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A Lesson for Each Holiday

December 20, 2016

By Jessica Vician

A Lesson for Each Holiday | An illustration depicting a dreidel, pointed start piñata, Kwanzaa candles, Christmas tree, and more.

This is a big week for December holidays. We're in the middle of Las Posadas, Hanukkah begins on the 24th, Christmas Day is on the 25th, and Kwanzaa begins on the 26th.

Each holiday has many lessons worth sharing with your child for better understanding of other cultures, religions, and a common goal to be kind and respectful to others. I have identified one for each holiday, but invite you to share your favorite lessons in the comments below.

Las Posadas
When you're in need, ask for help. Not everyone will help you, but the people who do are worth remembering and thanking.

Las Posadas honors the journey of Mary and Joseph the night Jesus was born, when they asked many strangers for shelter. While most could or would not help them, the people who allowed them to stay in their manger showed the family great kindness.

Teach your child that it doesn't hurt to ask for help, and to never give up if in need. Always thank those who show him or her kindness and offer help. In return, provide help to those in need whenever possible.

Hanukkah
Patience and faith will be rewarded.

Families light one candle each night for eight days during Hanukkah, which commemorates the Maccabee miracle when one day's worth of oil lasted eight days. After those eight days, the Jewish people were able to rededicate their holy temple.

When your child is impatient or struggles with doing the right thing because it is more difficult, remind him or her that patience and faith will be rewarded and it is better to have faith than lose it.

Christmas
Giving to others is the best gift for the world.

Christians exchange gifts on Christmas just as the three wise men brought gifts to Mary and Joseph after the birth of Jesus. They also give to emulate Jesus' charity throughout his life and death.

Teach your child that giving to those you care about demonstrates love and thanks, and giving to strangers in need demonstrates a caring and charitable spirit.

Kwanzaa
Celebrate your heritage.

As families and cultures merge, hold on to traditions from your family's past and teach them to your child. Just as each day of Kwanzaa focuses on a principle that is part of the African heritage, you can focus on your family's culture and history, whether it's an African, European, Asian, South American, or Native American. Teach your child about his or her ancestors and what they overcame to live their life and have a family that led to your family today.

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4 Family Activities to Celebrate Las Posadas

December 13, 2016

By Jessica Vician

4 Family Activities to Celebrate Las Posadas | A pointed star piñata waits to be hit by children on Las Posadas.

What is your family doing to celebrate Las Posadas this year? We have four ideas for family activities that range from educational and fun to delicious and filling.

Las Posadas Learning Activity
Teach your toddler or early elementary student about Las Posadas by sharing the symbolism of the poinsettia, the story of Las Posadas, and the traditional way of celebrating in Mexico.

This Las Posadas activity from Scholastic is designed for a classroom but would be fun at home or at a party.

DIY Nativity Scene Toys
A nativity scene can be found in many Christian households during the holidays, but often, the pieces that make up the nativity scene are fragile and not to be touched.

Encourage your child to learn Mary and Joseph's story on the night of Jesus' birth while letting him or her play with a kid-friendly nativity scene that you make together. Mommy Maestra has a great DIY tutorial on making your own nativity scene.

Gather the Kids for a Play
Tap into their inner performer and encourage your kids and their friends to put on a play that tells the Las Posadas story. Gather the adults for an audience and share your parent pride with applause!

Recipes for Las Posadas
Celebrate Las Posadas with traditional Mexican recipes that will warm your family's hearts and bellies. Latino Foodie has recipes for chile verde pork tamales, chipotle-glazed ham, Oaxacan pollo almendrado, and pan dulce. ¡Que rico!

Ask your children to help prepare the meal by giving them age-appropriate tasks. Young ones can stir or set the table, while teenagers can do prep work like cutting vegetables. Let everyone help to keep the family close and the holiday spirit alive.

How does your family celebrate Las Posadas? Share your traditions in the comments below.

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How can we start a holiday tradition for our own family?

December 6, 2016

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can we start a holiday tradition for our own family? | A young girl helps her mother make holiday cookies.

Question: My 6-year-old daughter wants to start a new holiday tradition. She said she wants one that's just for our family. I'm stumped on ideas. Can you think of an activity we can start that will grow with our family as we get older?

Answer: It's wonderful that your daughter takes pride in your family and wants to do something that will bring you closer. Her request reminds us that even though the holidays are busy, it's important to dedicate some time or an activity to your immediate family, and in this case, your daughter.

We have a few ideas for traditions that will hold up as she matures—they might even stay with you if you become a grandparent one day!

Ornament Exchange
Choose a date during the holidays for an ornament exchange. Each family member can spend the week prior making or buying an ornament. After a special lunch or dinner, put the wrapped ornaments in a pile. Draw numbers, and let the person who drew number one choose the first ornament. In order of their number drawn, each person unwraps an ornament, keeping it for him or herself or trading it for another one. Then, the family puts their new ornaments on the tree together.

Holiday Market Visit
Set a date each year, like the first Saturday in December, to visit a holiday market as a family. It might not be the same market each year—if you have a lot of options in your area, you may want to make a rule to never repeat. While your daughter is young, choose a market with activities or shops for children. The activities might change as your daughter grows up, but the warm feeling of being surrounded by holiday traditions, smells, and your family will stay the same.

The Nutcracker
See a performance of The Nutcracker every year together. There are many performances in various price ranges, from professional ballets in big cities to college performances to dance school recitals. Choose one in your budget and expose your daughter to a dance form not often shown on television or YouTube these days.

Borrow Traditions from Other Cultures and Religions
Do you celebrate Christmas? Borrow the candle-lighting tradition from Hanukkah and teach your daughter about why Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah. Do you celebrate Hanukkah? Borrow the principals of Kwanzaa to teach your daughter about community. SheKnows has a great list of global traditions that you can incorporate into your new family tradition while teaching your daughter about other cultures and religions.

Do our readers have suggestions for fun family traditions that grow with your kids? Share in the comments below.

For more family-focused holiday fun, read our 5 Must-Do Holiday Family Activities article.

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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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Focus on Faith for Kwanzaa

December 29, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Focus on Faith for Kwanzaa | Kwanzaa’s seven principles, or Nguzo Saba, represent African cultural values that contribute to building and growing a community among African Americans. Each day, one of these principles is discussed. While all of the principles are important and bring value to the family’s discussions, this year I feel it is especially important to focus on the faith principle, or imani.

Kwanzaa’s seven principles, or Nguzo Saba, represent African cultural values that contribute to building and growing a community among African Americans. Each day, one of these principles is discussed. While all of the principles are important and bring value to the family’s discussions, this year I feel it is especially important to focus on the faith principle, or imani.

The imani principle’s purpose is “to believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”

This faith does not focus on religion, but rather faith in ourselves and others to do the right, just, and moral thing. 2015 has been a year filled with angst, anger, terrorism, and fear throughout our nation and the world. But out of that negativity rose community. People have banded together to fight corruption and evil and to demand better from our leaders and each other.

That positivity and community can give us faith and motivate us to challenge ourselves and inspire our families to be better. Before Kwanzaa ends on January 1st, gather your family and talk about the imani principle.

As you sit around the fireplace or dinner table, ask your family these questions:

  • What does faith mean to you?
  • What do you admire most in your teacher? In your father, your mother, your sibling or cousin?
  • Who is your hero and why? How can you be more like him or her?
  • How will you be a better person in 2016?
  • How will you help others in 2016?

These may seem like simple questions, but it’s an important exercise for families with children of all ages. Sometimes the simplest questions are the ones we forget to answer as we get older and busier. These questions can help you reflect on the past year, on your life so far, and refocus for the coming year.

Gather your family, discuss these questions, and strengthen your faith in yourselves, each other, and the community. It’s the best way to make a difference in your local community and eventually influence the global community.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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