Let Go of Your Old Ideas and Educate Yourself For Success - At certain times each of us wonder why we are not having the success that we expect. Or incomes, free time, relationships, and family life seem lacking. So what went wrong? No-one has a "one size fits all" answer to this but if we look under the surface we can see a vein of gold to mine and process.

In his book "The Way of the Wizard", Deepak Chopra quotes the Persian poet Rumi: "You are the unconditioned spirit trapped in conditions, like the sun in eclipse". Deepak is conveying the message that as human beings we are limited by time and space. This explains our struggle to define and attain success in this world. Our spirit, the true power of our very being, gets pushed into second place by our physical nature. This is the human condition it seems, and when it is recognized, we spend the rest of our lives trying to (re)connect with our soul or spirit.

We are not helped by the early socialization and education that we receive. We are strongly encouraged or forced to conform to the standards of the society in which we live. So we take on community norms with regard to success, money, education, right, wrong, and so on. In this process, the individuality of the human being is lost as we receive rewards or punishments for compliant or rebellious behavior respectively.

The brain's goal is survival, as so purposefully told in Jack Canfield's "How to Build High Self-Esteem". Survival is not congruent with non-conformity, so we join the group and we belong. We are conditioned to conceive, believe, and achieve according to society's standards without too much creativity. We are an average member of the community, more proficient in some roles and less in other. But average is not exceptional. An average color would be beige or grey, average temperature is neither hot nor cold. When we look at history, great people were often seen as heretics, eccentric, or just plain crazy.

If we want to be exceptional we must change our conditioning. We do this by examining every ingrained idea that we have. What is our belief about money, love, work, family, education, and play for example? How do we define success in each of these areas? Is that working for you (One of Dr. Phil's favorite questions)? In his book "Spiritual Marketing", Joe Vitale asks us to identify what is blocking us from our success and then he suggests some great methods to remove the obstruction(s).

Robert Kiyosaki, in his "Rich Dad" series disparages the education system for not preparing us to succeed in the real word. Kiyosaki talks about his poor Dad having traditional education system "avoid failure at all costs" type values whereas his rich Dad educated him about the "real world" value of learning from failure.

Bob Proctor, in his CD "What Would You Do If Your Yearly Income Became Your Monthly Income" tells us that we need to become non-conforming and to think outside of the box. Otherwise we are just repeating something that someone else has taught us. He suggests that we must not be afraid to take action just because our circle of friends and family might not agree with us. We must learn to think for ourselves.

The bottom line then is that if we want to be truly successful and find real happiness, we must allow our spirit to shine through onto the world. We are unique and perfect in our own way and that is a great thing. We must, of course, want to learn but we must choose our teachers wisely. Our teachers will only be able to share what they have themselves, so if someone has the success that you want, learn from them. Study them and apply what works into your life.
Nutrition and Education - Three Secrets for a Lifetime of Success! - I'd like to begin by sharing with you a very interesting and inspiring fact about my children. One is twenty; the other is twenty one, and if you were to ask them right now what their favorite foods are you'd get the same answer they've given since they were in high school. Can you guess? They'd say their favorite foods are salads! Pretty impressive don't you think? Interesting and unusual because that's sure not the answer you'd get from most of their friends.

They love fresh, organic and local fruits and veggies. They thrive on the eggs we get from a local farm. They've always eaten close to the earth and almost no boxed, canned or packaged foods. You might be thinking it's much more expensive to eat this way and who but the wealthy can afford this way of eating especially in these times of recession. We'll get to that, and you'll be surprised at how your perception might shift when you hear some very cool facts.

Our kids were home schooled for many years because we believed little kids naturally want to move, play, learn all day from the time they wake up till the time their little heads hit the pillow in a heap of joyful exhaustion. This felt more normal than having them 'need' to sit still, stop squirming, pay attention with their minds only, and learn academics only one way ~ at a desk, in a stuffy classroom where no fresh air was allowed in, and for hours and hours every day. There's no judgment, just observation and opinion. They later chose to enter the public school system and there they stayed until high school graduation. 

They observed a change in their study habits, mid afternoon energy levels, and love of learning based on foods and drinks offered in the vending machines and cafeteria, and the way they were made to learn. Who better to understand the co relation between nutrition and education than our kids themselves! Listen and learn. It's simple and easy if you allow your kids to guide you in these very important areas, especially from a very early age once you've chosen to introduce them to healthy choices and they don't know any different. If you're reading this and your kids are older, middle school or high school age, changes are still able to be made, and need to be made if they're not feeling their best, operating on a full tank of energy, or calm and alert in their minds. It'll just be a little trickier and you and they need to be more patient while the body adjusts slowly to healthier choices. Also for the mind to accept a better way is a more consistent way of perceiving food as medicine and medicine as food.

You've heard all the data and evidence about healthy eating and the relationship between good nutrition and a focused mind. You've read articles, books and magazines about how our schools are feeding your kids nutrient deficient foods laden with hidden fats, sugars and chemicals. You know it's not their fault that they may be overweight, more sedentary than ever before because of the time spent in front of electronics rather than playing outdoors. So let's get to these secrets! They all have one thing in common: they appeal to the senses which makes it easy to eat right pretty much all the time!

Secret Number 1: only stock your fridge and cupboards with healthy stuff!

Keep the fridge full of color, so when everyone in your home opens the door their sense of sight is delighted! To see a bowl of apples, one of oranges, lemons, and berries is enticing. A small bowl you've filled with water and have cut up carrot and celery sticks is available for an immediate hunger burst. Healthy little baby bell and laughing cow cheeses, fun to unwrap and a low calorie nibble of protein satisfies quickly. Some other form of lean protein like chicken fingers you've made yourself from an easy recipe using a lean organic chicken breast cut into stirps, dipped in an egg wash, a whole wheat flour/parmesean cheese and panko breadcrumb mixture and lightly fried in canola oil offers another quick and easy nutritious gift for you and your family. (I've got many recipes coming soon on my website to help you with quick and simple healthy meals you can make once a week to have on hand).

Fill a platter that has separate compartments or areas with various nuts and dried fruit ~keep it on the counter, again for a quick healthy snack, because in our society everything is wanted now and needs to be quick to satisfy ~ these suggestions pack a great nutritional punch for sustained energy releases and forget the bagged chips, creamy dips, frozen boxes of stuff with pink dipping sauces, and go for the good stuff that regulates emotions and keeps you and your loved ones in perfect health.

As for drinks, considering the majority of the world is in water crises, we're so fortunate and blessed to be able to turn on our taps and drink pure water ~ water is the most thirst quenching liquid you can drink, and is by far our family's best choice. Sometimes a little juice we mix one quarter orange, grapefruit, pommegranete or other dark juice with three quarters water. Usually that's with a salad, or on it's own. Get an eco friendly cool looking little re usable water bottle for each member of the family and keep it filled with cool water in the fridge ~ kids love something of their very own and will find it an easy and fun responsibility to keep their bottle full of water! I plan on writing an article specifically on the amazing benefits of water so trust me, it's the most wonderful choice you can offer your kids for bathing all their trillions of cells in a hydrated powerful way!

This secret alone has the potential to create a lifelong love of preventative health through nutrition, and costs much less than lack of ease that develops in the body through poor food and drink choices; and resulting in sicknesses, illnesses and discomforts of all sorts.

Lastly on secret number one is that you can go to a store like Trader Joes and pick up a bag or two of all these foods for an incredibly low price. Much less so than you'd think! Organic meats, chickens, and fish; fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, tasty little treats like frozen mocha balls which kids find fun to eat and have far less sugar than other typical ice cream treats.

Secret Number 2: Instill in your kids a love of learning! Education isn't just experienced in a classroom, and home work a necessary addition to that. Encourage them to question everything. To ask after all the things they're curious about, and to keep on being curious about anything and everything. It's not always a popular way to be because most kids just follow what they're told, and get along just fine. For a lifetime of success, defining success as a happy wholesome balanced self referred way to live through the ebbs and flow of life with grace, dignity and kindness, get your kids use to the love of learning about their inner and outer worlds. 

Do this by talking about their dreams together; by encouraging them to try things they're interested in without forcing a commitment for lengthy periods of time; by adjusting and tweeking schedules to make room for the unusual; allow them to be kids and no matter what they're living situations let them ask you about it, and answer simply, rather than saying something like, 'because I said so'... watch and witness the joy in their eyes and let that inspire and inform your own life! Listen actively to them.

Secret number 3: Go with the flow. Truly, let your life speak to you and follow your own passions either as a vocation or an avocation, because rather than following the crowd, or settling for less than, be brave and shift directions even slightly in order to allow for a life of more peace for yourself. Many circumstances are not in our control; life is tough sometimes, disappointing, rough to the emotional stability of our balanced personality; and sometimes the best made plans are thwarted through no fault of our own; sometimes we gain everything we desire; and sometimes we lose everything that makes us comfortable and secure. 

If you can be like the mighty oak, sturdy in your inner foundation and flow, bend and bow like the gentle willow tree you'll be teaching your kids through action, to choose well. Eat healthily, and exercise even 20 minutes of dancing round the living room a day; keep on expanding and exploring your thoughts so you remain youthful and alive to life. What a great gift for your kids to witness and for them to emulate. 

Be a colorful shining example of what it's like to creatively keep your home full of health giving foods. Continue to educate yourself on whatever pleases you, and even if you're in a job you aren't thrilled about, find the gifts in your daily grind ~ so you lift your vibration to draw a more pleasing better fitting job to you. The only constant in life is change, and if you can go with the flow you'll create a lifetime of success within the hearts and minds of your kids!
Idealism and Philosophy (and Education on Both) - Before we begin it is important to understand the basic definitions of Idealism and Philosophy. Education in these two areas is very rare in modern society, although we will teach children Social Studies in grade 2, the basic questions of Who am I and Why am I here are left until much later (often university). When you mention the idea of philosophy you are usually met with bored expressions and a complete lack of interest. Why? Because these questions are very dangerous to the society we have built and live in.

Idealism is defined as the view that the existence of objects depends wholly or in part on the minds of those perceiving them. This definition is not complete by any means, in fact those who truly explore Idealistic concepts often come to the point where physical reality is nothing more than symbolism for the workings of the mind. This might sound strange and a little far-fetched but that is only because we are used to one particular view of the world, to explore another view would require a great deal of courage and the acceptance that You are not simply an accumulation of your beliefs.

Philosophy is defined as the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics. Nothing about the realm of Philosophy states that it must lead you to Idealism yet, for those who explore philosophy deeply enough, it often does. Philosophy was once looked upon as one of our species highest callings. Socrates, Plato, and other familiar names are familiar for exactly this reason; they were respected, admired, and seen as brilliant to those willing to listen to their words. Sad to say, society was very different back then.

Unfortunately it is impossible to explore all of the concepts and ideas involved in Philosophy in just one short article, but that doesn't mean you cannot go looking for yourself. It is important to remember though that not every "would-be philosopher" is worth listening to. An easy way to discern who is and who is not thinking clearly about existence and knowledge is to see how much they boost their own self-importance.

Look for the humble, serious philosophers such as Jiddu Krishnamurti (who rejected the offer to be named Messiah in the early 1900's) and Alan Watts. Find some of their videos, their books, and a website focused on discussing the concepts and ideas that are the root of their many lectures and books. It is important to get familiar with Idealism and Philosophy, and education in these fields will reveal why it is so important. There is a whole other multi-layered facet to life that needs to be explored in our modern society; our growth as a human being, a species and a culture depends on it.
Which Health Insurance Plan Is Best for Me?

Health insurance has proven itself of great help and financial aid in certain cases when events turn out unexpectedly. In times when you are ill and when your health is in grave jeopardy and when finances seem to be incapable to sustain for your care, health insurance is here to the rescue. A good health insurance plan will definitely make things better for you.

Basically, there are two types of health insurance plans. Your first option is the indemnity plans, which includes the fee-for-services and the second is the managed care plans. The differences between these two include the choice offered by the providers, the amount of bills the policy holder has to pay and the services covered by the policy. As you can always hear there is no ultimate or best plan for anyone.

As you can see, there are some plans which may be way better than the others. Some may be good for you and your family's health and medical care needs. However, amidst the sweet health insurance plan terms presented, there are always certain drawbacks that you may come to consider. The key is, you will have to wisely weigh the benefits. Especially that not among these plans will pay for all the financial damages associated with your care.

The following are a brief description about the health insurance plans that might be fitting for you and your family's case.

Indemnity Plans

Flexible Spending Plans - These are the types of health insurance plans that are sponsored when you are working for a company, or any employer. These are the care plans inclusive in your employee benefit package. Some of the specific types of benefits included in this plan are the multiple options pre-tax conversion plan, medical plans plus flexible spending accounts, tax conversion plan, and employer credit cafeteria plans. You can always ask your employer of the benefits included in your health care/insurance plans.

Indemnity Health Plans - This type of health insurance plan allows you to choose your own health care providers. You are given the freedom to go to any doctor, medical institution, or other health care providers for a set monthly premium. The insurance plan will reimburse you and your health care provider according to the services rendered. Depending on the health insurance plan policy, there are those that offers limit on individual expenses, and when that expense is reached, the health insurance will cover for the remaining expenses in full. Sometimes, indemnity health insurance plans impose restrictions on services covered and may require prior authorization for hospital care and other expensive services.

Basic and Essential Health Plans - It provides a limited health insurance benefit at a considerably low insurance cost. In opting for this kind of health insurance plan, it is necessary that one should read the policy description giving special focus on covered services. There are plans which may not cover on some basic treatments, certain medical services such as chemotherapy, maternity care or certain prescriptions. Also, rates vary considerably since unlike other plans, premiums consider age, gender, health status, occupation, geographic location, and community rated.

Health Savings Accounts - You own and control the money in your HSA. This is the recent alternative to the old fashioned health insurance plans. These are savings product designed to offer policy holders different way to pay for their health care. This type of insurance plan allows the individual to pay for the current health expenses and also save for untoward future qualified medical and retiree health costs on a tax-free basis. With this health care plan, you decide on how your money is spent. You make all the decisions without relying on any third party or a health insurer. You decide on which investment will help your money grow. However, if you sign up for an HSA, High Deductible Health Plans are required in adjunct to this type of insurance plan.

High Deductible Health Plans - Also called Catastrophic Health Insurance Coverage. It is an inexpensive health insurance plan which is enabled only after a high deductible is met of at least $1,000 for an individual expense and $2,000 for family-related medical expense.

Managed Care Options

Preferred Provider Organizations - This is charged in a fee-for-service basis. The involved health care providers are paid by the insurer on a negotiated fee and schedule. The cost of services are likely lower if the policy holder chooses an out-of-network provider ad generally required to pay the difference between what the provider charges and what the health insurance plan has to pay.

Point of Service - POS health insurance plans are one of the indemnity type options in which the primary health care providers usually make referrals to other providers within the plan. In the event the doctors make referrals which are out of the plan, that plan pays all or most of the bill. However, if you refer yourself to an outside provider, the service charges may also be covered by the plan but the individual may be required to pay the coinsurance.

Health Maintenance Organizations - It offers access to a network of physicians, health care institutions, health care providers, and a variety of health care facilities. You have the freedom to choose for your personal primary care doctor from a list which may be provided by the HMO and this chosen doctor may coordinate with all the other aspects of your health care. You may speak with your chosen primary doctor for further referrals to a specialist. Generally, you are paying fewer out-of-pocket fees with this type of health insurance plan. However, there are certain instances that you may be often charged of the fees or co-payment for services such as doctor visits or prescriptions.

Government-Sponsored Health Insurance

Indian Health Services - This is part of the Department of Health and Human Services Program offering all American Indians the medical assistance at HIS facilities. Also, HIS helps in paying the cost of the health care services utilized at non-HIS facilities.

Medicaid - This is a federal or s state public assistance program created in the year 1965. These are available for the people who may have insufficient resources to pay for the health care services or for private insurance policies. Medicaid is available in all states. Eligibility levels and coverage benefits may vary though.

Medicare - This is a health care program for people aging 65 and older, with certain disabilities that pays part of the cost associated with hospitalization, surgery, home health care, doctor's bills, and skilled nursing care.

Military Health Care - This type includes the TRICARE or the CHAMPUS  (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services) and CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affair). The Department of Veterans Affair (VA) may also provide this service.

State Children's Health Insurance Program - This is available to children whose low-income parents were not able to qualify for the Medicaid.
State-Specific Plans - This type of plan is available for low income uninsured individuals.

There are many different types of insurance plans that you may have the prerogative to know about. By learning which health care insurance fits your situation, you can avail of the many options that will likely be of great assistance to you in times when you will need it most. Insurance costs have typically become one of the common draw backs in choosing for an insurance quote. However, weighing the benefits will really matter. Make sure that you always read the benefits, terms and conditions before landing to whichever type of health insurance you choose.

Technology and Education - I was recently talking to a friend of mine who is struggling to get her son to read. It got me thinking. The truth is that hardly anyone, adults or children, has time to sit down and read these days. Of course people do MAKE time to watch American Idol, or Lost or CSI or whatever other empty TV show. Yes, sorry, I mean this. These are 3 examples but there are many more. I am talking about TV programs that either show the worst possible side of human beings or that give people a completely distorted version of reality. If I watched the local news, I would never come out of the house. People overseas have called me to ask if I was OK after hearing some news on their local TV... Across an ocean, thousands of miles away. What is the point of that?

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So yes, it is a shame that people don't read much because I do believe that there are a lot less mediocre books than mediocre TV shows. But here we are, that's the reality and there is no doubt that children respond a lot better to TV and iPods than a good old bunch of pages. Note that it might have to do with the fact that most parents who want peace and quiet at home have a tendency to just sit their kids in front of the box from a very early age... You can't blame the little darlings.

So let's make the most of this situation. Ultimately, why do we want kids to read? Just for the skill or for the content of what they read? Past a certain age, it has to be for the content. The actual skill should be drilled early on and if you have teenagers who can't read, that's another problem and not the topic of this article.

A couple of years ago, I was given an iPod. I had never wanted one because I don't listen to music much and I couldn't imagine myself walking around with my earphones jamming to my songs. But then I was introduced around the same time to audio books. Wow! What a discovery! My iPod follows me everywhere. I hardly ever watch TV and whenever I am doing something that doesn't require a high level of concentration, like cooking, ironing, cleaning the house, sorting out mail, etc, I just put the iPod on and I just "read". I mean I am listening really, but as I am not prepared to make the time to actually sit and read. I just kill two birds with one stone. I have "read" dozens of books in the last couple of years and have learnt so much! It has been the best education of my life. I have grown in ways I didn't think were possible.

Now I am sure that your kids have an MP3 player of some description. Have you thought about looking into audio books for them. Or simply some audio files that they can have in their iPod and that they would listen to. Have a mix of some music and some educational stuff. Do the same yourself: when you are driving somewhere, let the whole family listen to your favorite audio books, have a discussion about what is said. Get your kids into it from an early age.

The same applies to TV. Yes, there are a lot of useless programs on TV in my opinion, but there are also good ones, that actually bring knowledge. Some kids' programs are very educational and then you have the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, etc. Instead of quietening your kids with mindless cartoons, try a Discovery program on sea life. Don't get me wrong, I love cartoons too, every now and then. Some are better than others. But there has to be variety. Children, like all people, respond to what they are given. If you feed them violence from an early age, they'll enjoy it because it will have become the norm for them and they will want more. If you feed them knowledge, instruction, education from an early age, they will want more of that.

Games consoles are the same. They have games that require some thinking and others that consist of shooting, or racing or pretending you are playing sport. If the weather is good enough to go outside and you like soccer or football or baseball, go and play it, do the real thing. If it is too cold or rainy and you are stuck inside, pick a game that will teach you something, about finances for instance or managing your future, or building a business. There are games like that.

Computer use also needs to be taught to kids early. Mastering Microsoft office is a must. Get them to write their journal on the computer for instance, get them to play around with PowerPoint when they have school projects, show them Publisher, etc. All these are essential skills. The Internet is also a great source of good or bad and you have to pick and choose. There are a lot of interactive sites for kids that can be great. 

All the communities are good too if they are used for a reasonable amount of time per day. It is very easy to get carried away on the net and spend hours literally wasting time. But there are also a lot of things to be learned. even just the technical aspects of using a computer. Teach your kids to be wise on the net: for instance, make sure they select what pictures they put in their profile and teach them about the kind of image they want to project. They can also learn about advertising themselves or an event on one of those communities. It can teach them about marketing at an early age.

Technology is full of riches. It has to be used wisely and kids have to be shown - ASAP - the positive, educational ways they can use it so that they will ask for more. Don't blame violent TV or games, worthless TV shows etc for children's lack of interest in school. Take your part of responsibility: you are the ones to decide what your kids do or don't. Then work with what you have got and use this great tool that we call technology to your advantage.
Computers and Educational Videos - Danger Versus Control - We live in a dangerous society and, in some ways, computers and the Internet have made it even more dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that some educational experts have recently called for a moratorium on using computers in early childhood and elementary programs. Although this may seem an extreme reaction, by some, to the challenges posed by this technology, others are calling for a return to more traditional means of instructing young children.

There is no doubt that computers are reshaping all our lives in profound and unexpected ways, are becoming a part of our every-day life, and cannot be ignored. But, rather than focus on the potential hazards of computers in the classroom, and demand we stop using them with young children, why not use them in more appropriate ways, such as a delivery mechanism for educational DVDs and videos? Use of educational DVDs and videos allow the teacher to hand-select the topics to which their students are exposed and more easily incorporate both the educational content and necessary computer skills into their lesson plans. By delivering the educational DVDs via computer, the teacher can also ensure that the students' need for computer literacy is addressed at the appropriate age level.

The key issue here is control. If you leave a young child to their own devices to search the Internet and absorb whatever information they may stumble across, you lose all control of what they may be learning, both good and bad. Educational DVDs and videos, on the other hand, allow you to control what the young child sees and learns, and if delivered via computer, still offer the exposure to the technology, also a required skill in today's society.

It is important to remember that computers are simply tools - just like books, pencils, or the television. And, just like any other tool, they can be misused or can be used in developmentally appropriate ways to benefit our children. A great deal of research has been done that indicates there are certain positive effects of technology on early childhood learning but we must continue to treat computers as a supplement. 

We must take steps to ensure they do not replace the other important early childhood activities and materials, such as imaginative exploration, books, dramatic play, blocks, sand, water, art, etc. Rather than issue a ban on computers, educators and parents should make sure they are used to develop cognitive and social skills, as well as literacy, by controlling the content to which young learners are exposed.
Leaning and Educational Toys - Studies have shown that young children exposed to early stimulation of the learning process will gain an advantage throughout their school years with better cognition, learning ability and a joy for learning to last a lifetime. And with today's line of learning/educational toys, gaining a head start in brain power has never been easier or so much fun.

The Numerical Advantage.

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Learning/educational toys that focus on numbers are a great learning tool to stimulate the child's ability to compute and reason, and better prepare them for the mathematical aspects of life. Toys such as clocks, bingo cards, and counting games prepare the child to calculate and gives them a running head start to tell time, exchange money and learn their math tables. When choosing a numerical-orientated toy, be sure the product is geared for the age of your child. Toddlers prefer large, colorful pieces and easy to master formulas, so be sure that you have not set the bar too high that might frustrate them. The child must gain a sense of masterly skill to make the learning time enjoyable and keep their interest level high.

Linguistic Skills.
Literacy is the window to the world with a lifetime of comprehension and understanding of language. However, it is essential for young children to grasp the use and recognition of their written language as early as possible to avoid stumbling blocks when they reach school age. Early understanding of language opens the door to better communication, reading and writing skills and enables the child to effectively express himself. 

Companies such as Leap Frog, Fat Brain Toys and The Land of Nod offer plenty of learning/educational toys that will take your child through rapid retention of the alphabet to the construction of sentences and phrases. Language is a vital element to a child's early development and should never be left to an educational institution alone. Interacted language toys will give your little one the verbal advantage he needs from home.

Science and Art Skills.
Not to be overlooked is the disciple of the arts and sciences, and no child is too young to gain early exposure. The arts and sciences open a child's mind to discovery, invention and personal creativity that will bring him a lifelong confidence in his ability to be innovated and think outside of the box. This skill is critical to problem solving, discipline and may even prompt a desire to learn a musical instrument or express himself through painting. 

When selecting the science and art related learning/educational toys, sample a few artistic outlets and let the child decide what he is most comfortable with. This may be puzzle boards, flash cards or an interactive art shop with clay or paint sets. And when your child develops an early interest in art, be sure to encourage him and realize that there is no right and wrong. Art is a unique form of self expression where a blue elephant is just as valid as a gray one.