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8 Ways to Address Struggles at School

October 28, 2014

By Maureen Powers

8 Ways to Address Struggles at School | A child cries at recess.

It is 5:30 PM and you are rushing to pick up your three-year-old. When you get to the classroom door, the teacher greets you and says, “He had another rough day today. He hit another child and left a mark.” You read the incident report and sign it. You begin to wonder if this is the right center for your child.

You sit across the breakfast table from your kindergartener and she whines for the fourth day in a row that she has a stomachache and doesn’t want to go to school. You suspect she isn’t really sick and have made her go to school all week but you are still concerned. What could be making her not want to go to school?

Do any of these concerns sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Children often tell us what they are experiencing through their behavior. In both of these situations, contact the classroom teacher in order to get a well-rounded picture of the situation. Then use these eight tips to address your child’s struggle and help him or her overcome it.

The first thing to remember is to stay calm and be objective. If you are angry or defensive, it will take longer for you to get answers. Give yourself time to collect your thoughts. Make sure you can discuss exactly what you are concerned about: “Matthew has been getting two or three incident reports per week,” or “Kaylee has been saying she does not want to come to school and is complaining of stomachaches.”

Approach the teacher at a good time. Teachers are busiest at pick-up and drop-off times. These are not the times for an extended conversation. Call and leave a message, or tell the teacher you would like a meeting and leave your phone number and e-mail as well as the best times to reach you.

Prepare your questions ahead of time. Be direct and specific. What happens before and after the hitting? Have there been any major changes in the classroom? Does your child ask for frequent passes to the bathroom or the nurse? Does your child often ask for help?

Work as a team. You both want what is best for your child.

Share your child’s likes and dislikes. You know your child best. You know what motivates your child, what he or she enjoys or detests. In-depth knowledge about your child may be the key to supporting him or her at school.

Be open to suggestions. Allow the teacher to share with you how your child is at school. Children can behave differently in different situations. Be open to new ways of looking at your child.

Ask for ways you can help your child at home. If you don’t understand a concept, ask the teacher to show you how the concept is taught at school. What words are used?

Make a plan. Be sure you leave the meeting with a clear idea of what each of you will be doing to support your child at school and at home.


5 Ways to Address Bullying

October 15, 2014

By Sunny Chico

5 Ways to Address Bullying | A teen son sits glumly while his parents argue, modeling negative behavior.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and while I’m saddened that this issue even exists, I’m glad that we have the month to focus on preventing this terrible behavior that affects our children so deeply.

As parents, one of the first ways to address this problem is to think about what values we model at home. We must demonstrate how to communicate respectfully, whether it’s with our children, our partners, or with our own family and friends. We must also remember that the behaviors we allow in the home are behaviors that our children will practice out in the world. While this awareness can help us guide and shape our children in a way that can prevent bullying later in life, we can’t always prevent it at first. All we can do is deal with it as best as we know how.

If you ever learn that your child is bullying or being bullied:

  1. Talk to your child. Try to understand the situation.
  2. Seek assistance from the teacher. Find out what the teacher has observed and what he or she recommends.
  3. Review the school bullying policy. Many schools are legally obligated to follow their stated bullying policy exactly as written.
  4. Work with the school to make an action plan. Determine what steps will be taken, what the ideal outcomes are, and when to assess progress.
  5. Sometimes, it may be best to call the other child’s parents and say, “I need your help.” You should make this discussion as positive as possible, and not angry or negative. Let them know what is happening. Tell them, “My son told me about this today, and I was wondering if I could seek your help with it.” 

We all want the best for our children and want to protect them from any pain or heartbreak, but so often the best protection—and prevention—is to be a positive role model for them.


Writing an Outstanding College Admissions Essay

October 8, 2014

By Judy Razo 

Write an Outstanding College Admissions Essay | An essay is edited with a red pen.

A college application usually includes the application itself and additional documents that help paint a bigger picture of the applicant. Those documents can include an official transcript, standardized test scores, a résumé, letters of recommendation, and the college essay.

The essay tends to be hard for a student to write because it’s a personal essay, not a report assigned in class. Guiding your child along this task will be especially important because most students have never written anything of the sort. Let’s talk about the basics of how you can help.


To start, keep in mind that a college essay should only be between 250-650 words; that is about one to two pages when double-spaced. Remember that 650 words is a limit, not a goal. Admissions counselors read hundreds of essays, so you want your child to stand out without writing a novel. The essay should be expressive but concise. It’s an opportunity for your child to demonstrate his or her writing abilities as well as showcase his or her personality.

Outline, Research, and Draft

It will take more than one draft to create the final essay, so make sure your child is working on his or her essay far in advance of the application deadline. He or she needs enough time to write, rewrite, and edit the essay without the pressure of a looming deadline.

Before your child starts writing, suggest that he or she sketch out ideas and do any necessary research in advance. If the essay is based on a personal story, ask your child to jot down a few main points that he or she doesn’t want to miss. Then, encourage your child to write a first draft in one sitting to put his or her thoughts down on paper. You can later help your child organize what he or she wrote into a basic 5-paragraph writing outline.


Is your child having a hard time choosing a topic or direction? Suggest writing about a challenge or failure he or she experienced and how he or she overcame it. If that doesn’t feel right, suggest writing about what makes your child unique. Your child should consider how he or she would contribute to the university culture. Why should the college not only admit your child, but also want him or her to be a part of the student body? Let the ideas flow and you can always go back and edit accordingly.

Don’t encourage your child to write about what you think the admission counselor wants to read. Let him or her write about something that has significance to your child. A sincere and honest essay goes a lot further than a contrived one.

Make sure your child answers the question or addresses the topic given. If the essay doesn’t cover what was asked, it’s a sure sign to the admissions counselor that the student doesn’t know how to follow instructions and has poor attention to detail.

Proof and Edit

A great way to help your child is by proofing the essay. Check for spelling, grammar, and typos, as this is very important. If proofreading is not your strength, find a friend or coworker who can help you proof the essay as well as provide feedback.


It is important for your child to receive feedback from someone other than you. As the parent, your advice might be taken as criticism instead of as helpful feedback. Have your child share the essay with a few trusted adults, including a teacher, or someone in your circle of friends that you think could influence your child in a positive way.


There are a few recommended resources for both you and your child to reference as you work on this ever-so-important essay. Big Future by College Board offers great articles with tips for your student and videos that college applicants will find helpful as well as appealing. The National Association for College Admission Counseling can also guide you and your child along the entire college application process.

Don’t worry, getting into a college or university doesn’t entirely hinge on your child’s college admissions essay, but it is an important component that neither of you should neglect. Aside from using it to showcase your child’s personality and writing ability, the college admissions essay can be saved and repurposed when applying for scholarships. Websites like College Greenlight are great resources to help your child find scholarships that will come in handy when paying for college.

Tags :  high schoolcollegeacademicteachers

National Hispanic Heritage Month

October 1, 2014

By Jessica Vician

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2014

Since 1988, the United States has celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Most of the time when we honor a specific heritage throughout a month-long period, it takes place within one month, but not National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Why does this celebration occur during the last half of September and the first half of October? The answer lies in what we are honoring in that 30-day period.

Back in May, we introduced you to diez y seis de septiembre (also known as Mexican Independence Day). As the name implies, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. But National Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t only honor Mexican-Americans. We also celebrate the histories and cultures of Americans with ancestral backgrounds from Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Many of the countries in those areas celebrate significant days that fall between the 15th of September and the 15th of October. For example, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica all celebrate their independence days on September 15. Chile celebrates on September 18.

On October 12, many of these Spanish-speaking countries celebrate día de la raza (Day of the Race), which is referred to as Columbus Day in English and the U.S. On this day, we remember what happened after Christopher Columbus landed in the now-Bahamas. Notably, the multi-cultural society we live in today is the result of the blending of European and indigenous cultures throughout North, Central, and South America.

These are just four dates in Hispanic history, but due to the importance of each of them and the celebrations we hold around them, the United States observes National Hispanic Heritage Month in this unique manner as the 30 days between September 15 and October 15.

At YOU Parent, we encourage you to share these stories of independence and celebration with your children. How have you honored National Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags :  holidaycultureacademicsocialteachers

The Dirty Dozen: Where Organic Matters

September 5, 2014

By Jessica Vician

The Dirty Dozen: Where Organic Matters | An image with a barn, windmill, silo, and text reading "organic farm"

The Dirty Dozen. The Clean 15. They sound like the villains and superheroes of a summer blockbuster. But they’re much less dramatic—they’re fruits and vegetables.

Sometimes it seems there are only two types of grocery shoppers out there: those who surrender their paychecks to everything organic and those who rant about what a waste of money it is. As usual, the truth lies exactly in the middle.

A big reason health-conscious people flock to organic produce is because it contains significantly less pesticide residue. According to the EPA, pesticides—even those previously deemed safe—can harm the nervous and endocrine systems, irritate your skin, and contribute to causing cancer. Children are especially susceptible to these side effects.

We all want to protect ourselves and our families from these horrible side effects, but what if we can’t afford to shop exclusively organic? That’s where these superheroes and villains come in.

The Dirty Dozen is a clever name for a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide residue on them—which means these are the 12 produce items you want to “splurge” for organic. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2014 report, here are your organic musts:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Imported nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Potatoes
  12. Imported snap peas

If you’re looking at this list thinking, “What produce is left to save money on?” don’t fret. There’s a larger list of the Clean 15, which is EWG’s list of the produce with the least amount of pesticides. In other words, you can save your money on these fruits and vegetables and buy the non-organic versions.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen sweet peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

As you can see, in the battle of purchasing organic versus non-organic, the Dirty Dozen are the villains you can defeat by spending a little extra money on organic, and the Clean 15 are the superheroes who don’t need your money (and don’t need to be organic).

Bon appetit!

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