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How to Guide Your Teenager Toward a Career

April 25, 2017

By Jessica Vician

How to Guide Your Teenager Toward a Career | Guiding your teenager toward a career requires several steps, but can provide a glimpse into the future so that they can make good, educated choices along the way and land a great first job. | An instructor shows college students a graph on a tablet during class.

We all want our children to be successful in life, and that often includes finding a fulfilling career after school.

As your teenager nears high school graduation and considers colleges to attend, it helps to have an idea of the type of career they want to pursue. This knowledge will help them choose a college with a good program in that field and gain valuable experience in internships, extracurricular activities, and college jobs.

Guiding your teenager toward a career requires several steps, but can provide a glimpse into the future so that they can make good, educated choices along the way and land a great first job.

First, find out if your teenager already has ideas about what they want to do after high school or college.

My teen knows their future career
If they already know what they want to do after school, then follow these steps:

  1. Shadow people in the profession.
    An understanding of the daily reality for the job—not just the more glamorous overview—will help your teen determine if they really want that job or if it sounds better than it is. It also gives your teen the opportunity to ask what experience is necessary and what the career path is like, so they know how much school and/or training is required and can imagine themselves forging a long career in that field.
  2. Research college programs in your teenager’s area of interest.
    When searching programs, consider placement rate after graduation to anticipate how much help the school provides in helping students find a post-college job.

    Think about how realistic it is for your teenager to attend a school with a strong program in their desired field. For example, if you live in a landlocked state like Colorado and your teen wants to study marine biology, they will likely go to school on a coast. Can your family afford out-of-state tuition? Is your teen emotionally prepared to live far away from family?

My teen doesn’t know their future career
If your teenager doesn’t know what they want to do after high school, start having conversations about their interests to narrow down potential career options.

  1. Ask the right questions.
    In this New York Times article, a career services director encourages parents to ask the following questions]: “What skills do you have? What kinds of people do you like to work with? In what kind of environment?”

    These questions help your teen learn what they’re looking for in a career so they can explore specific options.

  2. Identify likes and dislikes.
    Ask your teenager to identify what they like and strongly dislike. That information can steer them toward or away from some careers.

    For instance, if your child is an introvert, rule out sales jobs, as they require a thick skin and an outgoing personality. If your child loves video games and has basic coding skills, explore a career in designing video or computer games.

  3. Determine strengths and weaknesses.
    What does your teen see as their biggest strength? Whether it’s a personality or academic strength, your teen knows themself and their skills best. As this Chicago Tribune article suggests, teens will make better career and school choices the more they know and understand themselves.

Even after guiding your teenager toward a career, it’s okay if they change their mind or veer off path. Those experiences will ultimately lead them to another job or career. As their parent, you don’t need to push them toward a specific industry or field. Encourage them to consider their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and narrow the list from there. It’s all part of the process of finding their own success.

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Earth Day: Air Quality in Schools

April 18, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Earth Day: Air Quality in Schools | Support your child's school's green school initiative this Earth Day.

Earth Day 2017 focuses on environmental and climate literacy. The theme calls attention to the importance of educating ourselves and our children on the needs of Earth’s environment and how humans can reduce the negative impact our species has contributed in the past and move forward with the knowledge of how fragile the environment is.

With that knowledge, we can make better choices every day that might seem small—like daily recycling—but lead to a big impact—reducing the size of our landfills. When we raise our kids to be mindful of their environment, they will grow up to be more environmentally conscious than the generation before them and can develop processes and plans to live smarter, more efficiently, and more Earth-friendly for future generations.

The Earth Day Network has organized many projects, from reforestation efforts (reversing the current trend of losing over 15 billion trees each year) to protecting endangered species. One of their projects that directly impacts your children is the Green Schools Campaign.

Why should you support this initiative? The Earth Day Network says,

“With children spending two-thirds of their waking hours inside schools, benefits like pure air quality, healthy lighting, safe outdoor spaces, and high quality cafeteria food aren’t fancy extras—they are essential.”

Think about air quality alone.

The air quality indoors can be up to 100 times worse than outdoors, and roughly 50 percent of classrooms have poor indoor air quality, according to Earth Day Network. Many school classrooms have low ventilation rates, where respiratory illnesses have increased between 50 to 370 percent, according to research provided by Lawrence Berkely Labs. American students miss about 14 millions school days each year due to asthma, according to the Green Education Foundation.

Those statistics are a rallying cry to use this Earth Day as an opportunity to change. You can start by further educating yourself on the Green Schools Campaign.

  • Learn why the initiative is important and how it will impact your child’s health.
  • Start talking to other parents about it.
  • Schedule a meeting with the school principal to start a conversation. Find out what your school is doing to improve air quality and make the school healthier and greener.
  • Introduce yourself to the person leading the initiative at the school and ask how you can help. That might include organizing meetings, fundraising for better building technology, or even educating others on the issue.

These are the first steps to enacting change. Educate yourself, talk to others, and learn what’s already being done. Then think of what else you can do to help current efforts or lead the charge yourself. Change for the future starts with one person. Change for your child’s future starts with you.

Tell us what you learned about your child’s school’s green initiatives in the comments below. Then keep us posted on your progress. Feel free to email us at info@youparent.com for a more direct conversation.

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4 Brain Breaks for High School Students

January 17, 2017

By Jessica Vician

4 Brain Breaks for High School Students |  When your teenager starts learning about complicated topics, brain breaks can help them focus and can even enhance the learning experience. | A teen girl takes a brain break with a cup of milk.

Once your teen enters high school, he or she will be learning important foundational knowledge that can be built upon in future years of study. For example, learning the basics about RNA and DNA in biology class could lead to studying genetics. Learning about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand could lead to a desire to learn more about international politics.

When your teenager starts learning about complicated topics, it can be difficult to wrap his or her head around them and can lead to an exhausted brain. But brain breaks can help your teen focus and can even enhance the learning experience.

Dr. Judy Willis discusses the science behind brain breaks in this Edutopia article. Basically, if your teen takes a 5-minute break from studying every 30 minutes, and uses that time to relate the learning to his or her life or even just gets the blood flowing again through exercise, it will help him or her retain the knowledge.

As your teenager starts studying a new topic that may be challenging, try one (or all four) of these brain break ideas. 

  1. Research the topic your child is learning about and share an interesting fact about the topic or about one of the leading minds on the subject. For example, if your teenager is studying Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, take a brain break to talk about how Einstein said that he often thought in music. Your teen likely loves listening to music, and knowing that he or she has something in common with the person who developing this complicated concept might help alter the way he or she thinks about learning it.
  2. When taking a break from reading a novel, spend five minutes role-playing as a character from the story. Ask your teen questions and have them answer as they think the main character would.
  3. When learning about eyesight or perhaps learning about a person who is blind, blindfold your teen during the brain break and have him or her try simple, everyday tasks so he or she can appreciate the sense of sight more. It's slightly removed from learning about lenses and corneas and only gives a minor example of what it's like to live without sight, but it might spark more of an interest in the subject.
  4. Is your teen learning a foreign language? During a brain break, do jumping jacks together while counting in that language. For more advanced work, conjugate verbs in that language during the jumping jacks.

Do you have any favorite brain breaks that you use with your kids? Share with us in the comments below.

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How can you practice parent engagement this school year?

August 30, 2016

By Jessica Vician

How can you practice parent engagement this school year? | Parents and teachers chat happily in a classroom.

You’ve prepared your child to start school by getting him or her into the back-to-school routine, buying school supplies, and sharing how to make a good impression on his or her new teacher(s). But have you thought about your role in the process once school starts?

Parents need to be just as prepared as students for back to school, making an effort to have a positive and open relationship with teachers and administration and practicing effective parent engagement at school and at home.

Parent Engagement at School

  1. Introduce yourself to teachers and administration.
    At the beginning of the school year, attend any parent-teacher meeting opportunities to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher(s). If there aren’t any formal opportunities, arrive at school early in the first week to introduce yourself to the teacher and administration.
  2. Share contact information and ask how the teacher prefers to communicate.
    Taking this initiative demonstrates to the teacher that you are proactively open to communicate about your child’s successes and/or concerns.
  3. Volunteer in the classroom or at the school.
    If you have time to volunteer as a classroom aide, to help at a classroom party, or chaperone a field trip, you can demonstrate to the school that you are an engaged parent while also demonstrating to your child that you are invested in his or her education.
  4. Request parent engagement training.
    The YOU Program, which is the parent engagement program upon which YOU Parent is based, offers various forms of training so that parents can learn how to best practice parent engagement with their children. You can learn the basics in a parent workshop and become a parent leader and train other parents at the school after attending a parent leadership training workshop.

Ask your principal about offering these workshops in your school, as they can boost student achievement by enlisting parent support.

Parent Engagement at Home
In addition to practicing parent engagement at school, you must also practice it at home by attending to your child’s needs while building the foundation for academic success.

A child requires all four of his or her core needs to be met in order to live a successful life, so parents must nurture a child’s social well-being, emotional well-being, physical health, and academic development.

You can do that by practicing these eight parent engagement activities and asking yourself:

  1. Are you paying attention to your child’s social and emotional well-being? 
  2. Are you making sure he or she is living a healthy life? 
  3. Are you coordinating with your child’s teacher to foster academic success outside of the classroom? 
  4. Are you modeling the behavior you want to see in your son or daughter outside the home?

By asking these questions and making a good impression at your child’s school, you’re already on the path to parent engagement success. Get involved and support your child’s needs to make this school year a great one.

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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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