Tuesday | June 18, 2019

Is it a Good Idea for Your Teen to get a Job?

As parents, we want our teens to learn responsibility, work hard and earn money. The same line of thinking can make many teens eager to get their first job. According to Statistics Canada, approximately 46% of Canadians ages 15 to 19 have jobs. But is an after-school job actually a good idea?

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]working during the school year can have many positive benefits.[/pullquote]

On one hand, it may sound risky. An after-school job can leave your teen with less time for volunteering, extra-curricular activities, socializing and of course, doing their homework. Without sufficient skills to organize and prioritize, your teen might end up being pulled in too many directions, stressed out, tired or left with too little time to focus on getting good grades. At the end of the day, isn’t getting into a good university or college program their most important job?

A recent study by researchers at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia were intrigued by this dilemma. The researchers analyzed information from the Youth in Transition Survey by Statistics Canada to determine whether, in fact, teenage employment is bad. They looked at responses from nearly 250,000 young Canadians at various points as they grew up. They determined that working during the school year can have many positive benefits.

The researchers found that teens who worked between 25 to 31 hours during the school year experienced many advantages. For instance, the more hours a teen worked at age 15, the more likely they were to be working at age 21. In addition, teens who worked at 15 were more likely to earn more as they got older. Analysts found that 15-year-olds who worked 33 hours a week during the school year earned 25 percent more at age 23. Teens who worked too many hours, however, could experience negative effects.

It can be surmised that having to juggle the competing demands of school and work as teenagers teaches teens how to balance these demands later on. Additional responsibility helps them become more prepared, organized and adept at time management as they get older. Plus, the head start they have in terms of building their resume and networking can give them a leg up over teens who didn’t work during high school.

The Sauder School study also found that teens who worked during high school had better suited careers than those who didn’t work. Whether a teen worked for a family business or an external employer, they were more likely to have better-fitting jobs in the long term. That’s likely because working teaches teens from an early age what they do and don’t want to do in future. They are exposed to different work environments and management styles, helping them narrow down what sorts of occupations they want in future. Teens who don’t work in high school might end up having to discover these same lessons when they are already in the workforce.

There are still many unanswered questions and there’s no right answer. The study couldn’t determine the long-term consequence of teenage employment on future work patterns. For instance, are those who worked as teens happier than those who didn’t? Do they have lower divorce rates and a healthier family life as a result? In other words, working as a teen might not put you further ahead or guarantee a better life as an adult.

When deciding whether to let your teen work, there is a lot to consider. Do they want to work or are you pushing them in that direction? Are they learning responsibility and discipline from volunteering or extra-curricular commitments? Do they have a demanding academic schedule? Are they already struggling to balance coursework with teenage life and succeed academically? These are things you’ll want to consider, in addition to the research.

Indeed, parenting attitudes are changing, school is being seen as a teenager’s “job” and, in fact, fewer teens are working now than in previous years. It’s an individual decision, and one that only you and your teen can make. Now that you have some additional information at your fingertips, you are better equipped to have this all-important discussion with your teen.

November 30th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Are school uniforms beneficial to learning?

There is much debate in the education community surrounding school uniform policies. Are uniforms a great way to improve focus, level the socioeconomic playing field and create a sense of school citizenship, or are they an expensive way to curb students’ creativity and diminish their sense of individuality?

Of course, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Those who do not support policies requiring students to wear certain colours or specific pants, skirts and tops often site the expense. Indeed, uniforms can appear expensive as parents may be required to purchase a year’s worth of clothes at once. Others point to uniformity as a way to diminish a student’s individuality. How can a child express themselves in a creative way if their wardrobe choices are limited to the same outfit as their peers?

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                              clothes can’t serve as a distraction[/pullquote]

Proponents of uniforms find the pros outweigh the cons. Of course, there are safety arguments. If everyone in the student body is dressed the same, it’s easy to identify intruders and know who belongs to the student body.

​Others in support of uniforms have found that implementing a uniform policy can reduce theft. Since uniforms have an equalizing factor, students aren’t permitted to come to school wearing labels or flashy clothes. There is less competition, peer pressure or a sense of wanting clothing items their more privileged peers are wearing. In this way, uniforms reduce or even eradicate theft as there is no advantage to stealing. In some schools, the use of uniforms even reduces violence, as groups or gangs can no longer identify themselves by wearing certain clothes or colours.

Uniforms can even improve a student’s grades. Since there is no need to keep up with the latest fashions, clothes can’t serve as a distraction, which enables students to focus on learning. Nobody can show too much skin, inappropriately expose their bodies or make clothing choices in an attempt to attract attention. Rather, students are in a better position to concentrate on their studies and build relationships with one another based on substance.

Practically speaking, many parents find it’s easier to dress their children in the morning when their child is required to wear a uniform. There is no delay as children debate what to wear—something that can often be a time-consuming process, especially as students mature into teenagers. There are no arguments about what constitutes an appropriate outfit as items such as spaghetti straps, torn jeans and short skirts aren’t options.

Thanks to social media, it’s easy for parents to connect to find solutions to address the cost of uniforms. For instance, online message boards and community groups can be used to arrange clothing exchanges. This means that bigger ticket items such as blazers can be handed down from one student who outgrew it to another who needs it. Parents can save money by buying these clothing pieces second-hand, rather than buying new. Parents have also been known to voice their opinions with respect to selecting lower cost uniform suppliers. In some cases, they have banded together to request suppliers who meet certain ethical or environmental standards.

​Some schools, in turn, are adapting uniform policies to include plain white button-down shirts or navy blue pants, for example. These kinds of clothing pieces can be purchased at retail stores like The Gap or Old Navy, some of which have uniform sections in their stores and online. These clothes can be easily purchased at affordable prices throughout the year and be worn year-round.

Uniforms are an important piece of the education puzzle and one that can contribute to enhanced learning and discussion.

November 21st, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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Studying Abroad Can Be A Great Way To Experience The World

Have you ever considered studying abroad? If you have always dreamed of living in another country, learning a new language and meeting new people, studying in a foreign place is your chance to do all this while acquiring school credits.

It might seem overwhelming at first. Choosing if you should go, what you should study and where you should travel is a big decision. It requires careful thinking and research. If you’ve ever dreamed about studying abroad, here is some information to help get your thinking process off to a productive start.

Determine if you want to go. Studying abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the world and yourself. It’s an extraordinary way to experience another city or country first-hand, rather than from a book. It turns a new city into your classroom, enabling you to learn skills that can’t be mastered sitting at a desk. For instance, not only do study abroad programs enable you to earn a credit to help you graduate, but it can also be an exciting way to experience a new culture. When you’re in a new place, you get to try local foods, pick up a language or perfect one you’ve been learning at home.

​[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]gain confidence, become more self-reliant[/pullquote]

You will experience history and immerse yourself in a different environment on a daily basis. Even as you find your way around a new city, you will become more independent and meet new people in the process. You will gain confidence, become more self-reliant and get out of your comfort zone. While this sounds great, you know yourself better than anyone. Are you ready to leave home for a few weeks or a semester? Do you have friends who will be making the trip with you? These are things to consider, because as fun and exciting as studying abroad can be, you have to be ready to make the trip.

Figure out what you want to study and where. Now that you’ve decided studying abroad is for you, there are other things to consider. Are you interested in earning a language credit, studying English in the birthplace of Shakespeare himself or discovering history in a place that’s captured your imagination since you were little? These are all things to think about.

​What you study and where you study are often linked. Certain programs may be available in some cities, but not others. If you don’t speak the language of the host country, you might have a harder time studying there than in another place. On the other hand, this could be your chance to brush up on your French or Spanish, for instance, and you may want that immersive experience. Speak to your parents and guidance counsellor about making the right course selection for you. There are also resources online to help you find the right course and city to meet your needs.

Budget accordingly. Studying abroad can be expensive. There’s the flight, tuition and room and board to consider, not to mention meals, transportation, excursions and entertainment. ​Do you have money saved? Can your parents help? Have you researched financial aid and scholarship options that can offset some of the cost?

​If this is something you really want to do, it might be a good idea to start saving in advance. Get a part-time job and set money aside so you can travel abroad in the future. Perhaps you can even work while you’re there to earn money. What about considering ways to save money? Perhaps you can have a roommate or live with a host family when you’re abroad. These are options, and ones your guidance counsellor can discuss with you when you meet to chat about studying abroad.

​Of course, you’ll need to do your research and establish a budget. It’s important to figure out how much you can anticipate to spend in a given city. What is the currency exchange rate? Is the city relatively expensive or inexpensive? How much will you need to earn or save to afford the cost?

Prepare for your trip. Once you’ve chosen to study abroad and selected a program, place and budget, you’ll want to prepare for your trip. What are the visa requirements for the country in which you will be studying? Is your passport up to date? Do you have travel and health insurance in case you become ill while you’re away? Often your school can help you with these things, but it’s best to be aware of these matters yourself as well.

​There are often other things to consider, too. Do you need any vaccinations? Go to the bank and ensure you have the proper currency and enough of it. Do you also have debit cards or credit cards? You’ll want to let your bank know of your travel plans in advance.

​Make sure you have all your travel information handy, as well as names and address for where you’re staying and studying. Do you have travel guides handy? Check luggage restrictions to make sure you don’t pack too much. You’ll also want to ensure you’ve packed correctly.

​Have you also checked the weather in the city in which you’ll be staying? Some winters are milder than others, and some summers (like in Australia) are colder than ours.

​Go online, read travel guides, talk to others who have been abroad and prepare accordingly for a life changing trip.

November 17th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Technology, Uncategorised

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How to Write an Essay

Writing an essay can be a daunting task. This is especially the case for those who don’t enjoy writing or who don’t have much practice writing essays often.

Help is on the way! There are a few things students can do to make the essay assignment easier and even enjoyable.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The first thing to do is plan backward.[/pullquote]

When is your deadline? How much time will it take you to research, write and polish the essay? Do you have other projects and deadlines as well? Those who procrastinate and leave essays until the last minute tend not to do as well as those who ensure they leave ample time to complete the project well. It’s also much less stressful when you plan ahead. Some essays requiring extensive research can take weeks to complete well, while personal essays or those shorter in length might not require as much time to complete. Figure out what else you have to work on, prioritize, and leave enough time complete each assignment, even if it means starting your essay well in advance of the actual deadline.

Next, you’ll want to ensure you understand the assignment. Read the instructions again and again. Ask your classmates or teacher for clarification if you have any questions. That way you don’t waste time working on an assignment only to find out you didn’t understand it properly to begin with.

Some essays require research. Now is the time to begin researching. Read as much as you can about the topic so you can understand the issues and make some informed decisions about what research you’re looking for. Do you need primary sources? Secondary? At this stage, you’ll want to “get all your ducks in a row,” so to speak. You might want to take notes by hand or use your computer to document what information you’re finding and where each piece of information has come from. Failing to document your sources, even accidentally, is considered plagiarism. Make sure you’re keeping careful notes so you can create footnotes or a bibliography at the end of your essay, should that be required. Even make note of information found online, not just facts that came from books or journals.

When you’re ready to sit down and write, you’ll need to begin with an introduction. An introduction lays out the issue at hand, or essentially states what your essay is about. It should also include your thesis, or the point you’ll be making throughout the essay.

In the body of the essay, you will put your research to work. You will use whatever information you’ve collected to prove your thesis. It’s usually advised that you choose three separate arguments within the body that prove your point. You’ll be citing sources and information pertinent to your case. It’s also wise to state current beliefs and then prove them wrong using your research. Make sure to reference your thesis and organize your thoughts in a clear and logical way.

Finally, you’ll need to write the conclusion. This sums up your essay, restates your thesis and, briefly, the points you’ve made in your argument. Essentially, your conclusion wraps things up and lets readers know your essay has come to an end.

You might need to include a bibliography, or all the sources you used to complete your essay. Often teachers will grade this as well. You will want to make sure you’re listing your sources correctly, so go online for a template or ask your teacher about the standard format.

Though you might be done your first draft, you’re not ready to hand in the assignment yet. Read it over for grammatical and spelling errors. You might want to reorganize the information in your body paragraphs or tweak the introduction or conclusion. Have someone else proofread your essay. Ask them whether there are any errors, if your sentences make sense and if you’ve proven your point. Once you’ve made any corrections and read it over again, you’ll be ready to hand in your assignment.

Essays can be a lot of work, but once you’ve done one, you’ll be prepared to write many more in your high school or university career.

November 8th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting

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