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Think Before You Share: Protect Your Child’s Privacy on Social Media

August 4, 2015

By Noralba Martinez

Think Before You Share: Protect Your Child’s Privacy on Social Media | When you share photos of your kids on social media, those photos can fall into the wrong hands. Read on for how to protect your family. | A mother and father take selfies with their two kids while on a carnival ride.

This summer, as our kids are having a blast being out of school, we parents are trying to capture every fun moment to treasure it forever. Smartphones have made it easy to snap photos and immediately upload them to social media accounts for all our family and friends to see.

But what if more than just your family and friends are seeing the photos of your kids? How safe are those photos? According to an infographic published by Go-Gulf, over “600,000 Facebook accounts are compromised every day.” How would a social media hack affect your children’s privacy?

My friends and I were talking about how we can protect our children’s innocence as long as we can in the age of social media. One of my friends told me to Google our names. Luckily only one picture popped up of me (the one used for this website), but my friends and their kids were not as lucky—some of their personal and private pictures were on the Internet for everyone to see because they weren’t taking proper precautions.

Use these quick and easy tips to keep your children (and entire family) safe from being overexposed and away from dangerous people like pedophiles and hackers.

  • Keep all social media accounts private. If you feel your accounts are not safe enough, delete the information you don’t want shared or stored and close the accounts.
  • Only share your pictures with family and close friends. Keep in mind that once you post an image on many social media platforms, that company owns the photo and can use it for marketing purposes. Even when sharing with people you trust, only share what you don’t mind others seeing.
  • Change passwords regularly and be creative with them to avoid having your accounts hacked. Don’t use birthdays, anniversaries, or your children or pets’ names, either.
  • Back up photos to your computer or an external hard drive and then remove them from your phone.
  • Always lock your phone, in case someone steals it.

Remember that memories of your children will be around for a long time, even if you don’t post a photo of it on social media. Some of the best ones are preserved in your heart. Cherish the moment—don’t lose it because you are looking for your phone.

To learn more about proper technology use for your kids, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher 3-book set

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Why Testing Matters to Your Child’s Education

April 14, 2015

By Maureen Powers

Why Testing Matters to Your Child’s Education | Standardized tests aren't just an annoyance to parents, students, and teachers-- they're critical for state funding. Learn why these tests matter for your child's education. | A student fills in the multiple choice circles with a pencil on a test.

It’s spring and your child’s school is gearing up for standardized state assessments. Children are stressed, teachers are tense, and everyone just wants to get through testing season. Is all this anxiety necessary? Yes! Schools and teachers have a lot to lose if standardized assessments are not taken seriously.

By law, every state in the U.S. must administer state achievement tests to measure what students know and are able to do. The operating budgets in many school districts are often determined by the results of student growth on state standardized assessments. Many public schools have adopted performance pay, which gives teachers additional money if their students score well. In short, more money in schools means your children will be more likely to receive a better education.

Now that you know why these tests are so important to your child’s overall education, what can you do to help?

  • Make sure your child is in attendance all days of testing. Many schools are penalized for poor student attendance, which will affect funding.
  • Encourage your child to do his or her best and express your confidence in him or her. Anxiety and fear of failure can affect test performance.
  • With your child, explore the test questions for the standardized assessment in your state well in advance of the test. Cramming is not a good strategy, as these tests measure knowledge gained over time, not simple facts.
  • The assessment results are often available only after school is out for summer vacation. Make an appointment to speak with your child’s teacher at the beginning of the new school year to go over the results of the standardized assessments so you know your student’s strengths and opportunities for improvement and you are in a better position to advocate for him or her.
  • Visit the US Department of Education website for additional ways to help your child succeed.

By knowing why these standardized tests matter and how they can impact your child’s education, you can hopefully use these tips to help your child study and perform to the best of his or her ability.

Want more tips on preparing your child for academic success? Our YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books help parents from birth through high school graduation and beyond. Now available on Amazon

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Deal a Royal Flush of Family Fun

March 19, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Deal a Royal Flush of Family Fun | Playing card games is a great opportunity for family bonding with kids of all ages. Try it this spring break and see what you learn about your kids. | A photo shows a father playing cards with his daughter and son.

It’s spring break time, and you know what that means: lots of time with your kids. Whether you’re taking a vacation or a staycation, there’s probably a lot of down time and the kids could quickly be complaining, “I’m bored!”

Fret not. I have the solution to all of your problems. Okay, maybe not all of them, but to the boredom problem. Card games. That’s right. That simple deck of 52 cards or a box of Uno can go a long way. The genius of playing card games with your kids lies in the process.

You start by trying to teach them a game. Explain the rules and try a few practice rounds to help each other learn. This first part makes everyone a little uncomfortable, because you’re trying to remember the rules. And if you’re playing with teenagers, they’re getting over the fact that this is so uncool but also kind of fun.

Then the real game begins. Each person is strategizing, using his or her brain, reading other players’ faces and interpreting their strategies, and the competitive drive to win is building. You’re getting to know each other in a different way—seeing how each of you learns, how you act when frustrated or happy, and how competitive each of you is. You’re bonding.

And that, my friends, is the goal of the game. Card games can be simple or complex, but they’re inexpensive conversation starters for your family. They’re learning opportunities for young kids—building fine motor skills, learning math and colors, participating in social interaction—but can adapt as your kids age. You can learn new, more complicated games together as your kids grow, and by the time they’re teenagers, you’ll be aching for some good old-fashioned family fun.

As a teen, I played card or board games with my family when the power went out and we had nothing to do but hang out in candlelight. And even though I was always hammering to get out of the house to see my friends, I genuinely had a good time.

Even as an adult, card games remain a great opportunity for bonding. When I first met my now father- and stepmother-in-law, I felt awkward because I didn’t think we had much in common. Toward the end of our week-long visit, we started playing card games after dinner and I left that trip having a strong understanding of who they are as individuals, as a couple, and as parents to my partner. Everyone loosened up and I learned that we have much more in common than I had imagined. My only regret is that we didn’t play cards on the first night—I would have been much more relaxed if we had.

So during this spring break, or any future vacations or electricity-free nights due to summer storms, gather your kids around the dinner or coffee table and play a card game together as a family. Invite your kids’ friends if you want to get to know them better. You’ll all learn a little more and appreciate each other by the end of the game.

Find more ideas on spending quality time with your kids, no matter their age, 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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What to Know About National Women + Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 10, 2015

By Nely Bergsma

What to Know About National Women + Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day | Use these talking points to start your conversation about HIV/AIDS with your daughter.

Image courtesy of WomensHealth.gov.

Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This is an annual, nationwide observance that reminds us all of the impact HIV and AIDS continue to have on women and girls.

If you are feeling uncomfortable and have not engaged your daughter in a conversation about sex or drugs, this may be a great month to do so. As parents and mentors, we are faced with how to best approach the subject and begin the conversation. First and foremost, we need to educate ourselves on the virus and syndrome so that we remain current and available to offer any support our girls may need.

For example, did you know that about one in four Americans living with HIV are women 13 or older? In addition to this statistic, about 50 percent of women living with HIV are getting care and only four in 10 of them are managing the virus with the help of effective medication and treatment. Talk with your daughter not only about the decision she will make as to whether or not to be sexually active, but also about HIV and AIDS in particular. They are not just acquired through sexual activities, but also through use of intravenous drugs, so your conversation should also address drug use.

HIV and AIDS can be confusing, but an ongoing conversation is necessary so that she can learn how to stay safe and healthy. Perhaps you and your daughter can research the subject together and make it a mother-daughter project. Either separately or together gather information from credible sources, like AIDS.gov. Come together with your findings and launch a social media campaign this month to encourage the conversation between your parent and her friend communities. Make it an annual event and continue the discussion throughout the year.

This year marks the 10th observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is key that all women, young and older, learn and share this information with one another both in advocacy and support. Creating an open environment—and one that is free of judgment—for an honest and informative exchange of experiences is critical to preventing future generations from contracting HIV and AIDS.

Join the conversation today on social media by searching and using #NWGHAAD.

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