lunes, 26 de mayo de 2014

Tips for Parents: Summer Activities

Early June means the end of the school year, and with it, a lot of kids without much to do.  While many people imagine summer vacation being a bunch of lazy days, the fact is most parents have to work and worry about what they’ll do to keep the kids busy and out of trouble. The following Tips for Parents will help you plan fun summer activities for your kids.

Tips for Parents #1 Safety First

Childcare over the summer months can be an expense many families can’t afford.  But before you leave your kids home alone be sure that they’re responsible and old enough to stay home safely.  Check your state’s laws about the youngest age a child can stay alone.  Make sure they know what to do in an emergency, how to deal with strangers on the phone or at the door, and have a neighbor check in on them regularly. 

Tips for Parents #2 Keep them Busy

Family participating in summer activities and hiking.While summer should be a relaxing, fun time for kids, they still need to keep their minds and bodies active.  Set firm limits about how much time they’re allowed to watch TV and movies, or play video or computer games.  The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that more than two hours a day in front of the TV leads to increased obesity and lowered academic achievement.
Instead, provide the kids with a comprehensive list of approved activities, and make sure they have the supplies on hand to do them.  Make it clear which activities they’re allowed to do on their own, and which ones they need to do with adult supervision.  Here are some ideas for learning, active, summer fun:
•    Visit the local library for books, videos, music, games, activities, story times, and summer reading programs.  For tips and ideas, visit the American Library Association.
•    Sports—have the kids join a team.  If that’s not possible, encourage them to play basketball, soccer, baseball, badminton, volley ball, or croquet in the yard or with friends that live nearby. 
•    Other outdoor fun:  tree climbing, jumping rope, camping in the backyard, bike riding, sidewalk chalk, building forts out of cardboard boxes, playing with pets, swimming, jumping on a trampoline, or running through the sprinkler.  Check out Family Education's Outdoor Activities for tons of great ideas for kids 6-10 years old. 
•    Projects:  planting a vegetable or flower garden, writing a book or journal, painting a series of paintings on a theme, planning and performing a play, making a movie with a camcorder, etc.
•    Learn a new sport or musical instrument, study geology or geography with field trips, or astronomy and stargazing.
•    Arts and crafts activities.  Visit Creative Kids at Home's Summer Activities for fun ideas. 
•    Start a collection:  bugs, rocks, dried plants or flowers, books, or found objects.
•    Help them plan, advertise, and run a small summer business: babysitting, lawn mowing, pet sitting, selling baked goodies, crafts, or jewelry they’ve made, or have them start plants from seeds and sell them.  Read these Money Instructor's Child Business Tips
•    Volunteer.  Kids learn a lot from helping others.  They can help an elderly neighbor, coach a younger team, be a teen volunteer at the local hospital, or organize a charity event such as car wash, barbecue, or mothers’ luncheon.  Teens can visit Do Something for volunteer opportunities near them. 
•    Summer camp:  have them go to an accredited camp for a week or two for a change of scenery and good fun.  Visit the American Camp Association for accredited camps in your area.
•    Planned outings:  visit the zoo, museum, planetarium, beach, park, swimming pool, go camping or hiking, stargazing, or fishing. 
•    Cooking:  have them plan, shop, and prepare for a family dinner each week.  They can visit the award winning kids cooking website, Spatulatta, for measuring instructions, safety tips, recipes, and more. 
•    Community Events:  check your local paper or visit your library to find out about fairs, festivals, and other community events to do as a family. 
•    Board games:  encourage them to make it exciting by having neighborhood chess tournaments, a Monopoly day (where everyone dresses as their favorite Monopoly game piece), or play for prizes. 
•    Chores.  Ok, doing chores is rarely fun, but it’s important for kids to take part in the family’s chores.  They learn responsibility, and feel proud that they can contribute.  Require that kids clean up after themselves, and have them help out with laundry or watering the garden.  Reward them for a job well done. 

With a little bit of planning, summer can be a safe, fun, and learning time for kids.

Shared from

martes, 20 de mayo de 2014

Your First Year of College: 25 Strategies and Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive Your Freshman Year and Beyond

How to Survive -- and Excel in -- Your College Years

Perhaps you were class president in high school. Or perhaps you were a member of the honor society. You could have graduated in the top percentile of your graduating class; perhaps you were even valedictorian. Maybe your were in the honors program or the International Baccalaureate program. Actually, it doesn't really matter what you did in high school as you make the transition to college. High school success (or lack of it) doesn't automatically apply to college.

You start college with a clean academic slate, along with a lot of independence and a myriad of critical decisions as you begin the transition into adulthood. The decisions that you make and the actions you take during this first year of college will have a major impact on the rest of your college experience.

According to American College Testing (ACT), one in every four college students leaves before completing their sophomore year - and nearly half of all freshmen will either drop out before obtaining a degree or complete their college education elsewhere.

But wait! This article is not meant to scare you or take away any of the joy, excitement, and anticipation you feel about going to college. Quite the opposite. This article is all about the things you need to do to not only survive your first year of college, but to thrive in college. And many of the tools, skills, and habits you develop through this article can not only be used to help you succeed in college, but in your future career as well.

The first few weeks on campus are extremely critical for all new students. It is during this time that you make critical decisions that will have an effect on the rest of your life. Some of these 25 tips are critical during your first weeks, while the others are meant for longer-term guidance and survival. Whatever you do, be sure to be yourself and try to enjoy your college experience as much as possible. Expect to feel some stress and homesickness, but don't let these issues wear you down.

  1. Go to all orientations. Do you really need to go on yet another campus tour? Yes. The faster you learn your way around campus -- and around all the red tape -- the more at ease you'll feel and the better prepared you'll be when issues arise.
  2. Get to know your roommate and others in your residence hall. The people you live with, most of whom are going through similar experiences and emotions, are your main safety net -- not only this year, but for all your years. You may change roommates after the first semester or you may stay roommates for all four years -- just take the time to get to know your fellow first-year students.
  3. Get Organized. In high school, the teachers tended to lead you through all the homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments -- often for the entire semester -- and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, a PDA, a big wall calendar -- whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due.
  4. Find the ideal place for you to study. It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done -- while avoiding as many distractions as possible.
  5. Go to class. Obvious, right? Maybe, but sleeping in and skipping that 8 am class will be tempting at times. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you'll also receive vital information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc.
  6. Become an expert on course requirements and due dates. Professors spend hours and hours preparing course syllabi and calendars so that you will know exactly what is expected of you -- and when. One of the lamest excuses a student can give a professor: "I didn't know it was due today."
  7. Meet with your professors. Speaking as a professor, I can assure you there are only upsides to getting to know your professors, especially if later in the semester you run into some snags. Professors schedule office hours for the sole purpose of meeting with students -- take advantage of that time.
  8. Get to know your academic adviser. This is the person who will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling of classes for future semesters, deciding on majors and minors. This person is a key resource for you -- and should be the person you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts. And don't be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don't click with the one first assigned to you.
  9. Seek a balance. College life is a mixture of social and academic happenings. Don't tip the balance too far in either direction. One of my favorite former students always used to say her motto was to "study hard so she could play hard."
  10. Get involved on campus. A big problem for a lot of new students is a combination of homesickness and a feeling of not quite belonging. A solution? Consider joining a select group -- and be careful not to go overboard -- of student organizations, clubs, sororities or fraternities, or sports teams. You'll make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to your school.
  11. Strive for good grades. Another obvious one here, right? Remember the words of the opening paragraph; while good grades could have come naturally to you in high school, you will have to earn them in college -- and that means setting some goals for yourself and then making sure you work as hard as you can to achieve them.
  12. Take advantage of the study resources on campus. Just about all colleges have learning labs and tutors available. If you're having some troubles, these resources are another tool available to you. Another idea: form study groups.
  13. Make time for you. Be sure you set aside some time and activities that help you relax and take the stress out of your day or week. Whether it's enlisting yoga techniques, watching your favorite television shows, or writing in a journal, be good to yourself.
  14. Don't feel pressured to make a hasty decision about a career or a major. It doesn't matter if it seems as though everyone else seems to know what they're doing with their lives -- believe me, they don't -- college is the time for you to really discover who you are, what you enjoy doing, what you're good at, and what you want to be. It's not a race; take your time and enjoy exploring your options.
  15. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Don't look to place the blame on others for your mistakes; own up to them and move on. Being an adult means taking responsibility for everything that happens to you.
  16. Make connections with students in your classes. One of my best students said his technique in the first week of classes was to meet at least one new person in each of his classes. It expanded his network of friends -- and was a crucial resource at times when he had to miss a class.
  17. Find the Career Services Office. Regardless of whether you are entering college as undeclared or have your entire future mapped out, seek out the wonderful professionals in your college's career services office and get started on planning, preparing, and acting on your future.
  18. Don't procrastinate; prioritize your life. It may have been easy in high school to wait until the last minute to complete an assignment and still get a good grade, but that kind of stuff will not work for you in college. Give yourself deadlines -- and stick to them.
  19. Stay healthy/Eat Right. A lot of problems first-year students face can be traced back to an illness that kept them away from classes for an extended period of time that led to a downward spiraling effect. Get enough sleep, take your vitamins, and eat right. If you haven't heard the jokes about college food, you soon will. And without mom or dad there to serve you a balanced meal, you may be tempted to go for those extra fries or cookies. Stay healthy and avoid the dreaded extra "Freshman 15" pounds by sticking to a balanced diet.
  20. Learn to cope with homesickness. It's only natural that there will be times when you miss your family, even if you were one of those kids who couldn't wait to get away. Find a way to deal with those feelings, such as making a phone call or sending some email home.
  21. Stay on campus as much as possible. Whether it's homesickness, a job, or a boyfriend or girlfriend from home, try not to leave campus too soon or too often. The more time you spend on getting to know the campus and your new friends, the more you'll feel at home at school. And why not take advantage of all the cultural and social events that happen on campus?
  22. Seek professional help when you need it. Most colleges have health and counseling centers. If you're sick or feeling isolated or depressed, please take advantage of the many services these offices provide students. You don't have to face these issues by yourself.
  23. Keep track of your money. If you've never had to create a budget, now is the time to do so. Find ways to stretch your money - and as best you can, avoid all those credit card solicitations you'll soon be receiving. The average credit card debt of college grads is staggering.
  24. Don't cut corners. College is all about learning. If you procrastinate and cram, you may still do well on tests, but you'll learn very little. Even worse, don't cheat on term papers or tests.
  25. Be prepared to feel overwhelmed. There's a lot going in your life right now. Expect to have moments where it seems a bit too much. As one student says, be prepared to feel completely unprepared. The trick is knowing that you're not the only one feeling that way.

Final Words of Advice for First-Year College Students

You've done all the prep work -- you've gotten good grades in high school, scored well on a standardized test, and been accepted into the college you want to attend -- so enjoy all your hard work while laying the groundwork for a successful college career. Don't be a statistic; be determined to make it through your freshman year -- and beyond. Take advantage of your network of new friends and professors, have fun while learning as much as you can, and get the most out of your college experience.

Shared from:

lunes, 12 de mayo de 2014

Tips for the End of School

Make a strong finish!
Here are the tips and resources you need to help you and your kids survive the end of school and enjoy summer.
1. How to decide which classes your child will take next year.
Gifted programs
Do you think your child has special talents? Don't miss out! Now's the time to submit parent and teacher referrals for gifted and talented programs. An evaluation period may be underway in your school to determine eligibility for programs in the fall.
Requesting a teacher
Right now, schools are deciding where to place teachers. If you want to request a certain teacher next year, speak with your child's current classroom teacher as soon as possible.
Most teachers will ask that you put your preferences in writing and submit them to the principal. Depending on the school, these requests may be honored if at all possible. The name of next year's teacher will typically appear on your child's final report card.
Separating kids
This is also the time to share with your child's current teacher any concerns you may have about separating your child from another student. For example, you might request to have your child placed in a different class from a friend she's too dependent on. Don't hesitate to convey any concerns that you think will contribute to your child's success.
2. How to decide whether or not your child should move on to the next grade.
You should know if your child's teachers are considering retention. Retention planning usually requires teachers to submit requests earlier in the year. Parents should be informed along each step in this process.
To stay or not to stay?
There's great controversy in the education and mental health communities over retention, and research doesn't tend to support the practice. If your child is experiencing great academic difficulty, it may be due to an undiagnosed learning disability. Before deciding whether or not to retain your child, request a professional evaluation to rule out a learning disability.
3. How to handle your child's final report card.
Read Carefully
Your child will soon be bringing home his final report card. Take the time to look closely at each grade and compare his marks to those earned previously. Don't forget to read the teacher's comments for additional clues about your child's progress. If you're having any trouble understanding any of the information, contact the school immediately. Remember that teachers only remain in the school building for a few days after school ends.
Ways to Respond
When a child brings home a great report card, she deserves to be praised. If your child brings home a less-than-perfect report, it won't help to get visibly upset. Instead, talk to your child about the progress she's made this year.
Make Time Over the Summer for Learning
There are several ways kids can improve their skills during the summer so they can return to school with added confidence. You may still be able to enroll your child in a summer-school program. Investigate any remedial programs that exist at local colleges. Tutors are another option. You can obtain names of tutors from your school or classroom teachers. You can also call high schools and inquire about volunteer tutor programs. Two other options are to tutor your child yourself or enroll him in a learning center.
4. How to Cure Spring Fever.
As school winds down, end-of-the-year events -- from music recitals to sports banquets -- clog the calendar. But the academic year isn't over yet! Making sure your kids finish with their best effort -- when their efforts are required in so many different areas -- can be quite a challenge.
Stick with the routine.
Try your best to stick with your child's regular after-school routine. Require homework time and check to make sure she's still meeting deadlines. If a progress report says your child's work isn't getting done, make a plan with her to ensure a strong finish.
Manage the stress.
If your child is showing symptoms of stress -- not eating or sleeping well or being irritable -- you may want to talk to him about ways to handle the pressure of juggling too many balls.
5. How to analyze your child's standardized test scores.
Schools use spring standardized test scores as one of the criteria for class placement, inclusion in gifted programs, and placement in mandatory basic skills programs. So it's important that you understand the percentiles, local and national "stanines," and composite scores that you'll find on that sheet of paper. If you're confused, you're not alone! Just place a call to the counselor, teacher, or an administrator in your school and ask for help interpreting the scores.
6. How to stay in touch. Help your kids stay in touch with their friends over the summer with this printable address form.
7. How your child can learn what to expect next year and adjust to the changes.
Moving to a new building.
Well-designed school orientation programs begin early in the spring or even during the winter. They usually consist of a campus tour and a visit with current students.
If you're concerned about the move, attend the parent orientation programs to learn about curriculum, school rules, schedules, homework policies, and developmental changes. If "information overload" sets in, call your school counselor or one of the teachers for a one-on-one session.
Also, there will probably be a "Back to School Night" early in the fall that repeats this information when your child is actually experiencing the change. By then, the details will seem more relevant.
Same building, different grade.
Many schools don't plan orientation programs for kids staying in the same building. If you think your child needs a little help with the transition, make sure to schedule time in late summer -- before classes start -- to visit the school and meet the new teacher.
8. New town, new building.
To help ease your child into a new school situation, it's wise to call ahead in the spring and find out what orientation programs exist. A school or peer counselor will probably be available in the fall to conduct tours. The school secretary has information about procedures for lunch, dismissal, and absences. If you're living in close proximity to the new school, you can arrange a time this spring for your child to sit in on a few classes and get familiar with the surroundings.
9. How to arrange summer childcare.

  • Need a babysitter for just a few hours here and there, or for the occasional night out on the town? Use these guidelines for finding the right babysitter.

  • Find out how to avoid trouble with your child's caregiver.
  • 10. How your teen can line up a summer job.

  • When is the right time for your teenager to get a job? Here's the answer!

  • How do you know if your child is ready for a job? Here's how you can tell.

  • Although it might seem a little late in the season for your child to land her dream job, these guidelines just might help her dreams come true.

  • What types of jobs should your child avoid? Read about the five worst jobs for teens.

  • Find out the labor laws concerning teens and other work-related facts. 
  • Is your young teen burning 'cause he's not earning? He can set himself up for next year's job by volunteering. Use these ideas and resources to get him started.

  • Your child may not be old enough to have a "real" job, but that doesn't mean you can't teach her the value of money this summer. Try paying her by the chore or help her search the neighborhood for odd jobs.
  • 11. How to arrange and plan for summer camp.

  • Here's a guide to find out if your child is ready for summer camp.

  • How do you know how to pick the best camp? Let the National PTA help you decide which camp is right for your child.

  • For more help on choosing the camp that's right for your child, use these resources.

  • You've found a camp for your child, so now what? Use our camp guide to answer your questions about what to pack, homesickness, and other concerns.
  • lunes, 5 de mayo de 2014

    10 Annoying Things Every Parent Does (But Never Admits to)

    You swore never to be that parent--you know, the kind who brags about her kid being in the 90th percentile on the growth chart? But then you actually became a parent and now you do all sorts of things you promised yourself you'd never do, not that you'll ever own up to it. Play the one-up game. Your friend's baby can cruise? Well, yours just started walking. And, no, you didn't mean to blurt that out the minute your friend shared her big news. But, yes, you did and now there's nothing to do but drop it (seriously).
    Yap about your kid to strangers. There are those moments when you're so dazzled by your kid's greatness ("She can say the entire alphabet...backwards!") that you can't help sharing it with everyone, including the barista at the coffee shop.
    new family photoTalk about your kid's poop. Let's be honest: Poop isn't a taboo topic when you're a parent; it's socially acceptable pretty much anywhere, anytime. And there's so much to share, from those epic poops up the back that newborns are known for (particularly in public) to your toddler's refusal to poop in the potty.
    Crash date night. Remember that time when your babysitter cancelled at the last minute, but the thought of takeout in front of the TV again made you so desperate, you took your fussy baby to that new restaurant (the one that isn't kid-friendly)? The couple next to you didn't appreciate it.
    Overshare on Facebook. You always make fun of your coworker whose Facebook timeline reads like an hour-by-hour account of her kid's day. But those 25 photos (with captions) that you posted after your daughter's first birthday party? Yep, that counts as oversharing.
    Document your kid's every move with your smartphone. Maybe not all the time, but admit it: There is that one place (the playground? soccer practice?) where you snap so many photos that people around you suspect you're actually a paparazzo.
    Share those pics at every opportunity. Here's the thing: Your yoga instructor didn't ask to see those photos. You just showed her. And you weren't ashamed when she made a lame excuse ("I need to get an espresso before my next class") to escape. In fact, you probably thought she actually drinks espresso before teaching yoga.
    Leave the restaurant without wiping up the crumbs. There's been at least one meal out where your kid made such a mess that you just looked at it, tipped an extra $5 bucks, and walked away, grateful that it was someone else's job to clean it up.
    Clog the sidewalk. With the double stroller, the dog, and your toddler walking next to you (because she's just decided she's too big for the stroller), there's no way anyone is getting past you.
    Let your kid stand on the left side of the escalator. You're loaded down with shopping bags, so your toddler is standing next to you, holding your hand, in the walking lane--while angry strangers pile up behind you both. Can anyone speed this thing up?
    Shared from www.