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Paisanos: 3 Tips To Help Your Child During the Holidays

December 9, 2014

By Ana Vela

Paisanos: 3 Tips To Help Your Child During the Holidays | A mother buckles her children into the backseat of the car.

When we think of the holidays, we think about being with family. Well, what if your family is in a different country? You then travel hundreds, even thousands of miles to be with your loved ones. That’s what paisanos, about 2 million people, do every year. Paisanos (countrymen) are Mexican citizens who live and work in the United States and travel to Mexico to visit family. For paisanos, this migration can start as early as one week prior to Thanksgiving, returning to the U.S. after New Year’s.

When I was growing up, we were considered paisanos, as my father would drive us from our home in Virginia to spend the holidays in Mexico. I recall other paisano families leaving before the school holiday break to get a head start on the long drive to Mexico and to spend as much time with family as possible. While it’s wonderful to spend an extended amount of time with their families, taking children out of school before the designated break can have a serious impact on them as students.

Schools who serve students from paisano families understand the setbacks these students experience when they return to school. El Valor, the second-largest provider of early childhood education programs in Chicago, plans for this every year. “Sometimes families leave for a whole month,” says Clara Lopez, vice president of El Valor. “It’s important to build awareness around the importance of attendance so families can make better decisions. Routines are everything for a child.”

The Mexican government established a Paisano Program to help make travel to Mexico during the holidays as smooth and safe as possible. Yet, there is no information regarding the impact to U.S. students during this migration. Here are some tips to help your child have a successful return to school:

Value attendance
Do not take your child out of school before the holiday break. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, attendance is an important factor in student achievement. Each day your child misses class is a day that your child misses an opportunity to learn and may fall behind, making it more difficult to catch up. If you have no other option, then at least notify the school and your child’s teacher of his or her planned absence so you can work together to ensure your child does not fall behind academically.

Keep up the routines
Although it may be challenging during travel, try to keep some level of consistency for your child such as bedtime, meals, reading, and learning activities. This will help your child have a smoother transition when he or she returns to school. Contact your child’s teacher for ideas to help him or her continue to learn while traveling. “At El Valor, we hand out educational goody-bags to families filled with books and activities to provide some level of comfort for the children,” says Lopez.

Take advantage of the quality time
Life can get busy. Use the substantial travel time to catch up with your child. Ask about school, friends, and how he or she is feeling. It’s also a great time to discuss your child’s cultural identity and encourage practicing his or her native language. According to an article in The New York Times, “Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.” Being bilingual also prepares your child to succeed in a globalized job market.

Enjoy your travels and family, and remember to make every opportunity a learning experience for your child. I myself still hold on to the fond memories during our paisano travels.

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DIY Activity: Holiday Cards – Free Download

December 4, 2014
DIY Activity: Holiday Cards – Free Download | Two "happy holidays" cards colored by children. Click this image and print for the free download.
Cards illustrated by Dex Gonzalez. 

The holidays are a time of giving, and what better way to show love and appreciation than with a homemade card? We created these holiday card templates for you to download and print for a fun DIY family activity. 

Just click here and you will see a downloadable PDF for both cards and envelopes. Right click on the image and choose "print." 

Use this activity as an opportunity to teach your child about the importance of giving and showing loved ones he or she cares. Ask your child who he or she wants to send cards to, and encourage him or her to customize the card for each person. For example, in above right card, a YOU Parent staff member's nephew said he loves his aunt so he drew a heart and a smiley face. For babies too young to express feelings, dip their hands in a non-toxic finger paint and stamp it in the blank space. Your child can write whatever he or she wants in the inside of the card so it's special for each recipient.

We hope you enjoy making these cards with your child. It's a wonderful free activity for parents and children to do, and a true pleasure for the loved one to receive such a thoughtful gift. 

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What’s Your Parenting Style?

December 2, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

What's Your Parenting Style? | A mom and her daughter smile for the camera as they work on homework together.

I admit, when I heard a fellow parent at the park refer to another mother as a “helicopter parent,” I really thought that was her profession. Being a newbie mom (19 months and counting!), I had no idea there were defined parenting styles or types. I really only knew of two: you were either strict or not. Now I’ve not only had the pleasure of learning about the various types of parenting, but I’ve also seen some of them in action. Look at the list below: what is your parenting style?

Instinctive/Intuition Parenting
Your parenting style falls into this category if you teach what you know. You parent the way you were parented.

Attachment Parenting
Do you believe in co-sleeping and avoiding punishment? Do you prefer homeschooling? If so, you might fall into this category. Parents with this style strive to respond to their child’s every need in an insightful and sensitive manner.

Helicopter/Smothering Parenting
This style of parenting can be easy to fall into if you are a new parent (I had my moments of smothering), but helicopter parenting is an extreme form of parenting. Like a helicopter hovering over a landing, these parents tend to hover around their children, preventing them from learning on their own and instead trying do tasks for them. It’s not necessarily a bad parenting style, but too much hovering can be overbearing for the child.

Authoritative Parenting
If you are more assertive with your discipline and rules around the household, you might fall under this category. Authoritative parents set many rules and expect their children to obey them in or outside of the household.

Permissive/Lenient Parenting
This category is for the more laid back, nontraditional parents. This style is another that you might fall into easily without realizing it, usually when the child begins his or her teen years. These parents avoid confrontation and generally would rather be the child’s friend than act as an assertive parent.

Uninvolved/Neglectful Parenting
Sadly, this type of parenting does exist. You might fall into this category if you avoid nurturing your child and are too busy in your own life to provide the core needs* for your child. These parents usually only give their child the basic needs of food and shelter for survival.

Establishing a Discipline Strategy
Of course, many parents do not just fit into one category. You don’t have to read about these styles and choose one to follow. Based on the situation, age of the child, and your beliefs, you may alter your discipline strategies or authoritative tone throughout the child’s life. The most important thing you can do for your family is to decide what is healthy and what works best.

Is your parenting style similar to any of these? Have you altered your parenting style over the years? Let me know in the comments below.

*A child’s four core needs for success in school and in life are: social well-being, emotional well-being, academic, and physical. For easy activities you can do with your child to address these needs, see the article 8 Parent Engagement Activities.

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