Author Archives: Grammarai Warrior

mother and child in an office

Remote Working and Survival Tips for Parents With Young Children

The following is a guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez of Free-Lance-Now.com. If you enjoy this article by Lance, remember to check out his website for more great content like this!


As working from home has become more popular, there’s been a revolution in how people and organizations work. Presently, 26% of the American workforce works from home. However, working from home can be challenging because of distractions and family responsibilities. Here, Grammarai Warrior provides tips on how to work remotely and manage your parental responsibilities if you have young children at home. 

Set Up a Convenient work space

Working from home requires maximum concentration and a distraction-free environment. Thus, dedicate an area of your house for your job. Find a spot that allows easy access to everything for working, such as sufficient lighting, electricity, chair, desk, and coffee. To do so, research online for tips on how to create a makeshift working space at home.

Additionally, wear comfortable clothing that allows you to balance any house chores and work without feeling frumpy. Certain clothing, including tunics, comfortable leggings, cardigans and breezy dresses will enable you to work and chase after children in the house.

Establish a Work Schedule 

After creating a suitable workspace, design a schedule that allows you to balance working and giving quality attention to the kids. Make sure you include time to clean, prepare meals, and read bedtime stories.

Below are some tactics to employ to have a more manageable working schedule.

  • Work with them. Allow the kids to help with simple activities like arranging files and adding sticky notes.
  • Shift working hours: Create flexible working hours by waking up earlier and doing some work before your toddler is awake, or working during their nap time. 
  • Take breaks: Include time in your working hours to clean the house and prepare meals for the kids, but also try to carve out time for real breaks.
  • Give them assignments: Provide light assignments or work when they’re done with their homework if they are school-aged kids. 

A thoughtful schedule ensures your work time is uninterrupted and the kids get maximum attention and care. 

What If I Want a Job? 

If you’re a stay-at-home parent who has been out of the workforce for a bit but wants to return while keeping up with the kids, there are plenty of opportunities out there. And you get to combine the best of both worlds: you can generate income while still spending time with your kids. This is a great option if you’re still unable to afford daycare or don’t want to go this route.

The job landscape may have changed since you were last working, so it’s important to carefully craft a new resume. The best way to do this affordably is with a free online resume builder. With this tool, you can customize and update your resume using professional designs that help you stand out in the crowd.

Balancing work and managing kids from home is essential if you have a remote job. Make sure you set up a functional workspace and create a practical schedule that works for everyone. If you’re ready to join the remote workforce, a stellar resume will help you find the ideal job so that you can generate an income while managing family obligations, and you’ll have these tips to help you stay sane.


Thanks for reading this guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez. Remember to give him a visit at Free-Lance-Now.com for more resources and posts like this one! You can also read previous guest posts by Lance right here!

International Schools in South Korea: The Good, the Bad, and the Sketchy

International schools come in many shapes and sizes in Korea. Teaching at an international school can be the experience of a lifetime or a complete nightmare, depending on the school and its management. Here are some things to be aware of when considering international schools in Korea, whether you’re a teacher looking for work or a parent looking for a good place to educate your kids.

Accreditation

Perhaps one of the most significant factors when considering an international school is accreditation. There are several ways that a school could be recognized in South Korea. The best, most trustworthy schools will obviously be accredited by a reputable board, whether Korean or foreign.

Government-approved

The biggest international schools with the strictest requirements for teachers and facilities will be international schools recognized as such by the Korean government. Officially recognized international schools have to meet government-approved standards, and teachers must be appropriately educated, licensed, and experienced in their fields of study. Real registered international schools are typically sizeable, reputable, and well-funded with their own property and facilities.

Other Accreditation Councils

Many private international schools may also have accreditations or memberships associated with various international school associations and councils that all have their own standards and requirements. Schools with these accreditations and memberships may or may not be registered as schools with the Korean government. There are too many different associations to list exhaustively here, but a few memberships and accreditation associations you might see include East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS), Korea Council of Overseas Schools (KORCOS), and Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). Also be aware that some organizations offer different levels of membership, such as full membership and associate membership. Lower levels of membership may or may not guarantee serious standards from member schools.

Whatever accreditations or councils you see a school advertising on their website, you should do your own investigation into what those associations actually mean and what their standards are. Reputable organizations have high standards and ensure that their members continue to uphold those standards to maintain membership, while other no-name associations are simply there to make things look official without really checking up on their members or guaranteeing any kind of standard.

Unaccredited

Lack of accreditation should be an immediate red flag to teachers and parents alike. A school without some kind of accreditation may be a small, perfectly well-meaning private school, but without some kind of official recognition, it may be difficult to tell. If a school you are interested in is not accredited, here are a few things you can ask to dig deeper:

  • When was the school founded? A young school may not have been open long enough to get accredited yet. Some organizations require that a school be in operation for a certain number of years to be eligible for membership or accreditation. The accreditation process may also take several years to complete. If a school has been operating for several years and has not bothered to begin some kind of accreditation process, they have probably chosen not to—likely because they don’t want to do what it takes to become accredited or they already know they won’t be approved.
  • Have they started the accreditation process? If so, how far along are they? Some unaccredited schools may say that they are still in the process of becoming accredited. This may be true, but some have been saying this for years just to sound good but actually have no intention of becoming accredited. If it’s been a long time since a school supposedly started the process and they’re still not very far along, they’re probably not really going to get accredited anytime soon.
  • Were they previously accredited? Some schools have previously been accredited but lost their accreditation or let it expire. They might even leave their framed certificate on the wall for everyone to see, knowing that nobody is actually going to look at the date. There is not really a good reason for a previously accredited school to no longer be accredited. They’ve either let their standards slip, or they’re too cheap and lazy to keep up with the renewal process. Even if they have a legitimate reason for no longer being accredited by a certain organization, they should at least be in the process of joining another.
  • Why are they unaccredited? It is possible that a small private school may be great at what they do but truly lack the means or facilities to become accredited, but most schools should have some kind of motivation to seek accreditation. Even a small private school would need a pretty convincing answer to this question to still seem legitimate in any way.

If the management of a school can’t answer the questions on this list honestly and convincingly, the school is probably not worth any more of your time or consideration.

Registration

Closely related to accreditation, a school’s registration within Korea determines a lot about the standards and requirements a school must meet. International schools registered as schools with the Korean government must follow strict requirements and guidelines like any other Korean school would have to. However, not all supposed international schools in Korea are actually registered as schools. In fact, a lot of them aren’t.

Many small international schools are only registered as hagwons or miscellaneous businesses. Although hagwons are academic in nature, they are still just businesses in the eyes of the Korean government. Hagwons are not schools, and their teachers are only required to have an E-2 visa for teaching conversational English.

Because of the relative ease of starting and running a hagwon, it is not uncommon for low-budget international schools to have conversational English classes like any other hagwon in the afternoons while having international school classes during regular school hours. Since they are only registered as hagwons, such schools can easily hire teachers that only have to get E-2 visas rather than the E-7 or F-series visas teachers would usually have at registered international schools.

Hagwon status and its academic nature give sub-par international schools the apparent legitimacy of some kind of registration and membership within the Korean hagwon association, but it still doesn’t make them real schools, even if the words international school are part of their names. To unsuspecting foreigners, hagwon registration might be enough to make a small operation seem like a legitimate school, but hagwons are actually just businesses and do not have to meet the same criteria as actual schools.

Curriculum

The more highly-accredited a school is, the stricter the curriculum requirements are likely to be. The important thing is that a school has a proper, reputable curriculum of some kind and that they stick to it properly. Different accreditation organizations have their own curriculum standards, so things will vary from school to school.

A good school will use reputable, up-to-date curricula and textbooks. Students and teachers alike will be properly equipped with the textbooks they need for each subject. The school will be able to confidently show and explain their curriculum and textbooks to prospective employees and students.

A sketchy school might not even have proper textbooks or materials. In some cases the teachers might not even have the books or materials they need and be left to come up with their own plans and materials. Particularly bad or poorly equipped schools (probably of the unaccredited hagwon flavor) may end up photocopying books and printing a hodgepodge of free worksheets off the internet rather than providing everyone with appropriate textbooks and materials. Always ask to see the curriculum and textbooks a school uses. If they can’t or won’t show you a thorough and complete curriculum with appropriate textbooks and materials for every subject, they’re probably hiding something.

Faculty and Staff

As the word international implies, an international school would typically have a lot of international teachers. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, but the point of having an international school is to teach international students in a language that they can all understand, typically English. It’s normal to have some local Korean teachers too, but many of the faculty and staff at a legitimate international school are likely to be foreigners.

More importantly, the staff at a real international school will have to meet certain requirements to be hired. To work at an official international school, faculty will typically need to be licensed teachers with master’s degrees in their fields of study to get E-7 visas. Teachers who have been in country for a while may also have F-series visas instead.

If the teachers at an international school are not licensed or are hired on E-2 visas, then the school is not registered with the government as a true international school. It is probably only registered as a hagwon at best.

Facilities

Reputable international schools will typically have their own property and buildings. They should have all or most of the equipment and facilities you’d expect at a normal school anywhere else. Small-time private schools and hagwons will often just be renting a building, or even just a floor or two of one. Really low-budget operations will have bare minimum classroom supplies and equipment. The smaller and sketchier the facilities, the more alert you should be for other red flags. Always ask for a tour, even if it has to be by video call.

Avoiding Bad Schools and Hagwons

If you’re a teacher looking for work, you should seriously consider getting hired through a recruiter to make sure you end up at a legitimate school or hagwon. Recruiters work for the benefit of teachers to ensure that they are hired by legitimate schools offering appropriate pay and benefits. And whether you’re a teacher, parent, or student, you should check out some of these review sites and blacklists for schools and hagwons to avoid:

These lists and reviews are far from exhaustive, but it’s good to at least make sure a school you’re considering isn’t on a blacklist. If you’re up for a little more digging around online, you might also consider joining a Facebook group for foreigners living in the same city. Other foreign teachers in the same city have likely at least heard about the other hagwons and schools in their area and may be able to give you specific information that you won’t find anywhere else online.

Conclusion

Depending on what you are looking for, it may not matter to you if a school is public or private, government-funded or small-time and unaccredited. After all, it is possible to get a good education from good people without fancy facilities and accreditations. That being said though, the more highly-accredited and government-regulated a school is, the easier it will be to know exactly what you’re getting into. Especially when considering small private schools, be sure to do your own due diligence and ask lots of questions to make sure they are legitimate.

Teaching English in Korea: Bad Hagwons and How to Avoid Them

Have you ever considered teaching English in Korea? Teaching English can be a great way to travel and gain valuable work experience, but it can be a bit risky if you don’t know what to look out for while seeking employment. Signing a contract with the wrong employer can quickly turn an overseas adventure into a hagwon horror story! Hagwon life is not for everyone, so if you are considering teaching English in Korea, be sure to do your research and ask lots of questions before making any agreements.

What is a hagwon?

A hagwon (학원) is an afterschool academy where students get extra lessons and tutoring. Many hagwons specialize in one subject, such as English or math, while other hagwons offer classes on a variety of subjects all in one place. Some hagwons are independent businesses, while others, such as 눈높이, are part of a large chain of hagwons. Although hagwons are academic in nature, they are still businesses, not schools. The popularity and relative simplicity of hagwons makes them very abundant and, unfortunately, very attractive to some unsavory businessmen looking to make easy money.

Good hagwons vs bad hagwons

Bad hagwons have red flags big enough to see from space if you know what to look for. Unfortunately, most unsuspecting foreigners have no idea what to look for or what kinds of questions they should be asking when considering job offers from hagwons. Here are a few things to consider and ask questions about when applying and interviewing for hagwon work:

  • Reputation: Good hagwons have good reputations that they have earned over time. As such, they are well-trusted, have good systems and methods in place, and get plenty of business to keep things running profitably. Bad hagwons often pander to parents and bend over backwards to keep them happy and keep them paying, even if that means the hagwon has to shoot itself in the foot and mess up its own system to cram in a new student, move classes around, or send a kid to class with no textbook for several months.
  • Discipline: A good hagwon with a good reputation wants to maintain that reputation. Their work speaks for itself, and they are not afraid to discipline or expel problematic students when necessary. They do not need to pander to unreasonable parents or put up with terrible students just to keep their tuition money coming in. Bad hagwons have little or no discipline because they fear angering parents and losing students. In a bad hagwon, teachers who complain about problematic students are often given a lame excuse such as, “That’s just how it is,” or told that it’s not a problem with the hagwon, but rather with their teaching abilities.
  • Class structures and levels: Good hagwons have clear class structures and levels for students to advance through as they study and improve, and they do their best to place students correctly and stick to the system. Bad hagwons bend over backwards to cram in any new students they can get and randomly move students around between classes and levels to make room or satisfy complaints from controlling parents. Bad hagwons often end up with classes full of students on different skill levels with different textbooks (or no textbooks at all) because they wanted to make room for some new students in another class or because someone’s overcompetitive mom called and demanded that her kid move up a level.
  • Curriculum: Good hagwons have a curriculum to follow. They may use a curriculum they’ve developed themselves over the years, a series of textbooks, or a bit of both. However they choose to do things, they have a system in place and follow a logical progression of lessons and textbooks. Bad hagwons have no clear system, or, if they do have one, they don’t actually stick to it. With all the pandering and moving around, they end up with students who have multiple unfinished textbooks, the wrong textbooks for the class they are in, or no textbooks at all, creating quite a nightmare for teachers. Teachers in bad hagwons often have to teach off the cuff, change schedule with little or no prior notice, make copies of textbooks for kids who don’t have any, and spend hours creating their own tests and quizzes.
  • Facilities: Appearances are very important in Korea, so good and bad hagwons alike will do their best to look presentable to parents. Behind the scenes, however, bad hagwons’ facilities are often lacking. They may be missing simple things like a decent computer and printer for teachers to use, and the computer they do have will probably be old and slow and lack proper office software. In some cases, the entire business might be running on one cruddy old laptop! Chairs and tables may be severely worn out and falling apart. The hagwon likely won’t provide copies of textbooks for teachers to use in class. Bad hagwon owners either can’t afford to maintain their facilities, or, more likely, they simply don’t want to spend the money.
  • Pay: Pay will vary even among good hagwons, depending on things like location and what other benefits the hagwon offers. A good hagwon should typically offer somewhere around 3 to 5 million won per month. A hagwon in a smaller, cheaper city might offer a paycheck around the lower end of the spectrum, while a hagwon in a large, expensive city might offer a relatively high paycheck. Pay can also vary depending on whether or not the hagwon offers other benefits like housing and insurance. Always read the contract carefully when considering a hagwon, and, if something is not crystal clear, ask lots of questions until you know exactly what you’re getting into. Sneaky employers may describe a certain salary per year but neglect to mention anything about sick days and reserve the right to cut your pay by the hour if you miss work for any reason.
  • Teachers: Korean parents understandably want their kids to learn English from native speakers, so most of the teachers at a good English hagwon will be foreigners from places like the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and South Africa. Of course, hiring foreigners is more expensive than hiring locals, so bad hagwons may try to cut corners by rotating one or two foreign teachers through the classes while local Korean teachers fill in on the off days. It’s not bad or uncommon for a hagwon to hire some Korean teachers to help out, but if most classes are not primarily taught by foreign teachers, you might be dealing with a bad hagwon.

Hagwon and International School Combos

In your search for hagwon employment, you may come across international schools that also offer hagwon classes in the afternoon. Such institutions might be looking for someone who can teach at the international school during the school day and then teach hagwon classes in the afternoons. A setup like this may not be impossible, but such an “international school” is likely not legitimate. And even if it were a legitimate school, the number of teaching hours one person would have to put in per day is ridiculous. If an institution claims to be an international school and a hagwon, they are likely only registered as a hagwon, not as an accredited school. In addition, the E-7 visa requirements to be a teacher at a real international school are different and more demanding than the E-2 visa requirements to be a conversational English teacher at a hagwon. If an institution is offering to hire you as an international school teacher on an E-2 visa, they’re either not an accredited school in Korea, or they’re into some shady business. Always do your research!

Hagwon Blacklists

Many people have taken it upon themselves to help out their fellow humans by sharing their hagwon horror stories online so the rest of us don’t have to suffer the same horrible fates. Unfortunately, online backlists are not nearly exhaustive, but they are still very helpful. If you’re considering a hagwon, look for their name on these popular hagwon blacklists to be safe:

Even if you don’t find a hagwon’s name on a blacklist, always do your own research and ask plenty of questions to make sure you don’t end up being the one to add them to a blacklist yourself!

If you’re still looking for more detailed information on a specific hagwon, you might also try looking for a social media group for foreigners living in the same city—Facebook pages for foreigners in Jeonju or Busan, for example. Ask around the group to see if other foreigners in the city have heard anything about the hagwon your considering. You might even find someone who’s worked there!

Teachers looking for work should also seriously consider getting hired through a recruiter, rather than shopping around alone and hoping they don’t get duped by a bad hagwon. Recruiters work for the benefit of foreign teachers to ensure that they are hired by legitimate schools offering appropriate pay and benefits.

Teaching English in Korea can be a fun and rewarding experience if you find a good school or hagwon to work for. Just be careful to avoid the shady characters looking to make a quick buck and ruin the experience!

Freelance Writing: Could This Be the Path You Have Dreamed Of?

The following is a guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez of free-lance-now.com. If you enjoy his writing, visit his website for more great articles like this one!


Whether you dream of working your way through school or a way to supplement your income post-graduation, freelance writing could be the path for you. According to research, freelance writers in certain niches made over $3,000 monthly, so the career can be lucrative. Here are ideas on how to get your freelance business going.

1. How to Find Training Courses

If you have never written for a paycheck or you want to take your writing game up to the next level, you may want to consider taking a training course. These can help you succeed as a professional writer and give you an understanding of what clients want. Freelance writing is a blanket term consisting of many types of content creation, so focusing on one type and developing your expertise with it can be beneficial. Training courses can help you understand one or more writing niches to enable you to increase your workload.

2. How to Find Freelance Opportunities

Self-employed writers are frequently on the hunt for new projects and clients. To land high-paying gigs, ensure that you have a strong portfolio. Show prospective customers that you are up to their challenge by providing proof. Keep some of your best work on hand to share readily with anyone who is thinking of hiring you. Further, providing testimonials of past happy customers shows that not only can you write but you can craft your words in accordance with the needs of your patrons.

In addition, there are numerous websites that help connect writers with companies or individuals that need their services. Try out several sites and see which is a good fit for you. 

3. How to Advertise Your Services

In today’s society, you will need to market yourself online in order to be successful. You can join social media groups for writers, connect with other freelancers and send cold emails to companies you think you could help with your expertise. Although connecting with others online is essential to a freelancer’s success, you can also attend local community events to make personal ties with others. 

4. How to Stay on Track with Deadlines

When juggling multiple clients and deadlines, it is easy to get off track quickly if you are not careful. Technology has made tracking your to-do list and income easier than ever. However, some writers prefer to stick with the tried and true paper calendar method. This can be easy for those who like a visual as you can place the calendar in plain sight where you can glance at it throughout the day.

5. How to Protect Your Interests and Get Paid

Many self-employed writing entrepreneurs choose to establish a formal business entity to protect their personal interests and minimize tax obligations for their earnings. You can choose from one of several types of legal entities. Forming a limited liability company provides several benefits such as tax advantages, less paperwork, flexibility, and reduced personal liability.

To ensure prompt payment, invoice clients immediately after completing a job and simplify billing terms. It’s also a good idea to give clients multiple payment options. You can create a branded invoice with an online invoice maker. Choose the template you favor and then edit it to include terms and your preferred font, background, and colors.

Becoming a freelance writer is entirely possible for those who set their minds to it. Whether you want to supplement your main income or find a way to work flexibly from home, you can make good money with a little research and a lot of effort.

Visit Grammarai Warrior for grammar lessons and resources and fun apparel!


Thanks for reading this guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez! Remember to visit him at free-lance-now.com for more great content!

Real Ways You Can Make a Difference in Your Community

The following is a guest post by Lance Cody-Valdez of free-lance-now.com. Visit his website for freelancing tips and resources and more great articles like this one!


While you may have a deep, personal passion for caring for others, it can be hard to figure out the best way to make a difference in the surrounding community. Grammarai Warrior presents the following guide to help anyone who wants to make a positive impact in their area.

Community-Focused Careers

What better way to combine your passion with your work? You can make a living by making a difference. There are many options; all you need is a little drive, focus and creativity. The following suggestions can open you up to a whole new world of possibilities.

  • Working as a teacher can help you build up the next generation. If you’re looking for a career change, consider a fast-track program.
  • Looking to take on a major role in your community? Consider running for office.
  • You can even start your own business with a mind to hire locally or to give a portion of your proceeds to a community cause.

Volunteering

There’s no better way to put feet to your public spirit and social conscience than volunteering your time and resources to a worthy endeavor. Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose, and it’s also a way to get to know your fellow citizens. Here are some ways to make your impact in your spare time.

  • Volunteering helps your community and improves your mental health.
  • Looking for something less structured? Consider bringing trash-pickup items on your next walk and tidying your neighborhood.
  • If STEAM projects are more your leaning and you aren’t sure where to start, check in with local observatories, code camps, and even the National Weather Service; if you’re a weather junkie, you can teach kids about meteorology by doing a little storm spotting.

Using Your Voice

Many people aren’t aware of the issues facing the world today. Maybe you’re the one to inform your community about current events, whether they’re hot-button topics or not. Here’s how to use your voice effectively.

Ultimately, you should focus on finding ways to make the most of your strengths. You have unique skills, interests, and talents that can make a big difference for those around you. We hope this article inspires you to get started on your journey toward helping your community thrive.

Photo credit: Pexels


If you enjoyed this guest article by Lance, visit him at free-lance-now.com for more great content and resources for freelancers and digital nomads!

The First Steps of Starting a Green Business

The following is a guest post by Virginia Cooper of learnaliving.co. Check out her website or get in touch for more business and education ideas!


If you’re an entrepreneur and love the planet, then ecopreneurship could be the perfect fit! As with any type of business, however, starting a green business is not easy. You must be willing to put in the hard work and preparation while staying true to your environmental convictions. But the reward you will receive as you see tangible results will make it all worthwhile. Consider these tips and resources as you make a plan for your first green business!

Learn the Basics of Ecopreneurship

Let’s start with the basics. Here are some essential responsibilities to expect as an ecopreneur:

  • Constantly consider how you can benefit the environment in every aspect of your operations.
  • Also, always look for new opportunities to help your community members and the community at large.
  • As much as possible, develop a supply chain of eco-conscious organizations and individuals.
  • Remain cognizant of how you can boost your profits so that you can keep propelling your mission forward!

Think Like a Business

Along with maintaining a heightened sense of the environment and social factors in your community, you will need to handle all the tasks that come with operating a small business:

  • Create a thorough business plan that details your mission statement, core values, financial projections, funding requirements, marketing strategies, and more.
  • Come up with a creative business name that fits your goals and offerings as a business.
  • Establish a legal structure for your organization. You’ll need a Tax ID Number from the IRS for banking. Many new businesses choose to register as an LLC as this entity protects personal assets.
  • Develop branding (e.g., logo, colors, typography) that sets your business apart from others.

Explore Your Options

Finally, if you’re not settled on the type of business you want to start, consider these trending green business ideas:

  • Start a green cleaning service that works on residential and commercial properties.
  • Provide landscaping services to homeowners and businesses using native plants and trees.
  • Make organic beauty products to sell online and/or locally.
  • Combat fast fashion by opening a sustainable clothing brand or store.

There are countless ways to contribute to a healthier environment and community by becoming an ecopreneur. Remember to learn the essential aspects of running a green business, and don’t cut any corners when laying the groundwork. In no time, you’ll be on your way to making the world a more sustainable place for future generations!

This article is brought to you by Grammarai Warrior. For more information, please visit our website or contact us today!


If you enjoyed this guest post, don’t forget to check out Virginia’s website for more great content like this!

Affordable and Educational Gifts for Children that Don’t Include Screens

The following is a guest post by Joyce Wilson of TeacherSpark.org. Visit her blog for more great articles and teaching ideas!


Many children spend a lot of time playing video games and watching television these days, and it can be a real challenge to get them interested in anything else. We don’t want them to be bored, but it is natural to want to give gifts that move them away from screens, since as ParentMap notes, too much use can be bad for them. Luckily, many educational gifts that are reasonably priced are easy to find. Here are some simple, budget-friendly suggestions courtesy of Grammarai Warrior.

Encourage Artistic Expression

Encouraging children to express themselves artistically has many emotional benefits and it doesn’t cost a lot of money to foster their natural talents. Art supplies like acrylic paint, brushes and a canvas or two make an excellent gift combination for youngsters. Other good options include modeling clay, charcoal pencils, watercolors, and calligraphy sets. Even simple coloring books and crayons can offer hours of creative fun.

Music is another form of artistic expression that can draw a child away from the lure of screens. Although a new musical instrument can be a big investment, a used one can be purchased from online sites like eBay or Etsy. As an example, a keyboard is relatively easy to learn and is a good way for a child to start making music. Be sure to throw in a book of easy-to-master songs and a pair of noise-canceling headphones to round out the gift.

Hands-On Education

Children love watching things grow and learning how substances react. A biology lab kit can be assembled by buying seeds, growing medium, and a few pots. Try to choose plants that grow relatively quickly like marigolds or beans so the whole operation won’t be abandoned. If your child is hooked on science, chemistry sets provide hours of interesting activity for children while teaching them about experimentation. Select one that is age-appropriate and meets your price point.

Another inexpensive hands-on learning toy is a set of building blocks like Legos and other creative construction toys. Parenting Science points out there is ample evidence that construction play encourages problem-solving as well as language, spatial, and motor skills. You can start with a simple set that can be added on to as the child’s ability to build expands. And you might be surprised to learn that if you visit Lego’s website, you can often find sales on their products.

For the Bookworms

Books never go out of style. Consider popular nonfiction titles or even a series of books. Many bookstores, whether online or not, have members’ clubs that offer discounts and special rates.

Also, consider shopping second-hand bookstores for first-edition classic titles or gently used selections. If you have an e-reader, download some freebies. With endless options on every topic imaginable, books are the perfect way to expand your child’s horizons and help them learn.

Family and Social Interactions

Meaningful interactions with family and friends are the best way to get children interested in leaving the world of their screens behind. Consider games and puzzles to brighten your child’s day, enjoy more family time, and, of course, keep them off the electronics.

Puzzles are both fun and challenging mental exercise and can be a super low-cost gift. A jigsaw puzzle of the world, for instance, is an excellent gift for helping kids to learn geography. Several puzzle books like crossword and word search are also a good choice. Finally, board games can teach a variety of skills like counting, spelling and even real estate.

Another activity you can do with your kids is to teach them about the practical skills you demonstrate at home everyday. You can talk to them about doing things with you around the house. You can ask them to help you cook lunch, tend to the garden, or wash the car. If they’re interested you can check different websites, and look at some project that you can do together.

Deciding on a screen-less gift for your child doesn’t have to be a difficult or impossible decision. Children love learning, creating and moving, so all of these options should provide a great first step. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and don’t forget to take advantage of online opportunities to help you save money.

Grammarai Warrior offers inspirational tips and free grammar resources. Check out our store or contact us today!


If you enjoyed this article by Joyce Wilson, get in touch with her and check out all of her content at TeacherSpark.org for more helpful information and inspirational teaching ideas!

Powering Through Projects

We’ve all been in a situation where we had a lot of work to do and not enough energy to do it. Whether it’s college papers or projects at work, sometimes you just have to trudge on through and get things done for a deadline even if it kills you. Here are a few quick tips and ideas to maintain your energy levels and power through those projects like a champ.

Stay hydrated

This is a fairly obvious tip and one that a lot of gurus are already promoting, so I won’t stay on this one for long. Sometimes all you need is a glass of water to get rehydrated, and you’ll feel much more awake. If you often get too busy and forget to have a few glasses of water throughout the day, set a reminder on your phone or smartwatch to keep yourself hydrated.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule

Being mindful of your circadian rhythm can make a big difference in how you feel throughout the entire day. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Make bed time non-negotiable, and do whatever you have to do to make yourself get up in the morning. If you have a hard time getting out of bed on time, Jocko Willink has some brilliant ideas for making yourself get up.

Sleep is a very deep topic to study, and everyone is unique. At the end of the day though, we all need enough sleep to stay healthy and function at our best. If you’re interested in digging deeper into the importance of sleep, I recommend the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD.

Make bed time non-negotiable, and do whatever you have to do to make yourself get up in the morning.

Eat something

If you’re the type to get intensely focused on your work, you might tend to skip meals. As tempting as it might be, don’t skip breakfast in the morning or cut corners by eating junk food like Pop-tarts or donuts. Sugary foods will only give you a temporary boost that will be gone as quick as it came. Eat healthy, and eat regularly to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.

Don’t eat anything

This point might sound like the exact opposite of what I just mentioned, but hear me out. You can still eat, but it might be a good idea to put off your meals or rearrange your schedule. We all know that feeling of lethargy and sleepiness after a big meal. The digestive process can sap a lot of energy and leave you feeling lethargic for a while, especially if you eat something heavy and unhealthy. Eat light, healthy meals that are easy to digest to avoid feeling bloated and sleepy.

If you’re already eating healthy but still feeling sleepy after your meals, consider changing up your schedule so that your meal times don’t come before or in the middle of working hours. Some people even find intermittent fasting routines helpful for avoiding eating during work hours.

And of course (as common sense hopefully tells you already) you should always consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.

A change of scenery

It can be hard to stay focused in certain environments. If you’re working at home, you might be distracted by all the chores you need to get done around the house or all the mediums of entertainment at your disposal. If you’re at your work office, your coworkers might keep stepping in for small talk. Whatever distractions you face, sometimes the best way to make yourself get something done is just to do your work somewhere else where you don’t have anything else competing for your attention. Work in a place that is dedicated to productivity, such as a library or study center. Go to a café where you have nothing else to do and no friends around to talk to. Everyone has different preferences and pet peeves, so find a place that works for you and makes it easy to stay focused on the work at hand.

Get some sunlight

Sunlight plays a significant role in our sleep cycle. It’s one of the cues that helps our bodies know when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to start winding down for the day. Wake yourself up by getting some direct exposure to sunlight in the morning. If you can, do your work outside or next to an open window to allow for direct sunlight exposure. Even a quick fifteen-minute walk during lunch break can help you feel much more awake and energized after being cooped up inside all morning.

Exercise

Regular exercise can be beneficial for lots of reasons. If you have a hard time falling asleep at night, going to the gym might help exhaust you enough to fall asleep at a decent hour. If you feel groggy in the morning, an early workout can get your blood pumping and help you feel alert and energized.

In addition to your regular exercise routine, some brief physical activity when you’re feeling sleepy or lethargic during the day can help clear your head and get you reenergized. A short walk outside might help you brush off that afternoon grogginess at work. And if you’re really getting sleepy, an intense set or two of burpees or jumping jacks will wake you right up. You’ll almost never be so tired that some burpees can’t wake you up!

You’ll almost never be so tired that some burpees can’t wake you up!

Take a nap

If your schedule and environment allow, a quick power nap can give you a great energy boost to get through the rest of your day. A nap cannot replace a proper sleep schedule, but it can be a great compliment to one, or at least help you power through a temporary lack of sleep for a big project. For more information on the art of napping, I recommend this article from The Art of Manliness.

Use coffee for a temporary boost

As you may have read in this previous post about coffee, caffeine is usually not a great idea. However, it might be useful as a temporary boost in particularly demanding circumstances. If you’re going all out for a few days to finish a big project or burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline, caffeine might be useful to keep yourself going for those last few hours before you inevitably crash. Used in conjunction with a power nap, caffeine can be used for a strong temporary energy boost. Simply chug a cup of coffee and immediately crash for a brief power nap. When you wake up in twenty minutes or so, you will not only be reenergized from the nap, but the caffeine should also be kicking in for an extra boost. Caffeine is not a good long-term solution, but it can be very effective when used strategically.

Try the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo. It is designed to help you get work done in short stages or bursts of productivity followed by short periods of rest. To use the Pomodoro Technique, set a timer for twenty-five minutes. During those twenty-five minutes, get as much work done as you possibly can. When the twenty-five minutes of work is over, you get five minutes to rest and do whatever you want. After five minutes of rest, set the timer for another twenty-five minutes of work, and repeat the process as necessary. Every four cycles you’re free to take a longer fifteen- to thirty-minute break.

You might find setting a short timer and knowing that there is an end in sight very motivating. Or you might find that you just needed the timer to get yourself started and find a break completely unnecessary once you get the ball rolling. Experiment with different lengths of time to find a cycle that helps you get the most done.

Conclusion

You probably noticed that a lot of maintaining energy levels comes down to being healthy and consistent in day-to-day life. Eating healthy, sleeping on time, and exercising regularly are important to just about every aspect of life. However, there are times when even the healthiest among us have to rely on a few life hacks to power through projects in trying circumstances. Stay healthy and hack wisely!

A Great App for Memorizing Vocabulary: Anki

If you’re one of the many people trying to learn a new language, you know how difficult it is to remember a bunch of vocabulary words. There are tons of different apps and methods out there for learning new vocabulary, but the most useful and practical memorization tool I’ve ever used is Anki.

What is Anki?

Anki is a powerful flashcard app designed to help you memorize just about anything. It can be used to make flashcards for learning a language, memorizing terms for a science test, or remembering mathematical formulae. Anki is packed with features and options that can be optimized to fit any preference or study schedule.

There are tons of different apps and methods out there for learning new vocabulary, but the most useful and practical memorization tool I’ve ever used is Anki.

One of Anki’s best features is that it can be synchronized across devices. With apps available for any computer or mobile device, you can start studying flash cards on your computer at home and pick up right where you left off any time you have a few spare minutes throughout the day with your phone. This article is not meant to be a full walkthrough of Anki’s capabilities, but you can visit Anki’s website to read about more details and amazing features.

How Anki Works

Anki is designed to help you memorize terms by spaced repetition. Each time Anki shows you a flashcard, it asks you how difficult it was. The easier the card was to remember, the longer Anki will wait to show you the card again in the future. The more difficult the card was to remember, the sooner Anki will bring it up for review again.

the Anki flashcard difficulty scale
The easier a card is to remember, the longer Anki will wait to review it again. The more difficult a card is to remember, the sooner Anki will review it again.

You can change Anki’s settings to review cards more or less often if you like, but the default settings have always worked great in my experience. If you forget a term, you can always tell Anki to review it again when it asks how difficult it was. You can always count on Anki to review each card again eventually, so you don’t have to worry about scheduling reviews or forgetting terms that you learned in the past.

But I already use Quizlet!

Already made a bunch of flashcards on Quizlet? Quizlet is great too, but it doesn’t have all the options and features that Anki has. If you want to switch from Quizlet to Anki or use your flashcards on both, you can easily move flashcards to Anki without making them all over again. Simply export flashcard decks from Quizlet and import them to a new Anki deck!

Exporting a deck from Quizlet and importing the file to Anki.
Export flashcards from Quizlet (left), and import them to make a new deck in Anki (right).

How I Use Quizlet for Vocabulary

I like to keep things simple, so I put all of my vocabulary flashcards in one big deck for each language. As I study and come across new words and phrases that I want to remember, I add them to the deck. Since Anki reviews cards by spaced repetition, not by topic or deck, it doesn’t matter if you have one deck or twenty. All the cards that need to be reviewed each day are due on that day, no matter what deck they are in or how you prefer to categorize them.

A tactic I employ to ensure thorough memorization of vocabulary is creating two versions of each card. For example, when I add flashcards to my Korean deck, I create an English-Korean card and a Korean-English card. Sometimes I can easily remember the English translation of a Korean word, but I struggle to remember the Korean translation of an English word. By creating two versions of each flashcard, I ensure that I can more easily bring to mind each word that I learn in either language.

Since both versions of each flashcard are already in the same big deck, Anki will review each word both ways each time it comes up. However, if you wish to keep both versions of a card together in a deck, you must create them back-to-back and use the default “Show new cards in order added” option rather than the “Show new cards in random order” option. Otherwise, the two cards will be randomly shuffled into the deck and will likely end up being reviewed separately days or weeks apart from each other. Don’t forget to sync your account when you add new cards or finish a study session!

Finally, try not to skip a review day with Anki. If you have a few small decks, catching up the next day might be easy, but when you have multiple decks and hundreds or thousands of flashcards, missing a day can really cause things to pile up! If you find that you have too many flashcards to review in one day, you can change the “Maximum reviews/day” setting in the “Reviews” tab of the options menu.

Download Anki


As you’ll see for yourself, Anki is a powerful app with tons of great options and features. There is so much more that could be said about Anki, but exploring all of its options and features would take us far beyond the scope of this post. I hope you’ll find Anki as helpful as I have on your own educational journey. Do you use Anki or any other study apps? Share your own tips and tricks in the comments!

a teacher speaking to his class

Teaching: A Calling Not Just A Career

The following is a guest post by Susan Good of RetiredEducator.org. Visit her blog for more great articles like this one!


Teachers are more than educators. They are community leaders and are largely responsible for shaping what our world will look like in the future. If you are thinking about stepping into the classroom, keep reading as the Grammarai Warrior blog covers the basics on how to become a teacher.

Traits of a teacher

Not just anyone can be a teacher. You must be highly organized with the ability to give clear and concise directions to a group of people with varying skills and knowledge levels. If you choose to work at the elementary level, you also need to be exponentially patient and understand that kids must burn energy and question authority. A great teacher will have an astounding sense of humor and be a perpetual optimist.

Educational requirements

If you believe you have what it takes, the next step is to evaluate your dedication to your education. The vast majority of teaching positions in the United States require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. You should know, however, that earning your master’s degree (there are plenty of programs available online) opens up other opportunities. For example, you could potentially become a lead educator or administrator earlier in your career than with a bachelor’s alone. Once you are done with your education, you will need to take an educator certification test and pass a background check.

Ongoing training

Even though you will spend the vast majority of your time in front of a class, you will also find yourself on the other side of learning more often than you may expect. After you finish your student teaching, you will be required to complete ongoing professional development. Many enthusiastic teachers are given opportunities to further advance their teaching skills by visiting other schools — many of which, like the Ron Clark Academy, have a reputation for innovative teaching styles that cater to at-risk youth.

The rewards

There are obvious rewards to being a teacher. One is that you get to shape the leaders of the future. But as educational technologies company Shmoop explains, you will also learn while you earn. If impacting the future and enhancing your own knowledge base isn’t enough, think of all of the funny moments that you’ll have in the classroom — both because of the students and your sense of humor, which will grow out of necessity. Further, you get to work with other men and women who have similar goals as your own, and you’ll form a network of friends that will quickly grow outside of work.

The money

Very few teachers start their careers because of the money. Depending on where you live, you can expect a starting salary of $32,000 or less. Some higher-paying teachers in states like New York and Massachusetts easily top out at $75,000 or more. According to Niche, the average teacher in the US makes around $58,950 per year.

Being a teacher is a calling just as much as it is a career. For all of its positives, teachers are sadly overlooked and underappreciated. There may be days when you want to throw in the proverbial towel. But remember: The work you do now will have a long-lasting impact. The students you teach today hold tight to the lessons you’ve taught long after you retire, and they will take these with them into their adult lives. As a teacher, you are important, you matter, and you make a difference — and you can’t put a price on that.


If you enjoyed this article by Susan Good, check out more of her content at retirededucator.org! Whether you’re a professional educator, a parent, or a lifelong learner, you’re sure to benefit from her wealth of knowledge and practical teaching advice gained from thirty-eight years of teaching experience.