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Category: Articles for Parents / Educators

The Benefits of a STEM Education

Benefits of Stem Education

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently “arts” was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better. During the elementary years, when their synapses are most impressionable, youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

  • Reducing lesson and testing anxiety. The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.
  • Making it okay to fail. Our mistakes are powerful teachers. When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.
  • Prioritizing the 4 C’s. No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.
  • Helping them apply meaning. STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity Network at the University of Wisconsin Madison, “By 2018, it’s predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to Legoland Designer! (And what little boy wouldn’t leap out of his chair for that job?!)

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently “arts” was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better. During the elementary years, when their synapses are most impressionable, youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

  • Reducing lesson and testing anxiety. The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.
  • Making it okay to fail. Our mistakes are powerful teachers. When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.
  • Prioritizing the 4 C’s. No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.
  • Helping them apply meaning. STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity Network at the University of Wisconsin Madison, “By 2018, it’s predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to Legoland Designer! (And what little boy wouldn’t leap out of his chair for that job?!)

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

How to Protect Kids and Teens from Identity Theft

As a parent there are so many things you need to worry about to keep your kids safe, now there is another. Did you know that identity theft of kids and teens is on the rise? Just in 2016 alone, the FTC received 15,000 complaints of identity theft of a minor and in 2017 more than 1 million kids have their identities stolen.

Roughly 4% of all the cases reported in a year affect kids and teens. Unfortunately it quite easy for someone to steal a kid’s identity. Generally, it begins when a criminal takes your child’s social security number.

Why Do Thieves Use Children’s Identities

The top reason thieves target children with identity theft is that they have perfect credit. Kids don’t have mortgages or default loans or any credit card debt. It’s like grabbing a clean slate and using it all up before anyone finds out. Children are also easy targets because it may be years before the fraud is detected and they start to use their own identity.

How Thieves Use Children’s Identities

Criminals use kids’ identities for loans, renting property, applying for government benefits, and opening bank and credit card accounts. The most common method is when the thief steals your child’s social security number and then uses it with a different birth date. This process is known as creating a “synthetic identity.” Most the victim knows the identity thief. 22% of the time the identity theft is perpetrated by a parent, stepparent, sibling or other relatives.

The worst part is that criminals can get away with it for years as it usually goes unnoticed until the child is an adult and applies for credit. Identity theft hurts college kids chances of getting into school, applying for internships and obtaining their own real credit. Once their identity has been used and sullied, it is harder to clean up.

Protection and Prevention Tips

Like with many things, it is easier to prevent the problem than to fix it after it has happened.

Thankfully the government is taking notice of this issue and has started penning laws protecting underage people from identity theft. In the meantime, as a parent, there is a lot you can do to protect your child and prevent identity theft.

 

Tip 1 – Protect Your Child’s Social Security Number

Never give out your child’s social security number to anyone who doesn’t need it. Although places like schools, extracurricular activities, and even medical offices may ask for it, they don’t need it. They are not offering your child credit and limiting access to your child’s SSN is the best defense against this type of crime.

 

Tip 2 – Review the Safety of Your Child’s School Information

Pay attention to privacy policies and find out how your child’s school safeguards the personal information they store on students. Consult with their security team and even the IT department to ensure your kid’s data is safe.

 

Tip 3 – Secure Your Kid’s and Teen’s Mobile Devices

Personal information can be stolen easily from mobile devices that are not adequately secured. Teach your kids how to create complex, safe passwords and always use them. Don’t forget to teach your kids about these types of scams, along with phishing emails and never to click on links they receive.

 

Tip 4 – Be Careful and Monitor Social Media

Teach your child how to use the Internet and be safe online. Be careful what you and your kids post on social media. Monitor their posts and tweets to make sure they are not oversharing or communicating with a stranger who could be an identity thief trying to steal their information.

 

Tip 5 – Get a Copy of Your Child’s Credit Report

You can quickly get a copy of your child’s credit report at any time to see if there is any activity. Bank loans, credit cards and other things that show up will indicate someone is using their social security number. You will need to take swift action to repair the damage.

How to Fix It, if it Happens To You

If you find out your child’s identity has been stolen take the steps below as quickly as possible to resolve it before they need to use their credit.

  1. Contact all the major credit reporting agencies and ask them to remove all the credit information, inquiries, accounts and everything associated with that social security number.
  2. Next, contact every business that is associated with those accounts like banks, credit cards and other places the credit was used.
  3. Ask each creditor to place a “fraud alert” on the account.
  4. Contact the FTC and file a fraud report. You can also call them at 877-438-4338.
  5. If any of the accounts were used for medical expenses or involve taxes, you would also need to contact the police.

As a parent there are so many things you need to worry about to keep your kids safe, now there is another. Did you know that identity theft of kids and teens is on the rise? Just in 2016 alone, the FTC received 15,000 complaints of identity theft of a minor and in 2017 more than 1 million kids have their identities stolen.

Roughly 4% of all the cases reported in a year affect kids and teens. Unfortunately it quite easy for someone to steal a kid’s identity. Generally, it begins when a criminal takes your child’s social security number.

Why Do Thieves Use Children’s Identities

The top reason thieves target children with identity theft is that they have perfect credit. Kids don’t have mortgages or default loans or any credit card debt. It’s like grabbing a clean slate and using it all up before anyone finds out. Children are also easy targets because it may be years before the fraud is detected and they start to use their own identity.

How Thieves Use Children’s Identities

Criminals use kids’ identities for loans, renting property, applying for government benefits, and opening bank and credit card accounts. The most common method is when the thief steals your child’s social security number and then uses it with a different birth date. This process is known as creating a “synthetic identity.” Most the victim knows the identity thief. 22% of the time the identity theft is perpetrated by a parent, stepparent, sibling or other relatives.

The worst part is that criminals can get away with it for years as it usually goes unnoticed until the child is an adult and applies for credit. Identity theft hurts college kids chances of getting into school, applying for internships and obtaining their own real credit. Once their identity has been used and sullied, it is harder to clean up.

Protection and Prevention Tips

Like with many things, it is easier to prevent the problem than to fix it after it has happened.

Thankfully the government is taking notice of this issue and has started penning laws protecting underage people from identity theft. In the meantime, as a parent, there is a lot you can do to protect your child and prevent identity theft.

 

Tip 1 – Protect Your Child’s Social Security Number

Never give out your child’s social security number to anyone who doesn’t need it. Although places like schools, extracurricular activities, and even medical offices may ask for it, they don’t need it. They are not offering your child credit and limiting access to your child’s SSN is the best defense against this type of crime.

 

Tip 2 – Review the Safety of Your Child’s School Information

Pay attention to privacy policies and find out how your child’s school safeguards the personal information they store on students. Consult with their security team and even the IT department to ensure your kid’s data is safe.

 

Tip 3 – Secure Your Kid’s and Teen’s Mobile Devices

Personal information can be stolen easily from mobile devices that are not adequately secured. Teach your kids how to create complex, safe passwords and always use them. Don’t forget to teach your kids about these types of scams, along with phishing emails and never to click on links they receive.

 

Tip 4 – Be Careful and Monitor Social Media

Teach your child how to use the Internet and be safe online. Be careful what you and your kids post on social media. Monitor their posts and tweets to make sure they are not oversharing or communicating with a stranger who could be an identity thief trying to steal their information.

 

Tip 5 – Get a Copy of Your Child’s Credit Report

You can quickly get a copy of your child’s credit report at any time to see if there is any activity. Bank loans, credit cards and other things that show up will indicate someone is using their social security number. You will need to take swift action to repair the damage.

How to Fix It, if it Happens To You

If you find out your child’s identity has been stolen take the steps below as quickly as possible to resolve it before they need to use their credit.

  1. Contact all the major credit reporting agencies and ask them to remove all the credit information, inquiries, accounts and everything associated with that social security number.
  2. Next, contact every business that is associated with those accounts like banks, credit cards and other places the credit was used.
  3. Ask each creditor to place a “fraud alert” on the account.
  4. Contact the FTC and file a fraud report. You can also call them at 877-438-4338.
  5. If any of the accounts were used for medical expenses or involve taxes, you would also need to contact the police.

Should You Interact with Your Child on Social Media?

Mom's online with kids

Social media is an integral part of our lives these days, and that’s doubly true for kids growing up in a post-Facebook world. Since parents and children are often on the same social platforms, it may seem natural to follow your child and interact. Is it a good idea though? The topic is more complex than it seems.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Answer

Like so many other issues around parenting, this is a case where every family and child is different. What works for one may not work for another. Family dynamics and the needs of individual kids should dictate the best way to approach social media use. The important thing is to understand that these apps are likely a big part of your child’s social life and that boundaries should be respected—both yours as a parent, as well as your child’s.

Here are three tips to help you navigate the often-murky waters of online interactions with your kids.

1. Have a Frank Discussion About Social Media Boundaries

There’s often no better way to answer these tough questions than just being direct and asking. The reality is that for some kids, having parents involved in their lives is normal, while for others, it’s an embarrassment.

In either case, you should have a talk about appropriate use of social media, information privacy and security, and being safe online so that even if your kids don’t want much interaction, you can help them be smart about what they do on the internet. Even if you don’t interact with them on social media, you can still set and enforce rules for safe web use.

2. Determine If Interactions Would Seem Out of Place

Facebook and even Twitter aren’t the most popular social platforms for teens and kids anymore. Many now spend their time on Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms. So pay attention to which platforms your kids use and how they use them

If you already have accounts on the same platforms that you use on a regular basis, following and interacting with your child may make sense; if you don’t, though, you run the risk of misusing the platform and potentially embarrassing your kid—to the extent that it could cause them to migrate to other platforms or adjust settings so you can’t see as much of their activity.

3. Decide Where Your Motivation Lies

Another way to determine whether you should interact directly with your child on social media is to honestly examine your motives. If you’re only trying to police your child’s activities, you may be wasting your time; it’s relatively easy for kids to adjust privacy settings to control what you can see. It’s also not uncommon for kids to have multiple profiles, with only one visible to family.

If your family already has a trusting, open relationship with one another, it might feel natural and fine for you to interact with them in online spaces. If there’s less trust, though, getting a social media account just to monitor your children or teens could further hurt that relationship. Kids are smarter than many give them credit for—they’ll know if you’re trying to be sneaky.

Boundaries on social media may seem murky to parents, but for kids who’ve had access to these platforms their whole lives, they are often very clear. Navigating this online world as parents takes finesse, openness, and a willingness to learn. Because in the end, the most important thing is that your kids are safe and happy.

Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate. You can find more of her work at https://hilarybird.contently.com/.

Social media is an integral part of our lives these days, and that’s doubly true for kids growing up in a post-Facebook world. Since parents and children are often on the same social platforms, it may seem natural to follow your child and interact. Is it a good idea though? The topic is more complex than it seems.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Answer

Like so many other issues around parenting, this is a case where every family and child is different. What works for one may not work for another. Family dynamics and the needs of individual kids should dictate the best way to approach social media use. The important thing is to understand that these apps are likely a big part of your child’s social life and that boundaries should be respected—both yours as a parent, as well as your child’s.

Here are three tips to help you navigate the often-murky waters of online interactions with your kids.

1. Have a Frank Discussion About Social Media Boundaries

There’s often no better way to answer these tough questions than just being direct and asking. The reality is that for some kids, having parents involved in their lives is normal, while for others, it’s an embarrassment.

In either case, you should have a talk about appropriate use of social media, information privacy and security, and being safe online so that even if your kids don’t want much interaction, you can help them be smart about what they do on the internet. Even if you don’t interact with them on social media, you can still set and enforce rules for safe web use.

2. Determine If Interactions Would Seem Out of Place

Facebook and even Twitter aren’t the most popular social platforms for teens and kids anymore. Many now spend their time on Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms. So pay attention to which platforms your kids use and how they use them

If you already have accounts on the same platforms that you use on a regular basis, following and interacting with your child may make sense; if you don’t, though, you run the risk of misusing the platform and potentially embarrassing your kid—to the extent that it could cause them to migrate to other platforms or adjust settings so you can’t see as much of their activity.

3. Decide Where Your Motivation Lies

Another way to determine whether you should interact directly with your child on social media is to honestly examine your motives. If you’re only trying to police your child’s activities, you may be wasting your time; it’s relatively easy for kids to adjust privacy settings to control what you can see. It’s also not uncommon for kids to have multiple profiles, with only one visible to family.

If your family already has a trusting, open relationship with one another, it might feel natural and fine for you to interact with them in online spaces. If there’s less trust, though, getting a social media account just to monitor your children or teens could further hurt that relationship. Kids are smarter than many give them credit for—they’ll know if you’re trying to be sneaky.

Boundaries on social media may seem murky to parents, but for kids who’ve had access to these platforms their whole lives, they are often very clear. Navigating this online world as parents takes finesse, openness, and a willingness to learn. Because in the end, the most important thing is that your kids are safe and happy.

Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate. You can find more of her work at https://hilarybird.contently.com/.

Online Safety Tips for Parents

safety tips for kids 2018

As fast as the years come and go, Internet technologies change, bringing new challenges for parents and educators when striving to keep kids safe online. Here are a few of the latest tips for online safety including on sites like YouTube*, as well as privacy settings for other websites.

*These tips are not an endorsement of YouTube as being a safe website for kids or teens. For strict filtering of videos, use our Safe Video Search Tool at the top of this website.

5 Tips to Make YouTube Safer

  1. Set up a Family Account. By creating a shared Google account, you can see what videos are viewed and shared with friends. To do this, go to Google on your browser and sign in with a new Google email address and password. You can also use your existing Google account on the computer and browser that kids use.
  2. Turn on Restricted Mode. This feature will help filter out the worst videos, making YouTube a little safer than normal. To activate, scroll down to the bottom of your YouTube account settings page and turn Restricted Mode ON. This has to be done on any browser that is being used and you always have to be logged in for it to work.
  3. Subscribe to Safe Channels. The more you subscribe to favorite ‘kid-friendly’ YouTube channels, the more positive videos will come up for viewing. Kids can also click through to their favorite safe channels and watch more safe videos related to their interests.
  4. Upload Privately. If you want to upload videos of your kids, or they want to upload videos of themselves, mark the video as Private or Unlisted. Private videos are only shared with friends your kids choose to share them with. Unlisted means that only those who are sent the specific link can view it.
  5. Disable Comments. When uploading videos, you can keep bad comments from showing up on your video. In the video upload screen (or the video editing screen after uploading is complete) you can disable comments altogether or keep them unpublished until you are able to review them.

Read more about YouTube Restricted Mode

5 Tips to Protect Your Online Privacy

  1. Make sure all sites visited are secure. Simply look for the “S” in https://. Unsecured sites will not contain the “s”, which stands for secure. Unsecured websites will start with http://.
  2. Make your passwords more complicated by using a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols.
  3. Always use privacy settings and ‘opt out’ buttons within your online accounts, including but not limited to, your social media accounts. This limits how much information is being shared.
  4. Turn off GSP settings on apps to limit the tracking of your location. With the exception of maps and Google search for the purposes of finding local events and businesses, there is really no reason for apps or websites to know where you are located.
  5. Click Carefully. Watch out for links or downloads sent to you in emails, as well as online questionnaires and giveaways. These links may infect your computer or expose kids to unwanted content.

Read more about Facebook Privacy Settings.

Resources and more Internet Safety Tips for Kids

As fast as the years come and go, Internet technologies change, bringing new challenges for parents and educators when striving to keep kids safe online. Here are a few of the latest tips for online safety including on sites like YouTube*, as well as privacy settings for other websites.

*These tips are not an endorsement of YouTube as being a safe website for kids or teens. For strict filtering of videos, use our Safe Video Search Tool at the top of this website.

5 Tips to Make YouTube Safer

  1. Set up a Family Account. By creating a shared Google account, you can see what videos are viewed and shared with friends. To do this, go to Google on your browser and sign in with a new Google email address and password. You can also use your existing Google account on the computer and browser that kids use.
  2. Turn on Restricted Mode. This feature will help filter out the worst videos, making YouTube a little safer than normal. To activate, scroll down to the bottom of your YouTube account settings page and turn Restricted Mode ON. This has to be done on any browser that is being used and you always have to be logged in for it to work.
  3. Subscribe to Safe Channels. The more you subscribe to favorite ‘kid-friendly’ YouTube channels, the more positive videos will come up for viewing. Kids can also click through to their favorite safe channels and watch more safe videos related to their interests.
  4. Upload Privately. If you want to upload videos of your kids, or they want to upload videos of themselves, mark the video as Private or Unlisted. Private videos are only shared with friends your kids choose to share them with. Unlisted means that only those who are sent the specific link can view it.
  5. Disable Comments. When uploading videos, you can keep bad comments from showing up on your video. In the video upload screen (or the video editing screen after uploading is complete) you can disable comments altogether or keep them unpublished until you are able to review them.

Read more about YouTube Restricted Mode

5 Tips to Protect Your Online Privacy

  1. Make sure all sites visited are secure. Simply look for the “S” in https://. Unsecured sites will not contain the “s”, which stands for secure. Unsecured websites will start with http://.
  2. Make your passwords more complicated by using a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols.
  3. Always use privacy settings and ‘opt out’ buttons within your online accounts, including but not limited to, your social media accounts. This limits how much information is being shared.
  4. Turn off GSP settings on apps to limit the tracking of your location. With the exception of maps and Google search for the purposes of finding local events and businesses, there is really no reason for apps or websites to know where you are located.
  5. Click Carefully. Watch out for links or downloads sent to you in emails, as well as online questionnaires and giveaways. These links may infect your computer or expose kids to unwanted content.

Read more about Facebook Privacy Settings.

Resources and more Internet Safety Tips for Kids