Tuesday | September 17, 2019

What I Would Tell My Younger Self About Planning a Great Career

For many teens, deciding on a career is fraught with uncertainties which make them nervous about their career choices.

Should a career reflect their passions? Does pragmatism always have to involve going with the grain? What if they have to start their career all over again looking for newer possibilities in an evolving industry? In short, how do they make smart choices?

Some of the greatest advantages for millennials is their comfort with technologies and the seamless integration of their lifestyle into the digital landscape. However this does not mean every young person would or should want a career in technology (ie. programmers, digital marketing etc).

It always bodes well to take stock of where we are and what we want, especially while planning a career. It can set the wheels in motion for a wonderful fulfilling future or can it turn out to be a long and painful professional life.

 

Looking in the Mirror

When it comes to making the right career choices, maintaining clarity with your thoughts is vital. While some career choices might seem appealing on the surface, they may not be so great in the long run.

Choosing the right career begins with exploring your passion and instincts. Teens should discover their likes and dislikes and think about choosing career options that are aligned with their strengths. Whether you choose technology over arts or a trade over law, make sure you know where your interests lie. Moreover, you need to prep yourself to be mentally resilient and flexible. It’s extremely important for teens to learn how to cope with setbacks in their career journey

 

Research, Research, Research

The easiest accessible database is Google. One can research a host of career options covering a range of interests. Whether your career motivators are financial, social, artistic etc., there is no limit to the research data available for you. You can even go to job sites to see the wide array of opportunities available. There could be roles to never realized that existed that excite you.

It also pays to look ahead ​​and see how industries and job markets are predicted to change in the future.

​Reach out to people who work in the chosen area of interest and communicate with them over email, social media or LinkedIn. Reading up about notable personalities who have made it big or following their blog posts also help assess your career direction.

​No online research can beat actual conversations with experienced people involved in industries or careers that interest you. Try to take every opportunity to speak to as many people as possible. And ask lots of questions about what they like/dislike about their jobs and what advice they can give a younger person planning a career in their field.

 

Start Building Career Skills Early On

As a teen, it’s really difficult to figure out your plans about your career. However, rather than fretting over what’s right or wrong, the best way to deal with this confusion is to do a couple of internships while you’re at school. This will give you ample scope to explore your strengths, likes and dislikes, which will eventually help you make the right career decisions. The good news is making mistakes in your internship won’t probably cost you a huge deal. Use the internship experience hone your skills that will stand in good stead moving forward.

 

Mentoring

It helps to develop healthy mentor-protege relationship. The mentor should calm your nerves when you are at the precipice of something new but also pick you up when you fall to hard. They are like a very wise human pros-and-cons checklist. They help in deconstructing your thoughts and provide strategies on how to move forward. People-pleasers are not great mentors. Seek those you can provide practical experience with unbiased advice for you.

 

Develop a Well-defined Career

Dreaming big is one thing but charting your career path is another. Many teens are instinctively ambitious but what they lack is the clarity about their career objectives.

Whether you want be a medical professional or astronaut, you should learn how to develop your career path accordingly. Gather as much information about your career goals as possible. Speak to industry professionals and practitioners and learn about the ground realities. Some career goals will require a decent academic performance throughout your high school and college degree. Be aware of the scores you need and the courses you need to complete to be better prepared for the competitive industry. The more you learn about your goals, the better are your chances of getting there.

 

Take Risks Early

No matter what your career options are, you need to develop a risk appetite for success. In the rapidly evolving world, it’s important to stay current with you career options and learn skills required to pursue your career goals. When you’re in your teens, it’s easier to take risks since you’re not really strapped with many responsibilities of a middle-age professional. As a parent, you need to encourage your teens to take calculated risks and extend support to help them through the journey.

 

You Can Change Your Mind

These days a typical working career can last approximately 40 years. That’s a long time.

​​Because it’s so long, you have time to start a job, learn what you like and dislike as you get more experience and then adjust your career plans accordingly. In fact this can be done several times over a working career.

​Nowadays it’s practically impossible to come across anyone that ends their career with the same company and profession that started in their 20’s.

​There has never been a time with more flexibility and options for change available to people in the workforce. This can take immense pressure off anyone starting to plan a career in their teens.

 

Understand the Meaning of Happiness

Remember that your career choices are ultimately the means to an end and not the end in themselves. Regardless of the career you pursue, it’s important to understand the meaning of motivation. There are many who make tons of money but are still unhappy with their life. While money is one key to leading a satisfying life, it doesn’t necessarily ensure an emotionally fulfilling life. If you’re in a job that continually stimulates and rewards with you then you are likely to lead a healthier and happier life. And that is the true measure of a successful career.

February 1st, 2019

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, 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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Sports: Are you Pushing Your Teenager too Much or too Little?

In today’s competitive environment, you want to make sure your kids keep up with the demanding academic schedule while pursuing sports among other extracurricular activities.

However, many parents find it really difficult to decide whether they’re being too harsh or too lenient in their overall approach.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Sports can teach your kids about discipline, unity, perseverance, and value of teamwork[/pullquote]

When it comes to sports, there are compelling benefits for your kids. Sports can teach your kids about discipline, unity, perseverance, and value of teamwork, all of which enable them to develop into a successful individual in future.

Before talking about the potential dangers of pushing too hard, it’s important to remember the benefits sports offer to your kids.

 

​​Benefits of Your Teens Playing in Team Sports?

  • According to a survey, teens pursuing sports are a lot less likely to use drugs, smokes, have sex, carry weapons, and have unhealthy eating habits.
  • Research shows teens participating in sports are happier than kids who don’t pursue sports. While sports-oriented boys in the middle school were five times more likely to describe their health as fair/poor, the girls were 30 times more likely.
  • When your teens participate in team sports, they not only learn about the team spirit, stay motivated to work towards a common goal. When they stay in a team, the value of group effort is reinforced every day.
  • Learning to socialize with students from different walks of life during the middle school can be a challenging phase for any teenager. Team sports offer an opportunity to get along with different groups and nurture a sense of belonging.
  • Team sports teach your teenagers the value of cooperation, discipline, commitment, practice and, determination. The value of hard work and achievement is harder to learn in the abstract. Through setting goals and playing like a cohesive unit, your kids learn a lot more naturally.
  • Nothing makes your kids aware of leading a healthy life quite like athletics. Teens participating in active sports know the importance of staying fighting fit. Therefore, they’re more likely to follow an active lifestyle and healthy routine. What’s more, according to a research, kids pursuing sports are likely to avoid obesity and unhealthy eating habits.
  • When Kevin Kniffin, a behavioral science professor at Cornell University, conducted a study, he found kids who played sports in high school make better employees. In fact, the study also found that potential employers tend to favor jobs candidates who played active sports in their school career.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Encourage your kids to pursue sports for fun and leisure but don’t force them into rigorous and intense training. [/pullquote]

​Are You Pushing Your Kids Too Hard?

As a parent, it’s only natural for you to have high hopes for your kids. You want to them to succeed academically, athletically and otherwise. However, in the process, you might be exerting too much pressure on your kids.

So, how will you know if you’re pushing your kids too hard to pursue multiple activities apart from studies?

According to parenting coach Elaine Taylor-Klaus, kids tend to show signs when they’re overscheduled and stressed. For example, pushing your kids to take up baseball practice, guitar lessons and art classes every alternate day can demotivate them, and even affect their grades.

While some kids express their displeasure openly, more reticent children may act grouchy and irritable.

Therefore, you need to make sure it’s fun for your kid and he/she is enjoying the extra-curricular activities. That’s how they’ll sustain their enthusiasm and pursue those hobbies in the long run as well.

As a matter of fact, Tiger Woods is probably a great example how the element of fun encourages your kids to get better at sports activities. In an interview with Washington Post, Tiger revealed that he fell in love with golf at an early stage, not because his parents pushed him into it but because his dad would keep it fun, light and competitive. He also said he’d be okay if his son Charlie didn’t play golf professionally.

 

​The Dangers of Pushing Your Kids too Hard

When it comes to sports, parents should be aware of the safety threshold for their kids. There are many who push their kids to a point where they become overtrained, stressed and burned out.

According to a national survey, nine out of 10 parents tend to underestimate the length of time their kids should take off from playing any sports during the year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) advise that kids should stay 2-3 months (or even a season) away from a specific sport every year. Moreover, it’s recommended that young athletes should take one day off each week from organized activities.

Parents who aggressively push their kids to an unrelenting sports regime, allowing little breaks, may end up harming their kids in the long run.

Fred Fornicola, health coach and fitness professional, warns parents against pushing their kids too hard and advises that they should follow an appropriate athletic program which allows ample scope for safety, progression, and recovery.

Ellis Cashmore, a professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University says parents should stop pushing their kids to become sporting heroes as most youngsters will never make it. Warning parents of potential downsides of encouraging teenagers to pursue a rigorous sports routine, he said overdriven kids could resort to performance-enhancing drugs among many other consequences.

 

​Final Thoughts

While sports offer a range of benefits to your kids both in the short and long run, pushing too hard could have potential implications for your young kids. Encourage your kids to pursue sports for fun and leisure but don’t force them into rigorous and intense training. After all, you want to keep your young kids safe from injuries.

May 8th, 2018

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

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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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6 Tips to Help You Get Ready for College or University

If you’re headed off to college or university in the near future, you’re probably pretty excited, but nervous, too. It’s natural to get the jitters before embarking on any new experience, but with a few tips, you’ll be well prepared for the life-changing journey that lies ahead. Here are a few things you can do in advance to get ready for college or university.

 

Tip #1 – Learn to cook . . . and do laundry.

​Yes, you might already be signed up for the meal plan and have the local pizza parlour on speed dial, but living away from home also means you’re an adult now. You’ll likely need to take care of yourself more than you’ve had to while living at home.

​Before you leave for school, learn to make a few things you like to eat. Ask your parents to teach you a few tricks, buy a recipe book, figure out what pots and pans you’ll need. Experiment in the kitchen. It would also be a good time to learn to wash your clothing.

​Do you wash the lights and darks together or separately? Which items of clothing need to hang to dry and which can go in the dryer? These are all good things to figure out in advance—before you accidentally shrink your favourite shirt at school. While you’re in this mode, do you know how to clean a washroom, vacuum and make your bed? This is a great time to learn.

 

​Tip #2 – Establish a financial plan and budget.

​If you don’t already have a credit or debit card and have your online banking account set up, this would be the perfect time to get your financial situation sorted out. Not only will you be responsible for shopping for things like food and books, you might also have bills to pay if you’re living off campus. Ask your parents for help or visit your local bank to get set up.

​While you’re thinking about finances, establish a budget for yourself. How much money will you need each month? Where will the money come from?

​Do you need a part-time job this summer to help pay for the year ahead? Do you need a job on campus? Be realistic and start thinking about how much you’ll need for food, entertainment, tuition, books and other items you might be required to pay for while living on your own.

 

Tip #3 – ​Figure out where to live.

​Have you already been accepted to residence? Have you decided to live off campus? If you’ve got that sorted out, that’s great. You’re ahead of the game. If you are still in need of accommodation, this would be the time to get cracking.

​Do your research. Where do most undergraduates live and why? Y​ou’ll likely want to be near your classes so you aren’t running a mile across campus to make it to school on time. Or perhaps you want to be near the shops or entertainment scene? It might be convenient, but it could also be distracting.

​Will you have a car? Where will you park? Take a tour of the campus to get your bearings. Speak to other students who are already in their first or second year. Contact the school for advice if you’re unsure.

 

Tip #4 – ​Get packing.

​Did your college or university residence give you a packing list? Do you know the dimensions of your dorm room? Certain things will likely already be provided, such as a bed, closet, desk and some shelves. What else do you need to live on your own? Toiletries, a shower curtain, bath mat, cookware, pantry staples, cleaning and laundry supplies are some ideas to get you started.

​Don’t forget your clothes. Will you be visiting home often or will you need to pack for several months in advance? Will you be joining a club, hitting the gym or trying out for a team? You’ll need to plan accordingly and bring all the necessities.

 

Tip #5 – Don’t forget your school supplies.

​Do you have a laptop, printer and whatever other office supplies you’ll need to complete your course assignments? What about a phone, chargers and all the cords you’ll need to connect your electronics?

​Put together a list and figure out which items you know you’ll need and which you might not need. For instance, you might be able to submit essays and projects online, while others professors will require a hard copy.

​Talk to older students and seek their advice. Think about the things that will keep you organized. Do you need an agenda, calendar or bulletin board? Make a list and check it twice!

 

Tip #6 – ​Don’t worry.

​You will make friends, you will find your way to your classes and you will have fun. This is definitely a new phase in your life, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the unknown. If you’re prepared in advance with all the essentials, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you arrive on campus your first day.

April 3rd, 2018

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

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