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Finding Scholarships

February 26, 2014

By Judy Razo

Find the tuition maze!

If you have children in grades eight through twelve or in their first three years of college, your child should be applying for scholarships. That’s correct, from the ages of 14 to 21, your child should be applying to about 10 scholarships for every $1,000 of college 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 and there will be many other things to worry about, like his or her GPA, AP classes, the SAT and ACT, extracurricular activities and even prom. But your child graduating from college with zero or no debt for either one of you will make it all worth it.

So where can you find all of these magical scholarships? You need to dig for them and here’s how:

  • Start local. Many community organizations and local business in the city or town you live in will offer scholarships. Start by asking around at your own place of employment or that of your spouse, friends, and relatives. These may not be huge scholarships but they will be easier to get and small amounts add up in a big way.
  • Go national. Start looking for scholarships from around the country. You can do a simple Internet search for “scholarships” 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 he or she qualifies for, taking some of the legwork out of having to research the scholarships one by one.
  • Go for gold! Cheer on your child’s favorite talents by encouraging him or her to participate in contests and competitions using those talents. There are competitions for many talents such as writing, singing, dancing, sports, and even pageants, to name a few. Many of these contests offer cash prizes or scholarships to the winners—all money that can go toward paying for college.

Encourage your child to apply for smaller scholarships along with large ones. Competition for larger scholarships is a lot steeper than for small ones so the chances of winning a smaller or less 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 don’t leave it entirely up to him or her. Guide your child through the process, help him or her with research, and always proofread his or her applications. These tactics will help your child learn the process so he or she knows how to apply to scholarships on his or her own once your child has left home for college.

Good luck!


Translate Your Child's Video Gaming to Coding Skills

February 25, 2014

By Amanda Gebhardt

Two kids smile as they play video games.

Most of our lives and livelihoods are run on code. Our phones, our computers, our tablets, even our cars all run on code.

As coding becomes the language of the future, experts worry that American school children are not learning to code. Women and girls especially are underrepresented in the technology fields and classes. With today’s emphasis on science and technology and making sure that the U.S. produces the next generation of technological leaders, gaming might just be the hook that reels your child into the tech world.

Over the years, after marrying a gamer and becoming a bit of one myself, I’ve grown to love video games and respect the art and craft that go into building such complex systems. In fact, the pure technological know-how that goes into even the most basic video game says a lot for the dedication and passion of those people who have made careers out of gaming.

If your child loves gaming, help steer that love into technical skills like coding and digital animation. Some of the most frequently used programming languages in game development are C++, C#, Java, and Flash. Other languages in high demand with employers are SQL, C, XML, HTML, JavaScript, Perl, and Python.

There are many free online resources out there where children can learn to code. Here are some of the best sites that can teach you and your child the basics of programming:

  • Code Academy. Code Academy offers after-school programming for children that provides an easy way to learn code through interactive and fun activities. 
  • Khan Academy. The learning site has a computer science division with lessons that can teach you and your child how to use the JavaScript language and the ProcessingJS library to create fun drawings and animations. 
  • All ages can watch video tutorials on programming starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and other tech superstars, and even play games that will teach them the basics of coding.
  • Grok Learning. It offers, among other things, an introductory course about using Python for people with no programming experience, including high schoolers.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot about coding myself. The Visual Basic class I took in high school taught me about as much coding as my high school Spanish class taught me Spanish (thankfully I learned a bit more Spanish in college). Coders, though, are running the world, and any reason you can find that inspires your child to join their ranks might just be the thing that gets his or her future up and running.


Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem

February 19, 2014

By Amelia Orozco

A mother and daughter chat happily on a park bench

Today’s equivalent of being ignored is not receiving as many “likes” or “re-tweets” as you may like. Unfortunately for our children, this is paramount in their world. They may feel pressured to conform to being like others, not just in their physical appearance, but also in their online persona.

Recently, I noticed my stepson, who is 12 years old and lives with his mother, using many derogatory terms in his Facebook posts. Graciously, I asked him to stop, to which he complied. This made me think about him and many other children like him, who may behave this way because of their low self-esteem. They are looking for ways to define who they are, to prove how tough they are, or just trying to fit in with the “cool” kids—all attempts to reinforce their self-esteem.

There are certain things that are important to your son or daughter that may seem trivial to you such as a funny video or even what seems to be a childish spat with their friends. One good way to reinforce his or her self-esteem is to listen. I mean, really listen to your child when he or she talks to you. Look directly at your child’s face when he or she is speaking and, if possible, sit down so that you are at the same eye level. This lets your child know he or she is really being heard and that his or her opinion does matter.

When your child feels strong enough to express his or her opinions to you, without the fear of being ridiculed, he or she will willingly share more with you. This is your opportunity to highlight some of his or her special skills or outstanding abilities. You can point out how he or she has such a unique way of looking at things, and how that is something really special. Draw out more conversations from your son or daughter, and you will see there are things he or she may be really good at that you may not have been aware of.

There is almost always a way to turn a seemingly negative situation into a positive learning experience where your son or daughter’s abilities can shine through, raising his or her self-esteem. For example, if your son is complaining because a teammate does not pass the ball during soccer practice, discuss how his frustration can turn into a teaching opportunity. Your son or daughter may be a good coach for a little league team because of their ability to see the big picture when it comes to the game.

Finally, teach your son or daughter to embrace differences, not only of their own, but also of those around them. If your daughter speaks more than one language, encourage her to become fluent. Let her know that because of these differences, she is unique and has much to contribute to society, whether it is face-to-face or online.

Not only will your son or daughter’s self-esteem rise to new levels as he or she learns more about him or herself, but the world will seem much less intimidating as your child is reminded of the important roles he or she plays in it.

Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.


Building a Leader

February 17, 2014

By Jessica Vician

A young girl flexes her muscles in superhero garb.

Today is Presidents’ Day, during which we celebrate George Washington’s birthday and honor all United States presidents. Regardless of political affiliations, most of us can agree that each president we elect is a leader. While you might not aspire for your child to become president one day, teaching your child leadership skills will help him or her on the playground, in the classroom, in college, and throughout a career.

Here are three important leadership qualities and skills you can help your child develop.

  1. Listening. Teach your child to be a better listener. When someone speaks or shares an opinion, your child should listen to what that person is saying. Teach him or her to consider the speaker’s opinions before responding.

    Each of us learns more by listening than by speaking. By practicing listening, your child will learn more about people and the topic discussed and can apply that knowledge to future conversations.

  2. Assertiveness. While your child learns to listen to others, he or she should also learn to effectively communicate with others. Teach your child to be politely assertive so that he or she can communicate his or her needs and opinions with others. Being assertive will help your child with his or her own self-respect while also helping manage others.
  3. Set goals. A leader accomplishes many things. In order to do that, he or she must be organized to set and achieve goals. Help younger children set goals like completing five chores a week to teach them time management and the reward of accomplishment. Help teens set longer-term goals like getting four A’s in a term. This type of goal requires longer planning and dedication, but the reward is greater and can positively impact your teen’s future.

As your child develops and practices these skills, he or she will build knowledge, confidence, and self-respect, which are all qualities of a leader.


My daughter is boy crazy and growing up too fast. How can I help her slow down?

February 14, 2014

By YOU Program Facilitator

Cartoon characters stand in a meadow with hearts around them.

Question: My 12-year-old daughter is boy crazy. She and her friends spend hours talking about celebrity crushes and the boys in their school. I’m worried she’s growing up too fast—this seems like something teenagers do! What can I do to help her slow down?

Answer: With increased exposure to sexuality in the media, it is nearly impossible for children to remain uninfluenced by sexual and romantic culture. Even though your daughter is only 12 years old (a tween), she is one year away from officially being a teenager and therefore is influenced by teenage likes and dislikes.

Crushes are healthy and normal at her age. The fantasy of a celebrity crush is still relatively innocent— your daughter is unlikely to start dating a member of One Direction (or the latest boy band when you read this article). She is exploring her feelings for the opposite gender in a healthy way.

Once she targets those feelings toward boys in her school, it is time to talk to her about dating and what your family feels is appropriate for her age based on your morals and ethics.

At YOU Parent, we suggest that you encourage your daughter to analyze her friendships and romantic relationships. Help her seek positivity and trustworthiness in both her friendships and dating partners. By engaging in open conversations with her about these relationships, you establish trust with her and can encourage her to use good judgment that aligns with your family values when it is time to date.

We discuss teen dating and building healthy relationships in greater detail in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher three-book series. Please refer to pages 42, 64, and 65 in Through High School and Beyond for more information.

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