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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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Find + Adapt to Your Child’s Learning Style

March 11, 2015

By Lorena Villa Parkman

Find + Adapt to Your Child’s Learning Style | No matter how bright, creative, or hard-working your child is, he or she may need a little help in school. An easy way you can help is to understand how he or she learns. | The image shows children smiling as they use magnifying glasses to look closely at small objects.

No matter how bright, creative, or hard-working your child is, sometimes he or she will still need a little help in school. One easy way that you can help is to understand how he or she learns.

Figuring out your child’s learning style can make his or her education a better experience. Each child has a different way of learning, so when parents know their child's best way to learn, they can help him or her more effectively with homework, tests, and overall academic tasks.

Test your child
Try these online resources to help determine your child’s learning style:

Study tips for each learning style
Once you figure out your child’s preferred style, you can create a study plan to help him or her understand concepts better.

  • School Family has homework and study tips for auditory learners (those who learn best from spoken words), kinesthetic learners (those who learn best while being active), and visual learners (those who learn best from seeing information written or illustrated).
  • About has learning suggestions for each style and lists the worst types of tests for each learner.
  • Indiana University’s Bepko Learning Center lists helpful tips for each of the aforementioned learning styles.

Include your child’s counselor or teacher
Share your child’s learning style with his or her teacher. While the teacher won’t always be able to accommodate each child’s learning style, it’s helpful information that may be useful when assigning homework or tests.

Remember that information and engagement is the key to successful education. Knowing your child’s learning strengths before you begin a study or educational strategy is important for his or her progress.

Learn more about how strong parent engagement can help your child succeed in school and in life in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books. 

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Help Your College Student Prepare for a Career

February 25, 2015

By Mario Vela

Help Your College Student Prepare for a Career | A job and a career are very different. Help your child prepare for a career when they graduate from college with these 4 approaches. | The image shows a female college student in front of a chalkboard with diagrams that show how to get a job. She looks like she is floating away with the balloons drawn on the chalkboard.

It’s the time of year when college seniors and their parents worry about what comes next. Will they get a job? Will they be able to afford living on their own? While you’re thinking of your child’s future, have you considered how to prepare him or her for not just a job but for a career?

In my professional career, I’ve spent years helping colleagues and college students enhance and prepare for their careers. A career is much different than a job. A job pays the bills and happens in the present, but a career is made up of all of the jobs we have taken and will take, how we advance, and what our overall goals are.

I’ve noticed that first generation college students have a tendency to let their careers take control of them. There are two main factors that contribute to this:

  • Limited industry exposure
  • Limited networks

Basically, college seniors about to embark upon the adult workforce often don’t know what they’re preparing for, and therefore don’t have a plan for their future life-long career, but rather for their first job out of college. But you can help. There is a great opportunity to help your child learn what’s out there and prepare for a career by:

  • Visiting different companies
  • Meeting with industry leaders
  • Attending industry events
  • Working with faculty experts

When students understand the various opportunities available, from company culture to seeing a typical career path at a large organization, they can get a better idea of what is important to them. They can figure out the kinds of careers they want. The sooner they figure that out, the more prepared they will be to control their careers and make fewer missteps along the way.

Encourage your child to meet with his or her career counselor or advisor at school. They should be able to help your child arrange these opportunities like visiting different companies, attending campus networking events to meet with industry leaders, etc.

Once your college student knows what’s really out there, he or she can determine a career path and stick to it to ensure faster success.

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5 Tips to Help Your Children With Homework

February 17, 2015

By Noralba Martinez

5 Tips to Help Your Children With Homework | Help your child with their homework with these tips, even if you don't know the material yourself. Great parent engagement tips. | This image shows a young girl sitting at the table working on homework while her mother looks on.

As a parent, part of your role is to help your children learn many skills that they will use throughout their lives. Your children will gradually transition from easy homework to more complicated projects. What if you do not understand or comprehend their homework? What if the language is foreign? What if you feel like you can’t help?

Thinking about all these questions can make anyone stressed. I want to share some ideas to alleviate your concerns and empower you with answers for your children. Try the following five strategies to aid you with homework assistance.

  1. Partnership. Be your children’s partner in school. Attend all parent-teacher conferences and open houses before school begins to create a partnership with your children’s teachers. This will allow easier communication with the teachers and access to guidance with homework. Build partnerships with parents in your children’s classes to ask them questions, too.
  2. Homework Time. Sit with your children and let them know how important school is. Turn all electronics off to give your children your undivided attention. Allow them to teach you the homework lessons they know. This will strengthen children’s confidence and allow you to learn some of the information they are learning in school.
  3. Tutoring. Inquire about free tutoring services in your children’s school. Ask about homework assistance and guides. Attend tutoring sessions with your children so you can learn new approaches to teaching your kids from the tutors.
  4. Learn. Enroll in any free or low-cost classes that can help you gain knowledge about the subjects with which you are having difficulty.
  5. Support. You are not alone. Read the tips on pages six through eight in this document and review this helpful advice, too.

Be an active learner with your children. You can gain and access new information with them while doing homework together. No parent knows all the answers and they, too, seek help to bridge the gap.

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4 Key Strengths of American Parenting

February 11, 2015

By Nikki Cecala

4 Key Strengths of American Parenting | Tolerance, Engaged Parenting, Pregnancy, Education | A family poses for a photo, wrapping themselves in an American flag.

One common goal in every city, state, and country is that parents want to raise healthy and happy children. I’ve talked to you about parenting styles in other countries, but what are some things that Americans do that other countries don’t factor in? After much research, I’ve found four key strengths of American parenting.

Tolerance
American parents encourage their children to develop and understand tolerance, likely because we live in a very diverse country. Because of this diversity, children and adults are able to recognize and respect different ways of being, so that as we interact with others we can build bridges of understanding, trust, and respect across cultures. Furthermore, this diversity makes our country a more interesting place to live, as people from different cultures contribute language skills, unique ways of thinking and knowledge, as well as new experiences to our collective culture.

Engaged Parenting
American parents tend to be more active in their children’s school and academic life than parents from many other countries. For example, in Japan it is uncommon for the parents to be engaged with school events and activities. Whereas in America, we have the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), regular parent-teacher conferences, chaperone field trips, and even participate in fundraisers for the schools.

We are also more involved in and spend more time on other things, like birthdays. Unlike in Ireland, where parents simply theme birthday parties as birthday, in America we spend lots of time planning the perfect party for our kids, complete with themed cakes, decorations, and more. It might be seen as excessive in other countries, but it makes our kids happy, and sometimes even the parents, too (I’m one of those moms).

Pregnancy
Just in the last 20 years, pregnancy care in America has improved significantly. When I was pregnant with my son two years ago, I had multiple ultrasounds to check both his and my health. My mother (who had five children) would tell me how lucky I was because she never received ultrasounds. She didn’t even know any of our genders until we were born!

While my mom’s story seems odd now, to this day most women in Norway won’t see an obstetrician during their pregnancy—just a midwife every once in a while. And thank goodness for payment plans in the States. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, if you do not pay your clinic bill the day you are in, you are put on a hospital lockdown and may not leave or receive proper prenatal care.

Education
We take education very seriously in the United States, but some parents have different opinions on the best education style for their kids. Luckily, there is an array of education options for American children, from public to private school, Montessori, and even homeschooling. According to a 2012 report released by Education News, the number of children being homeschooled in all states has increased by 75 percent since 1999. The report shows that homeschooling is becoming more popular due to safety concerns, academic advantages, and cost. It’s not an option in all countries, though. Germany and Brazil are just some of the countries that have banned homeschooling.

No matter the location of where you parent, everyone can agree that they want to provide the best environment for their child. Are there things American parents do that you think other countries should try? What are they? Tell me in the comments below.

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