Archives for category: Parenting

Group of Teenage Friends in StudioAll parents worry about bullying. Societal awareness of the problem is high but bullying still seems discouragingly prevalent. We fear our kids will become victims and we are uncertain what to do about it.

It is easy to forget, however, that for every bullied child there is at least one bully. It is tough to hear, but when bullying occurs your child is just as likely to be the perpetrator as the victim.

Even kids who are polite, kind, considerate, well-raised and well-behaved can become the aggressor in their relationships with other children. Kids are still maturing and they don’t always know how to handle their stress, anger, frustration or envy, and they may take it out on other children because they’re not sure what else to do. Other times they may join in on the bullying just to fit in, or because they fear it might happen to them next if they don’t act tough.

It is a hard fact to accept but accept it you must. No matter how loving and supportive and encouraging you’ve been with your children, someday you may receive a phone call from a teacher, school administrator or outraged parent letting you know that your son or daughter has been implicated—as the perpetrator— in a bullying incident.

Difficult Conversations and Huge Responsibilities

Denial, rationalization and defensiveness are a common reaction among parents who’ve been told their children are bullies. This is unfortunate for everyone, because while it is understandable it only helps to enable behavior that needs to be dealt with before it gets much worse. You owe it to your kids to listen and to really hear what’s being said, so you can do something about it.

When you sit down to talk to your son or daughter about the reported incident, you should remain calm and receptive. Give your child a chance to explain his or her side of the story and don’t let your anger or disappointment cloud your judgment. You shouldn’t automatically believe everything you’re told, but you shouldn’t ignore it or accuse your kid of lying or making excuses, either.

As the details of the story unfold, try to get your child to see things from the other child’s point of view. Your kid undoubtedly has a capacity for empathy and you should do your best to make sure he or she really understands how the victim was affected.

Even though it is important to control your emotions, you still have to make it clear to your son or daughter that this type of behavior is unacceptable and if it happens again there will be real consequences, at home and likely at school as well.

If you can use the situation as a learning experience, for your child as well as for yourself, a favorable outcome for everyone is far more likely.

Preparation is the Key to Comprehension

You should not wait until something happens before you begin thinking about how to handle an episode of bullying. If such an incident ever occurs your child might be the perpetrator or the victim and you should be prepared for both. Bullying is a disturbing phenomenon and we all have a role to play in confronting it, combating it and helping our children realize how harmful and destructive it truly is.

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Children usually fear making major life changes just like anyone else. This may bring about difficulties in adapting to the new circumstances. If your child is about to join preschool, they may have preschool fears that need to be addressed. As a parent, your fear may be greater and this may make the preschool fears worse. So how should you deal with these fears?

Dialogue is a major step in understanding the fears your child is facing. In some situations, getting your child to talk about their fears presents an avenue where viable solutions can be identified. For example, if your child fears making new friends, you should encourage him or her and let them understand that it may not be easy but it can be achieved. In other cases, the child may not even be aware of the cause of their fears. You should not scold them for this but help them in overcoming these fears.

Help your child in overcoming these preschool fears by helping him in coming with the solutions to his fears. For example, instead of offering the solution, give him clues and let him come up with the solution. Solutions that are dictated to them may not be implemented but when the child comes up with the decision himself, he will have the drive to put it into practice. You can help him by playing games that give clues to possible solutions.

Great care should be taken by both teachers and parents when children are joining preschool. You should speak to the teachers to ensure that they understand your child well. This will minimize conflict that may make their fears worse off. In addition, you may also speak to other parents in the school so that the children may enjoy an environment free of unnecessary negative energy. If your child for example is afraid of using the playground in the school, help them understand that it is safe, that their teachers will keep them safe and that it is fine to play with the other children.

Do not build up on the fears by scolding then unnecessarily, threatening them or making them feel inferior to other children. You may also start preparing him or her for preschool an year before they join. Help him in understanding the importance of school and help them to learn how to cope with change effectively. For example, you may take him or her on several tours of the preschool long before he or she joins to familiarize with the area.

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453970051Everyone, adult and child, experiences anxiety. What is important is how we deal with the stressor that makes us anxious. Kids with anxiety look to their parents for verbal as well as behavioral cues. This can either help them manage their stress more effectively or cement it further.

The Key Word is Management

As a parent you want to see your child happy and secure. When you see her anxious and scared you may go into a protective mode and be tempted to remove her from situations that will make her anxious. Do resist this temptation. While it may be difficult for you as a mom or a dad, we truly believe that by allowing your child to face the stressor you will make it possible for her to deal with it effectively. Children learn coping mechanisms. You want to ensure that hers are proactive and do not strengthen her anxiety.

It is Good to Talk

Encourage your kid to speak her mind freely, and without interruptions. Do phrase your questions well. You do not want to end up asking her, “Are you worried about your math test?” Instead you could phrase the question to simply ask her how she feels about it. Let her know that it is alright to feel a bit concerned, and then focus on how she well has been prepared for it. You could also ask her to share her ideas on how she could formulate a plan to deal with her anxiety. For instance, if she is worried about a stranger coming to pick her up after school, then you could decide on a ‘safe’ password, that will reassure her.

It is important to tell children that everyone feels anxious or stressed at some time or the other. What is important is how well one deals with the situation. This will also encourage her to tolerate the stress instead of avoiding it.

Parents are important role models for children. Kids with anxiety are known to observe how their parents deal with stress, and reflect a similar attitude. You can talk to your child about things that worry you but also talk to her about how you work through your anxiety.

For more articles on family and education, follow the Bryerson Family Education Blog.

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ESAs have become a national trend. Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, and Mississippi states are now offering ESA programs. More than 10 states are also about to join the bandwagon and have considered ESA legislation in their recent legislative sessions. Here is an overview of the reasons why policymakers, parents, and other educational stakeholders should support ESA accounts:

A Great Saving

ESA provides parents with 85-95 percent state-based funding per student, which they can use to purchase approved education expenses like books and tuition. Administrative costs are also covered by designating 3 to 8 percent of the remaining funding. It can therefore be a vehicle for helping children attend private schools that are less expensive, hence a real saving for local and state school districts.

ESAs Fill a Need

Since their inception, ESAs have been focused in special needs population. This is because many schools lack staff and the necessary resources to address educational needs of children. ESAs empower parents to choose schools that best fit the educational needs of their children.

Value and Efficiency

Educational policy makers agree that schools need to be run efficiently. However, this is not always possible as the current education systems in various states are riddled with obstinate incentive. ESAs provide parents with a chance to spend their resources on the educational needs of their children. Accordingly, parents have the incentives to maximize the value of education that their children receive. The choice of school provides parents with a good opportunity to make educational choices.

It spurs Educational Innovation

By empowering parents to customize their educational markets, ESAs help propel educational innovation. Market forces will catch up with both private and public schools. If the school suppliers are responsive to the market forces, they will adapt and eventually survive. However, if they don’t, they will fail. These forces and market pressures will propel valuable changes in the educational marketplace in the same way that higher education has been revolutionalized globally by educational options such as open online courses—providing education to many students without the need to be in campus.

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It is important for children to get a good night’s sleep. Depending on the kid’s age you may be dealing with different issues related to sleep time. However some quick tips can help kids sleep easily and well.

Avoid Stimulation Close to Bedtime
In order to fall asleep easily your child’s body and mind should to be relaxed. Make sure she has a nutritious dinner, but not a big one, as this will keep her awake. Also close to dinner time avoid any foods or drinks that contain caffeine.

We think it is best to avoid stimulating activities close to bedtime.  Create a sleep routine that you and your child would enjoy, and will calm her. Television shows are best avoided at this time. And the same holds true for scary stories. The routine should last about 20 to 30 minutes.

A Consistent Routine
When you follow a consistent bedtime routine there will be less arguments and negotiations regarding the same. You can ask you child if she will go to be bed right away or in five minutes. Do this only once. You could also announce that bedtime will be in five minutes. This allows her to mentally gear up for the change in her routine.
It is best to avoid singing or rocking your child to sleep. This can trigger a condition known as sleep-onset association disorder, which makes your child dependent on your singing or movement. Allow your child to fall asleep by herself.

Comfort is Important
The bedclothes should be comfortable and the temperature of the room should be just right, neither too cool, nor too warm. If she is scared of waking up alone, reassure her with an age appropriate object like a favorite soft toy or a flashlight. If your child happens to wake up when you leave the room and calls out for you, wait a few minutes before responding. She may go back to sleep by herself. If she comes out of the room, then gently, but firmly accompany her back and get her settled for the night.

Bedtime is precious family time, and with a little bit of planning it can be both, relaxing and special.

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This great piece of advice has been repeated generation after generation, in households across the world. After a good night’s sleep the stomach is empty and the body needs replenishment, before you are ready to start your busy day. Kids breakfasts deserve more attention as they are growing, and require proper nutrition from the right sources.

How to Plan Your Kids Breakfasts

We believe that it is easier to say that your child needs to eat a wholesome breakfast, than it is to actually serve it every morning before school. However, it is worth the time and effort that it involves. A good nutritious breakfast will provide your kids with energy to last them through the morning. It will also help them focus and concentrate on their work. Here are a few nutrients that should be an integral part of kids breakfasts.

Complex Carbohydrates: Include carbs such as whole grains and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes. These will keep your kids full for several hours as the carbohydrates take time to breakdown. This also means that the complex carbohydrates will offer the body energy for several hours.

Proteins: Proteins are considered to be the building blocks of life. Children need more proteins than adults as their bodies are growing rapidly. Including proteins such as eggs, pastured beef, seafood and nuts to the breakfast is a great idea. Protein rich food sources also offer the body vitamins and minerals like iron and B vitamins.

Healthy Fats: Your body needs good fats that provide it essential fatty acids. These are crucial for optimal brain functioning. Choose the fats for your meals wisely. Avocado and other nut butters, coconut oil and grass fed butter are wonderful options.

Veggies: While fruits seem to be an easier choice, do try to add some veggies to your kid’s breakfast. You could add them to an omelette, smoothie or a sandwich.

Planning your meals and shopping for them in advance will ensure that your family eats healthy meals.  Do avoid sugary packaged breakfast foods and refined carbs. These tend to spike the blood sugar in the body, making it difficult to concentrate.

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Making the decision to homeschool can be overwhelming.  Thankfully, homeschooling textbooks are available to provide a plethora of information for both new and veteran homeschooling families.

As your child’s first and foremost teacher, here are four books that will help you move forward on your homeschooling journey.

1. Deschooling our Lives
Edited by Matt Hern

This book presents an overview of ways that families are educating their children without using traditional schools.  A collection of inspiring essays, this book will challenge what you believe about schooling.

2. The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas:
500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12
by Linda Dobson

When you’ve run out of educational ways to keep your children engaged, crack open this homeschooling textbook.  Inside are over 500 inexpensive, kid-tested ideas for teaching all of the subject areas.  For instance, your child could create a map from a book that is being read, or write her spelling words in colorful sidewalk chalk outside. With this book, you won’t hear the words, “I’m bored” again.

3. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
By John Taylor Gatto

This book was written by a prior “Teacher of the Year” in the state of New York.  It is recommended reading for every parent in our country, whether or not they are planning on homeschooling.  Conventional schooling, by its nature, cannot meet what the author proclaims as the true goal of education—to discover that special ability and talent that each child has, and help it blossom.  This book will help you feel empowered about your decision to homeschool.

4. Carschooling
By Diane Flynn Keith

Are you on the road a lot?  This book examines over 350 appealing games that will reclaim travel time for education time.  Presented in an easy-to-use manner, this book will provide details on how to help your five-year old practice his new reading skills, or your nine-year old bolster her math facts.  The whole family can play, and create fond memories of being in the car.

These four books will bring creativity into your homeschool.  They offer practical support; ideas and encouragement that will help you feel more confident in your ability to teach your children at home.

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Homeschooling is growing in popularity in the U.S. as each year goes by. Homeschooling refers to educating a child from home instead of enrolling them in a public or private school. With homeschooling, the parent has more control over the child’s education as they get to spend more time together. There are many benefits of homeschooling your child as opposed to making them study in private or public schools.

Why Do People Home school Their Children?

Different people have different reasons as to why they homeschool their kids. Some of the most common ones include; character and moral development, religious reasons, poor school environment for learning, child behavior issues, children with special needs, transportation issues, family reasons and in order to give child better education from home.

Benefits of Homeschooling

One-on-one Ratio of Teaching — One-on-one tutoring is one of the reasons that make homeschooling very effective. According to research, the less children a teacher has to educate, the more effective the education will be. Homeschooling provides the student with a one-on-one ratio of teaching which ensures they are getting better education. A student who is homeschooled is offered the opportunity to understand a topic before they advance to the next one.

Customized Teaching Method — Homeschooling allows the parent to customize the teaching to suit individual needs of a student. A parent is able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the student and in return focus their attention on their giftedness and interest.

Independent Thinking — Study shows that homeschooled kids think more independently compared to those in public or private schools. This is because they are taught at home how to think for themselves and will not easily be influenced by peer pressure.

Minimized Boredom — Homeschooling is tailored made to suit the child’s individual needs. This means that the child is more likely to enjoy learning. Also, unlike it is the case in public and private schools, the child doesn’t have to sit through classes that they have already mastered while the rest of the class catches up.

Safe Learning Environment — Unlike it is the case in regular schools, homeschooled children are not exposed to bad influences, peer pressure, bullying, teasing or in some rare cases, immoral teachers.

SEE OUR OTHER ARTICLE “The Drawbacks of Homeschooling” AS WELL >>

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There is no doubt that homeschooling has its advantages and a lot of parents truly believe that it is the right path for their children. However, there are always two sides to a coin. Many are against it citing drawbacks that hinder development in different aspects and some of these voices come from individuals who were the products of the system themselves. Here is what they had to say about the drawbacks of homeschooling:

1. Limited Socialization

When your home is also your school, you do not get to meet and interact with a lot of people on a daily basis. You become used to the isolation and find ways to deal with it so you might not mind at all, especially if it is the only thing you’ve ever known. However, there will come a time in the future that you will have to go out in the world such as when you move on to college or apply for work. It will then be a different ballgame and the shift may come as a shock. The limited development of social skills can become a hindrance to success with a lot of tasks needed to be completed by groups.

2. Academic Gaps

Parents can be fantastic teachers at home particularly those who have experience in academic institutions. However, no single individual will be able to master every subject known to man. It’s possible to be widely read and know a good range of subjects but there will inevitably be gaps. These gaps will be passed onto the children who may be able to fill them through their own diligence. In schools, experts teach each of the lessons. They have studied every topic deeply and can answer any question thrown at them.

3. Narrow World View

School was never just about academics. It is also about interaction with teachers and fellow students in order to expand the mind beyond the classroom. There is constant discovery and exchange of ideas. Homeschooling does not provide much of a fertile ground in this regard and children may be confined to a narrow world view.

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Ever since your child was born you’ve been thinking of this day. You’ve scrimped, saved, and sacrificed so that you could give them a great opportunity, an advantage, and an education. Going to college is a proud moment for both child and parent, but now that the house is empty, you can’t help but wish they were still within arms reach.

Before you start to feel sorry for yourself, you need to remember that:

Lack of Communication Doesn’t Equal Loss of Love

Just because you child doesn’t call you as much as you’d like, there is no reason to be offended. Do you remember what you were like when you were their age? When you are finally on your own, things are exciting, schedules are busy, and a social life is ever present. Once they’ve adjusted to their new life, they’ll likely call and give you the lowdown on what’s what. And besides, not calling you all of the time is a good thing, because it means they are adjusting well to college life.

Don’t Be Nosy About College

When you do get the opportunity to speak with your son or daughter, don’t always steer the conversation about their studies. Remember, they are experiencing so many new things now, including freedom, responsibility, and maturity, let them bring up their classes when they want to. They may be calling because they miss you and want to hear your voice. Relax, and enjoy the moment.

You Have the Rest of Your Life Ahead of You

Not only does your child get to experience a new life, but you do too. Get out and enjoy yourself. You no longer have to be home at a certain time, drive them places, or need to do their laundry. You have so many new experiences waiting for you. Why not take this opportunity to explore all of the things that you had planned before you had kids? Your new life is waiting for you. You’re still parents, but now you have much more freedom.

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