Sunday | December 8, 2019

Finding a Great Student Job

If you’re a high school student, getting a part-time job can be a wonderful idea. In fact, according to data provided by Child Trends, almost half of all young people ages 16 to 24 in the U.S. work either full or part-time. In Canada, 56 percent of undergraduate students have jobs, with the average working student putting in approximately 18 hours a week.

Some studies show that 18 percent of high school students have jobs. This can be a great way to have extra spending money or to save for travel and post-secondary school. Tuition rates are rising and parents are not always able to help fund the hefty cost of post-secondary education. Working is a fantastic way to ensure you have money on hand to contribute to your future.

But there are even more great reasons to work as a teenager. It teaches responsibility, as well as time management and organizational skills. Working will give you a sense of independence and help you gain valuable work habits and experience. Being employed as a teen is also linked to increased rates of graduation and greater earnings in the adult years.

The key is to ensure you’re finding a balance. Studies show that students who work more than 20 hours a week have lower grades than students who work fewer hours. Working too much can conflict with class and leave less time to study and complete school work. It also might detract from participating in extra-curricular activities, such as sports, drama and music. These activities also provide important benefits, so you don’t want to give these up.

With balance in mind, there are some great job opportunities available for students interested in working part time.

The first step is to think about your interests, goals and your current schedule. For instance, do you like sports? Math? Computers? Kids? You might want to offer skating lessons or help coach a team if you’re a hockey whiz. If you excel at math, maybe you can tutor. Ask around or put up signs offering your math services. If you are great at computer coding, there are several small businesses that teach coding to kids. Why not approach them and see if they need help with an after-school program? If you like kids and tend to be free on weekends, maybe you want to babysit. There are many opportunities you might not have considered that tend to be perfect for students. For instance, you can be a lifeguard, camp counsellor, take on a student internship, caddy at a golf club or help a landscaper.

This is also the time to think about your goals. If you want to be a teacher, working with kids or tutoring can be a great entry into that field and will look great on your resume in future. If you’re more entrepreneurial and dream of having your own business one day, this might be a great time to start thinking of ways to make your first business happen.

It’s also important to consider how much time you have available. Do you tend to be busy during the week with academics and extra-curricular activities? You’ll want to look for jobs you can do during the weekends or perhaps during the summer instead of during the school year. If you have an easier semester and tend to have time in the evenings, consider a job that would enable you to work evening hours.

Go online and do some of your own research. There are many job search sites that feature jobs for students. You might find some you’d never considered before. It’s often just as helpful to find jobs you’re not at all interested in doing. This will help you narrow your search and focus in on your interests and needs.

Write down some ideas as part of a brainstorm. Get your friends, parents, a teacher or guidance counsellor involved—they are sure to have some thoughts on how you can proceed. They want to see you succeed and can be helpful in providing guidance when you need it most.

Once you’ve figured out what you want to do and how much time you have to devote to it, get your resume started. If you have one already, that’s great—you’re ahead of the game. Make sure to read it over and polish it off, updating it with a new goal or objective. Start approaching potential employers to let them know you’re interested in applying for a job. This might lead to a phone or in-person interview. Be honest about your goals and the time you have available.

And make sure you have a bank account set up because soon enough you’ll have money to deposit.

May 3rd, 2019

Posted In: Community, Education, Uncategorised

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Benefits and Ways of Keeping Teens Active Over The Winter Break

Winter is generally that time of the year when we all want to stay at home curled up in our beds. In summer, sunlight brightens our day and makes us active but the cold, snowy winter make can make us lazier. Moreover, days are shorter during the winter season, making it all the more difficult for us to step out for physical activity. 

However, just because there is snow on the ground, it does not mean that we have to stop exercising. There are several avenues for staying active during the winter and we as parents should encourage our teens to follow an exercise routine during the winter season to stay fit. For e.g., we could motivate them to participate in holiday themed races or join winter sports teams.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of exercising for teenagers and also about ways to keep your teens active during the winter season.

 

Physical Activities Increase Energy Levels and Make You Feel Better

Exercising or taking part in physical activities like games and sports regularly is one of the best things teenagers can do for improving their health. Exercising helps you feel more energetic and alert. Physical activities lead to increased release of endorphins in our bodies. This hormone is responsible for making you feel good and refreshed after working out. As a result, physical activities make you feel happier and relaxed.

Prevents Obesity

Regular physical activities help in burning calories, preventing teenage obesity and maintaining a healthy weight. According to the World Health Organization, children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a daily basis. For children and teenagers, physical activity would include games, sports, recreation, planned exercise, school and community activities.

Increases Aerobic Capacity

Physical activity creates an increased need for oxygen in our bodies. When we exercise we start breathing heavily due to the increased need for oxygen. Depending on how fit we are, we may notice this need occur earlier or later compared to others. Exercising regularly leads to an increased consumption of oxygen and the capacity of our lungs increases. Over time, regular exercise builds aerobic capacity, delivering more oxygen to our brain and bloodstream, and helps us stay active easily.

Enhances Your Looks

Physical activities and exercising can also make you look good. When we exercise, we burn more calories and as a result, we look more toned than those who don’t. This can be a huge motivational factor for teenagers. Moreover, exercising also makes us sweat and release body toxins making exercise extremely important during winters. Moderate exercise also increases your body’s production of natural antioxidants and helps to protect your skin.  

Improves Sleep

Teenagers are advised to sleep eight to ten hours but with excessive use of technology, there appears to be a high sleep deficit among teens. In fact, a study showed that only 15% of teens reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights. One of the best ways to overcome sleep deficit is to exercise regularly. When you are active during the day, you typically fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer. Making physical activities a part of your daily routine can help your teens get a more sound and restful sleep. It not only improves the quality of sleep by increasing the time spent in deep sleep, but also boosts the overall duration of your teen’s sleep.

Reduces Stress And Relieves Anxiety

Regular exercising can help in reducing the stress and anxiety levels of your teens. Just 5 minutes of moderate physical activities can trigger anti-stress responses in our bodies. Regular aerobic exercise is known to decrease overall levels of tension, stabilize mood and improve self-esteem. Teens are often stressed due to academic life, peer pressure, and several other reasons. Here are a few fitness tips from Anxiety and Depression Association of America to help your teens manage stress and stay healthy.

Disease Prevention

Beyond the well-known benefits of obesity prevention and improving bone as well as muscular strength, regular exercising also helps in reducing the risks of a wide range of chronic diseases like diabetics, cardiovascular diseases, bone and joint diseases like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, breast cancer and colon cancer among several other. It also helps in lowering blood pressure, increasing HDL or good cholesterol.

Improves Muscle and Bone Strength

Both your bones and muscles become stronger when your muscles push and pull against your bones during physical activity. Strength training helps develop muscles while also forcing our muscles to put pressure on our bones, thereby improving our bone strength. You could read more about activities that can strengthen the bones and muscles of teens here.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, children and teens should participate in bone-strengthening activities at least 3 days a week. Bone strengthening exercises are especially important for teens because they obtain their lifetime peak bone mass in their teenage years.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:

  • Sit-ups (curl-ups or crunches)
  • Rope of tree climbing
  • Modified push-ups (with knees on the floor)

Examples of bone-strengthening activities:

  • Running
  • Jumping rope
  • Hopscotch

Having understood the various benefits of physical activities for teenagers, we will now look at various avenues to motivate and keep your teens active during the winter season.

Create A Home Gym For Your Teen

Going out to workout during the winters may be a herculean task considering the various layers of clothing you are required to wear. To make things simpler, you could set up a home gym with some basic inexpensive equipment like resistance bands, dumbbells, and stability balls. You could exercise as a family to motivate your teen to stay fit.

Find An Indoor Pool

Getting drenched during the winters may not sound to be a great idea. But swimming, water aerobics and running laps in water are great forms of physical activities that may seem exciting for your teen rather than boring mundane exercises.

Explore Fun Activities

It’s winter season which is a great time to explore a new set of outdoor activities like skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, ice hockey etc. Encourage your teens to join winter sports teams in your locality and participate in weekly games.

Get Them To Sign Up For Activities At A Local Community Centre

You could get your teens to sign up for basketball, squash, badminton, aerobics or even yoga. Given the numerous options to choose from, you can be sure to find something that would interest your teen.

Motivate Them To Find An Exercise Buddy

We all find exercise boring. But with a great company, we can overcome this boredom. This is why having exercise buddies is a good idea for your teens. They could go out for jogging together or they could visit a mall and walk when it’s too cold outside. Nevertheless, exercise buddies are a great motivational factor.

Set Small Daily Goals Rather Than Weekly Goals

As a parent, set small goals for your teens like jogging, biking or dancing for 30 minutes daily. It is better to set small goals than plan for heavy workouts for a long duration during the weekend. Frequency and consistency benefit our body more than strenuous workouts intermittently. Give them rewards like a movie night, dining out with friends etc., when they reach their goals.

Final Thoughts

While most of us are already aware of the importance of physical activities, we may still shy away from exercising, given the cold weather. It would be your duty as parents to foster the importance of regular physical activities to teens irrespective of the seasons.

For teens, winter sports and games may seem more exciting than exercising; therefore, we should motivate them to partake in neighborhood winter sports teams.

December 24th, 2018

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

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How to Foster Lifelong Learning in Your Teen

The brain is rapidly developing in the teenage years.

​We all want our kids to enjoy learning and to make the most of their education. We place value in ensuring they work hard, study for their tests do their homework to the best of their abilities and appreciate the educational opportunities they’ve been giving. A good education truly is a gift.

This sense of curiosity might be even more important than parents realize. Research has shown that curiosity impacts performance as much as hard work. When you’re curious about a subject and study up on it, you tend to retain that information for longer periods. It’s also associated with positive behaviours such as tolerance for uncertainty, humour and out-of-the-box thinking.

​These are all skills associated with happiness, resilience, creativity and intellectual growth.

So how do we foster that sense of lifelong learning in kids? How do we ensure they grow up with a sense of curiosity that will motivate them to want to learn and explore throughout their entire lives? Here are a few tips:

Encourage your children to ask questions. If your child asks a question, don’t brush them off with a simple answer such as “I don’t know.” Don’t simply say “good question.” Go the extra step further and help them find the answer to the question they have asked.

Maybe it’s a matter of going to the library and finding a book that explains the topic. Maybe you can go online together and read the literature. Take them to a museum or help them interview someone who has the answer.

​There are so many methods of learning and ways to find answers. ​What is your child’s preferred method? Maybe they are more hands-on. Maybe they enjoy learning by opening a book. Let them know how much you value their curiosity and reward them by helping them discover the answer. They will enjoy the journey and not hesitate to approach you the next time they are curious.

Talk to your child’s teacher. When you communicate with your son or daughter’s teacher either casually or during more formal parent-teacher interviews, ask if they have noticed whether there is anything in particular your child is curious about. What is their favourite subject? What style of learner are they? Do they seem particularly curious about anything? If not, perhaps they have suggestions for how you can stimulate a sense of wonder. Your teacher will know things about your child that you might not have noticed and their experience in the education field will give them valuable insight into your particular child.

​Let your child’s teacher know how committed you are to being involved and in fostering an appreciation for lifelong learning in your child. You are a team dedicated to furthering your child’s education and you share the same goals. Don’t hesitate to speak openly to your child’s teachers about this topic.

Encourage your teen to do their homework well. If you step in and help your child right away, they might not have the opportunity to assess whether they understand the work. By helping, you deny giving them a chance to see how resourceful they are. You will also give them the chance to realize what questions their homework will spark. They might even discover they don’t understand the homework at all.  You’ll want to make yourself available, of course, to answer questions or suggest ways in which they might find the answers.

If you’re stuck on how to facilitate the process, here are a few suggestions:

  • If your child doesn’t understand what is being asked of them when you’re helping them with an assignment, you might want to read the question together and say, “What do you think the question is asking?”
  • If they don’t understand what they are supposed to do as they work on their homework, try asking them if they have any ideas for how to solve the problem.
  • If your child is unsure of the assignment, suggest calling a friend or reviewing their notes from class. Follow up the next day and make sure they understand or asked for help from the teacher.

Ensure learning happens outside the classroom, too. As much as we prioritize in-class learning, there is so much to be discovered outside of the class as well. The best way to foster additional opportunities is to encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities. Perhaps they like sports, music or want to learn a language. Sign them up for a class at the local community centre or in the neighbourhood. If they discover they aren’t interested in that particular activity, try another. Don’t give up. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to make friends, expand their skills, get exercise and figure out what they are interested in and what they aren’t.

Stimulating that sense of curiosity is very important and there are so many ways in which you can help build this sense of wonder in your child. Once you light that spark, there will be no stopping your child in their quest for lifelong learning.

December 6th, 2018

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

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New Trends in Education

Decades ago, when we thought of new trends in education, we would have perhaps moved between an inductive method to deductive, from instructional teaching to interactive learning.

Today, teaching has taken an e-turn where students want personalized learning methods and to reduce the dependency on teachers for instructions. Educators primarily play the role of mentors.

The dependence on digital technology by the youth of today can seem overwhelming to us. But we have to accept that these technologies are pushing the boundaries of learning and the way education is being delivered around the world.

For example, a recent survey by Research and Markets, “Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector 2017-2021”, predicts the use of AI in K12 and higher ed could grow 47.5 percent by 2021. Moreover, content is also available in varied formats, catering to diverse learning skills and dispositions.

 

Active participation

We cannot expect students to be passive recipients of lessons in a classroom. It is healthy to encourage them to be an active participant in framing the curriculum, choosing the learning resources and the method of learning that aids their understanding.

Each method of learning has a corollary cognitive impact. For example, a Wikipedia entry might generate more interest in a topic more than a traditional textbook or encyclopedia. Some children retain information through listening, others find visual-aid like videos, paintings or diagrams more useful. As parents, we need to help our kids understand what works best for them but most importantly, helps them learn.

While a lesson using Augmented or Virtual Reality might seem a wholesome experience and most importantly convenient, it might restrict imagination; a vital component in critical thought. We need to play the parent in such cases.

While being well-grounded in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and technical fields is critical for young people who will compete for the jobs of the future, a well-rounded knowledge of the arts helps them contextualize their education. So make sure your child learns is exposed to the arts and humanities and not just much mathematics.

 

The School

When choosing a school we need to keep in mind a few things.

  • How keen is a school in ensuring accessible infrastructure for children and their individual needs?
  • How much impact the school has had on the community. In short, is the school producing great citizens of tomorrow?

Gone are the days when soft skills were considered a part of upbringing at home or emotional well-being a personal affair. We are faced with a new political environment where schools have a worldview and they need to lead the way in sensitizing children to accommodate their sensibilities to a cosmopolitan space. There are bound to be stress, anxiety, and schools should be equipped to handle those. Hence a successful school would also invest in students’ social-emotional learning (SEL).

We need to assess a school based on how inclusive it is. Not just in terms of physical infrastructure but also in teaching tools. AR and VR will not be the same for children who have problems with vision.

Incorporating basic tech methods to interact with students over email, text, Google Docs, will facilitate shared learning and flexibility to work from anywhere they are. This cloud comes with a silver lining! We need to make sure the teachers are prepared to give a chance to the children, to understand that some children might be good at grasping texts, others might be good at digital-visual content. We should engage with the teacher regarding the cognitive skills of children.

 

The Career Conundrum

It would be a good idea to train children with the specificities of the industry early in their career while staying prepared for contingencies. For example, it might be great to learn the law as a subject, but a child might not have the temperament or interest to invest themselves in the demands of corporate set up. One might be interested in being a great publisher some day. But they need to be aware of the drudgery of proofreading a manuscript over and over again. In short parents/mentors need to be able to give a clear picture of the actual work that goes into making a career.

In meantime, as children are exposed to different circumstances, goalposts shifts, new interests surface. As parents how prepared are we for that kind of challenge? It would be wise to leave scope for rearrangement of career plans. While a bit of research on programmes and tour of the university would be a good idea, in many schools and districts, the power IoT (Internet of Things) is already being harnessed for keeping track of people, and their activities. Keeping track of performance and harnessing data to assess aptitude towards career could be of great help.

 

Assessment

How do we assess learning? We have to move beyond traditional parameters and employ newer metrics to assess learning. Its common sense that different people have different skills. Hence our standards of assessment should not be unfair in its basic tenets.

For example, Cheryl Morris, an English teacher at San Jose Middle School in the Novato Unified School District in suburban San Francisco, makes short videos of herself to discuss assigned texts. While a few students choose to watch Morris on video – either at home or in class – others prefer to read the texts themselves. Interestingly, by offering the flexibility to choose their preferred method of learning, Morris has been able to bring her students’ failure rate from 10-15% down to zero!

Thanks to these emerging trends in education, teachers are increasingly banking on online coursework and micro-credentials themselves to stay on top of rapidly evolving fields. According to a recent report by Blackboard, nearly forty percent of schools are now offering online professional development for their teachers, witnessing a two-fold increase in the figure available in 2013.

So our knowledge of new trends in education translates into actively participating in the process of schooling of our child. In the business of education, we are all stakeholders. The idea is to ensure holistic educational experience, assess challenges in reading, writing, comprehension or mathematics and always be on the lookout for fun-filled learning. Offering a slew of educational and interactive apps and games, companies like Kahoot! and Socrative have already made assessments more fun, affordable and accessible.

Big data is pushing boundaries in the business of education with more and more use of artificial intelligence to consolidate feedback as an additive factor to the understanding employed by the teacher or mentor.

October 29th, 2018

Posted In: Education, Parenting, Technology

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Recognizing Early Warning Signs of Child Depression

Depression

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What if He or She Just Has the Blues?

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In recent years, there has been a groundswell of activism and campaigning to reduce the stigma of depression and mental health anomalies. A number of celebrities and public figures have come forward to tell their stories of struggling with depression.

Though we accept what we hear about adults dealing with depression, it’s difficult to recognize the early warning signs of depression in children. When a child or teen is withdrawn, sullen or frequently sad, adults often assume “It’s just a phase he’s going through.”, or “She’s just hormonal!”

Maybe your child is growing through a difficult time, or their emotions are being affected by hormones. Maybe there is a long term mental health condition which you should recognize, and work with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.

Here is some guidance we’ve curated from professionals on how to determine:

  • If your son or daughter might have a depression disorder, or just have “the blues”
  • Common symptoms and signals you can watch for
  • When you should contact your doctor, social worker or other professional

How to Spot a “Black Dog” In Your Child’s Life

Australian author Matthew Johnstone published a compelling book living with depression called “I Had a Black Dog”. It has become a global phenomenon, and inspired an awareness campaign from the World Health Organization. It identifies depression as a mood disorder, but one which can be managed by therapy, medication or a physical wellness programs.

The “Black Dog Book” identifies many of the symptoms of living with depression like:

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Severe spikes in appetite, and weight loss or gain
  • Anger, guilt, feelings of worthlessness and/or irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in activities your child usually loves to do
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and social events
  • Strange aches and pains
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor performance in school
  • General negativity or ambiguous thoughts
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene, dress or being around people

If you find your child is expressing concerns about these symptoms, or if you observe them exhibiting these signs, try and start a dialog with them. Try not to be too confrontational about it, as your child may retract and hide their feelings. Concealing depression symptoms is another sign of clinical depression. Discuss your concerns with your child or teen supportively, not accusingly.

What if He or She Just Has the Blues?

If your child or teen is exhibiting some of these symptoms suddenly, or for a short term basis, they may just have a case of “the sads”. They may just need:

  • Fresh air
  • Exercise
  • A change in nutrition choices
  • A conversation with you that is calm and patient. Allow them the time to speak their feelings
  • To distance them from video games, social media or the internet
  • Space, understanding, and recognition that their feelings are important

There may be something happening at school, with relationships with friends or romantic interests that are causing “angst” or sadness. Try to help your child through what they are dealing with. If the symptoms persist, consider speaking with your family doctor about forms of treatment. There are also support resources at the school, either to “compare notes” on symptoms you are seeing, to get referrals to community programs, or talk to counsellors about options.

If you are noticing some of these warning signs of child depression, don’t despair. If you have been experiencing signs of sadness or stress yourself, your child or teen may be picking up on your emotional cues. Recognizing whether your son or daughter is suffering from a mood disorder, or just a temporary bout of the blues is important.

If your physician diagnoses your child as being mildly or deeply depressed, there are a number of pharmaceutical options which your doctor may recommend to treat their condition. Early detection often helps to diminish depression, and alternative approaches to medicine are often effective.

Other therapeutic options include:

  • Discussions with a therapist, social worker or psychiatrist/psychologist
  • Fitness programs
  • Family sessions with a mediator
  • Nutritional consultations

Regardless of the long term plan, starting with your family doctor is often the best first step. Other community resources like the CMHA, YMCA or peer groups might be a good next step. Your child’s future can be made drastically better if you open up a dialogue with them, help them feel safe, and work towards a mentally healthy future.

May 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Uncategorised

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