Using Microsoft Edge As A Teaching Tool

~ Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 5:32 AM ~

I had previously written about how we make use of technologies to parent, educate and learn together as a family, shared our family's guidelines on technology usage for our children and also recommended some favourite Windows apps and utilities and games for the family. With an Intel® Core™ M processor in our Acer Switch 12 device, it means we get the best of both worlds - a laptop and an ultra-fast tablet useful for our family. I'm very blessed with the magic it does in our everyday lives so as parents, it is our duty to make full use of the wonders and technologies around us in our parenting journey.

For today's post, I will share with you on how we can make use of Microsoft Edge as a teaching tool for our children. Before we begin, let's learn a bit of history first. Do you know that for years, Microsoft’s built-in option for browsing websites was Internet Explorer?

Now with the introduction of Windows 10, we have a new built-in browser option which is Microsoft Edge to peruse all our favourite web contents! It is a new generation of web browser aimed to make the Internet safer and more functional than ever before. It's revolutionary layout engine makes it adaptable to new and updated Web standards and interacts well with Cortana, the Microsoft virtual personal assistant and gives users a way to annotate Web pages.

Now with our Acer Switch 12 device, how do we make use of Microsoft Edge as a teaching tool for our children?

Microsoft Edge's Web Note

The Web Note feature in Microsoft Edge browser lets you take notes, write, doodle, and highlight directly on webpages. Yes! Scribble all you want on the web page itself! What's more cool is you can save and share your doodle and writing in all the usual ways. With the web page as your canvas, the sky is the limit, you can write notes on it to remind yourself or draw funny doodles on images and more!

Using Microsoft Edge As A Teaching Tool

As for me, I used this feature to highlight and also put in remarks on what I should explain to our kiddos for our bedtime news articles reading routine and also doodle on images when I want to highlight something prior to teaching our kiddos.

Using Microsoft Edge As A Teaching Tool

Can you think of the endless possibilities to teach your children with this feature? Get them to read news articles or books or any reading materials on the Edge browser, highlight words or sentences that they do not understand (so that you can keep track of it) or draw on the web page if your child wanted to know more... lots and lots of teaching and learning moments parents!!!!

Microsoft Edge's Reading View

Another cool feature with Microsoft Edge is the ability to turn on / off the reading view. You know how sometimes it gets annoying with all the adverts popping up and distracting you as you were browsing? With this feature, you eliminate all the ads, links, and other distracting content typically displayed around the news and articles! Awesome possum!

For example, a typical web page will look like below, with links, banners and adverts all around to distract and tempt you away (what more with young children who are so easily distracted with colour animated images)

Using Microsoft Edge As A Teaching Tool

To activate the Reading View, you just click on the book icon at the right end of the address bar. (*Note: In the event that the book icon is greyed out, then reading mode is not available for the page that you are on) If you can successfully click on the book icon, your webpage in reading view will look like below. Just text with the article's accompanying images. No ads, links, pop-ups etc. The web page is centred on the page, and the text is in a different, clearer font, larger size, and wider spacing, all optimised for better reading. In terms of teaching tool, this feature helps in removing these distractions to keep your children focused on the information they need to read or learn.

Using Microsoft Edge As A Teaching Tool


The above are some of the main features that I love when using Microsoft Edge as a teaching tool! Of course there are other features such as the Reading List, ability to Favourite (bookmark) the webpage and more. I hope my sharing is helpful to you guys!

Btw, Microsoft & Intel are currently running a contest where users who purchase a brand new participating 2 in 1 PC can stand a chance to win RM500 shopping vouchers! You can find out more about the promo at:

In the meantime, you can learn more at the Make Magic website

Make magic. Every day.



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Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

~ Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 8:15 PM ~

I was just reading an article recently stating a mother drank while she was pregnant and there's an accompanying video in the article that shows what her daughter is like at age 43.  Do note that sharing this does not mean I agree or disagree with it. For your convenience, I have copied the excerpts from the article here:

Kathy Mitchell wants to share something with you. She’s not proud of it, and it’s not a behavior she hopes you’ll emulate. It’s just the truth: As a teen, Kathy drank alcohol while pregnant with her daughter, Karli. It was a perilous if unwitting mistake that has defined both of their lives.

Karli is now 43 but is the developmental age of a first-grader. In the home she shares with her mother and stepfather, she collects dolls and purses, and pores over Hello Kitty coloring and sticker books. Karli has fetal alcohol syndrome, the result of alcohol exposure in utero.

In middle age, Karli has none of the awareness, self-determination and independence that most of us take for granted. She can’t recognize social cues, is easily led and manipulated, and can’t predict dangerous behaviors. She can only follow one rule at a time and doesn’t understand sequence. She can cross a street at a lighted crosswalk, but if the light is out, she’ll step in front of a car. She likes to wear pretty clothes, but she can’t remember to brush her teeth.

To Kathy, Karli’s is simply a life snuffed of promise. “I adore my very sweet daughter,” Kathy says. “She’s a forever innocent child. But not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself, ‘What if? What if alcohol hadn’t been a part of my life?’ ”

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, covers a range of impairments from severe, such as Karli’s fetal alcohol syndrome, to mild. Its effects can include impaired growth, intellectual disabilities and such neurological, emotional and behavioral issues as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, vision problems and speech and language delays. FASD is also sometimes characterized by a cluster of facial features: small eyes, a thin upper lip and a flat philtrum (the ridge between the nose and upper lip). And, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put it, the disabilities “last a lifetime. There is no cure, though early intervention treatment can improve a child’s development.”

“In our family, though, [Karli] is a blessing,” Kathy says. “She brings joy to everyone she knows.” But, she adds, “it breaks my heart to think about why Karli is disabled.” But Kathy says that rather than “sit in self-hatred and self-blame,” she has made it her mission in life to tell the story of her and Karli so that others won’t make the same mistakes. “I believe I would be a terrible person if I didn’t do everything in my power to prevent this from happening to another child.”

Family history of alcoholism

Kathy’s lengthy affair with alcohol was nearly a birthright. She grew up in Rockville, Md., the fifth child of seven in a family in which, she says, problems were barely acknowledged and rarely discussed. Especially the alcoholism that Kathy says was a part of her family history.

In 1964, when Kathy was 10, her parents opened a restaurant in Olney, which they would own for the next 33 years. Kathy and her siblings all helped in the business, which took on a nightclub atmosphere after 8 p.m. “Customers would come for dinner, then dance and drink all night. At 1 a.m. they’d be stumbling out to their cars to drive home,” she says. By the time she turned 12, Kathy had been drunk more than once — and figured out that she liked the euphoria of intoxication. “Drinking made me feel grown-up, cuter, smarter, and helped me flow with the rest of the world,” she says. In her chaotic, sibling-filled household, she was essentially an “invisible child,” she says, with no one noti­cing her drinking.

Maid of honor at age 14 at her sister’s wedding, Kathy remembers drinking beer after beer until, thoroughly intoxicated, she fled the scene — before the wedding photographs were even taken. “It was just, like, ‘Oh, that’s Kathleen!’ Looking back now, I can say that I was in the early stages of alcoholism by then, having blackouts. Everyone else was busy surviving and doing their own thing, and no one seemed to notice that I needed help.”  In 10th grade, Kathy got pregnant. She married the baby’s father — a teenage boyfriend — and dropped out of school. Their son was born a month after Kathy turned 17. The child was healthy and Kathy went back to waiting tables and tending bar. Nine months later she was pregnant again.

In those days, she recalls, people would say, “If you want to have a big fat baby, drink a beer a day” and “red wine is good for the baby’s blood.” Kathy again drank throughout her pregnancy, but usually just with friends. She’d put away a bottle of wine, or four to five beers, during a weekend. Drinking wasn’t her only risky behavior: “The fact is, I had poor nutrition, smoked cigarettes, worked in bars and drank alcohol. None of this was conducive to a healthy pregnancy.” In 1973, just a few months after turning 18, she gave birth to Karli.

Discovery came too late

That same year, researchers at the University of Washington Medical School published a landmark paper that described children with physical and intellectual disabilities whose mothers had drunk heavily throughout pregnancy. Alcohol was a teratogen, a substance that kills or damages developing cells, the researchers said, and then for the first time used term fetal alcohol syndrome to describe the result. That information came too late to make a difference to Kathy or Karli.

From birth, Karli had been plagued by relatively minor health problems that didn’t raise red flags at the pediatrician’s office. When she failed to sit up on time and was slow to reach other milestones, doctors told Kathy that her baby had experienced delays because of her chronic ear infections.

Yet Karli’s problems grew more pronounced as she aged. She exhibited fine and gross motor difficulties, poor joint mobility and speech delays. At one point, a doctor diagnosed cerebral palsy, one of the many disorders and conditions whose symptoms overlap with those of FASD. Later it became clear that Karli didn’t have cerebral palsy, but “at that point it is more accurate to understand that the physician didn’t even have FASD in his lineup,” Kathy says. “Very few are trained to diagnose the disorder, and the number was even fewer back then. No one ever asked me about my alcohol use.” And Kathy continued to drink.

Meanwhile, her life grew more chaotic: evictions, job loss, divorce, illicit drug use and even suicidal thoughts. She gave birth to three more children, drinking throughout each pregnancy. With her parents providing the bulk of care for Karli and her siblings, Kathy drifted in and out of jobs, apartments, motivation and despair. Her third child, a girl, was born healthy, but by the time she became pregnant with her fourth child, Kathy had added an addiction to heroin to the alcohol and cigarettes. Six months later the baby, a boy, died at birth. In 1982 she gave birth to her fifth child, a girl she named Keysha. The child stopped breathing in her crib at 10 weeks. When Kathy went in to wake the baby and found her lifeless, she had a psychological break. “All I remember is screaming and screaming and screaming,” Kathy says. “I ended up being carted off by the police to a mental institution in Sykesville, where doctors decided that I was an addict, not insane, and I was sent off to an inpatient treatment center to detox.” As she recovered, she resolved to change her life. Therapy segued from a 30-day regimen at the inpatient facility into a 10-month stay in therapeutic community, during which time Kathy earned her GED. She moved back in with her parents, took evening courses and learned the basic skills of mothering. She was 30 years old.

Soon she was hired as a counselor’s aide at Montgomery General Hospital’s detox center and became a certified addiction counselor. Kathy first heard about the effects of cocaine on fetal development in 1988 at a professional conference about the crack-baby epidemic and realized that manyof the symptoms of these babies seemed to fit with those of Karli’s. “I hadn’t used crack cocaine while pregnant with Karli — I’d only used alcohol — so I wondered whether alcohol could have caused her problems. I’d never heard of that possibility before,” she says. Now a teenager, Karli lagged far behind her classmates in all ways. She couldn’t tell time or ride a bicycle, and she couldn’t understand money or abstract math concepts.

So in 1989, Kathy took Karli, then 16, to Georgetown University Hospital. After a battery of tests administered over a couple of days, Kathy sat down with a team of doctors and specialists to hear the verdict. The geneticist spoke first: “Your daughter does have fetal alcohol syndrome.” Kathy’s pattern of alcohol use, with the occasional spiked levels of alcohol, he told her, “were associated with lifelong brain damage,” Kathy recalls him saying. “I thought I would die from the grief and guilt,” she says. “It was one of the worst days of my life, and at that moment I knew that I had to do what I could to prevent this from happening to another child.”

Spreading the word

Today Kathy, 61, is vice president of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a nonprofit that aims to increase awareness of the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy and its effect on families. She hopes that being public about her own history will help destigmatize the issue and maybe prevent another young mother from doing what she did.

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that there is no known safe level of alcoholic consumption during any trimester of pregnancy. But, according to the CDC, 1 in 10 pregnant women acknowledge alcohol use — “a risk that doesn’t make sense to me at all,” says Kenneth L. Jones, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego who was co-author of the landmark 1973 study. Each fetus has individual risk factors, he continues, driven by the genetics of both parents as well as the mother’s diet, so it’s nearly impossible to determine how much alcoholis too much. “But why bother putting an amount on it?” he says. “Why risk your baby’s future?”

For Kathy, “the guilt and remorse are painful, but it’s even worse to think of what Karli might have been — a nurse, like she wanted do be when she was 10, or a wife or mother? She won’t have any of it now, because I drank during my pregnancies. I would never knowingly harm my child, but what I didn’t know ended up robbing her of so much.”

Karli’s days are pleasant and full, framed by her devoted family. An aide helps her every day while Kathy and her husband are at work. Karli takes Zumba and water aerobics classes and goes grocery shopping, and every Friday she sees a matinee. She has a paid job one afternoon a week as a stock clerk,supported by a job coach, at a discount clothing store near her home in Olney. On weekends she participates in social activities through the Montgomery County Department of Therapeutic Recreation, which provides programs for people with disabilities.

Every night, Karli puts on some Hello Kitty pajamas. Kathy tucks her into bed with her two favorite dolls, Laura Liz and April. In the glow of a Tinker Bell night light near her bed, Karli smiles up at Kathy. “I love you, Mommy,” she says.

Further reading:

* Article 1

* Article 2


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Many Parents Not Aware Of Newborn Hearing Screenings

~ Posted on Monday, March 14, 2016 at 11:55 PM ~

I was just reading an article recently stating that many parents can't remember if their children were tested for hearing loss at birth. In fact, for our case, only our 3rd child had gone through the hearing test.

I can confirmed our older 2 kiddos did not require any hearing tests at the time of their birth. Maybe the policies changed since then but before 2013, our kiddos did not go through any hearing screenings. Also, I can remember this happening to our 3rd child as she had to go through the tests twice as the first one done a day after her birth produced weak results (suspected weak results due to amniotic fluid in one of her ears) and we were given a later date (I think when she was 1 or 2 months old) to come to the hospital for subsequent test just to make sure everything was fine.

I remembered our baby lying down on the bed with a headphone and the nurse looking at the computer and I could see some graph lines shooting up and down as she pressed some buttons at interval times. Thank God she passed the test at the second round!

Diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss at birth is critical to lowering the risk of impaired speech, language and literacy later in life, write the researchers in JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. "When babies are born, parents are accustomed to counting fingers and toes and asking about vaccinations, but they also need to be educated to ask if their baby passed the hearing test," said Dr. Melissa Pynnonen, the study's lead author from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.

Newborn Hearing Screenings

Hearing loss is the most common health condition at birth in the U.S. Each year about three of every 1,000 children are born with moderate to profound hearing loss, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The most intense period of speech and language development occurs during the first three years of life, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Also, the brain builds the needed pathways to understand sound during that time. 

Among parents with children at high risk for hearing loss due to jaundice, being premature, using antibiotics for infection or being admitted to the intensive care unit, only about 69 percent remembered hearing screenings. Parents should know that most babies who fail their hearing screenings will go on to have normal hearing. "So don’t panic just yet if you get an abnormal result, but make sure you follow up," she said.


What about your child? Do they have any hearing screenings after birth?

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