Category: School

7 Ways to Make Mornings Less Hectic

Many families find the rush is on to make it to school and work on time each morning. Feeling rushed in the morning is a recipe for added stress. Rushing through things is a poor way to begin a day, and those feelings of uneasiness can put a damper on the rest of the day ahead.

Making mornings less hectic involves a few different strategies that parents and kids can easily incorporate into their daily routines.

· Wake up slightly earlier. Getting up earlier than normal, even if it’s just 15 to 20 minutes before you’re accustomed to getting out of bed, can help reduce morning stress. Resist the temptation to hit the snooze button over and over again. A few extra minutes each morning can make you feel more relaxed and make for a smooth, stress-free start to the day.

· Get some work done the night before. Prepare lunches the night before and have them ready in the refrigerator. In addition, lay your clothes for the following day out each night. This saves time and takes a couple more things off your morning to-do list.

· Ease back into a routine. As a new school year dawns or a long vacation comes to an end, begin going to bed earlier and start waking up earlier as well. This can make the transition from carefree mornings to busy mornings go more smoothly.

· Prep backpacks in the evening. Look through folders, sign paperwork, check assignments, and do whatever is you need to do the night before to save your family from having to scramble in the morning. This ensures those permission slips get signed and items make it back into school bags.

· Opt for school lunch a few times. Look ahead on the school lunch menu and speak with children about which meals they enjoy. Let kids purchase school lunch on those days to give yourself a day off from lunch detail.

· Have quick breakfast foods available. Smoothies, cereal bars, oatmeal, and whole-grain cereals are fast and nutritious ways to start the day.

· Carpool whenever possible. Busy families can save themselves extra work by proposing a neighborhood carpool. Sharing school dropoff detail frees time up for parents once or twice a week, and kids may enjoy traveling to school with their friends.

Mornings can be tricky when family members are getting ready for school and work at the same time. By practicing a few daily rituals, it’s possible to curb the rush and start the day happier and more relaxed.

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Recognize & Avoid Youth Sports Injuries

Children benefit in various ways from their involvement in youth sports. Being part of a team fosters feelings of belonging, inspires collaborative play and strategy and can be an excellent form of exercise. Still, despite the benefits, parents often worry about the injury risk their children face on the playing fields.

Those fears are justified. A Safe Kids Worldwide survey of emergency room visits found that a young athlete visits a hospital emergency room for a sports-related injury more than a million times a year, or about every 25 seconds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 2.6 million children 0 to 19 years old are treated in the emergency department each year for sports- and recreation-related injuries.

Some of the more common injuries young children face have to do with the skeletal and muscular systems of the body. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons stresses that children’s bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing, making them more susceptible to injury. Fortunately, with some education, many youth-sport injuries can be prevented.

Sprains and strains

Sprains are injuries to ligaments, or the bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connect two or more bones at a joint. Strains impact a muscle or a tendon, which connects muscles to bones. Clinical research has linked acute strains and sprains to improper warm-up before sports, fatigue and previous injuries. Preparticipation conditioning and stretching can help reduce the risk of injury.

Periostitis

Periostitis is commonly known as “shin splints.” This is an overuse injury that occurs in athletes who are engaged in activities that involve rapid deceleration. Periostitis causes inflammation of the band of tissue that surrounds bones known as the periosteum, and typically affects people who repetitively jump, run or lift heavy weights.

To head off potential pain in the shins, young athletes can gradually build up their tolerance for physical activity. Supportive shoes or orthotic inserts may also help. Incorporating cross-training into a regimen also can work.

Repetitive use activities

Swimmers, tennis players, pitchers, and quarterbacks may experience something called a repetitive use injury. This is pain in an area of the body that is used over and over again. Inflammation of muscles and tendons may appear, but repetitive use injuries also may result in stress fractures, which the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases defines as hairline fractures in bones that are subjected to repeated stress.

Rest between exercises can help alleviate these types of injuries. Ice, compression, elevation and immobilization may be used if pain is persistent.

Growth plate injuries

Kids Health says growth plates are the areas of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones in the legs and arms in children and adolescents. A growth plate produces new bone tissue. If the growth plate is injured, it cannot do its job properly. That may contribute to deformed bones, shorter limbs or arthritis. Growth plate injuries most often result from falling or twisting.

While there’s no surefire way to prevent growth plate injuries, getting proper and immediate care after an injury can help prevent future problems. An orthopedic surgeon has the expertise to diagnose and treat these injuries.

Youth sports injuries are common but preventable. Warming up, being in good physical shape and not overtaxing a growing body can help kids avoid pain and impairment.

How Families Can Cut Screen Time

No matter where you look, screens are everywhere. The proliferation of easily portable tablets and smartphones means many people, adults and children alike, are never too far from the nearest screen. While that accessibility has dramatically changed the way many people live their lives, excessive exposure to screen time can produce a host of unwanted side effects.

Steven Gortmaker, a professor of the practice of health sociology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has studied the negative effects of excessive screen time on children since the 1980s. According to Gortmaker, such effects include higher rates of obesity among kids who watch too much television and difficulty sleeping among youngsters with access to small screens, such as the screens of smartphones. In addition, a 2012 study published in the journal Psychiatry Research linked screen time with impaired cognitive function in young males.

But adults are not immune to the effects of excessive screen time, either. Spending significant time being sedentary and staring at screens can increase adults’ risk for cardiovascular disease. An Australian study published in the December 2012 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, compared with persons who watch no television, those who spend a lifetime average of six hours per day watching television can expect to live 4.8 fewer years.

So what can families do to cut back on their screen time? While it likely won’t be easy to put down smartphones and tablets and turn off laptops and televisions, the following are a handful of ways for families to spend less time staring at screens.


· Remove televisions from bedrooms. Parents may find it impossible to gauge, much less control, how much time their kids spend watching television when youngsters have TV’s in their bedrooms. Though this will likely be met with considerable resistance, remove televisions from bedrooms in your home. Set a positive example for kids by removing your own bedroom television as well. Come kids’ bedtimes, make sure all devices, including smartphones and tablets, are left in common areas of the home rather than bedrooms so kids are not tempted to watch videos instead of falling asleep.

· Institute a “no screens” rule during meals. Many parents grew up in households that did not allow televisions to be on during meals, and while the times might have changed with respect to the technology, similar rules can still prevail today. A “no screens” rule during meals gives parents and their kids time to catch up, bond and foster stronger relationships.

· Do not use the television for background noise. Turn the television off when it’s serving as just background noise. If you need background noise, turn on some music instead.

· Log screen time. Logging screen time for each member of the family can provide an estimate of just how much time the whole family spends staring at screens. Encourage each member of the family to spend as much time being physically active as he or she spends staring at screens. Set goals for each member of the family to reduce their screen time, even rewarding those who reach their goals.

Reducing screen time can improve overall health and help family members reconnect with one another. FP165050

How to Save on School Supplies

Back to school season can be as expensive for parents as it is exciting for students. Once the initial letdown of the end of summer vacation wears off, many kids are excited to return to school, where they can see their friends, study their favorite subjects and participate in extracurricular activities.

Parents of school-aged youngsters may share in that excitement while also knowing that back to school season can stretch their budgets. One of the ways to salvage those budgets is to save on school supplies. Fortunately, there are several ways parents can do just that.

· Be patient. Shopping early can save shoppers money in many instances, but parents may benefit by exercising patience when it comes to buying school supplies for their children. Teachers often give students lists of supplies they will need for each class, and parents who wait to receive such lists can avoid spending money on items their kids won’t need. Even if you wait it out, you may be able to get a head start, as some teachers may post supply lists on school websites, while others might email lists to parents before back to school season hits full swing.

· Take inventory. If you have more than one child, chances are you already have lots of school supplies around the house. Dust off kids’ backpacks and study areas from last school year to determine which supplies you need to buy and which you already have. Going forward, encourage kids to store their supplies in a predetermined area once the school year ends, as this will make next year’s inventory that much easier to examine and assess.

· Spend more now to save later. While inexpensive supplies can be hard to resist, such items likely won’t withstand the test of time, forcing you to spend time and money each year buying replacement supplies. Paying more now for certain items, including stronger backpacks and more highly rated calculators, may end up saving you money in the long run, even if the initial pill is somewhat tough to swallow.

· Use technology to your advantage. Department stores and businesses that sell school supplies, such as pharmacies and office stores, may or may not discount too many items once back to school season hits full swing. But savvy parents can still find deals by using technology to their advantage when shopping for school supplies. Download apps like RetailMeNot to your smartphone and enable its updates so your phone essentially notifies you of any discounts the moment you walk into a given store. If you don’t receive any updates, search for discounts via the app or the Internet as you shop. Chances are strong that there are deals to be had, even if you don’t learn of the deals until you arrive at the store.

School supplies can be expensive, but parents can employ several strategies to save on school supplies now and in the future.


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Creative Ways to Cut College Costs

The cost of college tuition continues to increase, and college graduates are feeling the burn of that trend when the time comes to begin repaying their student loans.

According to an analysis from higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Cappex, an online resource for students seeking college scholarships, members of the class of 2016 will graduate with an average student loan debt of just over $37,000. That projection, which was based on federal student loan data and variables including tuition inflation, would be an all-time high. Things are not much better in Canada, where the 2015 Graduating Student Survey by the Canadian University Survey Consortium estimated the average member of the class of 2015 graduated with $27,000 in debt.

Though many prospective college students are beginning to question if college degrees are worth taking on the kind of debt many students must take on to continue their educations after high school, statistics still indicate that college graduates have far greater lifetime earning potential than men and women who enter the professional arena with only high school diplomas.

So what can prospective college students do to avoid graduating without tens of thousands of dollars in debt? The answer might not be so difficult.

· Apply to tuition-free schools. Many students and parents might be surprised to learn that there are several tuition-free schools. Admittance to these schools is competitive, but students considering equally competitive, high-tuition alternatives might make strong candidates for admission to tuition-free schools.

· Apply to fixed-tuition schools. If tuition-free schools are not an option, students can save money by applying for admittance to fixed-tuition schools. Such schools guarantee that the tuition students pay in their freshman year will not increase during the ensuing three years. (Note: Tuition may increase if a student needs a fifth year of schooling.) That can lead to considerable savings, as many schools’ tuitions increase dramatically in just four years.

· Begin at a two-year college. Two-year colleges typically charge considerably lower tuitions than four-year colleges and universities. Students who want to save money may benefit by enrolling in a two-year college out of high school and getting all of their prerequisite courses out of the way at a more budget-friendly cost. When considering this option, make sure credits at the two-year college fully transfer to the four-year school students hope to enroll in after earning their associate’s degrees.

· Remain in-state for undergraduate degrees. In-state tuition at public universities remains a considerable bargain over out-of-state tuition or tuition at private universities. Students planning to do postgraduate work might benefit by enrolling in in-state public universities and saving their money to finance their postgraduate educations. Students who hope to attend a public university in a state that borders their home state may be eligible for a border waiver, which grants them in-state tuition even though they attended high school outside of the state.

Attending college has never been more expensive, but students and their parents can explore various options that can help reduce the cost of college tuition.


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Why Music Education Matters

Come the 2016-2017 school year, the music and arts budget in the Los Angeles Unified School District will reach its highest point in a dozen years. While that’s great news for students, it also illustrates the sad fact that arts and music programs have taken a considerable hit in recent decades, when arts education fell victim to budget cuts.

The benefits of music education extend far beyond getting kids to tap their toes. The National Association for Music Education lists the following benefits among the many reasons to support music education in schools.

· Music training helps develop language skills. Studies have shown that music training contributes to the physical development of the part of the left side of the brain associated with processing language. A 2005 study from researchers at Stanford University found that mastering a musical instrument may also improve reading skills, which can benefit students both inside and outside the classroom.

· Music training can improve hand-eye coordination. Studies have linked long-term music training to improved hand-eye coordination. That is likely connected to the motor skills children develop when playing musical instruments. Without those instruments, those motor skills may not develop as strongly.

· Music improves concentration. Even students who cannot play a musical instrument can still benefit academically from simply listening to music. In 2007, a research team from the Stanford University School of Medicine found that music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention. Today’s students deal with numerous distractions, from smartphones to tablets to social media, but those who routinely listen to certain types of music might find it easier to block out those distractions and focus on their work.

· Music can help students’ emotional development. A 2003 study commissioned by Chorus America found musicians are more likely than the average person to be involved in charity work as volunteers and donors. The NAfME also notes that music students may be more likely to exhibit empathy toward other cultures.

· Music can improve self-esteem. In a study examining 117 fourth grade students attending public school in Montreal, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin found that children who received piano lessons weekly for three years had higher self-esteem than children who were not given piano lessons during the same period. Neither group had participated in formal music instruction before the study, and students in both groups reported similar levels of self-esteem prior to participating in the study.

Music education can enrich the lives of young students in a myriad of ways, potentially contributing to happier, more fulfilling lives.


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Help Kids Get Ready for Fall Sports Season

Summer is a season of relaxation, especially for school-aged children who are not yet old enough to work. Such youngsters no doubt enjoy the chance to spend summer days lounging poolside or at the beach, all without a care in the world or any homework to complete.

Though summer is synonymous with R&R, parents of young athletes who hope to compete in scholastic athletics when the school year begins in autumn may need to take steps to ensure their kids aren’t at risk of injury once the curtain comes up on fall sports season.

· Examine and replace equipment if necessary. The right equipment can protect kids from injury and help them realize their full athletic potential. But damaged or outdated equipment can increase kids’ risk of injury. Examine kids’ equipment long before fall sports season begins so you have time to bargain hunt should anything need to be replaced.

· Schedule a physical for your child. Many school districts mandate that athletes receive and pass physicals before they can compete. Speak with the athletic director at your child’s school to learn the guidelines that govern athletic physicals. The physical will need to be conducted by a predetermined date, but you may also need the physical to be conducted after a certain date for it to be considered valid. Speak with your child’s physician if any problems are found during the physical.

· Let kids heal. Kids’ schedules are busier than ever before, and many youngsters play several sports during the school year. Summer vacation may be the only extended period all year that youngsters’ bodies get to heal. While it’s important that kids stay physically active throughout the summer, make sure they don’t overdo it, as you should emphasize the importance of rest.

· Gradually get back in the swing of things. While rest gives kids’ bodies a chance to heal and develop, it’s important that young athletes stay in shape over the summer. As the fall sports season draws near, help kids gradually get back in the swing of things. Tryouts tend to be physically demanding, so kids who have not lifted a finger all summer may be at risk of injury or missing the cut. Let kids ease back into regular exercise to make sure they are not starting from scratch come their first tryout.

· Speak with coaches. Coaches can be great assets to parents who want to make sure their youngsters enjoy the summer without sacrificing their chances of making the team in the fall. Speak with kids’ coaches to determine if there is any area your son or daughter can work on over the summer to improve his or her chances of making the team. Make sure kids are the ones leading the charge to improve their games; otherwise, they may feel pressured into doing so and that can take away the fun of playing sports.

Scholastic athletes should take advantage of the opportunity to relax and recover that summer presents. But athletes who hope to compete in the fall can still work with their parents to ensure they’re ready once the school year and sports season begins.


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Easy ways to Go Green at School

The go-green movement may have humble beginnings, but now men and women across the globe make everyday decisions with the environment in mind. Private citizens and large companies now consider the environment before making decisions, as eco-friendly practices have extended into all aspects of life.

As homeowners, renters and business owners are busy doing their parts to protect the planet, students and teachers can follow suit. School is a great place to instill a passion for protecting the environment, and students and teachers alike can employ the following strategies to further their schools’ on-campus efforts to protect the environment.


· Begin with education. Schools can implement coursework that revolves around teaching students about current threats to the environment and what changes can have the biggest impact. Today’s students will one day become the men and women who run the country, and if they are on board with environmental concerns, they may be more likely to push for greater change.

·Recycle as much as possible. Many schools already have recycling bins in their classrooms and cafeterias. But other items, from batteries to books to pieces of wood from shop class, can be recycled, too.

· Purchase green school supplies. Green school supplies include water-based paints and recycled notebooks. Manufacturers even make cornstarch pens. When shopping for school supplies, look for supplies made from recycled materials or items that are organic or all-natural.

· Use green building materials. When the time comes to renovate or expand schools, educators and parents alike can express their support for environmentally friendly building materials, including reclaimed wood and bamboo flooring. Classrooms and other spaces can be equipped with LED or CFL light bulbs to save energy.

· Rely on digital technology. Many classrooms now employ smartboards and tablets in the classroom in lieu of paper books to help reduce waste and clutter. In addition, white boards have replaced chalkboards in many schools. Encourage students to hand assignments in electronically to cut down on paper waste. Schools also may have digital notebooks and websites that contain pertinent information, so the schools no longer send home paper notices.

· Book environmental field trips. Class trips can revolve around environmental issues, including exploring habitats of endangered species or studying landscapes that may be shifting due to climate change.

Environmental action is happening all across the globe. Students and educators can play important roles in these efforts by inspiring and implementing change.


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Homework Help: Creating a Helpful Homework Atmosphere for your Children

Classrooms conducive to learning may go a long way toward helping students understand the subjects they study in school, but the environment kids encounter at home also plays a big role in how well kids do in their studies. A homework-friendly atmosphere at home can facilitate learning, and there are many ways parents can create such an environment for their school-aged children.


· Designate a homework zone in a distraction-free area of your home. Some youngsters are easily distracted, and those distractions come in many forms. A living room where the television is blaring, a noisy kitchen where dinner is being prepared and a room where pets can roam free are not ideal homework areas, as each can take kids’ attention away from their assignments. Designate a room in your home that is quiet and well lit so kids can do their homework free from distraction.

· Choose the right location for the homework room. When choosing an area of your home where kids will do their homework, avoid rooms adjacent to the kitchen and living room, as these rooms tend to be popular and subject to heavy foot traffic. But don’t choose a room that’s too far away from the hustle and bustle, such as the basement, as that may make kids feel as though they are being punished. In addition, you want to be able to periodically check in on kids to see if they need help and make sure they aren’t spending their homework time surfing the Internet or procrastinating.

· Keep the homework room clean. A cluttered homework room may be less appealing to children, and such disorganization also can distract kids from the tasks at hand. Encourage kids to keep their homework rooms clean, and help them clean up if need be. Supplies and other items kids need should be easily accessible in the homework room so kids are not wasting time looking for items they need to complete their homework.

· Let kids rest or relax before starting their homework. Another element of a good homework atmosphere is letting kids unwind between getting home from school and cracking open the books. A break between school and homework time can help kids focus better on their studies. In the interim between arriving home from school and starting on their homework, give kids a healthy snack that can provide an extra jolt of energy they can use once they start their homework.

· Evaluate how the homework zone is working. Once an ample amount of time has passed, examine how kids are performing on their homework assignments. If they are doing well, then there is no reason to break up the current routine. If they are struggling, ask them if there is anything about the current setup they dislike and address those issues accordingly.

Kids rarely look forward to doing their homework. But the right atmosphere can make homework seem like less of a chore and more of an opportunity for kids to apply themselves.


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Make School Mornings Easier

School day mornings can be hectic, as getting kids ready for school and out the door on time is not always easy. Working parents may find school day mornings especially difficult, as their own work schedules can make mornings feel even more rushed. Fortunately, parents can employ several strategies to free up time in the morning so everyone starts their days off in a more relaxing atmosphere.


· Wake up earlier. Sleep might seem like a precious commodity, but waking up just 10 to 15 minutes earlier can remove some of the stress from weekday mornings without costing you a lot of sack time. Let kids sleep in until their normal wakeup time, using your extra 10 or 15 minutes to shower or enjoy your morning cup of coffee before the house is abuzz with activity.

· Tackle certain chores the night before. Delaying certain chores until you wake up makes for a hectic morning, so tackle as many morning chores as possible before you go to bed for the night. Prepare school lunches, lay clothes out for yourself and your children, and make sure kids have their backpacks packed and ready to go before they go to bed. Each of these things may only take a few minutes, but when left for the morning, they can add up to a substantial amount of time.

· Encourage youngsters to pick up the pace. Some people are morning people, while others dread setting their alarms for early morning hours. Kids who fall into the latter group may drag their feet in the morning, but parents should offer encouragement when kids are moving slowly in the morning. Allowing your frustration to show may only make kids less fond of mornings, so remind them as nicely as possible that everyone has a schedule to stick to if they seem to be dragging their feet.

· Keep the television off. If watching the television is ingrained in your morning routine, try going a few days without it to see if this makes it easier to get out the door on time. Kids might grow distracted by morning cartoons, and even adults may get caught up in morning news shows or other forecasts. Eliminating television from your morning routine can save time and also may help your family grow closer, as you will have more distraction-free time to speak to one another. In addition to turning off the television, resist the urge to turn on your devices or scan work emails when getting ready in the morning.

Parents know that school day mornings can be hectic. But there are several ways to make such mornings go more smoothly so everyone gets where they need to be on time.


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