Category: School

Recommended Tech for Students

Shopping for school supplies once entailed stocking up on pens, pads and notebooks. Students today still buy many of the same items, though they also now stock up on electronics. Technology and education now go hand-in-hand. For students to find success both in and out of the classroom, the right tech can make all the difference.

• High-speed internet: Connectivity is key in a digitally driven world. Students need access to the internet for homework, lectures, email, entertainment, and much more. The faster your internet speed the better. According to the resource HighSpeedInternet.com, streaming videos on a single device or web browsing requires between five and 40 Mbps. Downloading large files or using multiple devices simultaneously requires high speeds. When accessing the internet via smartphones, make sure your plan has unlimited data or provides enough data to ensure interruptions do not occur.

• Laptop or notebook computer: Laptops and notebook devices are similar in that both offer many types of software preloaded that a student will need. The devices seem interchangeable, but there are some differences. Laptops are generally larger than sleek, light notebooks. Notebooks are sized to fit easily into backpacks. Notebooks tend to have minimal features, including less RAM capacity and slower speeds, helping to keep their costs down. Some notebooks may have very small amounts of hard drive storage space, requiring users to purchase external storage devices.

• Headphones: Most schools now require students to have their own dedicated pair of earbuds or over-the-ear headphones so that work conducted on a computer does not disturb others also working on their own devices. Headphones also can make it easier to hear and comprehend videos and other digital lessons while doing homework.

• Chargers/battery packs: Devices must maintain power to help kids learn. Students can benefit from having a backup charger or battery pack to maintain functionality on their devices. • Storage and charging base: Keeping electronics neat and accessible for the family may mean rethinking countertop or other storage spaces. Charging stations hold multiple devices and allow them to charge simultaneously.

• Touchscreen pen: Many notebook and laptop computers have touchscreens that respond to pens/styluses and make drawing or writing on the screen more detailed.

• Printer/scanner: While many schools have adopted paperless formats, there may come a time when printing an assignment or report is necessary. A quality ink-jet printer can fit the bill. A scanner to scan photos or documents also makes it easier to complete assignments.

The above are just some of the many gadgets that can assist students with their studies.

The Benefits of a New Approach to Learning for Students

The validity of the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” was on full display during the COVID-19 outbreak. People quickly had to learn to adapt to a new way of life, including an educational system that was transformed dramatically by social distancing guidelines.

More than 76 million students are enrolled in United States schools, per the latest Census Bureau information. In 2018, 2.12 million students were in Canadian postsecondary institutions alone. In a matter of days, millions of students who once attended classes in-person were forced to transition to virtual learning instruction. The process showed just how flexible learning systems can be, and how virtual instruction may become more than an emergency protocol in the future. Schools utilized systems like Google Classroom, Canvas and virtual meeting apps to connect and learn. While in-class lessons provide the socialization and one-on-one interaction that can be vital for students’ academic success, there are many different reasons why virtual instruction can be a key component of learning models as well. When virtual learning is used in conjunction with traditional teaching, students may have a more well-rounded experience. Here are some potential benefits that may unfold as more data is collected:

• Pace: Virtual learning affords students the chance to work on lessons at a pace that fits their individual needs. Students can go back and re-read or re-work problems until they’re satisfied they have learned their lesson. Lessons can be slowed down or sped up depending on proficiency, creating a customized educational experience.

• No more weather days. Many school districts include snow or extreme weather days into their calendars, adding on extra days at the end of school year to meet the specified number of educational days. Remote learning can take over in these times and keep school districts from having to pad calendars.

• Convenience: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to provide students the best chance to get the amount of sleep they need. Still, most adolescents currently start school before 8:30 a.m. Remote learning enables students to complete their assignments when it works best for them. This may help them get more sleep, too.

• Apps: Learning apps are a new wave of educational tools that have helped buoy virtual instruction. Primary school students or those with individual education plans may benefit the most from reinforced app skills that match their learning pace in fun ways.

Virtual home instruction may become a large part of the educational landscape even after it’s no longer a social distancing necessity.

Keep Devices in Top Shape and Running Well

The need for reliable technology has never been more apparent. When the world hit the proverbial pause button in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, technology was crucial to keeping people connected to the world around them, helping people maintain some semblance of normalcy as it pertained to work and education.

Students and families who have invested in various electronics to help keep their household running should understand that maintenance is required to keep these devices running effectively. These tips can help keep gadgets in tip-top shape:

• Protect devices from extreme temperatures. Electronic devices are designed to operate under an array of conditions, but pushing those conditions can result in damage. Most devices are fine between temperatures of 32 F and 90 F. But don’t leave electronics in the car, in a sunny window or outdoors.

• Clean devices regularly. Refer to the user’s manual for the proper ways to clean the devices you rely on each day. Some may require a specific cleaner or a particular fabric to help ensure the device isn’t scratched or damaged. Spray cleaners on a cloth and then wipe off devices, rather than spraying cleaners directly on electronics. Try a can of compressed air to remove dust from crevices or vents.

• Invest in a surge protector. While surge protector power strips multiply the number of available outlets, they also serve a more important purpose. These devices will cut off power to plugged-in electronics if there is a power surge, helping to prevent damage.

• Don’t overcharge. It’s essential to have gadgets charged and ready to go, but overcharging can reduce battery life. Do not leave devices charging overnight. Battery University ™, a free educational website offering battery information, says that nickel- and lithium-based batteries should be stored with a 40 percent state-of-charge. This level minimizes age-related capacity loss and keeps the battery in good condition.

• Use protective cases. Cases can prevent damage if devices are dropped and also may safeguard against scratched screens. Cases and covers also minimize dust and dirt on devices.

• Keep software up-to-date. Security issues may arise when software is not updated, and programs may not run effectively or be compatible with others. Along the same vein, routinely clean out unused files to free up space, and clear cookies and browser histories to maintain speed and efficiency.

Routine maintenance can keep electronics working properly when they’re needed the most.

Tips for Effective Remote Learning

An increased reliance on virtual home instruction has many students rethinking their organizational strategies and daily school schedules. Learning at home is different from being in a traditional classroom environment, but with some effective strategies, students can persevere without missing a beat.

Stick to a schedule

Many students are successful because they follow a schedule. The Center for Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning says that routines and schedules are important because they influence a child’s emotional and cognitive development. Children feel secure with schedules, which may help them recognize what’s expected of them. When learning at home, students should strive to maintain as consistent a schedule as possible, including bedtimes, wake times, hours devoted to learning, and time to get outside or engage in downtime activities.

Connect live if possible

There are many free tools and resources available that enable teachers to provide live video lessons or to record them so students can watch them later. Similarly, social networking apps and virtual meeting programs enable students to connect digitally. This can be helpful for collaborative learning assignments or just to see a familiar face.

Stick to tools that work

Once students find apps or systems that work, they should stick with them, offers Khan Academy, an educational tutoring resource. There are many factors outside of one’s control during virtual instruction, but maintaining consistency with tools and schedules is one way to feel more confident and secure.

Check student accounts frequently

Just like students, teachers may be learning as they go in regard to remote learning strategies. Students should be sure to check school email accounts or other places where teachers post assignments a few times per day so that they stay on top of all assignments and are aware of due dates.

Reach out to instructors

Allegheny College suggests students contact their teachers if they are unsure of how to participate in remote learning environments. Ask questions about assignments, get clarification on key topics and be sure to tune into any remote chats or virtual “office hours.”

Stay in touch with guidance, if needed

Remote learning is a new experience for many students, and there may be certain struggles or road blocks. It can be easy to grow frustrated with equipment failures or lack of in-person interaction. Schools employ qualified therapists and guidance counselors who are just a click, call or email away if issues need to be talked through. Students should utilize all resources made available to them.

Virtual home instruction can be made even easier with some extra assistance and guidance.

Tips for Grabbing the Best Deals on School Clothes

Children and parents often look forward to the dawn of a new school year. But before the first homeroom session can take place, parents may need to take their students clothes shopping.

According to a 2018 survey by Deloitte, parents spend an average of $510 per household on apparel, school supplies, electronic gadgets, and other items for their kids’ return to school. The back-to-school season runs from July through September, during which American households alone spend $27.6 billion, which is second only to the holiday season in regard to the most lucrative times for retailers.

Apparel is a large part of back-to-school shopping. Many parents find they need to outfit their kids with a new wardrobes each year. Jeans and leggings that fit like a glove in June may only reach mid-calf by Labor Day. To make the shopping process less harried and more productive, parents can employ these strategies.

Take inventory

Go through kids’ wardrobes and see what can be salvaged and what might need to go. This is the perfect opportunity to put aside gently used, outgrown items that may be passed on to someone else who can use them. Be sure to make a list of any items that the school requires, particularly in regard to uniforms or dress codes. By knowing what’s in stock in the closet, you’ll have a clear idea of what you need to buy.

Check for tax-free discounts

Some states or cities offer tax-free or discount shopping incentives, which can add up to considerable savings. It may be well worth the effort to stock up on necessities during these times.

Sign up for loyalty programs

If yours is a child who prefers certain brands, sign up early in the year for such brands’ loyalty clubs. For example, the popular retailer Hollister has Club Cali that, with each purchase, grants points toward discounts. Plus, you may be privy to sale advertisements before the general public.

Get enough to get by

While certain clothing sales happen between July and August, oftentimes the real savings begin in October, according to the budgeting resource Money Crashers. Wait until that time to buy the bulk of kids’ school clothes. After all, the first weeks of school are usually warm, and summer clothing will still suffice with a few new items thrown in to freshen up wardrobes.

Invest in quality shoes

Sneakers and other shoes can be expensive. However, investing in quality brands can help you avoid having to buy shoes frequently. Watch for shoe sales and stock up on coupons. Many stores offer “buy-one, get-one half off” during the back-to-school season. In addition to these tips, save more by shopping overstock stores or warehouse clubs for name-brand items at lower prices.

Finding Balance With Extracurricular Activities

Many high schools, colleges and universities emphasize their goals of producing well-rounded students. Extracurricular activities teach students important life lessons, provide them opportunities to socialize and often stimulate their minds and bodies in ways that differ from the stimulation provided in the classroom.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau states that, in 2014, 57 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 participate in at least one after-school extracurricular activity. Children are more likely to participate in sports than clubs or lessons, such as music, dance and language, but each of these activities can be beneficial to students’ development.

Students who participate in extracurricular activities may want to limit their participation to 20 hours per week. This is according to a group of professors from Stanford University and Villanova University who have been collecting data on the issue since 2007.

In their report “Extracurricular Activity in High-Performing School Contexts: Stress Buster, Booster or Buffer?”, Jerusha Conner and Sarah Miles found that 87 percent of kids who would be considered to have packed schedules were perfectly happy unless they were doing more than four hours a day.

The “over-scheduling hypothesis” may be overhyped. This is the concern that too much organized activity participation leads to poor developmental outcomes. This hypothesis also suggests that hectic schedules also undermine family functioning, detract from schoolwork and possibly increase the risk of copycat behaviors and excessive competitiveness.

However, in the study “The Over-Scheduling Hypothesis Revisited: Intensity of Organized Activity Participation During Adolescence and Young Adult Outcomes,” researchers J.L. Mahoney and Andrea Vest determined that, controlling for demographic factors and baseline adjustment, extracurricular intensity was a significant predictor of positive outcomes and unrelated to indicators of problematic adjustment (e.g., psychological distress, substance use, antisocial behavior) at young adulthood.

Even though extracurricular activities are largely positive — even when schedules are packed — parents need to be aware of the diminishing returns of too many activities. This is something called the “threshold effect.” Benefits from extracurriculars can level off when too many activities are being juggled.

If a child is experiencing anxiety, sleeplessness or depression, or seems overly stressed, it could be time to reduce students’ time spent doing structured activities. It’s essential that families use the cues given by kids to assess what students can handle. And children should be encouraged to be honest with their parents about their extracurricular activities as well.

Tips for a Healthy School Year

Students are most likely to get sick when school starts because being at school put children’s immune systems to the test, offers The Mayo Clinic. Young children who are in close proximity to others in large groups tend to spread organisms like bacteria and viruses that cause illness. Breaking the cycle can take some work, but it’s possible to make this a healthy school year.

Encourage handwashing

Frequent handwashing is a great way to prevent illness. Handwashing habits are essential for school-aged children and should be taught as soon as possible. Children should wash their hands after they use the bathroom and before they eat. If they’ve been playing outside or have interacted with children who are sick, handwashing can help remove some of the germs lingering on their hands. Antibacterial wipes are another option, but they may not be as effective as washing hands with warm, soapy water.

Stop (some) sharing

Sharing develops good manners and can foster new friendships. But children should be discouraged from sharing food, drinks and other personal items. Once the item has been placed in a child’s mouth, it should not be shared.

Take a sick day

Rare is the student who will never come down with an illness. When kids get sick, keep them at home. Schools may have guidelines indicating when it is acceptable for children to return to school, and it’s important that parents adhere to those guidelines so illnesses cannot spread around the school.

Promote adequate sleep and nutrition

While adults may need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, children often require more. The National Sleep Foundation recommends eight to 13 hours of sleep a night for school-aged children. Begin adjusting sleep schedules during the latter part of summer vacation so that children can readjust to their regular sleep schedules. Parents also should feed kids nutritious diets consisting of a variety of foods. Avoid high-calorie junk foods, reserving such items only as special treats every so often.

Donate cleaning supplies

Some schools may be underfunded and may not have enough supplies to keep all of the classrooms and surfaces clean. Parents can help by donating cleaning wipes and sprays so that students and teachers can thrive in clean, healthy environments.

Tips to Prevent Summer Brain Drain

Studies show that summer brain drain can be a formidable force, setting kids’ progress back over the long break from the classroom. But you can help kids avoid losing their academic mojo. Here’s how.

Take a Hike

Not all learning has to happen indoors or while sitting still. Take a family nature walk and ask kids to pay special attention to the plant and animal species you encounter on your journey, as well as any special rock formations or other geological features you see, taking notes and photographs as you go. Once back home, do some research about the most interesting things that you saw.

Make Music

Music education is important for budding minds, and learning music at home in summer can be easy and affordable. Stock your household with a portable keyboard designed for students in mind. For example, the CT-X700 boasts a high-quality sound system, as well as features that are perfect for student musicians, like a six-track recorder, a library of 100 built-in songs, and the Step-Up Lesson system, which allows students to learn the songs with the display showing proper fingering and notation. Its USB-MIDI port connects to any Mac, PC, Android or iOS device with no drivers or installation needed. The included music rest is designed to support tablets, and the built-in smartphone shelf holds your device as you use the keyboard with favorite music apps.

Read Outdoors

Summer is the perfect opportunity for students to delve deep into what interests them most. Make a day of it. First stop: the library or bookstore, where kids can find reading materials dealing with their favorite topics. Then, pack a picnic lunch and find a shady spot in a local park or your own backyard, to read outdoors. At the end of the day, everyone can discuss what he or she read.

Math Fun

Make math more fun with a free, all-in-one web-based mathematics resource like Classpad.net, that allows users to draw geometry figures freehand and input calculations as they would on real scratch paper. Geared for K-12+ mathematics students, the app is designed to be equally usable by keyboard/mouse and touchscreen-based platforms, so that students can keep up their math skills wherever their summer adventures take them.

Take a Vacation

Going somewhere new and interesting? In advance of your trip, have kids spend some time learning about the history and culture of your destination. If you’re going abroad, they can even learn some basics of a foreign language.

To keep minds active all summer long, be sure to combine learning and fun.

How to Help Identify and Stop Cyberbullying

Today’s students have many new things to contend with as they navigate the school year. As a greater number of schools transition to providing lessons, homework and tests on digital devices, students spend much more time online. This connectivity can have many positive results. However, the same availability also opens up students of all ages to various dangers.

One of these dangers is a more invasive form of bullying called “cyberbullying.” The global organization DoSomething.org says nearly half of kids have been bullied online, with one in four saying it has happened more than once.

Cyberbullying has grown as access to computers and devices that offer an online connection has grown. Bullying is now just as likely to occur online as it is on the playground. Cyberbullies may bully classmates through email, social media, instant messaging, and other social applications. Since cyberbullying tends to target emotions and mental well-being, and reaches beyond the school campus into a student’s home, its impact can be even more serious.

According to the Megan Meier Foundation, which campaigns against bullying, peer victimization during adolescence is associated with higher rates of depression, suicide ideation and suicide attempts. In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, according to data compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Cyberbullying occurs in many different forms. Here are some types of cyberbullying educators and parents can look for if they suspect their students or children are being bullied.

  • Flaming: This is a type of bullying that occurs in an online forum or group conversation. It’s achieved by sending angry or insulting messages directly to the person. Flaming is similar to harassment, but harassment usually involves privately sent messages.
  • Outing: This type of bullying is a sharing of personal and private information about a person publicly. When information has been disseminated throughout the internet, one has been “outed.”
  • Fraping: Fraping occurs when someone logs into another’s social media account and impersonates him or her. This could be a child or an adult impersonating the person and posting inappropriate content in his or her name. Sometimes this type of bullying is also called “posing” or “catfishing.”
  • Masquerading: Masquerading occurs when bullies create fake profiles so they can harass someone anonymously. The bully is likely someone the person being targeted knows well.
  • Exclusion: Sometimes direct targeting is not necessary. Students can be bullied simply by being deliberately left out, such as not being invited to parties or encouraged to participate online conversations.

Securing privacy online is one way to prevent cyberbullying attacks. Students also can be selective about who they share personal information with or whose social media friendships they accept. Thinking before posting and paying attention to language and tone can help curb cyberbullying as well. Students should stick together and report instances of cyberbullying if it becomes an issue.

Back-to-School: Physical Examination Tips

School time requires having all of the necessary supplies, clothing and gear ready for the year. In addition, preparing for a new school year often involves providing updated physical health information to the school administration.

The requirements for health screenings and reporting may vary between school districts. Some physical examinations need to be conducted annually, while others may only need updating at certain intervals, such as when kids transition from elementary school to middle school or middle school to high school. Updated physical forms also may be required at the start of a sports season.

Health screenings are intended to detect problems that may interfere with learning. Physical exams may indicate issues that can hamper progress or shed light on undiagnosed problems that may require further assessment and necessitate customized learning plans to help students succeed. Physical exams are also a way to ensure students’ immunizations are up to date.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, physical exams typically are completed by students’ primary care providers. Some school districts offer free or low-cost health assessments through school providers as well.

Students who will be traveling for school may be required to meet the health requirements of their destination country. For example, medical students admitted to a Canadian university may be required to get a medical exam, according to the Government of Canada.

Visiting the doctor, nurse practitioner or a school-provided medical professional may not make school-aged children too happy. To make the process go smoothly, consider these suggestions.

Ask About Electronic Health Records

EHRs are secure technology that provides easy access to vaccination records, health history, appointment reminders, and even prescription information. Some providers even make it possible for patients to directly access their health information through a secure login, helping save time.

Make Appointments During School Hours

After-school appointments are peak times for pediatric offices and medical clinics. Sign students out of school early to visit the doctor for medical exams. The staff likely will be less harried, and you can spend more time asking questions and completing forms. Schools may not count the absence if a doctor’s note is provided.

Don’t Forget The Forms

Bring the right paperwork so that the staff can fill out what is necessary for the school, camp or sports league.

Know Your Insurance Guidelines

Physical exams may be part of routine well visits. Insurance companies institute their own policies regarding how frequently physicals can be conducted (usually annually). Be sure to schedule the appointment accordingly.

Physical examinations are on many parents’ back-to-school to-do lists. Certain strategies can make physicals easier for adults and children alike.