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Top 5 Favorite Kids’ Books

March 31, 2014

By Nikki Cecala

Top 5 Favorite Kids' Books

With the abundance of children’s books in the world, it is hard to narrow down five of our top favorites. I asked a few parents about the message they are trying to send when reading books to their children. Is it adventure? Is it to learn something? Below I listed some classics that have a mixture of education, family value, and growing up. These books are great for children of all ages, and honestly, adults, too.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Although this book is sad, there are many lessons to be learned. A young boy has a strong friendship with a tree. They make each other happy by spending time together and playing. As the boy grows into adulthood, he becomes more demanding of materialistic items such as money, a house, and a boat. Generously, the tree gives the boy what she can until she is left with only a stump. This book teaches us the value of friendship and the stages of life until death.

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Grab a tissue box when reading this one. This book has much to say about youth, parenting, and the circle of life. A mother sings a song about loving her boy forever. She sings him this song through his growth spurt until she is too old to mutter the words. The son sings it to his dying mother, and then goes home and sings it to his newborn daughter.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
Wonderful book. At any age you can pick this up and feel inspired. The straightforward, enjoyable rhyming story breaks down the successes and failures of taking a risk.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
This book beautifully describes a child’s nighttime. The boy cannot sleep until he tells everything in his bedroom “goodnight,” lastly saying, “Goodnight, Moon.” It’s a fairytale-like story told in rhymes.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This book is a simple text with great educational themes such as counting numbers, learning the days of the week, different types of foods, colors, and a caterpillar’s life stages before transitioning into a beautiful butterfly. It also has punchhole cut-outs on the pictures of the foods the caterpillar eats, making it visually appealing to young children.

What are your favorite children’s books? Tell us in the forum

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Train a Well-Rounded Athlete

March 27, 2014

By Jose Garcia

A group of girls sit on a bench while watching their team play soccer.

Athletes have always been idolized due to their strength, speed, competitiveness, and teamwork. In our sports-fascinated society, it is understandable to want our children to become the great athletes that we see daily on television.

Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that younger children are beginning to suffer injuries previously seen in teenagers and adults. This trend suggests that younger children are suffering from overtraining and exhaustion, causing injuries that may ultimately lead to long-term consequences.

Just as children should have a well-rounded academic record demonstrating various skillsets, they should have well-rounded athletic experience, too. Set an example for your children’s physical well-being that allows them to value exercise. Here are a few tips on what you can do to support an active and well-balanced physical lifestyle:

Choose sports together. 
Prior to selecting a sport for your children to play, get their input on what kind of sport they would enjoy. Many parents make the mistake of placing a child in a sport the parent themselves like without considering what the child prefers. Not all children are the same— one may like a team sport (football, soccer, baseball) while another may like an individual sport (tennis, track, boxing).

Try a few sports rather than concentrating on one.
It is important for children to have different experiences. Playing multiple sports can help your children meet new friends and learn different techniques that they can apply to other sports. Additionally, it will help your children avoid overusing certain muscles specific to one sport.

Limit practicing to a few hours every day.
One may think that overtraining will create a superstar athlete, but the truth is that it will most likely lead to burn out. Even for a child who loves the sport, overtraining may result in the child viewing it as a chore and potentially disliking it altogether. More severely, overtraining has been known to cause injury, exhaustion, and stress on the body.

Eat healthy foods and rest properly when not practicing or playing.
Children need to know that a healthy lifestyle doesn't end when games or practice are over. They should know that the foods they consume will help their bodies regain the energy they spent and provide the fuel for their next practice or game. Further, children should also know that rest is equally vital. Teach them that proper rest will help them become faster and stronger.

Physical health is one of the core topics YOU Parent considers of most importance in fostering child success. By supporting a healthy, physical livelihood for your children, you are teaching the discipline and skills that they will one day use in other aspects of their life. However, don't push them to the brink of injury; rather, let them play and enjoy the sports they like at their own pace. Doing so will allow them to remain active for many years to come.

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Video Games: Build Your Child’s Skills

March 26, 2014

By Amanda Gebhardt

A child sits in front of a television, playing a strategic video game.

Since I first started dating my husband, a life-long gamer, I’ve grown to love video games and respect the art and craft that go into building such complex systems. While not all video games are appropriate for children, there is much to love and learn about age-appropriate games.

If your child has found that love and seems to spend countless hours immersed in one digital world or another, recognize the skills that are being built automatically, and work with your child to apply those skills outside of games. Here are just some of the skills your child learns while playing games:

  • Critical Thinking. Video games are puzzles set inside mazes. In order to make it through each level, you have to think quickly and plan. Those who truly succeed are practicing critical thinking every step of the way.
  • Map Reading Skills. Learning how to navigate where you are and where you want to go is a key social studies skill that most gamers can benefit from strengthening. From radar maps to land maps you can pull up in most role-playing games, maps are key features of the gaming world.
  • Story. Non-gamers may not realize that every game out there has a plot, setting, and characters with distinct motivations. Even multi-player online games almost always have a “story mode” where players can advance through the story line, defeating the bad guys and saving the world (or taking over the world, depending on the game). This narrative ignites the player’s imagination.
  • Teamwork. In most multiplayer and cooperative games, players have specific roles within their teams and must stick to those roles if they want their teams to succeed. Each role is specific and necessary, teaching players valuable lessons.
  • Economics. Most large-scale games have some sort of built-in economy that allows players to earn credits or money in order to buy items that help them perform better. Auction houses inside the games are great places to see supply and demand theories in action. If your child’s game has a strong economic component, you can use it to encourage your child to learn more about basic economics that can help him or her succeed in the game.

If you want to reinforce these skills or even just share something your child loves, the best thing you can do is to pick up a controller and jump into the game yourself. Learn the ins and outs. Get good. Have fun. You’ll be leveling up more than just your character.

If your child loves playing video games, consider teaching them code. Find out more in the companion piece here. 

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After College: Moving Back In

March 25, 2014

By Jessica Vician

A young 20s son sits on the couch at his parents' house eating chips and watching television.

Millennials are moving back in with their parents in record numbers. In 2012, 36 percent of Millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 31) lived with their parents, a statistic up four percent since 2007. If you have a child graduating from college this May or June, it’s time to consider whether moving back in is an option.

Before making any decisions, ask your graduating student what his or her plans are after graduation. Find out if he or she has already started the job hunt. If not, ask your child to meet with the career development department within his or her college to begin preparing for and scheduling interviews.

If it looks like your child may not have a job immediately following graduation, discuss with your parenting partner whether you both are comfortable letting your child move back in with you. If so, set expectations and goals with your child. After all, allowing your child to move back in with you can cost you between $8,000 to $18,000 a year, depending on how much of his or her expenses you are willing to cover, so it’s important that the family agrees and honors these expectations.

Here are a few parameters you should consider for your child:

  • Rent. Will you ask your child to pay you rent? If so, how much?
  • Job applications. Set a goal for the number of job applications your child must complete and send each week. 
  • Networking. If your child is interested in staying in his or her hometown or neighboring area, require him or her to attend relevant networking events. If you or your friends can connect your child to contacts in his or her industry, arrange informational interviews.
  • Timeline. If your child will not be working, give him or her a deadline to get a job. If he or she has followed your other rules and has not found a job by that date, your child must get another job or move out. Even if the job is at a coffee shop or an entry-level sales job, your child will learn valuable life and business skills that are marketable to future employers.

Setting goals for your child to find a job and move out of your home benefits both you and your child. These goals will help your child find a job by providing structure and deadlines in a competitive job market. The parameters also help establish skills that your child will need throughout his or her career: setting and meeting deadlines, networking, and responsibility.

Tags :  collegesocialparentingfinancial
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Finish Your Degree for You and Your Child

March 24, 2014

By Jessica Vician

A father poses for a photo with his children at commencement.

Parental support, along with quality teachers, homework completion, and study time can increase your child’s educational success. But did you know that modeling positive behavior and completing your own education could also help your child succeed in school?

According to a 2012 study through the U.S. Department of Education, students with parents who graduated from college are more likely to succeed in school than students whose parents did not finish high school. Those same students are over 5 percent more likely to be at an advanced level in school than those whose parents did not finish high school.

If you have always wanted to finish your high school or college degree, but decided to put your child’s education before your own, consider these facts:

Look into furthering your education to set a strong example for your child and help him or her perform better in the classroom. Contact your state’s Department of Education to find out how to earn your high school diploma. Take classes toward a certificate or undergraduate degree at a community college. There are many scholarships available for adults looking to finish a degree.

You are already doing a great job for your kids by supporting them. Take the next step to support yourself by finishing your education. You will be more confident and knowledgeable and can pass those qualities on to your child to help him or her succeed in school and later in life.

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