Digital safety tips for the summer

 For most students, use of technology increases over the summer. Whether it’s finding new books on e-readers, creating new worlds in Minecraft, or simply connecting with friends over social media, the majority of students will find themselves online over summer vacation.  While students typically have greater support and adult supervision over their time online during the school year, the summer can be a vulnerable time for children – particularly those who are victims of cyberbullying. In addition to using technology in moderation and monitoring internet activities, the following digital safety tips can help kids stay safe online.   R.E.S.T.   The acronym R.E.S.T. can help establish good online habits for students of all ages, particularly in the unstructured summer months. It stands for:   R emain cautious   E xpress positivity   S tay active   T ell someone    1.          Remain cautious   With 81% of kids using social media, it can be a great way for children to stay connected with their friends over the summer. However, encourage children to be cautious in what they post; avoid using their full names whenever possible and avoid posting too much personal information on public profiles, such as their age, address, school, or other locations they visit often. Likewise, it’s important to remind teens that the internet isn’t private; even texts, photos, or videos from self-deleting apps like Snapchat can be saved or have screen shots taken.    2.          Express positivity   Our mothers told us, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” The same sentiment should be expressed to children about posting or commenting online; encourage them to post positive comments and avoid hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to be negative towards others.    3.          Stay active   While summer is a time to rest and recuperate before the next school year starts, it is not an excuse to spend two months inside online. Children should regularly take breaks from electronics during the day; activities such as going on a walk, cooking a snack or meal, working on an art project, or volunteering are all ways to take breaks from screens. Likewise, encourage kids – and adults – to do a “digital detox” for at least one weekend over the summer. Put away phones, tablets, and computers for an entire weekend to enjoy quality time together as a family.    4.          Tell someone   A study by Dosomething.org [https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-cyber-bullying] found that 90% of teens who witnessed cyberbullying did not say or do anything to stop it. Encourage kids of all ages to tell a parent, coach, counselor, or other trusted adult if they or someone they know is being bullied online. Likewise, talk to your children about their online activities; ask them what sites they visit, who they connect with on social media, and encourage them to follow their instincts if something seems off or makes them uncomfortable.

For most students, use of technology increases over the summer. Whether it’s finding new books on e-readers, creating new worlds in Minecraft, or simply connecting with friends over social media, the majority of students will find themselves online over summer vacation.

While students typically have greater support and adult supervision over their time online during the school year, the summer can be a vulnerable time for children – particularly those who are victims of cyberbullying. In addition to using technology in moderation and monitoring internet activities, the following digital safety tips can help kids stay safe online.

R.E.S.T.

The acronym R.E.S.T. can help establish good online habits for students of all ages, particularly in the unstructured summer months. It stands for:

Remain cautious

Express positivity

Stay active

Tell someone

1.       Remain cautious

With 81% of kids using social media, it can be a great way for children to stay connected with their friends over the summer. However, encourage children to be cautious in what they post; avoid using their full names whenever possible and avoid posting too much personal information on public profiles, such as their age, address, school, or other locations they visit often. Likewise, it’s important to remind teens that the internet isn’t private; even texts, photos, or videos from self-deleting apps like Snapchat can be saved or have screen shots taken.

2.       Express positivity

Our mothers told us, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” The same sentiment should be expressed to children about posting or commenting online; encourage them to post positive comments and avoid hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to be negative towards others.

3.       Stay active

While summer is a time to rest and recuperate before the next school year starts, it is not an excuse to spend two months inside online. Children should regularly take breaks from electronics during the day; activities such as going on a walk, cooking a snack or meal, working on an art project, or volunteering are all ways to take breaks from screens. Likewise, encourage kids – and adults – to do a “digital detox” for at least one weekend over the summer. Put away phones, tablets, and computers for an entire weekend to enjoy quality time together as a family.

4.       Tell someone

A study by Dosomething.org [https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-cyber-bullying] found that 90% of teens who witnessed cyberbullying did not say or do anything to stop it. Encourage kids of all ages to tell a parent, coach, counselor, or other trusted adult if they or someone they know is being bullied online. Likewise, talk to your children about their online activities; ask them what sites they visit, who they connect with on social media, and encourage them to follow their instincts if something seems off or makes them uncomfortable.

Prepare Your Middle School Child for High School

 The transition from middle school to high school is a big one — and it comes at an already rough time in a teen’s development.  You can’t go to school with your child, but you can help them prepare for the transition and do everything you can to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.  Get Organized  High school brings a greater sense of independence and responsibility than middle school. It’s the last step before a child leaves the nest to go to college, and it’s important that students learn how to manage their time and keep track of deadlines.  Take a proactive role in helping your child create a system for managing these things, then check in with them regularly to help make sure they’re sticking to it.  Encourage Involvement  Getting involved in school activities will help make the transition to high school much easier.  Before the school year starts, spend some time on the school’s website checking out clubs and activities that might be a good fit for your child. You could point out how getting involved could help them build new skills, develop friendships, work on overcoming certain fears, and take part in other benefits they may not even be aware of yet.  Create a Strong Bond  Perhaps the best thing you can do to help your child through many of life’s transitions is to establish a strong and healthy relationship with them.  With so many unexpected challenges and social pressures your child may face as they grow, he or she will most likely need people they feel safe to talk to when the time comes. If you and your child have a relationship founded on trust and good communication, your child will know that he or she can come to you when stressed, feeling overwhelmed, or trying to heal from heartaches.  Make an effort to get to know your child, including some of his or her strengths, weaknesses, fears, and goals, so that you may be better equipped to encourage and guide them through their next transition.

The transition from middle school to high school is a big one — and it comes at an already rough time in a teen’s development.

You can’t go to school with your child, but you can help them prepare for the transition and do everything you can to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

Get Organized

High school brings a greater sense of independence and responsibility than middle school. It’s the last step before a child leaves the nest to go to college, and it’s important that students learn how to manage their time and keep track of deadlines.

Take a proactive role in helping your child create a system for managing these things, then check in with them regularly to help make sure they’re sticking to it.

Encourage Involvement

Getting involved in school activities will help make the transition to high school much easier.  Before the school year starts, spend some time on the school’s website checking out clubs and activities that might be a good fit for your child. You could point out how getting involved could help them build new skills, develop friendships, work on overcoming certain fears, and take part in other benefits they may not even be aware of yet.

Create a Strong Bond

Perhaps the best thing you can do to help your child through many of life’s transitions is to establish a strong and healthy relationship with them.  With so many unexpected challenges and social pressures your child may face as they grow, he or she will most likely need people they feel safe to talk to when the time comes. If you and your child have a relationship founded on trust and good communication, your child will know that he or she can come to you when stressed, feeling overwhelmed, or trying to heal from heartaches.

Make an effort to get to know your child, including some of his or her strengths, weaknesses, fears, and goals, so that you may be better equipped to encourage and guide them through their next transition.

Summer reading suggestions for the college bound

 Final grades have been posted, graduation has passed, and seniors are now home for the summer as they anxiously anticipate leaving for college in the fall. While they may not have any academic requirements for the next few months, college bound students can take advantage of their time off by reading quality literature. Not only will reading keep their critical thinking and reading comprehension skills sharp, but it will also provide them with an additional knowledge base when they arrive on campus in the fall. The following summer reading suggestions for college bound students will help the time before college starts pass quickly – and give them plenty to talk about with their new classmates this fall.      -              How To Win Friends and Influence People    – Dale Carnegie     The consummate self-help book,  How to Win Friends and Influence People  is perfect for incoming college students nervous about meeting new people, making new friends, or being at school with 10,000 – or more – complete strangers. The advice in the book, including how to make people feel appreciated and how to sway others to your point of view, is applicable both when making friends in the dorms as well as later in life.      -              Between the World and Me    – Ta-Nehisi Coates     Written as a letter from Coates to his teenage son, this National Book Award winner discusses feelings and realities of being black in America. Toni Morrison called the novel “required reading,” saying “The language of ‘Between the World and Me,’ like Coates's journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory.”      -              An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments    - Ali Almossawi and Alejandro Giraldo     Learning how to argue for and defend a position is one of the hallmarks of the liberal arts education.  An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments  may look like a children’s picture book, but it can help college bound students avoid logical pitfalls – as well as recognize bad arguments when others make them.      -                Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear    – Elizabeth Gilbert      Big Magic  is a celebration of the creative process. Students looking to go into fine arts, communication, and more will draw inspiration from Gilbert’s follow-up novel to her international bestseller  Eat, Pray, Love.       And if you want to listen instead…      -              Hamilton     (Original Broadway Cast Recording)  – Lin-Manuel Miranda     This masterpiece fusion of hip hop and history shows how a single generation can change the world – and how our personal choices can have long-reaching effects in our lives. "Alexander Hamilton was himself part of a generation that changed the world," wrote Dean Bob Jacobsen of University of California, Berkeley. "His contributions still echo today in government, business, and even in how news is reported."

Final grades have been posted, graduation has passed, and seniors are now home for the summer as they anxiously anticipate leaving for college in the fall. While they may not have any academic requirements for the next few months, college bound students can take advantage of their time off by reading quality literature. Not only will reading keep their critical thinking and reading comprehension skills sharp, but it will also provide them with an additional knowledge base when they arrive on campus in the fall. The following summer reading suggestions for college bound students will help the time before college starts pass quickly – and give them plenty to talk about with their new classmates this fall.

 

-          How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

 

The consummate self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People is perfect for incoming college students nervous about meeting new people, making new friends, or being at school with 10,000 – or more – complete strangers. The advice in the book, including how to make people feel appreciated and how to sway others to your point of view, is applicable both when making friends in the dorms as well as later in life.

 

-          Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

Written as a letter from Coates to his teenage son, this National Book Award winner discusses feelings and realities of being black in America. Toni Morrison called the novel “required reading,” saying “The language of ‘Between the World and Me,’ like Coates's journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory.”

 

-          An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments - Ali Almossawi and Alejandro Giraldo

 

Learning how to argue for and defend a position is one of the hallmarks of the liberal arts education. An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments may look like a children’s picture book, but it can help college bound students avoid logical pitfalls – as well as recognize bad arguments when others make them.

 

-          Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert

 

Big Magic is a celebration of the creative process. Students looking to go into fine arts, communication, and more will draw inspiration from Gilbert’s follow-up novel to her international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.

 

And if you want to listen instead…

 

-          Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) – Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

This masterpiece fusion of hip hop and history shows how a single generation can change the world – and how our personal choices can have long-reaching effects in our lives. "Alexander Hamilton was himself part of a generation that changed the world," wrote Dean Bob Jacobsen of University of California, Berkeley. "His contributions still echo today in government, business, and even in how news is reported."

Educational outdoor activities

 While summer vacation is designed for students to rest and relax between grades, most kids have enough energy to keep them bouncing off the walls! Instead of keeping them cooped up inside – or turning to electronics to keep them entertained – gather up the kids and head outside!   Educational activities are especially important during the summer and can help prevent the “summer slide” , when children backtrack in their academic skills. Rather than resorting to boring workbooks or rote memorization review through flashcards, head outside for fun, educational activities that will engage their bodies and brains! When the kids get bored or need some structure to their days, these simple, educational activities can provide opportunities for both learning and fun.   Scavenger hunts   Scavenger hunts are a great way to get kids active outdoors. All that is needed is a list of items to find; because of this, they can be tailored for children’s ages and interests, locations, and more. If you are in a place where you can’t collect items, consider using cameras for a photo hunt. Examples of scavenger hunts include:   -           Alphabet hunt: Find an object to represent each letter of the alphabet   -           Color hunt: Find items that match various colors   -           Shape hunt: Find items that are commonly shaped, such as round, square, or oval.   -           Texture hunt: Have children find items that match a texture, such as smooth or bumpy.    Make ice cream    Beat the heat with a sweet, homemade treat! Homemade ice cream  requires kids to measure, practice their math skills, follow directions, and work off energy as they mix their own afternoon snack. Mix heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar in a Ziploc bag, then place into a larger bag of ice and rock salt. Kids can shake, toss, and roll their bags to create the ice cream; older children can learn about the science behind lower the freezing point, while kids of all ages will enjoy using unique ingredients to create different flavor combinations.   Shadow drawing   This physics-for-beginners project is fun, easy, and can help fill up an entire day. Set up a variety of objects or toys on paper or concrete; at various times throughout the day, come out and trace the object’s shadows. For more fun, have one child pick an object and trace its shadow without showing anyone else, then attempt to guess the object by its outline only.   Number line run   Using chalk, draw a number line along a long stretch of driveway or sidewalk, leaving about one foot in between each number. Have younger children practice counting as they run, skip, jump, or walk between numbers; make the activity more difficult for older children by having them move by skip counting, such as jumping by 3’s, or by running to a number that answers a given math question.

While summer vacation is designed for students to rest and relax between grades, most kids have enough energy to keep them bouncing off the walls! Instead of keeping them cooped up inside – or turning to electronics to keep them entertained – gather up the kids and head outside!

Educational activities are especially important during the summer and can help prevent the “summer slide”, when children backtrack in their academic skills. Rather than resorting to boring workbooks or rote memorization review through flashcards, head outside for fun, educational activities that will engage their bodies and brains! When the kids get bored or need some structure to their days, these simple, educational activities can provide opportunities for both learning and fun.

Scavenger hunts

Scavenger hunts are a great way to get kids active outdoors. All that is needed is a list of items to find; because of this, they can be tailored for children’s ages and interests, locations, and more. If you are in a place where you can’t collect items, consider using cameras for a photo hunt. Examples of scavenger hunts include:

-          Alphabet hunt: Find an object to represent each letter of the alphabet

-          Color hunt: Find items that match various colors

-          Shape hunt: Find items that are commonly shaped, such as round, square, or oval.

-          Texture hunt: Have children find items that match a texture, such as smooth or bumpy. 

Make ice cream

Beat the heat with a sweet, homemade treat! Homemade ice cream requires kids to measure, practice their math skills, follow directions, and work off energy as they mix their own afternoon snack. Mix heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar in a Ziploc bag, then place into a larger bag of ice and rock salt. Kids can shake, toss, and roll their bags to create the ice cream; older children can learn about the science behind lower the freezing point, while kids of all ages will enjoy using unique ingredients to create different flavor combinations.

Shadow drawing

This physics-for-beginners project is fun, easy, and can help fill up an entire day. Set up a variety of objects or toys on paper or concrete; at various times throughout the day, come out and trace the object’s shadows. For more fun, have one child pick an object and trace its shadow without showing anyone else, then attempt to guess the object by its outline only.

Number line run

Using chalk, draw a number line along a long stretch of driveway or sidewalk, leaving about one foot in between each number. Have younger children practice counting as they run, skip, jump, or walk between numbers; make the activity more difficult for older children by having them move by skip counting, such as jumping by 3’s, or by running to a number that answers a given math question.

Summer STEM activities

 Summer break is the perfect time to stimulate young minds with fun, hands-on activities! To keep things educational, try these summer STEM activities that can be completed with common household items.   -            Bottle rockets   While they may not be the fireworks variety,  these homemade bottle rockets  are an easy and fun way to incorporate both chemistry and engineering. Begin by building a launch pad using Tinker Toys, Legos, or other construction toys from around the house. Next, construct the rocket; an empty plastic bottle, a cork, baking soda, and vinegar are all that are needed for the rocket and its fuel. Put vinegar in the bottle, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda, turn upside down, quickly place the bottle in the launch pad, and watch it fly!  Discuss the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar, and how it makes the bottle rocket fly. Extend the activity by trying different sizes of bottles or different amounts of baking soda and vinegar.   -            Tie dye flowers     Create tie dye flowers   by changing the color of white daisies or carnations. Add different colored food coloring or watercolor paint to small cups of water, then split the stems of the flowers into two – or more – pieces before placing the ends into the different cups. The flowers will begin absorbing the color immediately; record which colors are absorbed fastest, how the colors mix together, or how the colors change over time.   -            Oobleck    Capitalize on the slime craze – and learn about states of matter – by making oobleck . Oobleck, sometimes called goop or magic mud, is a non-Newtonian liquid. Under pressure it behaves like a solid, but without pressure behaves like a liquid. Kids will be mesmerized as they play and learn with this engaging and entertaining science experiment.   -            Stick boats    Practice the scientific method by brainstorming, designing, and testing stick boats . Begin by collecting sticks and cutting or snapping them to similar lengths. Then, using rope, twine, or other materials, bind the sticks together to create a boat. Add a sail if desired, then test the boats on the water – or in the sink or bathtub. Whether they sink or float, encourage children to evaluate and tweak their designs for the next round of testing.   -            Paper plate marble runs    Engage kid’s creative sides by creating paper plate marble runs . Using a paper plate as a base, have children cut and tape construction paper arches, tunnels, and pathways for their marble to travel through. Straws, Wikki Stix, and other materials can be used to create paths, curves, turns, ramps, and more.

Summer break is the perfect time to stimulate young minds with fun, hands-on activities! To keep things educational, try these summer STEM activities that can be completed with common household items.

-          Bottle rockets

While they may not be the fireworks variety, these homemade bottle rockets are an easy and fun way to incorporate both chemistry and engineering. Begin by building a launch pad using Tinker Toys, Legos, or other construction toys from around the house. Next, construct the rocket; an empty plastic bottle, a cork, baking soda, and vinegar are all that are needed for the rocket and its fuel. Put vinegar in the bottle, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda, turn upside down, quickly place the bottle in the launch pad, and watch it fly!

Discuss the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar, and how it makes the bottle rocket fly. Extend the activity by trying different sizes of bottles or different amounts of baking soda and vinegar.

-          Tie dye flowers

Create tie dye flowers  by changing the color of white daisies or carnations. Add different colored food coloring or watercolor paint to small cups of water, then split the stems of the flowers into two – or more – pieces before placing the ends into the different cups. The flowers will begin absorbing the color immediately; record which colors are absorbed fastest, how the colors mix together, or how the colors change over time.

-          Oobleck

Capitalize on the slime craze – and learn about states of matter – by making oobleck. Oobleck, sometimes called goop or magic mud, is a non-Newtonian liquid. Under pressure it behaves like a solid, but without pressure behaves like a liquid. Kids will be mesmerized as they play and learn with this engaging and entertaining science experiment.

-          Stick boats

Practice the scientific method by brainstorming, designing, and testing stick boats. Begin by collecting sticks and cutting or snapping them to similar lengths. Then, using rope, twine, or other materials, bind the sticks together to create a boat. Add a sail if desired, then test the boats on the water – or in the sink or bathtub. Whether they sink or float, encourage children to evaluate and tweak their designs for the next round of testing.

-          Paper plate marble runs

Engage kid’s creative sides by creating paper plate marble runs. Using a paper plate as a base, have children cut and tape construction paper arches, tunnels, and pathways for their marble to travel through. Straws, Wikki Stix, and other materials can be used to create paths, curves, turns, ramps, and more.

Tips on how to guide your teen to land summer jobs and internships

 As school lets out for the year, many teens are looking for ways to improve their resumes and gain valuable work experience through summer jobs and internships. While summer vacation may be just around the corner, it’s still not too late for your teen to find something to do. The following tips can help parents guide their teens as they search for a summer job or internship!   Discuss their interests   While it may not be possible to find your teen’s dream job, it’s possible to find a position that connects with their likes and interests. Ask your teen about their favorite subjects, clubs they enjoy, or extracurriculars they participate in. If they love writing, a local newspaper or magazine could be a great fit. Likewise, a teen who wants to run their own business would learn best from experience with an entrepreneur.   Ask around   Many jobs and internships – both paid and unpaid – are found through word of mouth. Ask around with friends and family to see if they know of anyone looking for summer help. Likewise, if your teen has a specific position in mind, don’t be afraid to ask! Encourage them to call the person or business directly to ask if they have any available positions.   Review their resume   Even if they don’t have much experience, make sure to list everything else they’ve done. This includes clubs, sports teams, church groups, volunteer work, and other extracurricular activities. Highlighting any leadership positions or roles can emphasize certain skills and characteristics. Review their resume before they submit any applications, checking for spelling or grammatical mistakes, formatting issues, or any relevant experience they may have forgotten to list.   Practice for the interview   Prospective employers know teens won’t have lots of work experience; because of this, they tend to rely heavily on the interview process when making hiring decisions. Help your child ace their interview by going over practice questions, helping them choose an interview outfit, or reviewing business etiquette. Ask a friend, neighbor, or colleague to come over for the evening to conduct a mock interview; this will help your teen get comfortable speaking to a strange adult.   Design a custom internship   No luck finding a position? Help your teen design their own internship. Brainstorm ideas for an independent study project, such as conducting market research or identifying business trends. Next, find a teacher or other community member to “sponsor” or advise them on the project. Not only does this show initiative and creativity, but it can also help your teen make connections for potential positions next year.

As school lets out for the year, many teens are looking for ways to improve their resumes and gain valuable work experience through summer jobs and internships. While summer vacation may be just around the corner, it’s still not too late for your teen to find something to do. The following tips can help parents guide their teens as they search for a summer job or internship!

Discuss their interests

While it may not be possible to find your teen’s dream job, it’s possible to find a position that connects with their likes and interests. Ask your teen about their favorite subjects, clubs they enjoy, or extracurriculars they participate in. If they love writing, a local newspaper or magazine could be a great fit. Likewise, a teen who wants to run their own business would learn best from experience with an entrepreneur.

Ask around

Many jobs and internships – both paid and unpaid – are found through word of mouth. Ask around with friends and family to see if they know of anyone looking for summer help. Likewise, if your teen has a specific position in mind, don’t be afraid to ask! Encourage them to call the person or business directly to ask if they have any available positions.

Review their resume

Even if they don’t have much experience, make sure to list everything else they’ve done. This includes clubs, sports teams, church groups, volunteer work, and other extracurricular activities. Highlighting any leadership positions or roles can emphasize certain skills and characteristics. Review their resume before they submit any applications, checking for spelling or grammatical mistakes, formatting issues, or any relevant experience they may have forgotten to list.

Practice for the interview

Prospective employers know teens won’t have lots of work experience; because of this, they tend to rely heavily on the interview process when making hiring decisions. Help your child ace their interview by going over practice questions, helping them choose an interview outfit, or reviewing business etiquette. Ask a friend, neighbor, or colleague to come over for the evening to conduct a mock interview; this will help your teen get comfortable speaking to a strange adult.

Design a custom internship

No luck finding a position? Help your teen design their own internship. Brainstorm ideas for an independent study project, such as conducting market research or identifying business trends. Next, find a teacher or other community member to “sponsor” or advise them on the project. Not only does this show initiative and creativity, but it can also help your teen make connections for potential positions next year.

Ways to foster creativity in your kids

 Many parents assume that creativity is a talent their children either have or don’t have. However, it’s possible to foster creativity in your kids! Encouraging creativity can help with developing social skills and decision making, as well as fostering a sense of independence and confidence. The following are a few ways to help your child’s creativity flourish:   -            Provide time for unstructured play   Putting your kids into creative activities such as drama camps or art classes can help build skills, but the best way to foster creativity in kids is through unstructured play. Give your child the time and space to play unencumbered; for their next birthday, ask for creativity boosting toys such as plain Legos, dress up clothes, art supplies, or building materials.   -            Make a creative home    Create a home environment that allows creativity to flourish. In addition to providing things such as art supplies or dress up clothes, encourage kids to think in new and creative ways. Over dinner, ask them to come up with a list of three things they’ve never tried before to do during the upcoming weekend. Likewise, reassure them if they fail at something; kids afraid of failure are less likely to come up with creative ideas or solutions.   -            Give kids reasonable autonomy   Give your child the autonomy to make their own decisions and choices – within reason. While choosing not to do homework isn’t realistic, giving them the freedom to pick out their own clothes or pack their own lunches.   -            Download creativity-boosting apps   Kids of all ages love screen time. Use it to your advantage by downloading creativity-boosting apps such as drawing pads, fairy tale makers, or piano tutorials.   -            Encourage reading for pleasure   Help your child explore the genres and types of literature they enjoy. Encourage them to read for pleasure – outside of what they are required to do for school – by taking them to the local library, finding books that mirror their current interests, or signing them up for a summer reading program.   -            Try not to focus simply on achievements   As parents, we often put too much pressure onto what our children achieve. Instead, try to emphasize the “process” rather than the “product”. Ask about their process with questions like, “Did you have fun?” “What did you learn?” and “How would you improve or change it for next time?”

Many parents assume that creativity is a talent their children either have or don’t have. However, it’s possible to foster creativity in your kids! Encouraging creativity can help with developing social skills and decision making, as well as fostering a sense of independence and confidence. The following are a few ways to help your child’s creativity flourish:

-          Provide time for unstructured play

Putting your kids into creative activities such as drama camps or art classes can help build skills, but the best way to foster creativity in kids is through unstructured play. Give your child the time and space to play unencumbered; for their next birthday, ask for creativity boosting toys such as plain Legos, dress up clothes, art supplies, or building materials.

-          Make a creative home

Create a home environment that allows creativity to flourish. In addition to providing things such as art supplies or dress up clothes, encourage kids to think in new and creative ways. Over dinner, ask them to come up with a list of three things they’ve never tried before to do during the upcoming weekend. Likewise, reassure them if they fail at something; kids afraid of failure are less likely to come up with creative ideas or solutions.

-          Give kids reasonable autonomy

Give your child the autonomy to make their own decisions and choices – within reason. While choosing not to do homework isn’t realistic, giving them the freedom to pick out their own clothes or pack their own lunches.

-          Download creativity-boosting apps

Kids of all ages love screen time. Use it to your advantage by downloading creativity-boosting apps such as drawing pads, fairy tale makers, or piano tutorials.

-          Encourage reading for pleasure

Help your child explore the genres and types of literature they enjoy. Encourage them to read for pleasure – outside of what they are required to do for school – by taking them to the local library, finding books that mirror their current interests, or signing them up for a summer reading program.

-          Try not to focus simply on achievements

As parents, we often put too much pressure onto what our children achieve. Instead, try to emphasize the “process” rather than the “product”. Ask about their process with questions like, “Did you have fun?” “What did you learn?” and “How would you improve or change it for next time?”

Tips on creating a fun and educational family bucket list

 Between work, school, volunteering, and other extracurriculars, families are busier now than ever before. And while our devices allow us to stay in constant contact, it may be difficult to truly connect in a significant way.  One of the best ways to stay connect as a family is by creating a family bucket list. Once thought of as something only for people in the twilight of their lives, bucket lists are gaining popularity as a way to track and create lifelong goals. For families, bucket lists can help foster connections, revitalize relationships, and create a lifelong sense of adventure.  Creating an educational – and fun! – bucket list doesn’t have to be difficult. With these ideas on how to create a bucket list for your family, you’ll be ready to head off on your family’s next adventure at a moment’s notice.   -            Let everyone contribute   Because it is a family bucket list, the entire family should be involved! Find a time where everyone can sit down together to work on the list. You can have each person write down a list of their ideas before sharing, or sit and brainstorm together as a group.   -            Write it down   When we write down our goals, we are much more likely to work towards them! To keep bucket list items from being relegated to “someday,” write them down. Including specific timelines, plans, and other details is particularly important for big items such as trips or vacations.   -            Show it off!   After putting in the work to create a bucket list, show it off! Post the list somewhere prominent in your home; revisit it often to check off things you have done or to add new items!  Create a craft together by making an actual bucket for your bucket list! Paint or put stickers on a pail or bucket; write items from your bucket list on clothes pins and pin around the rim. As you accomplish them, take off the clothes pins and put them in the bucket. This gives you a visual reminder of all the fun things you have done together – and all the adventures you still get to have together!   -            Ideas for your bucket list   Consider bucket list items in the following categories: try, watch, explore, do, create, visit, wander, play, sightsee, and make. Sample bucket list items might be trying a new type of cuisine at a local restaurant, making a birdfeeder for the backyard, creating a family coat of arms, or going to home games for local sports teams.  Still having trouble thinking of ideas? Pick up a guidebook for your city or scour magazines and newspapers for local events or attractions. Factories with tours, museums, fairs and festivals, volunteering, and outdoor activities are just a few more potential ideas!   

Between work, school, volunteering, and other extracurriculars, families are busier now than ever before. And while our devices allow us to stay in constant contact, it may be difficult to truly connect in a significant way.

One of the best ways to stay connect as a family is by creating a family bucket list. Once thought of as something only for people in the twilight of their lives, bucket lists are gaining popularity as a way to track and create lifelong goals. For families, bucket lists can help foster connections, revitalize relationships, and create a lifelong sense of adventure.

Creating an educational – and fun! – bucket list doesn’t have to be difficult. With these ideas on how to create a bucket list for your family, you’ll be ready to head off on your family’s next adventure at a moment’s notice.

-          Let everyone contribute

Because it is a family bucket list, the entire family should be involved! Find a time where everyone can sit down together to work on the list. You can have each person write down a list of their ideas before sharing, or sit and brainstorm together as a group.

-          Write it down

When we write down our goals, we are much more likely to work towards them! To keep bucket list items from being relegated to “someday,” write them down. Including specific timelines, plans, and other details is particularly important for big items such as trips or vacations.

-          Show it off!

After putting in the work to create a bucket list, show it off! Post the list somewhere prominent in your home; revisit it often to check off things you have done or to add new items!

Create a craft together by making an actual bucket for your bucket list! Paint or put stickers on a pail or bucket; write items from your bucket list on clothes pins and pin around the rim. As you accomplish them, take off the clothes pins and put them in the bucket. This gives you a visual reminder of all the fun things you have done together – and all the adventures you still get to have together!

-          Ideas for your bucket list

Consider bucket list items in the following categories: try, watch, explore, do, create, visit, wander, play, sightsee, and make. Sample bucket list items might be trying a new type of cuisine at a local restaurant, making a birdfeeder for the backyard, creating a family coat of arms, or going to home games for local sports teams.

Still having trouble thinking of ideas? Pick up a guidebook for your city or scour magazines and newspapers for local events or attractions. Factories with tours, museums, fairs and festivals, volunteering, and outdoor activities are just a few more potential ideas!

 

Boost Your Child’s Chances for Scholarships

 Scholarships are competitive, and becoming even more so as the cost of college continues to rise. With the pool becoming more and more crowded, here are some ways you can help your child stand out from the pack:  Read the Fine Print  Before you and your child spend any time on a scholarship application, make sure it’s one that you qualify for in the first place. Scholarships often have specific requirements, and people who do not meet them are automatically disqualified. Invest a little time at the beginning of the process to avoid wasting time on an unnecessary application.  Be Open and Honest  Scholarship applications are filled with essays that tell the reader what they want to hear, rather than giving an honest portrayal of the applicant. Letting your child’s true colors show will help their application stand out in readers’ minds and help them feel like they are making a personal connection.  Those connections make it much easier for scholarship awarding organizations to feel good about choosing someone for an award — they come away with a true sense of who the money is benefitting.  Track Essays and Recommendations  Missing just one deadline or one part of an application can be enough to disqualify your child. One way to help prevent that is to help create a spreadsheet or another tracking system to make sure that everything is submitted on time. Creating a system for organizing applications will make sure that doesn’t happen. It also provides a good model for your child to follow one day.  Stay Positive  The scholarship application process is a lesson in the notion that you can’t always get what you want. This might be one of the first times that your child has ever been denied something that they want.  How you handle that situation will greatly inform their reaction to it, so try to stay positive and encourage them to keep moving forward rather than feeling upset or frustrated with themselves.

Scholarships are competitive, and becoming even more so as the cost of college continues to rise. With the pool becoming more and more crowded, here are some ways you can help your child stand out from the pack:

Read the Fine Print

Before you and your child spend any time on a scholarship application, make sure it’s one that you qualify for in the first place. Scholarships often have specific requirements, and people who do not meet them are automatically disqualified. Invest a little time at the beginning of the process to avoid wasting time on an unnecessary application.

Be Open and Honest

Scholarship applications are filled with essays that tell the reader what they want to hear, rather than giving an honest portrayal of the applicant. Letting your child’s true colors show will help their application stand out in readers’ minds and help them feel like they are making a personal connection.

Those connections make it much easier for scholarship awarding organizations to feel good about choosing someone for an award — they come away with a true sense of who the money is benefitting.

Track Essays and Recommendations

Missing just one deadline or one part of an application can be enough to disqualify your child. One way to help prevent that is to help create a spreadsheet or another tracking system to make sure that everything is submitted on time. Creating a system for organizing applications will make sure that doesn’t happen. It also provides a good model for your child to follow one day.

Stay Positive

The scholarship application process is a lesson in the notion that you can’t always get what you want. This might be one of the first times that your child has ever been denied something that they want.

How you handle that situation will greatly inform their reaction to it, so try to stay positive and encourage them to keep moving forward rather than feeling upset or frustrated with themselves.

Activities to Keep Your Kids Learning This Summer

 The school year is almost over, which means that many kids may be counting down the days until they can leave the classroom behind for the summer.  Any teacher will tell you that they spend time at the beginning of the school year working to re-orient students to the learning process after a summer away. Make that transition easier for your child by engaging them in activities that will keep them learning all summer long.  Plant a Garden  Tending to a garden is a great way to instill a sense of responsibility in children. Let them choose what type of food to grow (within reason, of course), then create a schedule for watering, weeding, and other garden duties.  Not only will this give your child a little bit of structure to summer days, it will also provide an opportunity to learn firsthand about how food grows. Have them keep a journal to track progress along the way and reflect on what they are learning to ensure that it sticks with them when they go back to school in the fall.  Visit the library  There’s something for everyone at the library, even if your child may not love to read.  The  Redondo     Beach     Public     Library  offers programs and events for children nearly every day, including dance and music classes and summer reading clubs. Set a goal to visit the library at least once per week to check out a new book or to participate in one of the programs.  Reading and engaging in educational events will help keep those skills sharp, and might even spark a new interest that your child will be eager to learn more about.  Volunteer in the community  For older children and teens, volunteering can help take them outside of their bubbles and learn the importance of connecting with others.  Redondo Beach has many  nonprofit     organizations  that are always in need of extra help. Again, this will help provide structure to the day and provide valuable lessons in skills like empathy and respect for all types of people.

The school year is almost over, which means that many kids may be counting down the days until they can leave the classroom behind for the summer.

Any teacher will tell you that they spend time at the beginning of the school year working to re-orient students to the learning process after a summer away. Make that transition easier for your child by engaging them in activities that will keep them learning all summer long.

Plant a Garden

Tending to a garden is a great way to instill a sense of responsibility in children. Let them choose what type of food to grow (within reason, of course), then create a schedule for watering, weeding, and other garden duties.

Not only will this give your child a little bit of structure to summer days, it will also provide an opportunity to learn firsthand about how food grows. Have them keep a journal to track progress along the way and reflect on what they are learning to ensure that it sticks with them when they go back to school in the fall.

Visit the library

There’s something for everyone at the library, even if your child may not love to read.

The Redondo Beach Public Library offers programs and events for children nearly every day, including dance and music classes and summer reading clubs. Set a goal to visit the library at least once per week to check out a new book or to participate in one of the programs.

Reading and engaging in educational events will help keep those skills sharp, and might even spark a new interest that your child will be eager to learn more about.

Volunteer in the community

For older children and teens, volunteering can help take them outside of their bubbles and learn the importance of connecting with others.

Redondo Beach has many nonprofit organizations that are always in need of extra help. Again, this will help provide structure to the day and provide valuable lessons in skills like empathy and respect for all types of people.

Educational staycation ideas for your kids

 Summer break is just around the corner, and many parents are faced with the looming prospect of several months at home with their kids. If you’re dreaming of white sand beaches or a secluded cabin in the woods but don’t have the time – or money – for a major trip, it’s still possible to plan a family getaway with a staycation!   Alphabet of staycation ideas   There are hundreds of staycation ideas for kids and families of all ages. The following alphabet ideas are just a few of our favorites!   A: Aquarium.  Before your visit, research the types of fish or marine life you may see.   B: Beach.  Visiting the beach is a great way to beat the heat!   C: Camping.  Whether it is in your own backyard, a local campground or the living room, camping is a great way to explore the outdoors!   D: Day Trip.  Grab a map, and draw a circle around it to represent everything within an hour’s driving distance.   E: Explore.  Try a mystery road trip or mystery walk. Simply start going and let your kids alternate telling you where to turn or stop. You never know where you’ll end up!   F: Festivals.  Summer is full of festivals and fairs! Find one – or several – to put on the calendar.   G: Global grocery.  Have each member of the family choose a state or country to research. Conclude the project by heading to the grocery store to shop for and cook a recipe from that culture.   H: Hotel.  Plan a dream vacation where money is no object. Where would you go? How would you get there? Where would you stay?   I: Ice cream.  Conduct a science experiment about freezing point depression by making your own ice cream!   J: Journal.  Have each child write about their summer staycation; it preserves the memories and helps improve their writing skills!   K: Kindness.  Do something kind for someone else, such as baking and delivering cookies to the neighbors.   L: Library.  Libraries are home to a number of exciting, fun, educational, and often free summer programs.   M: Museum.  Find a museum you have not visited before and plan a trip there.   N: Nature.  Take a nature walk through a local park or botanical garden, recording the different plants and animals you find.   O: Outdoors concerts.  Head out to enjoy an outdoor concert or festival, such as an outdoor movie screening or Shakespeare in the park performance.   P: Park.  What summer vacation is complete without a trip to the park? Make it special with a photo scavenger hunt.   Q: Quiet day.  Unplug and plan a day at home free from phones, tablets, and other electronics.   R: Reunion.  Whether it is for the whole family or just a few members, plan a reunion. Have kids create invitations, plan the menu, and come up with games or activities.   S: Sports.  Head to watch a local sports team play, or play outside together as a family!   T: Theater.  Have kids write and stage their own play! Little ones can even participate and create a puppet theater.   U: Under the stars.  Learn about astronomy by staying up late to stargaze.   V: Volunteer.  Volunteer as a family for a local organization.   W: Water.  Head to a local pool or water park; check for discounted rates such as family pricing or evening hours.   X: X marks the spot.  Create a treasure hunt using a map or with a series of riddles.   Y: Yard.  Plant a small vegetable garden and enjoy the fruits of your labor as summer progresses!   Z: Zoo.  Start with an aquarium and end with a zoo! Enjoy visiting and learning about the animals.   

Summer break is just around the corner, and many parents are faced with the looming prospect of several months at home with their kids. If you’re dreaming of white sand beaches or a secluded cabin in the woods but don’t have the time – or money – for a major trip, it’s still possible to plan a family getaway with a staycation!

Alphabet of staycation ideas

There are hundreds of staycation ideas for kids and families of all ages. The following alphabet ideas are just a few of our favorites!

A: Aquarium. Before your visit, research the types of fish or marine life you may see.

B: Beach. Visiting the beach is a great way to beat the heat!

C: Camping. Whether it is in your own backyard, a local campground or the living room, camping is a great way to explore the outdoors!

D: Day Trip. Grab a map, and draw a circle around it to represent everything within an hour’s driving distance.

E: Explore. Try a mystery road trip or mystery walk. Simply start going and let your kids alternate telling you where to turn or stop. You never know where you’ll end up!

F: Festivals. Summer is full of festivals and fairs! Find one – or several – to put on the calendar.

G: Global grocery. Have each member of the family choose a state or country to research. Conclude the project by heading to the grocery store to shop for and cook a recipe from that culture.

H: Hotel. Plan a dream vacation where money is no object. Where would you go? How would you get there? Where would you stay?

I: Ice cream. Conduct a science experiment about freezing point depression by making your own ice cream!

J: Journal. Have each child write about their summer staycation; it preserves the memories and helps improve their writing skills!

K: Kindness. Do something kind for someone else, such as baking and delivering cookies to the neighbors.

L: Library. Libraries are home to a number of exciting, fun, educational, and often free summer programs.

M: Museum. Find a museum you have not visited before and plan a trip there.

N: Nature. Take a nature walk through a local park or botanical garden, recording the different plants and animals you find.

O: Outdoors concerts. Head out to enjoy an outdoor concert or festival, such as an outdoor movie screening or Shakespeare in the park performance.

P: Park. What summer vacation is complete without a trip to the park? Make it special with a photo scavenger hunt.

Q: Quiet day. Unplug and plan a day at home free from phones, tablets, and other electronics.

R: Reunion. Whether it is for the whole family or just a few members, plan a reunion. Have kids create invitations, plan the menu, and come up with games or activities.

S: Sports. Head to watch a local sports team play, or play outside together as a family!

T: Theater. Have kids write and stage their own play! Little ones can even participate and create a puppet theater.

U: Under the stars. Learn about astronomy by staying up late to stargaze.

V: Volunteer. Volunteer as a family for a local organization.

W: Water. Head to a local pool or water park; check for discounted rates such as family pricing or evening hours.

X: X marks the spot. Create a treasure hunt using a map or with a series of riddles.

Y: Yard. Plant a small vegetable garden and enjoy the fruits of your labor as summer progresses!

Z: Zoo. Start with an aquarium and end with a zoo! Enjoy visiting and learning about the animals.

 

Great Books for Animal-Loving Kids

booksforanimallovingkids-2.jpg

No matter what type of animal your child likes, you can find a book to match those interests. Animals can be superheroes, villains, and every type of character in between.

These books, which range from pictures only to chapter books, will spark your child’s imagination and create a sense of excitement that even the best TV shows may not capture!

“Babe, The Gallant Pig” by Dick King-Smith

We’ll start off with a classic. Dick King Smith’s book is about a pig who encompasses some of the best human traits — manners, intelligence, and compassion. Babe wants to be a sheepdog and has to convince his owner that he should be roaming the fields instead of on the table for Christmas dinner.

This book was developed into a successful movie that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1996.

“How to Be an Elephant: Growing Up in the African Wild” by Katherine Roy

Elephants are a mainstay of children’s literature, but you’ve probably never seen them in quite this way. This picture book is based on the experiences of real-life elephants during their first two years of life. It provides some great lessons in how animals grow and adapt to their communities.

Open this one up for discussion by asking your child to draw comparisons between baby elephants and baby humans.

“Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail” by Kate Messner

Dogs make great heroes in children’s books, and Ranger the golden retriever is no exception. After doing some digging in the backyard, he’s transported back in time to help a family trying to cross the Oregon Trail to the American West.

Ranger quickly bonds with his new family and will make you fall in love with him by the time the book is finished. This chapter book also provides history lessons about what it was like for families heading west in the 1800s.

Volunteer opportunities for middle school students

 Volunteering is a great way for kids of all ages to serve others and give back to their communities. However, it can be difficult for young students to find age-appropriate volunteer opportunities. The following community service ideas can help your middle schooler get involved.      -            Clean out your closets.  Many pre-teens experience significant growth spurts during middle school. Encourage them to regularly clean out their closets in search of gently-used clothing, shoes, accessories, and even toys. Collect these items and take them to your local Goodwill or other shelter.      -            Ask for donations in lieu of gifts.  Collecting donations for a local charity instead of gifts for an upcoming birthday or holiday is a great way to give back to the community. For example, provide party guests with a list of items for the local animal shelter such as treats, collars, cleaning supplies, or toys; collect the items at the party and take them to the shelter after.      -            Write letters to deployed troops.  Say thank you to the men and women serving our country overseas by sending them letters and care packages through Operation Gratitude [https://www.operationgratitude.com/]. Those living in the Los Angeles area can also attend a care package assembly day or volunteer as a letter screener for the group.      -            Help at a fun run.  There are dozens of charity races and fun runs held each weekend in the greater Los Angeles area. Sign up to volunteer in ways such as helping at registration, handing out snacks and drinks to runners, or giving out medals at the finish line.      -            Create “care kits” for the homeless.  “Care kits” can be easily assembled and distributed to nearby homeless shelters. Made using gallon plastic bags, care kits can include items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, granola bars, and more.      Other ideas for volunteer opportunities      There are a variety of others ways to get involved in the community, including:      -           Work at a food bank or soup kitchen   -           Walk dogs for the humane society or animal shelter   -           Tutor or read to younger students at the elementary school   -           Shelve books at the library   -           Visit residents at a nursing home   -           Collect trash from the park or playground   -           Sign up donors for a blood drive

Volunteering is a great way for kids of all ages to serve others and give back to their communities. However, it can be difficult for young students to find age-appropriate volunteer opportunities. The following community service ideas can help your middle schooler get involved.

 

-          Clean out your closets. Many pre-teens experience significant growth spurts during middle school. Encourage them to regularly clean out their closets in search of gently-used clothing, shoes, accessories, and even toys. Collect these items and take them to your local Goodwill or other shelter.

 

-          Ask for donations in lieu of gifts. Collecting donations for a local charity instead of gifts for an upcoming birthday or holiday is a great way to give back to the community. For example, provide party guests with a list of items for the local animal shelter such as treats, collars, cleaning supplies, or toys; collect the items at the party and take them to the shelter after.

 

-          Write letters to deployed troops. Say thank you to the men and women serving our country overseas by sending them letters and care packages through Operation Gratitude [https://www.operationgratitude.com/]. Those living in the Los Angeles area can also attend a care package assembly day or volunteer as a letter screener for the group.

 

-          Help at a fun run. There are dozens of charity races and fun runs held each weekend in the greater Los Angeles area. Sign up to volunteer in ways such as helping at registration, handing out snacks and drinks to runners, or giving out medals at the finish line.

 

-          Create “care kits” for the homeless. “Care kits” can be easily assembled and distributed to nearby homeless shelters. Made using gallon plastic bags, care kits can include items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, granola bars, and more.

 

Other ideas for volunteer opportunities

 

There are a variety of others ways to get involved in the community, including:

 

-          Work at a food bank or soup kitchen

-          Walk dogs for the humane society or animal shelter

-          Tutor or read to younger students at the elementary school

-          Shelve books at the library

-          Visit residents at a nursing home

-          Collect trash from the park or playground

-          Sign up donors for a blood drive

Steps to improve your child's reading comprehension

 There are two skills that students need in order to become successful readers: recognition and comprehension. While recognition is about speed, recognizing sight vocabulary, and using phonics to sound out unfamiliar words, comprehension refers to how well children understand and remember what they’ve read.  Because reading is an integral part of all other school subjects, it’s important for children to have a strong base in reading comprehension. Even if your child struggles with this critical reading skill, there are a number of ways to work on it both in school and at home. The following steps can help parents and teacher improve a child’s reading comprehension.      1.         Choose the right books.  Books that are too hard – or too easy – can affect reading comprehension. If a book is too hard, the child spends most of their mental energy on decoding the text; if a book is too easy, they’re apt to speed read or merely skim over paragraphs. Encourage students to follow the five-finger rule when choosing a book. Choose a book, open to a random page, and begin reading. Each time they come across an unfamiliar word, have them hold up a finger. No fingers or one finger is too easy, 2-3 fingers is just right, and 5 or more is too difficult.      2.         Read aloud.  While older children may scoff at the idea of reading aloud, it’s one of the most effective tools for reading comprehension. Students are forced to slow down as they read, giving them more processing time. Likewise, reading aloud gives them the chance to both see and hear the words, ideal for audio learners.      3.         Reread to build fluency.  To improve comprehension and gain deeper understanding of a text, rereading can be a valuable tool. While it may not be possible to reread entire novels, encourage students to reread short passages or paragraphs, particularly if they do not feel like they grasped the content the first time. Rereading can also be an extremely helpful test-taking strategy.      4.         Ask questions . Even if you aren’t familiar with what they are reading, ask questions about the text. Not only does this force children to reflect on what they have read, but it also encourages them to ask themselves questions as they read. For example:      -           Before reading.  What do you think this book will be about? Why did you choose it?    -           During reading.  What is your favorite thing about the main character? Is it turning out how you thought it would? What do you think will happen next?    -           After reading.  Can you summarize the book in three sentences? What did you most enjoy about the story? Does it remind you of anything else you’ve read?

There are two skills that students need in order to become successful readers: recognition and comprehension. While recognition is about speed, recognizing sight vocabulary, and using phonics to sound out unfamiliar words, comprehension refers to how well children understand and remember what they’ve read.

Because reading is an integral part of all other school subjects, it’s important for children to have a strong base in reading comprehension. Even if your child struggles with this critical reading skill, there are a number of ways to work on it both in school and at home. The following steps can help parents and teacher improve a child’s reading comprehension.

 

1.       Choose the right books. Books that are too hard – or too easy – can affect reading comprehension. If a book is too hard, the child spends most of their mental energy on decoding the text; if a book is too easy, they’re apt to speed read or merely skim over paragraphs. Encourage students to follow the five-finger rule when choosing a book. Choose a book, open to a random page, and begin reading. Each time they come across an unfamiliar word, have them hold up a finger. No fingers or one finger is too easy, 2-3 fingers is just right, and 5 or more is too difficult.

 

2.       Read aloud. While older children may scoff at the idea of reading aloud, it’s one of the most effective tools for reading comprehension. Students are forced to slow down as they read, giving them more processing time. Likewise, reading aloud gives them the chance to both see and hear the words, ideal for audio learners.

 

3.       Reread to build fluency. To improve comprehension and gain deeper understanding of a text, rereading can be a valuable tool. While it may not be possible to reread entire novels, encourage students to reread short passages or paragraphs, particularly if they do not feel like they grasped the content the first time. Rereading can also be an extremely helpful test-taking strategy.

 

4.       Ask questions. Even if you aren’t familiar with what they are reading, ask questions about the text. Not only does this force children to reflect on what they have read, but it also encourages them to ask themselves questions as they read. For example:

 

-          Before reading. What do you think this book will be about? Why did you choose it?

-          During reading. What is your favorite thing about the main character? Is it turning out how you thought it would? What do you think will happen next?

-          After reading. Can you summarize the book in three sentences? What did you most enjoy about the story? Does it remind you of anything else you’ve read?

STEM education apps for students

STEM-2.jpg

Science and technology are transforming the ways we teach, work, learn, and live. Parents and teachers should work together to equip students with the STEM skills they may need to succeed in the future. Fifteen of the 20 fastest growing careers require a background in STEM subjects, while the Department of Education estimates that 33% of occupations will be STEM-based by 2020.

One of the most fun – and most effective – ways to teach STEM skills is through interactive apps. The following are just a few of the many age appropriate and educational STEM apps available for students. Using these apps can help children develop STEM skills that they can use both in and out of the classroom – as well as in their future.

 

-         Simple Machines

Children explore the fun side of physics as they design their own experiments using the six simple machines. Using levers, pulleys, inclined planes, wedges, axles, and wheels, students can create devices to destroy castles, send satellites into orbit, and more. The app also includes the free download of a handbook further explaining concepts such as force, conservation of energy, and mechanical advantages.

 

-          Basketball Fall

An educational app disguised as a game, Basketball Fall encourages students to hone physics concepts such as the effects of gravity, arcs, and predicting angles as they work their way through progressively difficult scenarios.

 

-          Hopscotch

Hopscotch teaches children to code and create their own games. Easy-to-follow tutorials allow students to work at their own pace and keep new learners from becoming frustrated and giving up. Kids can write code to mimic their favorite games or create entirely new programs.

 

-          The Robot Factory

In The Robot Factory, students can build and design their own robots. With 100 different available parts, there are thousands of unique combinations children can create. Once a robot is complete, it can be tested on a physics-based obstacle course on its ability to jump, move, and avoid obstacles. This encourages students to develop their creative thinking and problem solving skills.

 

-          Blokify

Blokify teaches the basics of computer aided design and 3D modeling software; children can opt for a guided building experience or create free-form Blok models. When finished, models can be printed using 3D printer software either at home, at school, or through a service provided by the Blokify app.

Job search tips for high school students

 A part-time job is a great way for high school students to add to their resumes, become more financially independent, and gain valuable work experience. However, searching and applying for jobs can be daunting, especially if a student has never worked before. The following job search tips can help high school students find the perfect part-time job.      1.         Create a resume.  Even if you don’t have any previous work experience, creating a resume is an important part of the job search process. In addition to highlighting your abilities and skills, it also helps show that you are serious about being hired. Include information such as your GPA, clubs or activities you are involved in, and volunteer experience.      2.         Compile a list of references.  While most entry-level jobs will not require letters of recommendation, most will ask for 2-3 references. Ask teachers, coaches, counselors, or close family friends if they would act as a reference for you. Let them know that you are beginning to look for a part-time jobs, and that they may get calls or emails from hiring managers.       3.         Set up a professional email address.  When applying for jobs – and colleges – it’s important to have a professional email address. A cutesy, immature, or inappropriate email address is a turn-off for many hiring managers. Keep it simple by using a combination of your first and last name or initials.      4.         Clean up social media.  If you are active on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, take the time to clean up your accounts before you start handing in applications. Remove any questionable posts, pictures, or tags and change privacy settings so only friends can see your updates.      5.         Apply for a wide variety of positions.  High school students are applying for many of the same part-time jobs. Because the pool of potential positions may be small, it’s important to apply for as many jobs as possible. Not only does this give you plenty of experience with the job application process, but it also helps increase your odds of being hired.      6.         Follow up after interviews.  Even when applying for an entry-level position, it’s  important to follow up after an interview. Send a short email or thank you note to the person you spoke with thanking them for the interview. If you haven’t heard back within 7-10 days, call back to check in on the status of your application.

A part-time job is a great way for high school students to add to their resumes, become more financially independent, and gain valuable work experience. However, searching and applying for jobs can be daunting, especially if a student has never worked before. The following job search tips can help high school students find the perfect part-time job.

 

1.       Create a resume. Even if you don’t have any previous work experience, creating a resume is an important part of the job search process. In addition to highlighting your abilities and skills, it also helps show that you are serious about being hired. Include information such as your GPA, clubs or activities you are involved in, and volunteer experience.

 

2.       Compile a list of references. While most entry-level jobs will not require letters of recommendation, most will ask for 2-3 references. Ask teachers, coaches, counselors, or close family friends if they would act as a reference for you. Let them know that you are beginning to look for a part-time jobs, and that they may get calls or emails from hiring managers. 

 

3.       Set up a professional email address. When applying for jobs – and colleges – it’s important to have a professional email address. A cutesy, immature, or inappropriate email address is a turn-off for many hiring managers. Keep it simple by using a combination of your first and last name or initials.

 

4.       Clean up social media. If you are active on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, take the time to clean up your accounts before you start handing in applications. Remove any questionable posts, pictures, or tags and change privacy settings so only friends can see your updates.

 

5.       Apply for a wide variety of positions. High school students are applying for many of the same part-time jobs. Because the pool of potential positions may be small, it’s important to apply for as many jobs as possible. Not only does this give you plenty of experience with the job application process, but it also helps increase your odds of being hired.

 

6.       Follow up after interviews. Even when applying for an entry-level position, it’s  important to follow up after an interview. Send a short email or thank you note to the person you spoke with thanking them for the interview. If you haven’t heard back within 7-10 days, call back to check in on the status of your application.

Tips for scholarship research and applications

Tipsforscholarshipresearchandapplication-2.jpg

Searching for scholarships takes more than a single weekend. With tens of thousands of potential scholarships that each have their own vastly different applications and requirements, the entire process can seem overwhelming. However, there are a number of ways to make finding and applying for scholarships easier. The following tips can help students jump start their scholarship research and help make college more affordable.

1.       Apply for as many scholarships as you can

Applying for only a handful of scholarships can minimize your chances of being awarded financial aid. Instead, treat searching and applying for scholarships as a part-time job; set time aside each week to research scholarships, work on essays, and follow up with submitted applications. With scholarships available for different academic interests, extracurricular activities, geographic location, sports participation, and more, there are hundreds of potential opportunities for every student to receive additional aid.

2.       Check the requirements for prospective schools

Many students falsely believe that their college application includes an automatic application for school-specific financial aid. In fact, many universities have different application requirements – and deadlines – for financial aid. Check with both the admissions and financial aid offices at prospective schools to ensure you are maximizing your chances at receiving scholarships.

3.       Network within your groups

Local clubs, churches, clubs, and organizations may offer small scholarships to members, children of members, or students within the community. Check with churches, civic groups, unions, and other organizations to which you or family members belong to see if there are any scholarships available. These scholarships are typically smaller but may have less competition as they need to be awarded locally.

4.       More work means fewer applicants

Scholarships that require more than a simple resume – such as those that ask for a long essay, video, or other project – often have significantly fewer applicants. On average, scholarships that require essays with more than 1,000 words have fewer than 500 applicants; comparable scholarships with shorter essay requirement average more than 5,000 applicants.

5.       Ensure you meet all the requirements

If the application asked for a list of five strengths and you only provide four, you may be disqualified. To avoid having your application thrown out, ensure you meet all requirements such as GPA, geographic location, and group membership; likewise, staying within the word limit and removing personal identifiers from essays can keep your application from being thrown out.

Education apps for middle school students

 Smart phones and tablets have become an integral part of our everyday lives. While many parents associate technology with social media – and wasting time – there are a number of ways that students can use their phones and tablets to maximize learning and productivity.  While finding apps for fun can be easy, finding good educational apps can be more difficult. From note taking aids to subject-specific content, the following are some of the best education apps for middle school students.   -            Evernote   Evernote is a notetaking app that can help students with various learning styles take notes in class. Notes can be taken in a variety of formats including text, audio, video, photo, and even sketches. Notes sync across devices and can be shared for real-time collaboration with classmates. Paper notes can also be inputted into the app using cameras.   -            myHomework Student Planner   This digital planner helps students manage homework, projects, assignments, and tests for different classes. Calendars can be viewed in daily, weekly, or monthly form, and push notifications can keep students from missing deadlines.   -            Quizlet   Quizlet is a digital flashcard app that allows students to create their own flashcards and study tools. Likewise, students can share and download stacks created by others.   -            Duolingo   Whether your child wants more practice in the language they take at school or is interested in learning a second language on their own, Duolingo introduces basic vocabulary, phrases, and grammar. Mini-games and progress trackers help keep children’s interest as they work through lessons. Current languages include Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese.   -            i  Tooch Middle School   iTooch is a comprehensive resource for students to receive additional practice in math and language arts. With more than 10,000 exercises for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, students can practice skills they are learning in school on the go. The app itself is free with subject areas available for an additional $5.99, less than the cost of a standard workbook.   -            Story Starters Pro   For students interested in creative writing, Story Starters Pro provides a nearly limitless number of interesting prompts.   -            EarthViewer   EarthViewer allows students to view and explore over 4.5 billion years of history on Earth. The research-based app includes interactive features, clickable details, in-depth maps, and engaging animations.   -            Swift Playgrounds   This iPad-only app teaches students the programming language Swift, which Apple itself uses to create their apps. This user-friendly app offers easy-to-follow instructions for beginners, a glossary of coding terms, a variety of levels, and is completely free!

Smart phones and tablets have become an integral part of our everyday lives. While many parents associate technology with social media – and wasting time – there are a number of ways that students can use their phones and tablets to maximize learning and productivity.

While finding apps for fun can be easy, finding good educational apps can be more difficult. From note taking aids to subject-specific content, the following are some of the best education apps for middle school students.

-          Evernote

Evernote is a notetaking app that can help students with various learning styles take notes in class. Notes can be taken in a variety of formats including text, audio, video, photo, and even sketches. Notes sync across devices and can be shared for real-time collaboration with classmates. Paper notes can also be inputted into the app using cameras.

-          myHomework Student Planner

This digital planner helps students manage homework, projects, assignments, and tests for different classes. Calendars can be viewed in daily, weekly, or monthly form, and push notifications can keep students from missing deadlines.

-          Quizlet

Quizlet is a digital flashcard app that allows students to create their own flashcards and study tools. Likewise, students can share and download stacks created by others.

-          Duolingo

Whether your child wants more practice in the language they take at school or is interested in learning a second language on their own, Duolingo introduces basic vocabulary, phrases, and grammar. Mini-games and progress trackers help keep children’s interest as they work through lessons. Current languages include Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese.

-          iTooch Middle School

iTooch is a comprehensive resource for students to receive additional practice in math and language arts. With more than 10,000 exercises for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, students can practice skills they are learning in school on the go. The app itself is free with subject areas available for an additional $5.99, less than the cost of a standard workbook.

-          Story Starters Pro

For students interested in creative writing, Story Starters Pro provides a nearly limitless number of interesting prompts.

-          EarthViewer

EarthViewer allows students to view and explore over 4.5 billion years of history on Earth. The research-based app includes interactive features, clickable details, in-depth maps, and engaging animations.

-          Swift Playgrounds

This iPad-only app teaches students the programming language Swift, which Apple itself uses to create their apps. This user-friendly app offers easy-to-follow instructions for beginners, a glossary of coding terms, a variety of levels, and is completely free!

Children's books that celebrate diversity

 Children’s books are known for colorful illustrations, rhyming prose, and plot lines that encourage values such as friendship, family, and forgiveness. However, many children might not find themselves or their families reflected in the books they read. A 2015 study by the Cooperative  Children’s Book Center  found that while diversity in children’s literature is improving, white and non-human (animals, trucks, etc) characters still make up 85.8% of characters in books.  In our vibrant community, it’s important to include books that celebrate diversity in both our home and school collections. The following are just a few of the increasing number of children’s books that celebrate different abilities, colors, cultures, nationalities, and more.   -               The Good Luck Cat      – Joy Harjo  Woogie is a cat with plenty of luck. Unfortunately, he’s also used 8 of his 9 lives already. When Woogie suddenly disappears, will his good luck help him make it home? Ages 3-7   -             Round Is A Tortilla: A Book of Shapes   – Roseanne Thong  Beautiful illustrations and fun rhyming texts help children explore the shapes in the world around them! Young readers ages 2-5 will also enjoy other books from the series including  Round is a Mooncake ,  Red is a Dragon , and  Green is a Chile Pepper , which all celebrate the everyday beauty of different cultures in our world.   -             My Brother Charlie    – Holly Robinson Peete  Callie loves her twin brother Charlie; he knows lots about airplanes, can play the piano, and can tell you the names of all the Presidents. Charlie also has autism, which makes it hard for him to express his feelings, make new friends, or stay safe.  My Brother Charlie  is a great choice for siblings of children with autism, as well as those who want to better understand their autistic friends or classmates. Ages 4-8   -             Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match    – Monica Brown  Marisol is Scottish-Peruvian; she has red hair and brown skin, wears stripes with polka dots, and brings peanut butter and jelly burritos for lunch. When her classmates start teasing her, Marisol wonders if matching more would help her fit in. Perfect for multiracial children struggling to find how they “match”. Ages 4-8   -             Donovan’s Double Trouble    – Monalisa DeGross  Donovan thought fourth grade would be his best year yet. Instead, he’s failing math and might need his younger sister to tutor him. Donovan’s beloved Uncle Vic also returned from overseas a double paraplegic; what will the kids at school think when they see Uncle Vic in his wheelchair? A great addition for children struggling with their feelings about a disabled relative. Ages 8-12

Children’s books are known for colorful illustrations, rhyming prose, and plot lines that encourage values such as friendship, family, and forgiveness. However, many children might not find themselves or their families reflected in the books they read. A 2015 study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found that while diversity in children’s literature is improving, white and non-human (animals, trucks, etc) characters still make up 85.8% of characters in books.

In our vibrant community, it’s important to include books that celebrate diversity in both our home and school collections. The following are just a few of the increasing number of children’s books that celebrate different abilities, colors, cultures, nationalities, and more.

-          The Good Luck Cat  – Joy Harjo

Woogie is a cat with plenty of luck. Unfortunately, he’s also used 8 of his 9 lives already. When Woogie suddenly disappears, will his good luck help him make it home? Ages 3-7

-          Round Is A Tortilla: A Book of Shapes – Roseanne Thong

Beautiful illustrations and fun rhyming texts help children explore the shapes in the world around them! Young readers ages 2-5 will also enjoy other books from the series including Round is a Mooncake, Red is a Dragon, and Green is a Chile Pepper, which all celebrate the everyday beauty of different cultures in our world.

-          My Brother Charlie  – Holly Robinson Peete

Callie loves her twin brother Charlie; he knows lots about airplanes, can play the piano, and can tell you the names of all the Presidents. Charlie also has autism, which makes it hard for him to express his feelings, make new friends, or stay safe. My Brother Charlie is a great choice for siblings of children with autism, as well as those who want to better understand their autistic friends or classmates. Ages 4-8

-          Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match  – Monica Brown

Marisol is Scottish-Peruvian; she has red hair and brown skin, wears stripes with polka dots, and brings peanut butter and jelly burritos for lunch. When her classmates start teasing her, Marisol wonders if matching more would help her fit in. Perfect for multiracial children struggling to find how they “match”. Ages 4-8

-          Donovan’s Double Trouble  – Monalisa DeGross

Donovan thought fourth grade would be his best year yet. Instead, he’s failing math and might need his younger sister to tutor him. Donovan’s beloved Uncle Vic also returned from overseas a double paraplegic; what will the kids at school think when they see Uncle Vic in his wheelchair? A great addition for children struggling with their feelings about a disabled relative. Ages 8-12

Book series that get your child excited about reading

 Finding books that appeal to reluctant readers can be difficult. Exciting, engaging book series can be especially helpful for students who may not otherwise love reading; by following the same characters or story arc they enjoy from book to book, they are more likely to stay engaged with the series and want to read more. The following are a few series that can help get your child excited about reading.   -            Magic Shop   – Kate Egan  Mike, a fourth grader who spends too much time in the principal’s office, wants to find something he can be good at. At The White Rabbit, the local magic store, Mike learns that anything can be possible with a little magic! This four book series is recommended for grades 3-5.   -            The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place   – Maryrose Wood  The Incorrigibles are no ordinary children – but Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. While she thought she would be teaching them about Latin verbs or the right way to use a globe, she first has to help these wild children overcome their canine tendencies. This six book series is recommended for grades 4-8.   -            You Wouldn’t Want To Be series   This non-fiction book series puts kids in the middle of different periods of world history. With interesting information they might not learn at school, engaging graphics, and a serious sense of humor, this series makes history – and reading – fun for kids in grades 3-5.   -            Skylanders eight book series  – Onk Beakman  If your child loves playing Skylanders on their console of choice, the book series can encourage them to put down their controllers and open up a book instead. With the same characters from the games appearing in the books, Skylanders fans will be engaged with this 8-book series appropriate for ages 8 and up.   -            Diary of a Wimpy Kid   – Jeff Kinney  This bestselling series for 4th – 8th graders celebrates the highs – and lows – of Greg’s middle school career. With a writing style that combines hilarious, comic-style illustration with story lines that will keep kids laughing out loud, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are a great choice for reluctant readers.

Finding books that appeal to reluctant readers can be difficult. Exciting, engaging book series can be especially helpful for students who may not otherwise love reading; by following the same characters or story arc they enjoy from book to book, they are more likely to stay engaged with the series and want to read more. The following are a few series that can help get your child excited about reading.

-          Magic Shop  – Kate Egan

Mike, a fourth grader who spends too much time in the principal’s office, wants to find something he can be good at. At The White Rabbit, the local magic store, Mike learns that anything can be possible with a little magic! This four book series is recommended for grades 3-5.

-          The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place  – Maryrose Wood

The Incorrigibles are no ordinary children – but Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. While she thought she would be teaching them about Latin verbs or the right way to use a globe, she first has to help these wild children overcome their canine tendencies. This six book series is recommended for grades 4-8.

-          You Wouldn’t Want To Be series

This non-fiction book series puts kids in the middle of different periods of world history. With interesting information they might not learn at school, engaging graphics, and a serious sense of humor, this series makes history – and reading – fun for kids in grades 3-5.

-          Skylanders eight book series – Onk Beakman

If your child loves playing Skylanders on their console of choice, the book series can encourage them to put down their controllers and open up a book instead. With the same characters from the games appearing in the books, Skylanders fans will be engaged with this 8-book series appropriate for ages 8 and up.

-          Diary of a Wimpy Kid  – Jeff Kinney

This bestselling series for 4th – 8th graders celebrates the highs – and lows – of Greg’s middle school career. With a writing style that combines hilarious, comic-style illustration with story lines that will keep kids laughing out loud, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are a great choice for reluctant readers.