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Articles and expert advice to help you guide your child to educational success.
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Breakfast + Dinner: A Student’s Meal Ticket to Success

August 11, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Breakfast + Dinner: A Student’s Meal Ticket to Success | Your child can't focus or succeed in school if they're hungry. Be sure that they have a healthy breakfast to help them focus in class and a healthy dinner to help them sleep so they're rested the next morning. | A family eats breakfast in the morning.

“Breakfast might not just be the most important meal of a child’s day—it might be one of the most important meals of their life.”

If that’s not a statement that makes you want to stuff your child full of eggs, fruit, and whole wheat toast in the morning, I don’t know what is.

That statement opens a report from CNN about a study on the benefits of students eating breakfast versus the disadvantages of those students not eating breakfast.

The study found that kids who eat breakfast miss less school and do better in math, which in turn makes them 20 percent more likely to graduate high school. That might seem like a stretch, but the long-term study gets even more real when revealing those graduates will earn an average of $10,000 more annually than non-high school graduates.

The takeaway? If you want to increase the chances that your child will graduate from high school and therefore have a better life as an adult, you need to start by feeding him or her breakfast.

Why? Breakfast gives your child energy and nutrients that can help him or her focus in class. If your child is hungry, he or she can’t focus on what the teacher is doing, which will prevent him or her from learning and retaining skills and lessons.

Need some quick and healthy breakfast ideas

Okay, so you know why your child needs a nutritious breakfast. You also know that he or she will have a nutritious lunch at school. But what about dinner?

Dinner is also critical for your child’s success for the same reasons breakfast is. A healthy dinner gives your child the nutrients he or she needs to grow and be a healthy child. It also helps your child sleep better.

Sleep is critical to helping your child succeed in school. Without a proper night’s rest, your child will have trouble staying awake, paying attention, and retaining the day’s lessons in class. To help your child get a good night’s sleep, include protein and carbohydrates (meats, fish, beans and fiber-rich grains) at dinner.

This article offers quick and healthy dinner ideas, including a recipe.

If you are unable to afford to provide your child with breakfast in the morning, talk to the school about applying for the free and reduced price lunch program, which may extend to breakfast. For help providing a nutritious dinner, seek out a food assistance program.

For more information on how your child’s physical health affects his or her academic success, see the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books. 


3 Strategies to Teach Your Teen to Budget Their Summer Paycheck

July 7, 2015

By Nely Bergsma

3 Strategies to Teach Your Teen to Budget Their Summer Paycheck | It's never to late to teach your teen the valuable life skill of budgeting. Try these three tips to help them grasp the concept of saving and buying mostly what they need. | A teenager stands behind the counter of her summer job.

When is a good time to discuss savings and budgeting with your teenager? Financial professionals suggest a good starting point is when children begin to receive an allowance. But don’t get discouraged if you didn’t start then; it is never too late to introduce savings and budgeting to your child.

Now that summer is here, your adolescent may insist on needing a job and be enthusiastic about the idea of earning his or her own money. But most teens work so that they can spend. Teaching yours to set a budget can be useful in curtailing his or her spending and encouraging savings.

30-day Plan
Begin by keeping it simple. Ask what your teen intends on doing with the money he or she earns. Then suggest waiting 30 days before spending any bit of the paycheck. This tactic cuts down on impulse buying and helps to identify what your child needs versus wants.

Create a Budget
During the 30-day waiting period, encourage your son or daughter to create a budget. A budget is a useful tool for keeping track of spending habits.

Ask your teen to identify what he or she actually spends each month on food, entertainment, cell phone, and clothes. Use real numbers, not estimates.

Dig through your own personal bank and credit card statements to help your teen figure it out. This process will easily show both of you the areas where he or she may be overspending.

Spend Less Than They Earn
Lastly, remind your son or daughter to spend less than they earn and put away that difference for the future. This budgeting and financial planning will help your teen achieve his or her short-term and future financial goals.

Learning and practicing good financial habits now can serve to support your child’s emotional growth and financial independence in the future. Practicing these strategies will help them get there.

It's never too late to supplement your teen's school education with lessons at home. For more tips like these, read our YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books, available on Amazon. 


Yard Sale Life Lessons

May 28, 2015

By Ana Vela

Yard Sale Life Lessons | Yard sale season is in full swing. You may be aware that yard sales are an excellent way to get bargains, but did you know that they are also a great avenue for teaching your child valuable life lessons? | The graphic shows parents and kids hosting and attending a yard sale.

Yard sale season is in full swing. You may be aware that yard sales are an excellent way to get bargains, but did you know that they are also a great avenue for teaching your child valuable life lessons?

My father, being a yard sale fanatic, had me tag along with him every Saturday morning. That time together holds some of my fondest childhood memories with him: hunting for bargains. He would look for tools and electronics while I would look for toys. He may not have known it at the time, but I learned so many lessons from those experiences that have shaped my habits as an adult today.

According to Infographic Journal, there are an average of 165,000 yard sales held each week in the United States. That gives you plenty of opportunities to spend quality time with your child. 83 percent of people take their children with them when going to yard sales, and 94 percent buy items for their kids during these trips.

Make these trips a routine with your kids and take the opportunity to talk to them about school, their friends, and what’s going on in their lives. In addition to spending quality time together, there are many lessons you can teach your child at yard sales.

Teach about budgeting and saving money.
Give your child a budget to spend at the yard sales and help him or her stay under it. With 42 percent of sellers expecting to come down on prices, encourage your child to negotiate to further save money. You can pull up the retail price of the same item online and compare it to the yard sale price to teach your child about savings. With the average price of a yard sale item being around $0.85, it’s sure to be a shocking price difference!

Guide critical thinking skills and prioritizing.
When deciding what to buy at yard sales, guide your child to think about value. What items are worth buying used and at a bargain versus brand new (clothes, toys, electronics, etc.)? Help your child carefully inspect items to determine if they are good quality and safe. Guide your child to think through his or her decisions.

Promote being green and less wasteful.
Buying used products from yard sales is an excellent way to help the planet. Through this process, teach your child to simplify and be less wasteful.

Encourage being charitable.
Most items that are not sold at garage sales are usually donated to local charities. Teach your child about helping someone in need by donating. Suggest that your child donate any money saved during these trips to a worthy cause. The experience might also inspire your child to donate his or her infrequently used toys or clothes to charity.

As a parent, there are constantly opportunities for you to teach lessons. It just takes some planning on your end to turn a fun shopping trip at a yard sale into a valuable moment in your child’s development.

For more opportunities to teach life lessons, check out our YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books, now available on Amazon


Where to Find Immunizations on a Budget

April 16, 2015

By Nikki Cecala

Where to Find Immunizations on a Budget | Where to find low-cost or free vaccines for your child. | National Infant Immunization Week: Immunization. Power to Protect.

April 18 marks the beginning of National Infant Immunization Week, an annual observance highlighting the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases. It also celebrates the achievements of immunization programs thus far. This recognition might not seem like something big to celebrate, but think of all the diseases we are now able to better manage because of the available vaccines—measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, and polio, just to name a few.

It is very important to have up-to-date vaccines for children, especially newborns. Unfortunately, doctor visits and immunizations can be expensive—even more so if the sole provider does not have the insurance to cover the child. If you are providing for a bigger family, the costs could be more than half of your paycheck. Thankfully, there are two great websites that provide multiple options for inexpensive vaccines.

Immunize for Good
This website lists the different shots both you and your child need depending on age. It has a wonderful resource page that explains different types of free or low-cost vaccine programs, like Vaccines for Children (VFC), which provides vaccines at no cost to doctors who serve eligible children. Children 19 years old and younger are eligible for VFC vaccines if they are Medicaid-eligible, American Indian or Alaska Native, or have no health insurance.
On this website, you can find great information on necessary vaccines for everyone from newborns to teenagers to seniors. It provides the latest vaccine resources and requirements from federal agencies for all ages.

If you’re seeking insurance on a budget, visit the Health Insurance Marketplace. Find out if you qualify for free or low-cost coverage available through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Most Americans are eligible to use the Marketplace.

Children can receive over 30 vaccines by the time they are four years old. That’s a lot to keep a child healthy! Check out school-based health centers, community-funded clinics, and your state’s healthcare and family services for other low-cost immunization options.

Take a few moments to research the proper places that provide free or low-cost vaccines for your child. If you opt out of vaccinating him or her, you risk multiple doctor visits, hospitalizations, and in some cases even premature death. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work. It’s worth the research and the vaccinations to prevent these issues, and in turn give your child the best chance for success throughout his or her life.

Learn more about immunizations and well-baby checkups in our YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books, which help parents from birth through high school graduation and beyond. Now available on Amazon


Scholarship Hunting: 3 Places to Find Them

March 26, 2015

By Judy Razo

Scholarship Hunting: 3 Places to Find Them | Don't go through a complicated maze to find scholarships for your teen. Try these three easy tips and remember to apply for both big and small scholarships. | The illustration shows a "find the tuition" maze.

Did you know that students should start applying for scholarships as early as eighth grade? That’s right, from ages 14 through 21, your child should be applying to about 10 scholarships for every $1,000 of college tuition that you would like paid regardless of how much Financial Aid you think your child will receive.

I know, it sounds like a lot of work. But graduating from college with no debt for either one of you will make it all worth it.

So where can you find these scholarships? I’ll warn you: you will need to dig for them. But don’t worry; I can teach you where to look.

Local Organizations
Many community organizations and local business in your town offer scholarships. Ask your employer and have your friends and relatives ask theirs. Some of these scholarships may be smaller, but there are fewer people competing for them and every dollar counts.

National Searches
Start looking for scholarships from around the country. Simply search for “scholarships” online or have your child sign up for scholarship search services such as College Greenlight, BigFuture by College Board, or Fastweb. These services are free and will match your child with scholarships for which he or she qualifies, taking some of the legwork out of having to research the scholarships one by one.

Skilled Competitions
Many talent competitions offer cash prizes or scholarships to the winners—all money that can go toward paying for college. Encourage your child to participate in contests and competitions using his or her talents, like writing, singing, dancing, and sports.

Always try to apply for smaller scholarships along with large ones. As I mentioned, competition for larger scholarships is a lot steeper than for small ones so the chances of winning a smaller or lesser-known scholarship is greater. However, don’t shy away from big ones like from Coca-Cola or Dell either; you never know what scholarships your child will win unless you try.

Lastly, remember to let your child do most of the work when applying to scholarships, but be available to guide him or her through the process, help with research, and proofread his or her applications. These tactics will help your child learn the application process so he or she can take initiative and apply alone once in college.

Find out everything you need to know about choosing a college, financing it, and college and career readiness in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books. 

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