Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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Speak Up and Get Involved on Cesar Chavez Day

March 31, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Speak Up and Get Involved on Cesar Chavez Day | Speak Up! Get Involved! | On Cesar Chavez Day, we honor his life and spirit through community service. Today, we encourage you to channel that passion into advocating for your child's well-being and education.

Today is Cesar Chavez Day, when we not only celebrate the labor movement and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, but also honor his life and spirit through community service.

The mission of YOU Parent is to provide community support for child success. By empowering other parents to speak up and get involved in their children’s education, we all provide a better future for our children, the community, and society as a whole. Use this day as inspiration to make a difference in your community starting with your own child and then by inspiring other parents to do the same.

Get Involved
How can you get involved in your child’s education? It starts with understanding a child’s four needs for success: physical health, emotional well-being, social well-being, and academic achievement. When these needs are met, the child can become a better student, receive a better education, and therefore lead a fulfilling and successful life.

Success for every child involves a wheel of nurturing: academic achievement, physical health, social and emotional well-being

Get involved in these areas of your child’s life. If you cater to these needs, your child will be better able to pay attention in school and will arrive to class ready to learn.

  • Make sure he or she is eating well and getting enough exercise. 
  • Tell your child you love him or her and give lots of hugs. 
  • Watch your child play with his or her friends—does your child show others respect and enjoy the social time? 
  • Ask your child to go through homework with you and let him or her teach you the lesson to encourage academic success.

Speak Up
Of course, you can’t do it alone. If you’re taking care of your child’s needs at home, you still need to ensure he or she is getting a good education at school. Speak up and advocate for your child’s education—it will not only benefit your child, but the other students at the school as well.

  • Stay in regular contact with your child’s teacher and attend parent-teacher conferences.
  • Volunteer for the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or another parent organization at your child’s school and influence school policies that will benefit the students. 
  • Ask the school principal for parent engagement programs, like the YOU Program, that teach parents how to meet their children’s needs and teach educators how to better work with parents to boost student achievement. 
  • Bring parent engagement programs and knowledge to local community organizations and help educate other parents on the need to be present and involved in their children’s lives. 
  • Ask other parents for help when you need it. Can’t pick up your child from school? Ask a classmate’s parent and reciprocate later. By seeking help from and giving it to other parents, you’re building a stronger parent community for the kids in your neighborhood.

Cesar Chavez spoke up for what he believed in and rallied for change for the betterment of individuals and society. We believe that every child should have access to a strong support network so that he or she can succeed in life and give back. You can provide that support and inspire others to do the same. Speak up and get involved today to make a difference tomorrow.

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. 


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.

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).

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.

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.


Infographic: Black History Month

February 3, 2015
Black History Month Infographic
Black History Month Infographic
Illustration by Leah VanWhy.
Tags :  infographicacademicculture

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Education

January 19, 2015
Illustration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his quote, "The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence + character-- that is the goal of true education."
Illustration by Leah VanWhy.
Tags :  cultureholidayeducation

Parenting Around the World

January 14, 2015

By Nikki Cecala

Parenting Around the World | Three children smile for the camera in front of fields in Vietnam.

As a parent, have you ever done something and later thought, I wonder if other parents do this? If so, you are certainly not alone. I am an avid Google user, especially now that I’m a parent (who isn’t, right?). I’m constantly searching for insights, opinions, myths, experiences, etc. regarding parenting. When I struggled with getting my 19-month-old son to sleep in his crib, I searched everything from bedtime routines to letting the baby cry it out. He would hyperventilate so badly—to the point of throwing up—until I picked him up.

After three weeks, I decided to end the torture for the both of us. But it got me thinking, why is co-sleeping frowned upon in America? Can it really be that bad for the child? I searched the affects it had on children into adulthood and found that some countries recommend co-sleeping. For example, Swedish parents believe that children should have access to their parents’ bodies for comfort and should be allowed to sleep in their parents’ beds. It is similar in India, as children sleep with their parents until they are six or seven years old.

I felt a little better knowing I wasn’t the only mother in the world who co-slept, and took my research further to see how other countries around the world parent differently from us in the U.S.

Potty Training
I was impressed by this one. Vietnamese parents have their children potty trained by nine months! In America, three years old is average. Their secret? They use the sound of a whistle. When the parents recognize that their child is urinating, they make a whistling sound so the baby can associate the whistle with peeing. Can you imagine being diaper-free before the age of one? Please hold while I daydream for a moment of a potty-trained baby.

Japanese parents encourage independence by letting their children venture around the neighborhood, and some even take public transportation by themselves. It is common to let children as young as four years old run errands for their parents and take the trains or buses while doing so.

In France, children aren’t given special baby foods. Rather, they eat just as adults do. There is also no snacking, as mealtimes are enforced.

Spanish families let their children stay up late in order to foster their social skills and engage with family throughout the evening. If there’s a family party, the kiddies are staying up with the adults!

Norwegians believe in daycare or barnehage (children’s garden) as early as one year old. Why? Because they strongly believe that fresh air is good for the children and it encourages parents to go back to work.

What do you think about these parenting styles? Are you inspired to bring a few of these into your household? Tell me in the comments below. And next month, I will talk about American parenting styles that impress other countries.

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