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Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

February 23, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? | This month's exercise is building a snowman! Bundle up the family, hit the snow, and burn an average of 285 calories an hour. | A family runs around a snowman they just built.

It’s the end of February and winter hasn’t fully released its grip on us just yet. And while we tire of the snow and cold, upcoming March reminds us that spring is near. With that in mind, I challenge you to embrace the winter and take advantage of the next snowfall—which could be your last of the season—for this month’s exercise: build a snowman!

Building a snowman is so much fun. Kids young and old love it and you can burn an average of 285 calories an hour, so bundle up and hit the snow. Toss in a friendly snowball fight to burn an extra 319 calories an hour.

You can even turn this exercise into a learning opportunity by trying to build a mathematically perfect snowman. Teach your kids about the golden ratio and get your ruler out to follow Dr. James Hind’s instructions, found here.

Regardless of whether your family attempts or succeeds at the mathematically perfect snowman, snap a pic and share it on our Facebook page. And most importantly, have fun with this winter exercise challenge!

Check out last month’s exercises here.

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The Ultimate College Prep List

February 16, 2016

By Jessica Vician

You have been practicing parent engagement techniques for a long time and your teenager is doing well in school. Great job! The next step is college and career readiness. To help you and your teen prepare, read through this list of articles from YOU Parent experts that detail what to do next.

ExamsHelp Your Student Prepare for College Entry Exams | High school students take an exam in the classroom.

Before your child can be admitted to a community college, 4-year college, or university, he or she must meet minimum grade point average (G.P.A.) and college entry exam requirements. Read the below article for study tips that will help your teen succeed on the exam(s).

Help Your Student Prepare for College Entry Exams

Choosing a SchoolHelp Your Child Choose a College | A student raises his hand in a lecture hall and the professor calls on him.

Once your child has taken the appropriate college entry exam(s), he or she can start researching and narrowing down schools to attend. Read through these tips that will guide you and your student as you choose a school.

Helping Your Child Choose a College

College Tours: Parent Engagement Activity

Choosing College: Where Your Friends Don’t Attend

AdmissionHow to write an outstanding college admissions essay.

After narrowing down his or her choices, your teen will need to apply to school. These articles explain how to succeed in the most important admission steps.

Writing an Outstanding College Admissions Essay

Finish These 4 College Application Steps

Tuition and ScholarshipsTuition costs: in-state, public, and private. | The graph illustrates the difference in cost between in-state public schools, out-of-state public schools, and private schools.

How will you or your child pay for school once he or she is admitted? These articles explain how to prepare for those costs, from choosing a lower-priced school to applying for scholarships and financial aid.

Tuition Costs: In-State, Public, and Private

5 Must-Read FAFSA Facts

Scholarship Hunting: 3 Places to Find Them

What tips have been most helpful for you and your child in preparing to go to college? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags :  collegehigh schoolacademic
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Raising Children in America

January 28, 2016

By Lorena Villa Parkman

Raising Children in America | Moving to a new country is a complicated journey, especially when adapting to a new culture and following a different set of social rules. Here are a couple of things you may encounter in American culture. | Photo of an American flag.

Moving to a new country is a complicated journey, especially when adapting to a new culture and following a different set of social rules. Families encounter new values that may conflict with their culture’s values. Not only do parents have to adapt to the changes, but they must also balance old customs with new ones for their children.

Here are a couple of things you may encounter in American culture. Consider how to merge your home country’s values with those here to help your child acclimate.

Dating at a younger age
In the U.S., children start dating more seriously in high school. It is generally considered normal to let two teenagers go to the movies together, go out to dinner alone, or go as a couple to a school event like prom.

Of course, it’s your right to decide what rules you set before you let your child go out with a romantic interest. If you allow your child to date, you might ask him or her to call during the evening to check in and speak with other parents about what they do to keep their children safe while dating.

Sleepovers
Your elementary school child might be invited to sleepovers at friends’ houses. Usually the host family prepares activities for the kids to enjoy, like movies, games, and snacks.

If you feel a bit uneasy, ask the host family what they are planning for the night. Leave your phone number so they can reach you if your child feels homesick during the night or if something else happens.

Talk to your child before the sleepover, assuring him or her that you will pick them up if they are uncomfortable. You can also call to check in on your child before bedtime if you’d like.

Parent engagement in school
In some cultures, talking to or questioning teachers or school authorities is seen as disrespectful. But in the U.S., parents are expected to be involved in school and to talk to teachers about their concerns.

Parents can call or email the teacher at any time to discuss their child’s academic and social progress. Don’t feel intimidated—rather, take this opportunity to advocate for your child’s education.

Leaving home to live on campus
In some countries, teenagers live with their parents when they go to college (if they study in the same city). In the U.S., leaving home to go to college is seen as a rite of passage. In some universities, it’s even mandatory to live on campus for at least the first year of college.

See this as a great opportunity for your child to be independent, learn how to tackle daily life chores, and encounter new experiences and cultures.

It’s difficult to get used to a new normal in American culture, but work with other parents to establish trust and do what feels right to you. Build confidence and learn more about your adoptive country—you will be able to help your child with any obstacle he or she encounters in their journey toward success in America.

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3 Easy Exercises for Kids

January 26, 2016

By Jessica Vician

3 Easy Exercises for Kids | Did you know that kids need at least an hour a day of physical activity]? While they might get some of that at recess, try these three exercises with your kids at home to help strengthen their muscles. | A group of kids stretch on colorful mats.

While many New Year’s resolutions focus on adults losing weight, a health focus is just as important for kids. Did you know that kids need at least an hour a day of physical activity? While they might get some of that at recess, try these three exercises with your kids at home to help strengthen their muscles.

1. Plank for core strength
If you’ve ever taken a yoga or core strength class, you probably know how to do a plank. Have your child lie on his or her stomach and then push up with the forearms and toes on the floor. Keep the body straight, sucking in the belly and tightening the glutes (butt muscles). Start by holding the pose for 30 seconds, resting for 30 seconds, and then holding again. Try it three times.

After practicing for a few weeks, work up to holding the plank for 45 seconds and eventually a minute. Make it a competition for more fun—who can hold it the longest while still keeping their body straight?

2. Push-ups for arm and core strength
If your child is younger or overweight, start these push-ups with knees on the floor. Keep the arms just wider than shoulder-width apart, and keep the knees in line with the hips. Suck in the belly and push up and down, bending the elbows. See if your child can do 12-15 push-ups in a row. Try three sets of these 12-15 reps during each session.

When 15 reps become too easy, have your child do push-ups with toes on the floor (no knees), and eventually increase the number of push-ups he or she does each time.

3. Walking lunges for leg strength 
First, start with a regular lunge. Stand straight with feet together and step forward with your right foot, bending both knees to about 90-degree angles. Your back knee will be closest to the ground but won’t touch, and the front knee should be lined up with your ankle.

To move into the walking lunge, step forward with your left foot, moving into a lunge with the left leg (same as the instructions for the right leg lunge above). Keep moving down the hall for 20 total steps (10 with each leg). Do this exercise of 20 steps three times.

Once this exercise becomes easier for you and your child, add small hand weights of one to three pounds for an additional challenge.

Regular exercise helps your child regulate stress, feel happier, and be healthier. Take the challenge and do these three easy exercises with your child every day for a month and see how much better both of you feel.

Do you have a favorite exercise to do with your child? Tell us in the comments below.

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4 Ways to Stay Close to Far-Away Family

January 21, 2016

By Ana Vela

4 Ways to Stay Close to Far-Away Family | A girl writes a letter to her family in another state.

Being very close with my family, I never imagined raising a child without them nearby. And yet, that’s where life has taken me—1,200 miles away. Seeing how close my parents are to my brother’s children (who live near them), I was nervous at the thought of my daughter missing out on that bond by living so far away.

Because of that, I made a point to make sure family continued to be central in our home. Here are some methods I developed for our daughter Mariana to maintain a close relationship with my family, regardless of the distance.

Schedule phone and video calls.
I schedule calls and FaceTime with my family every other week. Mariana loves to “talk” on the phone and loves seeing her cousins on video. To help my family feel like they are not missing out on Mariana growing up, I make a list of any new things Mariana is doing to share with them during that call. And my nieces share their schoolwork and drawings with us.

If you don’t have FaceTime, you can use Skype or Google Hangouts to have a video call with your family.

Send mail.
My 18-month-old can’t write yet, but that doesn’t mean she can’t send mail. Together we send cards, drawings, stickers, and photos to her cousins just so they know she’s thinking of them. What kid doesn’t like to get mail? And it gives us something to talk about on a follow-up call.

Plan for visits.
With our family budget, both sides plan to travel and visit the other one time a year, usually around birthdays or holidays. Making these plans give us all something to look forward to and talk about, and my nieces love counting down the days until they see their little cousin.

Capture and talk about memories.
We love taking photos when we’re with each other! Weeks and even months after our visit, we’ll take time to look at the photos again. My husband and I use the photos to tell our daughter stories, while pointing to and naming each family member. That way she continues to recognize them and stay connected.

I’m happy to see that Mariana enjoys being with my family and that she recognizes them when we connect through these other methods. So far it doesn’t feel like the distance has lessened the bond.

What methods do your family use to stay connected? Share in the comments below.

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