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Why should teens expand their circle of friends?

July 18, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Why should teens expand their circles of friends? | The Breakfast Club had a point—bring teens of different backgrounds and interests together and they'll learn something.

During high school, teenagers find their group of friends and spend most of their social time with them. It's easy for teens to stay inside that group and ignore the many classmates who are different from themselves and their friends.

While people aren't as easily categorized as The Breakfast Club characters are—the brain, the princess, the athlete, the basketcase, and the criminal—often groups of friends fit into molds like them. Within each group are unique individuals with strengths and weaknesses.

Just as The Breakfast Club teens learn in the movie, interacting with people outside of their group of friends can help your teenager become more empathetic and gain a more inclusive view of their community and the greater world. They will learn to find something in common with people who may seem very different from them but at their cores are not.

When the school year begins, encourage your teenager to step outside their friend group and engage with other peers. If your teen is athletic and spends most of their time with other athletes, they can join a club to meet other teenagers. If your child is academically focused, they can try a social club or a sport.

By branching out and meeting new people, your teenager may gain confidence and a greater sense of who they are as an individual instead of as part of a group. This confidence and understanding of others will build character and stay with them through adulthood.

Tags :  high schoolsocial
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9 Ways for Your Child to Be Physically Fit & Healthy

July 11, 2017

By Jessica Vician

9 Ways for Your Child to Be Physically Fit & Healthy | Being active and eating well for life is such an important lesson that it needs to be practiced in and out of school.

Did you know that the President Physical Fitness Test—the gym class staple that you might have loved if you were athletic and loathed if you weren't—ended in 2016? Without those annual check-ins to see how your elementary student did in comparison with their peers, how can you gauge their level of physical fitness and health?

The good news is that the President's Challenge has been replaced with the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, which better assesses a student's overall health instead of only athletic fitness. According to the Health and Human Services website, this program focuses on helping students stay fit for life—not just for an annual test. This means that your child is learning to be active and eat well for their lifetime instead of only focusing on athletic competitions.

Being active and eating well for life is such an important lesson that it needs to be practiced in and out of school. As you know, healthy decisions and patterns you start now can stay with your child throughout their lifetime, so use the tips below to make healthy decisions for your family.

Get 60 minutes of physical activity every day
Your child needs 60 minutes of physical activity five days a week. You need at least 30 minutes. Try these small activities to reach those goals:

  • Walk to a neighborhood friend's house instead of driving. Let your child bike, skateboard, or scooter while you walk.
  • Wash the car by hand together. Let your child wipe down the interiors while you start on the exterior. Then switch and vacuum while your child soaps up the exterior parts they can reach.
  • Start a vegetable garden and tend to it daily. From watering to weeding, you and your child will gain activity points while reaping healthy vegetables to eat once they've grown.
  • After dinner, head outside to the basketball hoop (in your driveway or at a nearby park) for a few rounds of Horse.

Ensure meals & snacks hit all the food groups
Each meal should offer a lean protein, fruit or vegetable, and a whole grain.

  • Focus on one food group per snack, like a hard-boiled egg for protein in the morning, and an apple and peanut or almond nut butter in the afternoon for a fruit and protein.
  • Switch from sodas, juices, and sports drinks to water. For flavor, make an herbal (non-caffeinated) iced tea or add strawberries and cucumbers to water.
  • Get creative with your grains. Instead of regular pasta, try farro, bulgar, barley, or quinoa. You can even find quinoa pasta at the grocery store for a healthier option in your favorite shape.
  • Find a recipe for your family's favorite restaurant or take-out meal. Cooking it at home will eliminate a lot of extra sodium, sugar, and fat.
  • Reroute your family's sugar cravings away from candy bars, cookies, and other processed sweets and satisfy them with lots of fruits. The natural sugars are a healthy way to feed the craving.

What tips do you have for establishing healthy practices for your kids in the early years that will stay with them for life? Share in the comments below.

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Are you paying attention to your teen's health?

June 20, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Are you paying attention to your teen's health? | Here's a checklist to make sure they're covered.

As our children grow older and start pushing us away more often, there are some parts of parenting that we can let up on. But health is not one of those things. Even though your teenager might look healthy, it's important to make those doctors appointments and ensure they have access to healthy food options.

What specifically should you pay attention to? Refer to this checklist:

Doctors

  • Annual doctor appointments (general practitioner)
  • Dental appointments/cleanings every six months
  • Specialist doctor appointments as needed

Food & nutrition

  • Keep junk food out of the house
  • Load the fridge with fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Pack healthy snacks for after school
  • Have breakfast and dinner together as often as possible

Physical activity & rest

  • Encourage fun activities like sports, biking, running 5Ks, etc.
  • Set curfews—for being home and for being off screens—to ensure at least 8 hours of sleep a night

By glancing at this checklist every few months, you'll be reminded to make those doctor appointments, keep your refrigerator full of healthy snacks, and stay active with your teenagers.

Tags :  high schoolhealthphysicalteenagers
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Reading in early childhood leads to academic success

June 6, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Reading in early childhood leads to academic success

Think about when you're most proud of your young child. Is it when they conquer a skill you've been working on for a while? Is it when they use a word larger than you thought they could understand (or even a word they did—but shouldn't—have picked up from you *wink*)?

For young children, small steps in learning eventually become their academic development. Their ability to learn now will help them learn once they're in school. Reading can help your toddler develop those early academic skills.

Did you receive children's books as gifts when you were pregnant or after your baby was born? Keep those books out and accessible for your child to pick up. Flip through them together, looking at and talking about the pictures. Ask your child questions:

  • What animal is that?
  • What color shirt is he wearing?
  • Where do you think she is going next?
  • How does she know that woman?
  • Why is he sad?

These questions encourage your child to interact with the book, develop cause and effect critical thinking skills, and use their imagination about what could happen outside of the written story.

Once your child starts to develop an interest in books, head to yard sales and the library for inexpensive ways to expand their reading options. You can even use newspaper comics and magazines.

By including your child while reading books—asking questions during the story, pointing out details in the illustrations, and prompting your child to share their own version of the story—you are encouraging academic development in your child and setting them on the path to success.


How can you teach your child to read? Try this teacher's tips

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What Is the Summer Slide and How Can You Prevent It?

May 30, 2017

By Sandra Braceful-Quarles

What Is the Summer Slide and How Can You Prevent It? Here are activities to prevent the summer slide from happening to your child.

With summer break on the horizon, kids are looking forward to a break from school and spending more time with friends. As you plan your child's summer, incorporate activities and learning opportunities to prevent the summer slide from happening to your child.

The summer slide is the loss of learning that takes place during the summer months when children are not engaged in educational activities, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Over 100 years of research shared by the National Summer Learning Institute suggests that students score two to three months lower on the same standardized test given at the end of summer compared to the beginning of summer vacation. After a few summers, those months can easily add up to a loss of one school year.

To prevent that loss of knowledge, plan activities that focus on your child's interests to ensure they're having fun while learning over their summer vacation.

Visit your local library.
Many libraries have summer reading programs to encourage students to read over the summer. Kids usually receive a reward at the end of the program based on the number of books they read.

Cook your way through lessons in the kitchen.
Cooking is a fun way to incorporate reading, math, and art into a learning activity. The reading part comes with following the recipe, which makes the dish taste delicious. Have your child—the chef of the day—read instructions aloud as you act as his or her assistant. The math is the measurement part of the recipe. Instead of using 1 cup, use 1/3 cup (pour three 1/3 cups into 1 cup) to show that they are equal. Children can show artistic skills when plating and presenting the meal.

Learn more about their hobbies.
Hobbies are the perfect opportunities for reading and learning. If your child shows an interest in a particular topic, suggest he or she learn more about those activities. For example, if your child is interested in swimming, read about how to become a better swimmer, convert laps in pool meters into miles, or learn about famous swimmers.

Optimize your vacation.
Use the weeks leading up to your summer vacation to learn about your destination. Read brochures or books together before you leave. While on vacation, point out locations and cultural qualities that you learned about in those reading materials. During the vacation or upon your return, encourage your child to write about the activities in a summer adventure journal.

Enjoy your summer. Your child has many resources available to prevent any learning loss. With these tips, the only summer slide your child will ride is at the local playground or amusement park.



Sandra Braceful-Quarles is an educator, community liaison, and tutor working in the south suburbs of Chicago. As an active member of her worship community, she is passionate about giving back and volunteering to help others. She and her husband have three children and two grandchildren.


Looking for more ways to improve your child’s learning experience outside of school? Pick up a copy of YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher on Amazon.

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