8 Ways to Support Your Kids in School

When you become a parent, you also become your child’s first teacher. The examples you set and the lessons you teach them are the foundation for their entire lives, even within formal education. With this thought in mind, it bears stating that being present in their lives and their educations is one of the most important aspects of their lives you can be involved in.

Sometimes it can be difficult, juggling it all and trying to maintain a presence for them, but it is possible.

1. Be Involved With School Staff and Teachers

Meeting your child’s teachers and getting to know who’s who among the staff at the beginning of the school year can help establish a partnership that serves to benefit your child’s education. The teacher may have many students to contend with, but you can help ease the load and lessen their stress if you show you want to be involved. Your children will see your involvement and feel emotionally supported as well.

2. Keep Track of How Your Child is Doing

Doing this in order to punish them for bad grades will only stress both of you out, but ensuring you keep up with their needs is a significant way you can have an impact on their learning. Communicating with their teacher and seeing where their weaknesses and strengths are can allow you the headway to aid them before they get too far behind.

3. Help Them With Homework

Every child dreads homework. After a long day at school, most just want to be done and go play, but this isn’t always conducive to proper learning or information retention. If you can’t help them with their homework directly, it might be prudent to give them a special, quiet place to work. Always check in with them to make sure things are getting done, rewarding them if they finish.

If you might be worried that you can’t help them with homework because you don’t know the subject or language very well, finding someone who can help may be a wise decision.

4. Have a Positive, Praising Attitude

An overlooked aspect of children’s education is their mental health, and constant criticisms have been shown in studies to reduce both productivity and self-esteem. You are your child’s first source of validation, and as such, you need to be their biggest fan. Without sacrificing their learning potential, it’s important to support their strengths and praise them where they deserve it, while not letting them lag behind with their weaknesses.

By showing genuine interest in your children’s education and giving them positive, constructive feedback, you can feel their enthusiasm to learn.

5. Don’t Underestimate Organization

Having a routine, a schedule or an organized way of handling your child’s curriculum can reduce stress not only for you but for your children as well. There are ways to organize at home for your children, such as designated areas for their home studies, whether it’s for homework or distant learning. Another way is through an online school agenda, which stores everything you need within the cloud and reduces the likelihood that anything gets lost or forgotten.

6. Monitor Screen Time

Ensure your children aren’t spending an excessive amount of time playing video games or mindlessly watching the internet or TV programs. Practical media usage is important, as is recreational. Finding a balance between screen time and keeping your children safe is something not to be overlooked.

7. Encourage Independence

Micromanaging every aspect of your child’s education is something you want to avoid, both for your time management and your child’s stress levels. Be involved, but not overt. Help them develop their own routines and rules and show them how to follow through. Taking responsibility is an important life skill to learn, and doing so early can set good foundations.

8. Talk With Your Child

Talking and listening are important in equal measure; validating your child’s feelings can help them feel seen and heard by you, their first teacher. Never underestimate the value of being an open-source of communication and a safe place for your children.

Success!

Becoming involved with your school and getting to know your child’s teacher will also make your aware of the needs of school. You may have time to volunteer or assist by providing free school supplies.  As a parent, you want nothing more than the happiness and success of your children, hopefully, this article has helped aim you in the right direction.

Young People and a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

Young People Healthy Relationship with Social Media

For those of us raised in the landline generation, social media can feel like terrifying new terrain. No sooner did we get our heads around Facebook, than it was deemed uncool by the younger generation, who quickly moved onto Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. It’s tempting to embrace being a ‘tech dinosaur’ and scoff at the latest craze, but as parents this is a risky strategy.

Our children’s lives are moving more and more online, into a rapidly changing, unmarshalled digital world. It’s essential we understand how they’re using social platforms, to keep them safe and to support their mental health. So, here’s 5 top tips to engage with our children’s virtual world and help them form a healthy relationship with social media.

1. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries sounds obvious, but it’s easier said than done. Particularly in the last year, allowing our children to get lost in their screens has been an easy way to give us much-needed respite. However, we know that too much screen time is detrimental to our children’s mental health and can affect their sleep, so it’s essential that we’re helping them to strike a healthy balance.

There’s lots of great advice out there about how to enforce time limits and set parental controls, but this will always work better if it’s done in collaboration with your child. Ask them how much time they think is appropriate and you may be surprised by how reasonable their response is.

It’s also useful to think about how and when they’re using their devices. Last thing at night can affect their sleep and first thing in the morning can risk them becoming addicted, needing their ‘fix’ the minute they wake up. Similarly, playing on Minecraft will have a very different emotional impact to scrolling through ‘beach body’ images on Instagram. Sometimes setting boundaries can be as simple as telling them to change what app they’re on, to give them a mental health break.

2. Educate them about staying safe

Again, this one can feel tricky when it’s our children who are the digital natives, while we feel more like anxious tourists. However, on a neurological level, children and young people haven’t developed the ability to gauge and assess risk accurately, so they need us to support them with this. As the digital world is moving fast, it’s impossible to keep on top of all the new platforms and associated risks, so educating our children on understanding the dangers is our best hope.

Letting them know the importance of protecting their personal information is essential, spelling out just how easy it is to give details away without realizing we’ve done it. Also, let them know how disinhibited we can become when we’re online. This is particularly pertinent when we look at cyberbullying. It may be that they fall victim to bullying and need our support, but it’s also incredibly easy for children to fall into the trap of bullying others, without even recognizing that that’s what they’re doing.

3. Take an interest

We’re often quick to judge what’s a valuable use of our children’s time and what’s a waste. Maybe we give them our full attention when they let us know about how they got on in their football match or if they’ve had a fall out in the playground, but when they start telling us about what they’re up to online, we immediately glaze over.

While we may find it hard to enthuse about social platforms, we still want our children to come to us about them. Our children may have whole friendship groups, hobbies and an entirely different persona online that we need to know about. So have a strong coffee, take a deep breath and try to act interested as they talk about this aspect of their lives. By being curious and asking questions we’ll be better informed and we’ll become closer to our children too.

4. Don’t demonize social media

Similarly, it can be tempting to make dismissive comments when our children talk about their social media use. ‘What are you on that for? Get outside in the fresh air and spend time with your real friends!’ may be on the tip of our tongues, particularly if we’ve read up on all the negative aspects of social media, but all we’re doing is telling our children not to talk to us about their online lives – and that’s a dangerous message.

There’s lots of positives to social media. For children struggling with their mental health, they can find others in a similar situation and draw strength from them, and in the various lockdowns, social media did a lot to stave off the feelings of isolation and loneliness that many young people felt. Find out how your child is using social media and if it does seem to be impacting negatively on their mental health, help them to find more positive ways of using it.

5. Encourage real life connections

Finally, as with most things, it’s about balance. It’s okay for children to use social media but it’s important that they have other sides to their life as well. If they have a club or hobby that they enjoy, encourage them to keep it up. If it looks like they’re losing interest, have an honest conversation with them and agree together what they can do to maintain connections with the real world.

Encouraging our children to have their friends over is another way to maintain those real world relationships, as is making sure we’re spending quality time with them too. Days out, walking the dog, baking or getting creative together are all good ways to bring us closer to our children and are also a great way to engineer conversations about how things are going in their online world.

We don’t have to ‘lose’ our children to social media. By being open and interested in what they’re telling us, without overreacting or jumping to conclusions, they’ll know that they can come to us if they have a problem. By doing this we’re also modelling communication, compassion and problem-solving skills which are all cornerstones of healthy relationships. If they’re experiencing these in the real world, they’re much more likely to apply them to their virtual lives too.

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Social Media for KidsHelen has nearly 20 years’ experience working with children and young people.  As a primary school teacher and child and adolescent counselor she is passionate about understanding and supporting children. Helen is head of counseling at Mable Therapy, a company transforming the way children and young people across the UK access therapy. By replacing traditional therapy methods with immersive, game-based therapy and technology, the process of achieving goals becomes fun and rewarding.

6 Youth Sports Activities to Get Your Kids Active

Youth Sports Activities

Children today are more likely than ever before to become obese. Dealing with the negative effects of this at such a young age can affect them for their entire life. Since childhood obesity is a widespread issue, many parents want to enroll their children in sports activities to stay active while having fun and making friends.

Here’s a list of six youth sports activities that will get your children moving and keep them active.

Flag Football

Flag football is one of the best youth sports because it’s non-contact. It means that no players on the other team can hit your child or cause them physical harm. This makes it a great option for kids who are just learning how to play sports and offers an opportunity to get more comfortable being active in front of others.

Running flag football plays can even teach your kids how to be a part of a team and develop some communication skills. It becomes the perfect game for children who aren’t interested in playing on conventional teams. Flag football offers similar benefits to traditional tackle football. The benefits include learning how to work together as a team and improve communication skills.

Soccer

Soccer is a great sport to introduce to young children because it combines teamwork with physical activity. It also teaches important skills like balance, coordination, endurance, and agility.  Some studies have shown that soccer encourages higher fitness levels than other childhood sports such as basketball or baseball.

As a bonus, research has found that playing soccer can improve academic performance in math and science among high school students who participate in the sport during their childhood years.

Track & Field/ Cross Country Running

Running is one of the most popular sports in the world and for a good reason. Running provides great cardiovascular conditioning while also strengthening your leg muscles. It helps with speed, endurance, coordination, balance, and weight loss.

Track & Field also has social benefits, like building bonds with teammates or classmates through training sessions. You can start running at any age, but it is recommendable that children begin by walking, then progress to jogging before finally running.

Swimming

Swimming is great for general health and fitness. It is because it works out every muscle in the body while providing excellent cardiovascular conditioning.  It improves your child’s endurance without putting too much stress on their joints or bones. This makes swimming a good option for younger children who are still growing.

The best part about swimming is you can start at any age. But it is recommendable that you learn the basic moves like how to float before continuing to more advanced techniques like diving or crawling underwater.

Martial Arts

Martial arts are one of the best ways to turn your child’s interest in martial arts films, comic books, and video games into something they can participate in. Martial arts teach kids discipline without sacrificing too much fun.

The study has shown that learning how to fight better reduces bullying. It also teaches important social skills such as respect, concentration, and time management. Having classes or clubs for them will also give them some more friends who share similar interests.

Tae Kwon Do is probably the best martial art for children. This is because it focuses on a light-hearted atmosphere without heavy contact like boxing would require. It allows kids and adults to come together on an equal playing field while improving their focus, concentration, and coordination.

Dance

All children enjoy dancing, but dance can also be a great way to get more active. There are many types of dances from various cultures that will provide your child with various health benefits. The benefits include muscle toning, weight loss, coordination, and endurance.

Kids who take up dance usually find it easier to make friends. The classes often become social events where kids learn how to work together as a team.

Since dance is both fun and good exercise, it’s no wonder why so many kids today prefer to take up this activity rather than less healthy pursuits that benefit their overall well-being or education.

Closing Remarks

These six sports activities will not only keep your kids active, but they’ll also have so much fun while exercising with others, thus improving their social lives.  Exercise  is also beneficial for any child to help boost their mood and maintain  positive attitude.  These types of youth sports are healthy for children because they teach them discipline while strengthening their bonding.

What Types of Personal Data Should Parents Protect?

Child Data Protection by Parents

In a world of easy internet access, our children are vulnerable to online criminals. There are several types of personal data that parents should protect for their kids. We’ll take a look at what you need to know to keep your family safe from cybercrime.

Your Children Are Vulnerable Online

Because we all use the web so much, it’s easy to forget about internet privacy. Companies, agencies, and other organizations track us when we are online: our location, our financial data, and our personal information, as well as what we buy. Even our conversations are recorded and stored by companies.

Companies use this data for marketing. Unfortunately, hackers and other criminals can access it to steal, defame, and otherwise harm our children. How can we protect our families when they are so vulnerable?

Ways to Protect Your Family

The first step is to talk to your children. As long as your children are online, they are not too young to learn about internet safety. Set age-appropriate rules and boundaries for internet usage. Then, teach them to understand why you’ve put these in place.

The most important thing you can teach them is to avoid sharing information with people they don’t know. They should not share personal data, like their phone or address, online. Instead, they can give that info out via phone or text.

In the meantime, there are steps you can take to safeguard their privacy online:

  • Use a VPN with your internet service to block unwanted sites and safeguard browsing features.
  • Protect your browser by disabling tracking cookies and enabling private browsing in your options. That will protect their data and actions from being monitored.
  • Use trustworthy antivirus services and parental controls to keep kids and their computers safe.
  • Have your kids set up and store unique and complex passwords for all their accounts. Using the same ones repeatedly puts them at risk.

Besides these generic safety tools, there are several options you can employ to protect them during their most common activities.

Social Media

Just about all our kids are on social media. Unfortunately, this can be a dangerous place. To keep kids safe, you must teach them to keep personal data private while on social media. Here are some simple guidelines you can teach them:

  • What we share online can be stored forever. Make sure your kids understand how to use good judgment and discretion when posting. If they are uncertain, start a conversation about what makes a good post versus TMI (too much information).
  • Everyone likes to post photos. Sadly, family pictures can attract predators, cyberbullies, and other internet dangers. Teach them to respect others’ privacy by not posting pictures of other people without their permission.
  • Many websites give you an option to log in using a social media profile rather than your email. That leads to numerous security dangers. Instead, teach your kids to set up a new profile via email rather than exposing social media data.

Virtual Gaming

Online gaming is another area that exposes our kids to identity theft, data mining, phishing, and other hazards. There are several protections you can put in place to safeguard their virtual gaming activities.

  • Computer cameras and mics may be exploited with the click of an insecure link. Be sure your kids are not clicking anything suspicious or unverified while in games. You can also cover the camera and unplug peripherals when offline.
  • Turn off location tracking on devices if possible whenever gaming.
  • If you have secure Wifi or a VPN and antivirus software, you’ll give your child an extra level of protection against unsecured gaming servers.
  • Finally, be sure to update applications and software regularly.

Online Shopping

Safely shopping online is a bit of a tricky activity since your child needs to enter secure data, such as location, phone, and credit card info. Teach your child to recognize safe sites for shopping (i.e., Amazon, Target) versus unknown name sites or links that redirect elsewhere. Additionally, kids need to be wary of clicking email links from unknown sources.

Posting a direct bank account link is also unsafe. Therefore, instead of using a debit card, have your kids use a credit card for an extra measure of safety. Kids should also protect their credit card usage by keeping their online receipts and looking for suspicious activity on their accounts. Have them avoid saving credit card data either with a retailer or in their cookies.

Online Courses

Since the pandemic, more children are relying on online education. Unfortunately, from 2018 to 2019, problems with student data security in classrooms tripled. Your child’s grades, progress, and other confidential school data are stored online and can be vulnerable to attacks.

Be sure that your educators and administrators take the appropriate steps to protect student privacy. Review your schools’ digital policies, including how information is protected and shared. Schools should use FERPA Sherpa, a government resource designed to help them protect student privacy.

Kids today cannot avoid using the internet. This puts them at great risk for cybercrimes. However, these simple steps can keep your children safe online no matter what they are doing.