Your Teenager Is About to Drive. Don’t Panic!

Your child is about ready to be mobile. If you were the one to teach him how to drive, you know more than anyone whether or not he is ready to go solo behind the wheel. With today’s technology, you have the opportunity to closely monitor his every move, whether he knows it or not. In most cases, your child is going to be extremely careful, simply because of the fact that he is nervous about being on his own in the car for the first time.

Make Sure to Have a GPS in the Car
Always make sure there is a GPS unit in the car. Not only will it help him get where he is going, but most units also track where the car has been. Clearing the unit every few days will help to keep better track of where the car goes and which addresses were logged into the unit. It should be understood that the GPS must be treated like a cell phone. It should be set to navigate prior to the car being put in motion, and if something needs to be checked, the car should be stopped and put in park before the device is touched.

Subscribe to Triple A
Subscribe to Triple A. AAA, or the American Auto Association, offers roadside assistance to subscribers. This includes if you run out of gas, have a flat tire or the car breaks down. Make sure that anyone who drives the vehicle has the phone number for Triple A in his phone, so he doesn’t have to look for it in case of an emergency. Triple A offers 24-hour service and will notify you if something is wrong and where the car has been taken if it was towed to a repair shop.

Teach by Example
You will always be your child’s first teacher. This includes when you are behind the wheel. He has watched you drive since he was old enough to look over the back seat of the car. If you want to make sure your child learns how to drive properly, let him drive with you. Give him pointers and answer his questions. Allow him to drive in different weather conditions, so he knows what to expect when he is out on his own.

Safe Driver Monitors
Take advantage of the Safe Driver Monitors that many insurance companies offer. The small device plugs directly into your car’s computer and monitors how the car is driven. This will also let your insurance company know how everyone in the family drives and may result in Good Driver Discounts if you qualify.

Getting a driver’s license is just one rite of passage for a teenager. You’ve taught him well and have the best technology to help you monitor how well he does while he is on the road. Don’t panic! He is going to do just fine!

How to Help Your Children Stay Academically Sharp During the Summer

The summer months are a time of freedom for school age children. Many parents and educators look for fun ways to help their kids retain the information they learn throughout the school year. Keeping the information fresh in their minds through the summer months can be taxing, but it can be done. It can also be fun!

Inspire Creativity

Encourage your children to create something. Provide them with clay, colored pencils, paper and any other materials they need to create something useful and beautiful. Guide them in creating something they can use either at school or home.

Keep a Journal

One of the best ways to keep grammar and composition lessons fresh in your children’s minds is to encourage them to keep a journal. Sketching and writing about events that have happened throughout the summer is a good way to keep their writing skills on point and gives them an opportunity to practice good grammar and composition techniques.

Spend Time in Nature

Make frequent trips to nature preserves and recreational parks. Allow your children to hike, swim and investigate the world around them. Collect rocks, leaves and seeds and help them to identify different animals, trees, and locations.

Build/Make Something

Show children how to build a bird house or flower box. Both girls and boys can enjoy learning how to cook, and using the measuring spoons and cups will keep their math skills sharp. Allow children access to tools to perform different types of activities. If you are going to fix something, let the kids help.

Include the Arts

Above all, include the arts. Expose your children to various art mediums, and play different genres of music throughout the day. Play games that involve naming a song or the artist who plays it.

The key to retaining information from one school year to the next is to keep the brain activity and the senses sharp. Learning does not have to be boring. There are several activities parents can include in their child’s day-to-day routine that will help them use the information they have learned so that it won’t be wasted during the long, hot days of summer.

Preparing Your Children for Summer Camp

The first time your children go to summer camp is a big deal for all involved. Your children will experience a wide array of emotions, ranging from fear to utter excitement. While you may be apprehensive for them to go, it is their chance to begin to learn about themselves. Prepare them well, and they will have an adventure to remember.

Talk About What to Expect

Talk to your children about what they can expect while they are at camp. Discuss the activities that are being offered and the possible sleeping arrangements. Ask them if they have any questions, and do your best to answer all of them to the best of your ability.

Help Them Pack

Help your children gather the items they want to take and will need while they are there. Show them how to pack their bags, and check that they have the essentials like their toothbrushes, toothpaste, swimming trunks and towels.

Let Them Take Something From Home

Allow them to pick one or two small items to take with them. It can be a family picture or a favorite item of clothing. Make sure the items are allowed at the camp, and then have your children pack them carefully in their backpacks or suitcases.

Tour the Camp Before They Go

If you can, take the children on a tour of the camp before they are set to leave. This gives them an idea of what the place looks like and what they can expect to find when they get there.

Have a Camp Out at Home

If your children have never slept outside before, pitch a tent in the backyard and spend a couple of nights under the stars at home. This will allow them to get used to the noises they will hear in the wilderness and gives them a chance to be outside in the dark before they go camping with other kids for the first time.

Take the time to help your child understand what camp is all about. Let them ask questions and allow them to help pack their gear and get things in order for their trip. Encourage them to have fun and learn all they can about the outdoors.

5 Quick School Lunches Your Kids Will Love

Coming up with quick lunch ideas for your kids’ can be a difficult task when you have to compete with other options like pizza and nachos. Encouraging your child to try new foods on a regular basis can open up numerous lunch options that are full of nutrients and taste good too. Foods can be mixed and matched so that new lunch combinations are always available.

Shredded Chicken Pitas

Pitas are great for a kid’s lunch. Fill one with shredded chicken and include a small container with tomatoes and onions in a little Caesar salad dressing. Throw in a small bag of kettle cooked potato chips and small cup of applesauce for a well-rounded lunch that your child will love. Let the kids add the veggies to the pita at lunch. Any kind of dressing can be used, so ask your child to pick one or two and then alternate them occasionally.

Finger Food Fiesta

Finger foods are great for a kid’s lunch. They are easy to package, and your child won’t need to take utensils. Celery sticks, baby carrots, string cheese, cheese cubes and pretzel sticks are just a few of the items you can include in a finger food lunch. Include a small container of peanut butter and another of your child’s favorite veggie dip and you will have an easy-to-serve fiesta. Apple wedges, orange slices and grapes account for the fresh fruit.

Ham and Cheese Hoagies

Most kids love ham and cheese sandwiches. Use a small hoagie bun, and add sliced ham and cheese to suit. Use two or more kinds of cheese for a change of pace. Add pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayo or whatever condiments your child prefers. Include chips and a small fruit cup to complete the meal. The key is including foods that your kids will enjoy and that they will be able to eat without making a huge mess. Thinly sliced ham and cheese slices are easy to eat and won’t crumble or tear.

Coldcut Sliders

Use small slider buns, and add different types of freshly sliced meats and cheese. Add tomatoes, olives and pickles. Let your children choose the ingredients, so they can build the sliders when its time for lunch. Snack-size bags of chips and a fresh fruit will wrap up the lunch menu.

Tuna/Chicken Salad Stuffed Green Pepper Halves

One of the easiest ways to get the kids to eat their veggies is to turn them into small boats. Cut a green pepper in half or quarters and fill with tuna or chicken salad. Sprinkle on some grated cheese, and include chips and apple. This makes for a nutritious meal that packs a powerful punch when it comes to sustained levels of energy.

Making sure you kids eat a good lunch just got easier. Simple meals they can help prepare the night before make ideal lunches that provide the nutrients they need with an energy boost that will help them get through the day.

How to Prepare Your Child for School This Fall

It doesn’t matter if this is your child’s first year in kindergarten or their fifth year in school. Children can still get the first day of school jitters. As a parent, you want to make things as easy for them as possible, all the while knowing they are still going to have to face that first day on their own. The key is to give them the support and tools they need to make it through those first few days.

Encourage Your Child to Ask Questions

You won’t know exactly what your child is worried or nervous about unless they tell you. Encourage your child to ask questions. Let your child know where you will be when he is in school and that the teacher knows how to contact you if there is an emergency or problem that needs to be addressed. Show him where the bus stop is and let him know where he can find you when you come to pick him up after school.

Be Excited

When you talk about the upcoming school year, show some excitement. Let your child see how happy you are that he going to a good school and making new friends. Each school year offers new opportunities when it comes to friends, activities and learning experiences. It is important to make learning fun and exciting. When kids begin to enjoy the learning process, they look forward to attending school and may even look at every day as a new adventure.

Put Notes in Their Backpacks and Lunchboxes

It’s important to let the kids know you think about them during the day. For young children who don’t like being away from you for long periods during the day, you can help make the absence a little easier to bear by putting a note in their backpack or lunchbox. It lets them know you are thinking of them and will also remind them that you are never that far away. For kids who are just learning to read, send a few stickers with a small note that simply says, “I love you!” with a heart.

Find out Which Afterschool Activities Are Available

Talk to your child about activities he or she likes. Check with the school to find out if any afterschool activities are available that would interest your son or daughter. Sign your child up, and see if there is any way you could help with the team. This gives you an opportunity to spend time with your child and show your children you are interested in what they do.

One of the most important things about sending the kids back to school is addressing their fears. Talk about their feelings, and let them know that it’s normal to be nervous. Make sure they understand that first-day jitters are something that everyone deals with it some point. Above all, let them know that you will be with them every step of the way.

Tips for Better SAT Scores

Studying for the SAT test is a big deal if your child plans on getting into a good college. Parents can help their kids get better test scores by remembering a few simple steps. While the following tips can work for kids of all ages, when it comes to the SATs, more study time should be dedicated to each subject to ensure the student has a firm grasp on the topic.

Spend Ample Time Studying Each Subject

Each subject should be given amply time during the study process. Every student has strong subjects as well as weak ones. While the weak subjects should get the majority of the student’s attention, the strong ones should get a quick once over too. Create a study guide for each subject, so that all of the main points are covered. Include question-and-answer sections, and have quiz sessions at the study time.

Study With a Partner

Studying with a partner will help a student retain the information he or she is trying to learn. Students who study together can ask questions back and forth, read chapters to one another and bounce different ideas off of one another as to the best ways to remember certain types of information. When students study in groups, each one can take a section, create a study guide and then share the information with their study partners. Make sure that the study group has a place to study that is quiet and relaxed.

Get Plenty of Sleep the Morning of the Test

Make sure the student gets plenty of rest leading up to the scheduled day of the test. A good night’s sleep will help rejuvenate the mind and allow the student to remain alert and focused on the morning of the test. Restful sleep is one of the few ways the brain has to relax and repair itself after stressful days of studying. The night before the test, go to bed early. Wear comfortable clothing and make sure the room is quiet. Set the alarm early enough to allow for a good breakfast and time to get to the school without having to rush.

Eat a Good Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day when it comes to students and learning. A solid, nutritious breakfast will provide the nutrients needed to make it through the day. It will also provide a sustainable source of energy that will keep the student alert, focused and ready to take on the SAT test.

A few simple tips can greatly improve a student’s SAT scores. While much of this information is well known, students can get caught up in the stress of taking a major test and forget the basics. It’s important to take the time to study and learn the information but also to remember to take care of yourself in the process.

Unleash Your Child’s Creativity

Children are blank slates when it comes to creativity. They have not been told the “rules” of the world, so they can use their imaginations and come up with a myriad ideas that we, as adults, have long forgotten about. Children who are allowed to use their imagination and explore their creative thoughts are more likely to do well in school and seem to be happier and more relaxed.

Read to Your Children

Read to your children. Tell them stories, and encourage them to help you create stories of your own. Read all types of literature from poetry to fairy tales to plays. Have them imagine the places they are reading and hearing about. Have them draw pictures that correspond to the stories. Children love to communicate and share the things that happen in their lives. Give your child a journal and a sketchpad, and have them draw or write about the things they do each day.

Encourage Them to Use Their Imagination

Encourage your children to use their imagination. If they can think it, they can draw it or write a story about it. Talk to your kids about the things that they like and provide them with opportunities to participate in activities they enjoy. This gives them a chance to learn as much as they can about the things they like. Participation broadens their horizons and lets them branch out even further into uncharted waters.

Offer Them Different Mediums

Once you have given them the opportunity to explore the things they like, offer them different mediums to use when it comes to expressing themselves. A few of them include:

  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Charcoals and chalks
  • Different types of paint
  • Clay
  • Woodworking tools
  • Camera, etc.

When a child shows an interest in a particular medium or type of crafting tool, teach him or her as much as you can. Find a class for the child to participate in. Let the child know that it’s fine to learn things independently as well. Many of the world’s greatest artists were self-taught.

Allow Them to Explore Their Environment

Take your kids on nature hikes and visits to state parks and recreation areas. Go on a scavenger hunt to collect various items like pine cones, rocks, different types of leaves, shells or nuts. When you get home, identify what all of the objects are and then encourage the kids to create something new and unique with them.

Unleashing your children’s creativity is essential if you want your kids to grow and continue to strive to reach new goals. The great thing about being creative is the more they discover, the more they will create. The more they are allowed to create, the more intrigued they are by the world around them. Share the world with your kids, and you will begin to see things in a whole new perspective.

Grades Dropping? What Do You Do Now?

Watching your child’s grades drop can be stressful. It may be something relatively easy to fix, such as a change in vision that makes seeing the chalkboard difficult. If there is no easy explanation, you may need to do some investigating to get to the root of the problem.

Watch for Signs

Watch for signs that your student may be having trouble with a certain subject or if his or her mood has changed. It may be something as simple as getting their eyes checked or hiring a tutor to get through a difficult subject. In some cases, there may be a problem between the teacher and the student. If you notice anything amiss, ask questions. Talk to your child as well as the school to see if there is anything that can be done to correct the situation.

Has Something Happened to Shake Things Up?

Many times a stressful event, such as the loss of a grandparent or parents getting a divorce can be enough to rattle a student. Has something happened at school? Talking to your child may not give you the answers you need. Talk to his or her friends as well. Has there been some kind of confrontation? Is your child being bullied in some way? While these kinds of things may be hard to track down, it is important to find out as much as possible before things get too far out of hand.

Talk to the School

Talk to your child’s teachers and find out if your student is suffering in one class or having problems across the board. As a child progresses through the school years, things begin to dramatically change. Kids are given more responsibility and, in most cases, more homework. This can be overwhelming to a student. If the ever-increasing workload is becoming a problem, work with your child and teach him or her ways to better manage time. At homework time, offer to be close by in case he or she needs help. Sometimes, opening up a clear line of communication can work wonders when it comes to getting a student back on track.

Study Time

Make sure your child has a comfortable place to study, with ample lighting and all of the required tools. Offer a snack and make yourself available to your child if he or she has questions or just gets bored. Talk to your child. Sit with your child or find something you can do close by.
A child’s plummeting grades can be the first clue that something is wrong. While your child may not come right out and say it, it’s up to you as a parent to figure it out and help make the necessary changes to get your child back on task and moving forward.

How to Plan for Traveling With Children

Family vacations are always fun, but getting from Point A to Point B can be a trial, especially if you have small children. The key to traveling with kids of any age is proper planning. Unless you are traveling through a kaleidoscope, the scenery rushing past the window will eventually begin to look the same. The best way to fight boredom is to make sure everyone has something to do that they enjoy.

Bring Enough Snacks

Bring snacks that will satisfy their hunger but not make them crazy with energy. Cheese sticks, peanut butter and crackers, granola and finger sandwiches are full of nutrients and will fill children up quickly if they eat slowly. Avoid sugary snacks and candy that will give them a sugar rush.

Make the Drive Fun

Make the drive fun. Sing songs, make up games about road signs and license plates. You can find games online that involve the names of states and historical facts about the areas that are common destination points. You can also buy travel games at many department stores. Games are designed to be fun for most age groups and are easily contained, so parts won’t be lost.

Pack a Few Activities

If your children like different activities, make sure to bring along a few items for each child. Books, colored pencils and sketchpads are just a few simple items that can provide hours of amusement for kids who enjoy them. You can also download games and puzzle apps on iPads, tablets and cell phones.

Bring Enough Chargers

With almost everyone having access to some type of electronic device, it is important to bring along a charger for each one. Make sure each child has something to carry all of their items. Put a charger inside each one so that the kids won’t be struggling to find a charger if their devices begin to lose charge.

Providing each child with something to do on their own as well as with the whole family will make the time in the car fly by. It will also keep the kids from getting bored at the hotel if the weather turns bad or they have to wait to use the bathroom.

5 Ideas for Making Memories With Your Child (age 12+)

Adolescence is a trying time for children and parents. Pre-teens and teens often spend these years developing their own identity and becoming independent of parents. As such, this age group might be less willing to make special memories with their parents.
For parents, it’s important to recognize the challenges of the early teen years and respond in an appropriately effective manner. To ensure your child’s growth remains on-track throughout adolescence, parents must remain level-headed and appeal to the critical childhood development stages as you go about making memories.

1. “Quality Time”

Giving your child your full attention appeals to this age group’s narcissistic tendencies. Quality time creates designated points throughout the week to reconnect with children and rediscover one another’s likes/dislikes. Teens tend to be reserved from parents, but making one-on-one time (without any distractions) a weekly routine reinforces the importance of communicating with one another.

 •  Seeing a movie
 •  Dinner “date”
 •  Nightly walk/jog

2. Volunteer

Due to teen’s general self-centeredness, they often have difficulty recognizing that a world exists beyond their point of view. Volunteering is a great bonding experience and also helps you both feel more connected to the community. As you contribute back to the community that helped to raise your child, you’ll also become more aware of the local society that influences your child. Teens are self-centered — they often have difficulty recognizing that a world exists beyond their point of view. Volunteering is a great bonding experience and also helps you both feel more connected to the community. As you contribute back to the community that helped to raise your child, you’ll also become more aware of the local society that influences your child.
Volunteering creates opportunities to open up with one another about ethics and morality — two concepts that are still developing during adolescence. Plus, community-based volunteering activities show your child that their actions have effects on the world.

 •  Humane Society
 •  Soup kitchens
 •  Goodwill/Salvation Army

3. Try Something New

Peer pressure becomes an inevitable part of adolescence. Provide positive pressure by identifying new skills and enhancing already-established skills. Do something neither of you has done before, and work with your child to assess the cost-benefit relationship of the activity. How much time/effort/money is needed to complete the activity versus the new skills learned? Modeling decision-making behaviors teaches your teen how to respond to peer pressure effectively.

 •  Painting classes
 •  Horseback riding
 •  Yoga/Pilates

4. Career Shop

As educational expectations become more rigorous, students are often forced to start making career-related decisions early in life. Pinpointing work-based skills that can be applied in the professional world are not often done in school. Doing team-building activities in the home help prepare your child for life after secondary school ends.

 •  Starting a blog
 •  Personality quizzes
 •  Bring Your Child to Work Day