up for the course, but this should be manageable alongside your other commitments.

A part-time degree is not any less of a commitment and is just the same as a full-time course, but spread out over a longer period.


Outgoings and expenditure may well be two of the reasons that you have opted for a part-time study course rather than jumping in with both feet.

By opting to study part-time, you should be able to continue in your existing job too, earning money rather than having to exist solely on a grant.

The certificate can help you a lot.


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Tuition fees apply to part-time students too but you will be eligible to apply for a grant to cover this, in exactly the same way as a full-time student. Even if you have the money to pay for fees upfront, you may find it better in the long run to wait and see how you manage. There are no penalties for paying off your student loan early so if you decide later on that you want to clear your debts, you won’t lose out.

You will be eligible to apply for a student loan providing that the number of hours you are working is at least 25% of the full-time equivalent.

However, it’s worth considering the way in which student loans are repaid. You won’t start repaying your borrowing until you reach a certain threshold of earnings (currently £21000) and even then, you will only have to contribute 9% in excess of this amount.

A degree will further your learning.


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Whatever you haven’t repaid 30 years after you finish studying is wiped off and the debt is never entered on your credit file.

An alternative to taking out a student loan for the tuition fees is asking your employer to cover the costs. This may be an unusual request but if you can demonstrate to your employer how the course would benefit the company, you might find they are more willing. If you can link any aspect of the course more directly to the job, you stand a better chance.


Being a part-time student doesn’t mean you lose out on facilities and services: although you may be part-time you have the same rights of access as your full-time peers.

This includes student services and career advice as well as other facilities including the library and sporting amenities too.

If the course you are doing requires physical equipment such as cooking and hygiene, you will also have full access to all the items you need to help you complete your studies.


Gone are the days where you wrote out each piece of coursework laboriously by hand: it will be essential for you to have either a laptop or tablet device so that you can access the internet. In the vast majority of universities, having access to those kinds of facilities is an essential, not simply a nice-to-have.

A part time degree can help suit your schedule.


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You may have planned out time in your calendar to attend the course lectures, but it’s just as important that you set aside some time to do the coursework or carry out some revision. A degree course will only be as effective as the time you invest into it and with a busy lifestyle; this can be easy to do.

You should therefore consider sitting down and scheduling in exactly when you are going to have some free time to study and where you will do it to escape any distractions.

Modern courses include more traditional lectures and classroom type work with online learning modules. This means you will not only benefit from different methods of teaching, but that you can enjoy a more interactive experience, allowing you to tailor your learning to what you need.

However, as a rough rule of thumb, you should expect to spend around 18hours per week on studying. This could be significantly more during the period shortly before you take any examinations.


One of the best things about studying part-time is that it gives you a great degree of flexibility.

With intakes at several different points during the year, it’s possible to be far more fluid about your arrangements. Your chosen university may also offer some options to get around the difficulties of managing your time. For example, classes may be held for one evening a week or periodically at weekends to ensure the demands on your daytime routine are kept to a minimum.

You should be aware though that many courses will be run during the day and you might need to check with your employer that you can be released to attend.

Some universities permit individuals to take a short break, or even vary the length of time spent learning each year so if you need to take a while off, it shouldn’t impact on your plans in the long term.

The impact on other areas

If you are studying for a part-time degree you will probably be also working, either in the profession that you had before or a new job which fits in with your academic demands. You may be working in a field which is directly related to the subject you are studying or it may be vastly different.

The benefits if you are working in a related area are manifold and obvious. Whilst you may not feel the full effect until you obtain your degree and finish your learning, you and your employer will still see some advantages along the way.

For example, customers will appreciate a member of staff who is not just experienced but knowledgeable about the more technical aspects too. This could help boost a company’s reputation and enhance the customer service that is provided.

Why not start a degree in September?


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But it isn’t just companies working in a related field which can benefit. Even if the degree which you are studying isn’t related to your job, there should still be some tangible differences.

Studying for a degree can instil a sense of self-confidence which extends into all areas, and this will arise as a result of managing your time; being efficient with the use of time will become an essential skill to have. Confidence and excellent time-management can only mean one thing: a more productive employee without any compromises on quality.

There are lots of different reasons why you might have opted to study on a part-time basis but whether these included benefitting your current employer, there’s no denying that some of the most positive skills you will develop will have a big impact on your professional life.

Time management will become absolutely vital with different demands on your time. If you don’t get this right, you will feel slightly harassed and may struggle occasionally to balance the different tasks. On the flip side, if your time management skills are honed to perfection, you will be able to multi-task far more effectively both in your personal life as well as at work!

Image credits: Andyschanelle, Michael Leza, N A I T, 38 Degrees and Jordanhill School

About Tracy

Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.

Trust is the key to finding the right business par...

There’s no such thing as the perfect business partner. He, or she come to that, simply doesn’t exist. At least not in the real world. Strengths, weaknesses, passions, foibles, life experiences, educational attainments – the list could go on and on – should all figure somewhere in assessing the suitability or otherwise of any potential candidate.

However, there’s one single quality all should possess above all else. Trustworthiness. Whether by shrewd gut instinct borne of the school of hard knocks, or through the incisive gathering of business intelligence, you’ve got to believe the person standing in front of you is someone you can trust, implicitly, with your life if it comes to it. There’s no room for doubt.

Talking to the network

Nobody just suddenly appears on the business scene. Everybody has a past record, a finger print if you like, marking their progress up until the present time. So get talking to your acquaintances, the members of your business network. Have they ever had dealings with your would-be partner? Have they overheard any whispers which might cause you a bit of disquiet? What about your colleagues in the local chambers of commerce, for example. Have they heard anything that’s usefully positive – or maybe a little negative?

Widen the net

If you’ve come up blank and are happy to take the idea of a partnership to the next level, fine. But if a tiny doubt still keeps nagging away, perhaps it’s time to call in some professional help. Companies like are past masters in the business intelligence game. Use them wisely and they could end up saving you a lot of your hard-earned cash further down the road.

If your would-be partner, for example, has ever held a previous directorship, or still holds one, DueDil and its company search will unearth the pertinent information. They’ll link all current and previous directorships together, with timelines, appointment dates, functions and company performance. If that still doesn’t satisfy you, or help you to make a decision one way or another, perhaps you should really be looking to yourself and not to others. Maybe the fault lies with you? Just a thought.


Of course, if you’ve the time to spare, you could do some of the checks yourself. The Internet is a great place to start, if more than a little time consuming. Check to see if your potential partner has a Facebook page, for example, or is an active Twitter user. If he’s held a directorship before, and perhaps the company is still trading, take a look at the company’s website. You can often learn a lot from that.

Companies House

Always a great starting point for accurate information. And it’s free if all you’re looking for is some basic details. You can find out a company’s registered office address, it’s date of incorporation, the type of business it’s involved in and any previous names it might have used, its status and any details or actions registered against it. For a mere £1.00 per document, you can also grab a copy of the annual accounts, annual return and company record report. The Companies House website can be found here.

About Tracy

Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.

The Graduates: Tips for transitioning from student...

Having a university education doesn’t quite carry the same weight it once did. Gone are the days when a degree meant a chance to ‘study’ in a beautiful place for a few years, have fun and come out of it with a guaranteed job. Today, many young people are faced with new decisions about their futures and many of them begin with education.

Image by Amanda, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

Here are a few great things that are sure to help young graduates enter the working world with confidence and success.

Seek guidance

Support is available in the form of learning mentors or peer groups, and they can be invaluable resources for graduates who are just starting out after graduating. They are able to offer objective and informative guidance about any number of pursuits and are the best types of sounding boards as they’re likely well informed about the desired field and any opportunities that may arise.

Be a good multitasker

New graduates should always have several projects or ideas on the go. In the absence of years of experience and a steady career, graduates have to cast a wide net. Pursuing a variety of opportunities and interests can be rewarding, but only if they’re well managed. Being an efficient and effective multitasker is a valuable skill for job seekers but even more so for actual employees as it almost always leads to professional success.

Look into work experience programmes and internships

While they may not pay well, internships and work experience are priceless on a CV. Bulking out a CV with little to no professional experience with a few months working for a prestigious person or company is one of the best ways to get noticed. These types of experiences provide great introductions to all types of people already working in the industry who will be great contacts moving forward.

Get Online

Taking advantage of the World Wide Web is a no brainer for pretty much everyone uses the internet. Having access to a global market means that opportunities can come in all shapes in sizes when they come through the internet.


Graduates who are prepared to be flexible and even relocate may find that there are interesting and promising opportunities abroad worth pursuing. With Skype interviews and file sharing capabilities, someone in Scotland can easily apply, interview for and accept a job in India with no trouble at all.

There are still loads of professions that require formal and higher education for even the most basic entry-level positions, but there are also a wide variety of professions that may require a specific college diploma or even a certificate course.

Having a sense of a future profession in which there are job opportunities is an important first step for young people. Choosing a university or college course that relates specifically to a chosen field and provides real world experience within that discipline is highly likely to result in gainful and satisfying employment.

About Tracy

Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.

Making education count with distance learning

Some would argue that your whole life is an education, but putting that on a CV is pretty unlikely to get you a job offer. While you’ll mount up plenty of life experience in your years on this planet, chances are you won’t find an employer who’ll appreciate them without cold, hard qualifications to back your wisdom up.

But gaining a degree from a bricks-and-mortar university can be a bit of a pain when you’re juggling a job, home life and bills. So, how can you gain one to pique a potential employer’s interest?

The internet is the answer, with an online degree allowing you to study anytime, anywhere and at a fraction of the cost of a physical university.

Distance learning, as it’s generally known, didn’t used to be a byword for convenience. Back in the day, only about a decade ago, they were a long and tedious affair, requiring you to scour local libraries for obscure course books, wait aeons for your modules to be sent via post and study in almost complete isolation.

On the whole, it was like being stuck in an ever-winding queue that never quite takes you where you want to be. But now we’ve got the internet, and not just any old internet – hyper fast broadband, with fibre optic cables that run like a bullet train.

The endless benefits of distance learning

All this means that you’ve got a wealth of information at your disposal when it comes to studying, including JSTOR, Google Books, Google Scholar and Box of Broadcasts to give you a world of knowledge at the click of a button.

This rising net efficiency also means that you’ll be able to communicate with your tutor and peers via instant messaging services such as Skype or email. That lonely feeling, when the studying doldrums descend, is no longer an issue.

That was the main problem in the pre-internet days of distance learning, an abundance of isolated study. But now you can communicate with anyone on your course to make sure you’re on the right track, or to gleam new ideas from your tutor’s knowledge-filled brain.

The online degree also stands as a welcoming alternative to the “campus lifestyle” – wild parties, chattering young people, cut price drinks and excitable student halls. When you’re a bit older, you can’t really be doing with all that. You just want to get your head down, avoid distraction and study, study, study.

All in all, an online degree gives you the perfect opportunity to gain a qualification that matters without putting your life on hold. So, have a gander at distance learning and see what it could do for you.

About Tracy

Tracy has been an education professional for over 20 years. She loves sharing knowledge, helping other find their path in life and everything coconut.