FAQs

PART ONE - INTRODUCTION TO THE FAQ SECTION

Joy Berry has spent the last 40 years creating the products and programs available on this website. During that time, great care has been invested in insuring that every single product and program is developmentally and educationally sound. To that end, every question and concern raised by parents, teachers and other professionals who work with children has been diligently considered and addressed and whenever appropriate, modifications and improvements have been made.

This section of the website addresses the 16 questions most asked by parents, teachers and the professionals who work with children.

In the event you have a question that is not addressed below, please feel free to submit your question to Joy and she will attempt to answer your inquiry as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, for your convenience in locating a particular question and answer, here is a list of the 16 questions that are included in this section:

QUESTION #1: What misconceptions about children motivated Joy Berry to develop Living Skills materials for kids?

QUESTION #2: What adverse effects (caused by the misconceptions about children) did Joy Berry hope to rectify by developing Living Skills materials for kids?

QUESTION #3: What insights did Joy Berry provide to dispel the prevailing misconceptions about children?

QUESTION #4: What actions did Joy Berry recommend to reverse the adverse effects spawned by the prevailing misconceptions about children?

QUESTION #5: What is Joy Berry’s basic rationale behind the development of her Living Skills materials for children?

QUESTION #6: What prevents children from becoming responsible?

QUESTION #7: What is required to help children become responsible?

QUESTION #8: What considerations need to be applied to the teaching of Living Skills?

QUESTION #9: What are the three common concerns about teaching Living Skills to children and young people?

QUESTION #10: What are the three main goals of teaching Living Skills to children and young people?

QUESTION #11: What product standards are applied to Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials?

QUESTION #12: What are the general guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials?

QUESTION #13: What are the specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials for children 1 to 3 years of age?

QUESTION #14: What are the specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials for children 3 to 6 years of age?

QUESTION #15: What are the specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials for children 6 to 11 years of age?

QUESTION #16: What are the guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials for young people 11 to 13 years of age? 

PART TWO - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION #1: What misconceptions about children motivated Joy Berry to develop Living Skills materials for kids?

ANSWER:

The following misconceptions about children motivated Joy Berry to develop Living Skills materials for kids:

  1. Childhood is a time of innocence during which children should be protected from the "unpleasant realities" that often plague the lives of adults.
  1. Their dependence on adults for basic necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing is evidence of the fact that children are incapable of functioning autonomously and/or responsibly. Therefore, they should not be expected to do so.
  1. Since children are not expected to live their own lives, it is not necessary for them to learn the living skills that would enable them to do so. 

QUESTION #2: What adverse effects (caused by the misconceptions about children) did Joy Berry hope to rectify by developing Living Skills materials for kids?

ANSWER:

The following adverse effects (caused by the misconceptions about children) prompted Joy Berry to develop Living Skills materials for kids.

  1. At a time when human beings are most receptive to learning new information and skills, children's minds were being lulled into complacency by entertaining programs and materials that were designed to distract children rather than help them to face and deal with important life issues.
  1. The dependence, rather than responsible autonomy, that was fostered in children left them feeling out-of-control and frustrated, while their parents felt overburdened and resentful. This resulted in strained parent-child relationships and thwarted, unfulfilled lives for both parents and children.
  1. At a time in life when children should be learning through experience how to face and deal with life's challenges, they were not equipped to do so. This resulted in the accumulation and exaggeration of problems. Troubled children were entering adolescence and adulthood fettered by these problems and attempts to resolve them became distractions from becoming healthy, productive adults.

QUESTION #3: What insights did Joy Berry provide to dispel the prevailing misconceptions about children?

ANSWER:

Joy Berry provided the following insights in an effort to dispel the prevailing misconceptions about children.

  1. When handled appropriately, life's "unpleasant realities" can become life's most positive experiences. Thus, young people should not be sheltered from "unpleasant realities." Instead, they should be taught how to respond to these realities in intelligent, responsible ways and then encouraged to do so.
  1. Every normal human being, no matter how young or old, is capable of living his or her own life efficiently and effectively with a minimal amount of outside assistance.
  1. In order to live life efficiently and effectively; it is necessary to have the information and skills to do so.

QUESTION #4: What actions did Joy Berry recommend to reverse the adverse effects spawned by the prevailing misconceptions about children?

ANSWER:

Joy Berry recommended the following actions in an effort to reverse the adverse effects spawned by the prevailing misconceptions about children.

  1. Develop programs and materials that would help put into proper perspective the potentially negative input and experiences that children encounter either directly or indirectly during the early years of their lives.
  1. Develop programs and materials that would reaffirm to young people their rights and inherent potential to live their own lives intelligently and responsibly.
  1. Develop programs and materials that would provide young people with the information and skills they need to live life intelligently and responsibly.

QUESTION #5: What is Joy Berry’s basic rationale behind the development of her Living Skills materials for children?

ANSWER:

Joy Berry’s basic rationale behind the development of her Living Skills materials for children is as follows:

  1. The root cause of the world’s major problems is irresponsible people (people who behave in unintelligent, untrustworthy ways). These people create difficult and sometimes detrimental situations for themselves and others.
  1. The first step to solving all the world’s major problems is to raise children who are
  • responsible for themselves
  • responsible in their relationships with others
  • responsible in the way they relate to the things in their environments. 

QUESTION #6: What prevents children from becoming responsible?

ANSWER:

The following conditions prevent children from becoming responsible:

  1. Children do not naturally assume responsibility for themselves. They are often quick to blame others and seldom assume the responsibility for things going wrong. 
  1. Children do not naturally assume responsibility in their relationships with others. This is exemplified in the predominance of all-take-and-no-give parent-child relationships in which children expect to receive everything from their parents and give nothing in return. It is also exemplified in the predominance of all-take-and-no-give teacher-student relationships in which children expect to be educated without reciprocating in any way.
  1. Children do not naturally assume responsibility for the way they relate to the things in their environment. They are more likely to overindulge in anything that promises immediate pleasure or gratification. This includes things like junk food, TV, and the never-ending onslaught of fads promulgated by other forms of entertainment and advertising.
  1. Parents often feel inadequate and guilty about dealing with their children's irresponsibility. They often lack the information and skills that are needed to raise responsible children, and they feel guilty when they are unable to do so.

QUESTION #7: What is required to help children become responsible?

ANSWER

In order to help children become responsible, the following is required:

  1. Children are the key factor in their becoming responsible. It is futile to tell parents "your children need to do this and that," when it is children, not parents, who need to implement the behavioral changes. Thus, children need to realize that they are ultimately responsible for their lives, and although they cannot always control what happens to them, they can control how they respond to what happens.
  1. Because children need to become responsible and because they are not naturally inclined or equipped to do so, they need to acquire basic Living Skills. Living Skills are the skills every person needs in order to live life intelligently and responsibly.
  1. Unfortunately, Living Skills are not something children instinctively develop. Unlike motor skills such as reaching, grasping, crawling, and walking, Living Skills cannot be developed as a result of inherent neurological processes. Like academic skills, they can't be learned without external, instructional input. Living Skills are best learned through the use of self-help materials that present the subject matter in a simple, clear way that children can understand. 

QUESTION #8: What considerations need to be applied to the teaching of Living Skills?

ANSWER:

The following considerations need to be applied to the teaching of Living Skills:

  1. Exactly what Living Skills should be taught to an individual should be determined by the following factors:
  • The skill should relate to an issue that the person encounters frequently
  • The skill should be important to the person.
  1. Exactly when a particular Living Skill should be taught to an individual should be determined by the following factors:
  • The developmental needs and interests of the person
  • The environmental influences that are impacting the person's life.
  1. In order for Living Skills materials to be effective, they need to accomplish the following:
  • Define the issue that needs to be addressed
  • Explain how the issue affects the person and the people around him or her
  • Provide clear guidelines that can help the person make the issue a positive rather than negative factor in his or her life
  • Motivate the person to follow through with the guidelines. 

QUESTION #9: What are the three common concerns about teaching Living Skills to children?

ANSWER:

The three common concerns about teaching Living Skills to children are as follows:

  1. Are we pushing children to grow up too quickly by exposing them to the subjects in Living Skills materials?

            Joy Berry's response to this concern is as follows: We push our children when we expose them to subject matter that has no relevance to their everyday lives. When we try to teach children information they cannot use immediately or are not ready to assimilate, they have to strain to learn and remember it. This is the case with many of the academic and religious programs to which children are exposed.

            Children are naturally motivated to learn information that will help them survive and live their lives efficiently and effectively. Living Skills books about subjects children experience on a daily basis can help children understand and deal with these experiences.

            By bringing understanding into children’s lives, we can help prevent many of the frustrations and problems that develop when children do not live their lives intelligently and responsibly. Helping a child in this way is not pushing the child. Instead, it is cooperating with and enhancing a child's natural tendency to grow and mature. 

  1. Are we taking the fun out of children's lives by expecting them to become responsible too early?

            Being out of control is not fun. Like most adults, children want to be in control of what they do and what happens to them. Control is proportionate to responsibility. The more responsible people become, the more control they have over their lives. When we help children become responsible, we help them gain control over their lives.

  1. Is the straightforward approach used in Living Skills materials inappropriate for children?

            Developmentally speaking, most children younger than 11 or 12 years of age are unable to derive personal meaning from stories or fables because they have not yet acquired the experience and skills that are necessary to think abstractly. Younger children cannot look at something symbolic and understand that it stands for something it is not. A child who sees an illustration of a cat wearing clothing sees a cat wearing clothes. He or she does not see the cat as representing a human. Furthermore, the child does not see that the human depicted by the cat is representative of himself or herself.

            Therefore, if the objective of a book is to teach a child how to clean his or her room, the least effective way is to tell the child a story about how an imaginary character cleaned a room. The most effective way to teach a child how to clean a bedroom is to explain, simply and clearly, step by step how to get the job done.

            This illustrates the fundamental difference between traditional children's literature and Living Skills books. The main goals of most traditional children's literature are to stimulate the imagination and to entertain, while the main goals of Living Skills books are to educate and to modify behavior. If the goal is to help children modify their behavior, it is important to "tell it like it is."

QUESTION #10: What are the three main goals of teaching Living Skills to children?

ANSWER:

 The three main goals of teaching Living Skills to children are as follows:

  1. FIRST GOAL: Insight Behavior Modification

The first goal of Living Skills materials is to spawn insights that automatically modify behavior. For example, touching a hot stove (a firsthand experience) results in an immediate insight (a hot stove can burn me) which results in the automatic modification of behavior (therefore, I will not touch a hot stove again).

When a child acquires an insight about something, his or her behavior automatically changes to accommodate the newfound understanding and knowledge. Consequently, the motivation to behave appropriately becomes internal rather than external. A child does what is right because of what he or she knows, not because of what he or she is being forced to do.

This moral autonomy is the only way one can survive ethically and pragmatically in the eventual absence of parental and other types of authority. Thus, behavior modification through insight, attained through Living Skills materials, is crucial to the creation and maintenance of a sane, healthy society.

  1. SECOND GOAL: Pragmatic Intelligence

The second goal of Living Skills materials is to teach children how to think rather than what to think so they will live their lives intelligently rather than reflexively. This means that all subject matter must be presented as objectively as possible, and children must be encouraged, then allowed to formulate their own conclusions. In addition, it means that each child must be encouraged, then allowed to relate to the materials at his or her own level, in his or her own way.

  1. THIRD GOAL: Personal Responsibility

The third goal of Living Skills education is to provide the information and skills children need to become personally responsible:

  • for themselves
  • in the way they relate to others
  • for the way they relate to their environment. 

QUESTION #11: What product standards are applied to Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials?

ANSWER:

The standards applied to Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials are as follows:

  1. Standards Regarding the Text
  • Is the text grammatically correct?
  • Are all the words spelled correctly?
  • Is proper grammar utilized throughout?
  • Is the text (not including the cartoon illustrations) void of slang?
  • Is the text void of obscenities and verbal expressions that might be offensive?
  • Are all the words used in the text age appropriate?
  • Is the text age appropriate in regard to readability and comprehension?
  • Are the words recognizable, understandable, or adequately defined via the content of the corresponding illustration?
  1. Standards Regarding the Content
  • Does the text convey the content that it is intended to convey?
  • Is the text clear and understandable?
  • Is the text conveyed in the simplest, easy-to-understand way?
  • Does the content discourage any attitude or behavior that could endanger oneself, others or the world in which one lives?
  • Does the content encourage positive attitudes and behavior towards oneself, others and the world in which one lives?
  • Is the content developmentally correct regarding the reader’s physical abilities, needs and interests?
  • Is the content developmentally correct regarding the reader’s mental abilities, needs and interests?
  • Is the content developmentally correct regarding the reader’s social abilities, needs and interests?
  • Is the content developmentally correct regarding the reader’s moral abilities and social context?
  • Is the content politically correct? Does it avoid perpetuating negative prejudices, attitudes and misbehavior regarding
  1. physical appearance
  2. physical abilities
  3. mental abilities
  4. sexual identity
  5. sexual orientation
  6. age
  7. race
  8. national origin
  9. religious affiliation
  10. political situation
  11. social status or
  12. economic status?
  1. Standards Regarding the General Approach
  • Does the approach avoid being condescending or disrespectful to the reader?
  • Is the role of the writer that of an observer, recorder and reporter, rather than a brainwasher?
  • Is the approach focused on teaching the reader how to think instead of what to think?
  • Do viable recommendations accompany each stated concern?
  • Does a solid, unbiased rationale accompany each recommendation?
  • Will reading the book cause the reader to feel empowered rather than frustrated? 

QUESTION #12: What are the general guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials?

ANSWER:

The general guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Living Skills materials are as follows.

  1. It is recommended that an adult use the materials as follows:
  • Read the materials before presenting them to the child so the adult will be prepared to deal with any questions or comments the child might have.
  • Introduce the product one subject at a time.
  • Introduce a subject at a time the child will be receptive to it.
  • Discuss the subject with the child before presenting the materials.
  • Try to relate the subject to a recent experience or concern of the child’s.
  • Present the materials at a pace that is comfortable for the child. Depending on the child’s interest, it might be necessary to go through the materials a few pages at a time.
  • Praise the child when he or she follows any advice put forth in the materials.
  • Use completed materials as a reference whenever the need arises.
  1. It is recommended that the adult use the materials as follows:
  • Avoid using the materials when the child feels stressed, overtired, or in a bad mood.
  • Avoid using the materials as a punishment or negative consequence for the child’s misbehavior.
  1. If the child is resistant to a particular subject, it is recommended that the adult use the materials as follows:
  • Recruit another person, such as a relative, babysitter, or teacher to present the materials.
  • Offer the child a reward in exchange for using the materials. For example, postpone bedtime while the materials are being used, or allow the child to do a special activity after he or she finishes the materials.
  • Use a motivational chart to inspire the child to use the materials. Offer a reward for completing the chart.

QUESTION #13: What are the specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials for children 1 to 3 years of age?

ANSWER:

The specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Living Skills materials for children 1 to 3 years of age are as follows:

it is recommended that adults use the books as follows:

  1. Age 0 through 1 - Parent Resource: The adult reads the books for information, insights and encouragement.
  1. Age 1 through 2 - Picture Book: The adult encourages the child to look at the pictures and participate in a spontaneous discussion of the pictures.
  1. Age 2 through 3 - Read-Aloud Book: The adult reads the text to the child. Then he or she asks questions and acknowledges the child’s responses.
  1. Age 2 through 4 - Independent Activity: The adult encourages the child to use the book independently.

QUESTION #14: What are the specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials for children 3 to 6 years of age?

ANSWER:

The specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Living Skills materials for children 3 to 6 years of age are as follows:

It is recommended that adults use the books as follows:

  1. Phase One - Adult Resource: The adult reads the books for information, insights and encouragement.
  1. Phase Two - Adult-Child Activity: The adult uses the materials with the child and encourages the child to question or comment on the subject matter.
  1. Phase Three - Independent Activity: The child is encouraged to use the materials independent of the adult for entertainment and to reinforce the subject matter.
  1. Phase Four - Reference Material: The materials are placed in the child’s library along with other resource materials and used whenever specific situations need to be addressed.

QUESTION #15: What are the specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials for children 6 to 11 years of age?

ANSWER:

The specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Living Skills materials for children 6 to 11 years of age are as follows:

It is recommended that adults use the books as follows:

  1. Phase One - Adult Resource: The adult reads the books for information, insights and encouragement.
  1. Phase Two - Adult-Child Activity: The adult uses the materials with the child and encourages the child to question or comment on the subject matter.
  1. Phase Three - Independent Activity: The child is encouraged to use the materials independent of the adult for entertainment and to reinforce the subject matter.
  1. Phase Four - Reference Material: The materials are placed in the child’s library along with other resource materials and used whenever specific situations need to be addressed.
  1. To insure the success of Living Skills books for older children it is recommended that the “show-me-how-then-let-me-do-it” teaching method be used.
  • Step One - The adult demonstrates how the task should be done by doing it while the child watches.
  • Step Two - The adult does the task with the child or watches while the child does the task. (The adult should avoid criticizing, and instead should praise anything the child does correctly.)
  • Step Three - The adult allows the child to do the task alone.
  • Step Four - The adult praises the work and expresses appreciation for what the child has done. 

QUESTION #16: What are the guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Joy Berry’s Living Skills materials for young people 11 to 13 years of age?

ANSWER:

The specific guidelines for deriving the maximum benefits from Living Skills materials for young people 11 to 13 years of age are as follows:

It should be noted that young people can and should use the Living Skills materials independently. However, adults can enhance a young person’s use of the materials by engaging in conversation regarding the contents of the materials. In addition, “rewarding” a young person for reading a book that might be particularly useful at any given time can also provide positive results.

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