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How to Find a Sport True to Your Child’s Nature

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Before signing your kid up for ALL the activities, take a look at these recommended sports based on your child’s personality.

When you think of your child and sports, do you feel a little bit of dread? Weekday practices or long game days on the weekend are a commitment when you don’t know if your kid will even enjoy the sport you choose. Plus, it takes time to research which classes or leagues in the area to even sign up for. You might just pick the sport that seems easiest or that you’re most familiar with—or hesitate to sign up your child at all.

But what if you could find the perfect sport for your youngster, without having to invest a lot of extra energy? You can.

Although every kid is unique, there are four energy types among children—and a good sports match for each that fits their needs and personality. Your child’s type, which is the general way they move through the world, affects everything they do: playing, talking, eating, sleeping, and even playing sports!

By reading the types below, you can find which sports are most supportive to your kid.

The Type 1 Fun-Loving Child

This kid needs to keep things light and interesting. They may prefer a wide variety of sports. If the sporting experience gets too serious, the coach is too serious, or the parents are too serious about it, this pressure causes them to be in a heavy, stressful state. They will resist wanting to participate. My Type 1 son loved all sports, excelled at team sports like baseball and football, and enjoyed the social aspect and cheering on his teammates.

Sports a Type 1 child would excel in more naturally: baseball, soccer, gymnastics, short-distance running, cheerleading

The Type 2 Sensitive Child

This youngster needs to keep things comfortable. If the sporting experience or coach is too intense, or the parents are too intense, a Type 2 child will shut down, and his or her ability to perform successfully will be affected. My Type 2 daughter would have benefited the most from me knowing her energy type when she was in grade school. I made the mistake of putting her in girl’s softball. She felt so much pressure when she was at bat that she couldn’t even swing. She would have performed much better in dance classes.

Sports a Type 2 child would excel in more naturally: dance, swimming, martial arts, road cycling, basketball, climbing, table tennis, equestrian

The Type 3 Determined Child

This kind of kiddo needs to feel like they can win! If the sport has too much of a learning curve and they are not seeing results consistently, if the coach does not acknowledge their progress with enthusiasm, or if the parents are not interested or not making a big deal about their Type 3 child’s sporting accomplishments, it will hinder this child’s experience. The lack of enthusiasm for the results a Type 3 child is achieving will cause them to be disinterested and bored with the sport. I did not raise a Type 3 kid, but reflecting on my own childhood, I would have loved participating in sports. I now give that to myself as an adult with competitive tennis.

Sports a Type 3 child would excel in more naturally: football, basketball, baseball, snowboarding, downhill skiing, cheerleading

The Type 4 More Serious Child

This child needs to feel they can be their own authority and have support for perfecting their sporting performance. They may prefer to focus on only one or two sports that they can hone. If they are feeling like they don’t have a say, that they are being told what to do by a coach or a parent, or if they cannot see their improvement in their performance, this type of kid will lose interest. They may even rebel by not wanting to be a part of the sporting experience. My Type 4 son loves the outdoors and sports that require technical skills and fine-tuning! He currently competes in mountain-bike racing.

Sports a Type 4 child would excel in more naturally: long-distance running, mountain biking, road cycling, tennis, martial arts

3 Tips for Supporting Your Child’s Sports Experience:

1. Let your son or daughter show you which sport is best for them.

In the world of professional sports, I see all types of people succeeding in all types of sports. There are some tendencies for certain types to be drawn to certain sports, since they match their true nature, and they can use their natural gifts in their sport to create successful outcomes.

For example, in the world of pro tennis, there are more Type 4 pro tennis players than any other type. It’s not a constant though, as there have been successful pro tennis players of all types.

So rather than letting your child’s type determine the sports they might succeed in, let your kid teach you what sports are interesting to them. Just make sure to support them in creating the experience to be true to their nature from these tips.

2. Realize not all children will want to play sports.

That’s OK! Not all boys and girls will want to pursue music either; every child is different. Remind yourself that the goal of a kid in sports is to support the healthy development of their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self. It’s not to prepare them to be a collegiate athlete or professional athlete.

When we remember this, we can show up to help them create a positive experience that is perfect for that child, and it won’t look the same as the next kid.

3. Get behind your child’s desire to pursue a sport and see what they do with it.

I recently had a young man—about the age of 13—come to our home selling discount coupons to a local restaurant. For every coupon he sold, he kept a portion of it to devote to his junior car-racing pursuits. He had a beautifully printed postcard with a picture of him and his car, and an explanation of what he was raising the money for.

It wasn’t a restaurant I would probably go to but I just had to support this young man. I applaud his parents, who did not shut down this boy’s dream to pursue a sport, and allowed him to find a way to finance it.

It’s important to be attuned to the sports and activities your kid may enjoy and find ways to support your child’s energy type as they pursue their interests, sports or otherwise.


Carol Tuttle is the CEO of Live Your Truth, LLC, and author of the best-selling parenting book, The Child Whisperer: the Ultimate Handbook for Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children, which has sold over 75,000 copies worldwide. She also hosts an immensely popular parenting podcast that hits weekly on important parenting issues commonly experienced by families of all backgrounds. For more information, please visit, thechildwhisperer.com.

 

This article was written by Carol Tuttle from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Teaching History Through Your Child’s Interests

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Parents who love history are often eager to pass this passion onto their children. Yet as any mom or dad knows, kids quickly develop interests and hobbies of their own and don’t always latch onto those of their parents. Rather than overwhelm them with dates and names and cultural trends and so forth, parents who want to teach history to their children may have better success integrating it into their interests.

It’s easier than you think. Consider the following popular interests among kids and how parents can use them to explain history:

Clothes and Jewelry

One of the quickest ways to distinguish one era from another is taking a look at what people were wearing. Whether it’s the drastic changes in clothing over the course of centuries or the way each decade seems to have its distinct apparel, hair and jewelry trends, the history of fashion functions against the backdrop of human history itself. Since many preteens and teenagers are concerned with fashion, parents can use it as a segue into a discussion about history.

For instance, antique jewelry spotted in a store window can start an on-the-spot conversation about how the human fascination with gold, silver, and gemstones has existed for thousands of years. The era in which the necklace comes from can offer clues as to the design quality and materials chosen, as well as speculation about what the first person who wore it was like, the life she lived, and why the necklace ended up on the market.

Video Games

Moms with only a passing understanding of video games probably think of them as fantasy escapism with few, if any, elements based on how things work in reality. While an increasing number of parents appreciate the puzzle solving aspects of video games due to growing up as gamers themselves, few realize the potential video games have for helping kids better understand history.

Consider the Assassin’s Creed series of video games, which we admit is a name that sounds like the exact opposite of what moms want their kids to be playing. However, that aside, these games are praised for their historically accurate depictions of cities such as Boston, New York, Paris, and Rome. Furthermore, the storylines always include important historical figures and events. While it’s still a video game and therefore ultimately bound by the need to provide exciting gameplay rather than history lessons, parents can use the Assassin’s Creed games to provide kids with context about the past in a way which brings it to life.

Movies

Who doesn’t love a good movie? While the definition of “good” varies from person to person, the most popular movies today revolve around time-tested franchises and characters which appeal to parents and kids alike. Due to their connection to movies and other stories originally produced in decades past, they offer an opportunity for parents to impart some history lessons to their kids.

Consider the contrasts and similarities between the Marvel superheroes depicted in today’s movies and how they were originally conceived as comic book characters in the mid-20th century. Movies, comic books, and other story-based entertainment are not made in a vacuum; they are a product of their times and this gives us clues about the past and how it measures up against the present. For instance, the tendency for female characters to be either sidelined or objectified in decades past can be compared to the way they are increasingly given more depth in today’s popular media. This is a reflection of positive changes in society over time.

If you’re a mom who loves history but struggles to make it interesting to your kids, consider ways to start the conversation through their interests. It’s easier than you think!

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Keep Your Kids From Getting Sick Once School Starts

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If you’re a parent (or even if you’re not), ideally, you’ve had a break from colds, flu and stomach viruses this summer. But as back-to-school time approaches, parents may start to get concerned about what that means for their kids and their health. 

We wish we had a secret formula to shield our kids from all the germs and to keep them healthy, but when a bunch of children are together for hours a day, sicknesses spread like wildfire. What we do have, though, is access to health experts who told us all about ways you can help keep your kids from getting sick this school year.

Allergies

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reminds us that children in pre-K through fourth grade need their parents to advocate for them and talk to the teacher each year about allergies. Let them know what kind(s) of allergies they have and make sure a health plan is in place. As they get older, they become better at speaking for themselves, but it is always important to remind them and encourage them to do so as well as make sure they know how to use medications in an emergency.

Sleep

Sleep is a big way to keep your child’s immunity strong — teens should get about nine hours of sleep each night, and younger kids need about 10 hours per night, Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SheKnows. To get your kids settled and ready for bed on time, Posner suggests having them “avoid screen time about an hour before bedtime,” as it helps them fall asleep faster.

Diet

Kids should have a well-balanced diet that includes lots of veggies, some fruits, proteins and a lot of water, Posner says, adding that they should avoid junk food — including sodas, juices, fast foods and candy.

Kids should also be eating yogurt, as it contains probiotics, which are “healthy bacteria your body needs to keep your immune system strong,” Sara Siskind, a certified nutritional health counselor, tells SheKnows.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in shellfish, salmon, mackerel and herring can “help white blood cells produce a protein which helps clear flu viruses out of the body,” she explains.

Stress

For our older kids and teens, Dr. Shayla Sullivant, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, stresses how important it is that we check in with our kids on their mental health. One way to do this is by asking them how they are doing and letting them know you are worried about them if you see drastic changes in behavior, she explains.

Similarly, Dr. Mildred F. Carson, a board-certified pediatrician with over 15 years of experience, tells SheKnows that the right amount of sleep and a proper diet will also help your child cope with the stress a new school year can bring.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise is important “to keep your immune system strong so that the body is more able to fight off infections,” Carson says, adding that even 15 minutes a day can be beneficial. 

Other helpful reminders

Even though it sounds basic, Posner says washing hands is the biggest deterrent when it comes to getting sick. Kids should wash their hands before they eat, after they play on the playground, and after they use the restroom, she says. It’s important to make sure they are using warm water and soap and washing for at least 20 seconds in order for the handwashing to be effective.

Sneezing into their elbow (per instructions from President Barack Obama) will help contain germs, and not sharing drinks or food are all things our kids need to be reminded of constantly. 

There’s no doubt that kids are natural germ-spreaders. It takes a bit of extra work to follow the guidelines to protect you and your family, but it’s worth it to make it through the school year with fewer sick days.

 

This article was written by Katie Smith from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Science Says *This* Surprising Trait Will Help Your Kid Succeed in School

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We all know kids who started reading (as in full books) at 18 months. Others had the gross motor skills to ditch their training wheels at four. One friend’s son plays Mozart on the piano and devours Harry Potter books. (He’s six.) And while all of these achievements are amazing—and debatably innate as opposed to parent-directed—they’re not necessarily concrete predictors of academic success. Want to know what is? Curiosity.

For a new study conducted at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, pediatricians with expertise in developmental behavior analyzed data collected from 6,200 children over the course of their lives, from nine months old through kindergarten. They conclusively found that “greater curiosity was associated with greater kindergarten reading and math academic achievement.” Regardless of gender or socioeconomic background, added the researchers, “Curiosity may be an important, yet under-recognized contributor to academic achievement. Fostering curiosity may optimize academic achievement at kindergarten.”

Interestingly, the kids’ efforts and their ability to sit still and listen in class had less to do with academic success than you might guess. (PSA to the parents of kids who run around like crazy during circle time: Now is your cue to rejoice.) Explains Science Daily: “U-M researchers factored in another important known contributor to academic achievement known as ‘effortful control,’ or the ability to stay focused in class. They found that even independent of those skills, children who were identified as curious fared well in math and reading.” Clarifies lead researcher Dr. Prachi Shah: “These findings suggest that even if a child manifests low effortful control [or in-classroom focus], they can still have more optimal academic achievement, if they have high curiosity.”

So the next time your kid fires off “why?” faster than you could possibly formulate answers (Why is the sky blue? Why do dogs sweat from their tongues? Why do I have two eyes instead of one? What are s’mores? Can I have one? Can I have 10? Why?), celebrate it like the sign of genius it surely is. Then take them to a museum or library to investigate, stat. Curiosity! It won’t kill cats. And it just may land your kid on the honor roll.

RELATED: The One Thing This Mom Does to Cross Items Off Her To-Do List

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Ways to Motivate Your Child For Good

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It can be a challenge to motivate children to do hard tasks whether it be schoolwork or chores. Too often, these interactions turn into power struggles or flat-out bribery. Receiving the right motivation and attention will transform your child’s attitude towards difficult tasks. As a parent, you can help your child develop intrinsic motivation that will allow them to become driven and resilient adults.

If your child is having issues at school or around the house, check out these tips for some ways to motivate your child without yelling, bribery or meltdowns.

1. Focus On Mastery

It’s completely understandable that parents want their children to succeed in school, including getting good grades. However, it’s important to understand that grades are a poor reflection of actual knowledge. Children and students quickly get in the habit of learning something just until the test, then forget it once the test is over. This is counter-productive for learning and curiosity and frequently results in poor motivation.

As a parent, you can combat this by focusing on mastery and learning instead of grades. Ask about something they learned that interested them that day instead of asking what score they got on their spelling test. Engaging your children in the actual material of the lesson, appealing to their innate curiosity about the world, develops a lasting, internal motivation that lasts.

2. Always Encourage

What comes naturally to adults takes time to develop. In other words, rather than being nit-picky about how smooth the bedsheets are, take time to thank and encourage the child for going as far as making the bed.

By focusing on encouragement, your child develops initiative when it comes to work that needs to be done. Eventually, sloppiness will sort itself out as your child gets older and learns.

3. Have Clear Expectations

Let’s be honest: kids today have more on their plate than previous generations. From ridiculous amounts of standardized testing to social media to helicopter parenting- children often feel as though a million things are being thrown at them at once. Even children burn out.

To help your children remain focused and motivated, be clear in your expectations for them. Don’t say you’ll be proud of them for trying so hard in school but wrinkle your nose at a B. Nothing frustrates a child more than constantly moving goal-posts. Instead, be consistent with your expectations so your child knows what to do.

4. Competition Without Comparison

Competition can be an extremely motivating force. Encourage these feelings in a healthy way to make children feel pride in their accomplishments by rewarding success and giving feedback.

Just a note: try to avoid competition and comparison between siblings or other family members. Family is a place where each child is accepted just as they are, so never compare one’s strength with another’s weakness. Competition can create motivation- just don’t go too far.

5. Create The Right Environment

In terms of schoolwork, sometimes the materials in the classroom just aren’t right for your child. Everyone has a different learning style, but in a classroom it’s downright impossible for the teacher to cater to each student.

Consider tutoring and specialized social studies textbooks that focus on making content engaging to children who struggle in those areas. Focusing on making learning accessible and fun reduces any resentment or frustration a child feels that might cause them to misbehave.

6. Communication Is Key

When I was in middle school, report card day was a day of panic. I remember classmates passing around a bottle of white-out, frantically trying to forge grades to avoid punishment for getting a B. Unfortunately, that attitude is all-too common today.

For parents, that type of underhanded behavior hurts but try considering it as a symptom of a larger problem. You need to create trust and kindness towards your child. To keep your child motivated, try to reframe failure as a way of learning rather than a harsh punishment. When a child feels safe coming to you when they’re having issues, you encourage a resilient attitude towards failure and a lasting motivation.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

3 Secrets to a Stress-Free Dinner When No One Likes the Same Food

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Because your kitchen is not a restaurant.

Working moms barely have time to coordinate one meal for everyone in the family let alone multiple different entrees to please everyone’s palate.

Currently, in my extended family of eight, we have one who doesn’t eat anything with a face, one who is cutting down on carbs, one who loves meat but hates seafood, one who will not touch anything with cheese, one who will not eat vegetables or beans, one well-rounded individual, and two babies, who primarily eat toast with various toppings.

And we’re not alone. There’s a cultural shift afoot that can largely be attributed to a growing “restaurant mentality,” says Anne Fishel, Ph.D., co-founder of the Family Dinner Project, author of Home for Dinner, and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

“Americans eat at least 50% of their meals outside the home,” says Dr. Fishel. “We’ve come to expect that we can make individual choices at home just as we can at restaurants. I think of this as the Starbucks phenomenon—‘I’ll have a triple soy latte and she’ll have a cappuccino with lowfat milk.’”

Although multiple studies have shown that eating together provides profound health and psychological benefits, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get your group around the table when everyone wants or needs to eat something different.

Kids aren’t trying to make your life harder, says Dr. Fishel. “Food preferences become expressions of identity, particularly around adolescence when they experiment with veganism or as when my boys suddenly started to want to eat meat when I mainly produced vegetarian meals.”

Trying to understand your family’s food preferences can help lessen feelings of irritation, but it still begs the question: what’s a time-crunched and increasingly frustrated cook to do?

Dr. Fishel suggests the following time-saving tips to help families with diverse food preferences sit down together without forcing anyone to morph into a short-order cook:

1. Create build-your-own main dishes.

Customize add-ons around one main centerpiece—tacos, fajitas, pizza or flatbreads, pasta or salad, for example. Toppings can be prepped and frozen in advance or buy them pre-prepped, such as chicken or shrimp from the prepared food aisles, pre-cut vegetables, pre-shredded cheese, store-bought or frozen servings of sauce and packaged nuts and cheeses. The idea is that the main cook only has to come up with one central dish. Added bonuses: there’s only one pot or sheet pan for quick cleanup and smaller kids are likely to eat more when they are part of a fun process.

2. Agree on three go-to meals that everyone can eat.

These do not have to be favorites, but if it shows up for dinner, people will eat it. This list will need to be renegotiated periodically as kids’ food preferences are constantly in flux.

3. Share the cooking duties.

This way the vegan in the family, for example, gets a turn to show off a dish one night a week—say, brown rice and vegetables. Then, the main cook just has to make fish or meat, but the side dish is done.

Dr. Fishel also advises families to remember that “the benefits of eating together don’t come from the food that is served. The benefits come from creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere at the table.”

 

This article was written by Amy Fries from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Mompreneurs: Here are Some Secrets to Help You Juggle Working Life and Motherhood

Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

download.pngBeing a working mother in this day and age is no mean feat, and there are a lot of things that can get in the way of both parts of your life. On the one hand, you have a business that needs to be run, but on the other hand, there are children that need to be nurtured. However, the good news is that every day more and more women are doing both these things brilliantly well.

It is important to understand the differences between the two, as well as the techniques you can use that will allow you to get the right balance between the two. Mompreneurs need to look forward to the future and understand that they can do to make things better for their kids. These are some great hints and tips to balance working life and motherhood.

Switch off at the End of the Day

The mistake that a lot of working moms make is that they allow their working life to seep into their personal life. This is even more of an issue if you are running your business from home. Yes, you have to make sure you are setting yourself regular hours and a normal working day, even if you are working from home. But, you also need to make sure you clock out and switch off at the end of the day as well. A work email can ruin sleep for the if it is urgent enough, do not subject yourself to lack of sleep due to this.

Use Daycare Services

One of the biggest problems a lot of working mothers face on a daily basis is the fact that they have their kids to deal with. It is hard work trying to run a business and tend to your children’s needs as well. This is why something like a day care center will come in so useful. If you have a lot to do, and you are trying to get the business up and running, you will need to use the day care services in order to make sure your kids are well looked after and taken care of.

Speak to Other Mompreneurs

Getting help and support from other moms who are in the same kind of situation as you is also massively important. You need to understand that you need to stick together and help each other out, and there are plenty of things you can do to achieve this. Get in touch with other working moms, maybe even a few in your area, and try to arrange a meeting or get together so you can talk to one another and come up with ideas to help all of you out.

Balancing working life with motherhood isn’t easy, but there are things you can do that will help you make the process much better and easier to deal with. You need to treat your working day like a regular 9 to 5 job, but you need to make sure you aren’t working later and interfering with your family time. Making time for the kids is very important, so try to make the most of the working day, and get as much done as possible before you finish and get back to mom mode.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

10 Quick & Easy Playroom Organization Tips

 

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Is your playroom the one room in the house you skip when giving your friends “the tour”? Do you have a closet you haven’t opened in literal years for fear of the inevitable avalanche of headless Barbies and puzzles with one piece missing? Are you used to finding infant teething toys in your 6-year-old’s playroom? Have you accidentally taught your kids some curse words because you stepped on yet another pile of Legos barefoot? Fear not! It is possible to have a clean, organized playroom that you *gasp* actually enjoy spending time in with your kids. Wait, does that mean the kids will play happily while you… get an actual break? I think it does. We’ve got 10 quick and easy tips for creating an inviting, creative and tidy playroom that will guarantee it becomes the favorite room in the house. Now, if only this worked for the bathroom…

1. Keep it off the floor

Playrooms are a space for playing, learning and creating — none of which can be accomplished if there’s only a little bit of floor space available. Instead of subtracting space by covering the floor with bins and bookshelves, try wall-mounted storage, like these shelves with bins from Ikea.

Trofast wall shelves

Trofast shelves, $51.99 at Ikea

2. Bookshelves are pointless

Most playrooms have a traditional bookshelf with all the books crammed onto the shelf. But in that, all the child can see is the spine of the book, which unsurprisingly doesn’t inspire them to read. In a survey conducted by Scholastic, 91 percent of children say their favorite books are the ones they’ve picked out themselves, and 90 percent say they are more likely to finish reading a book they have picked out themselves. 

So use cheap picture ledges like these to display books on. Voilà! A library wall where you can actually see the books covers, therefore making it more likely your child will actually want to read them.

Picture ledge

White book ledge, $25 at Crate & Barrel

3. Create a designated spacer for each activity

Instead of having your playroom be a room where organization comes to die, try to create a specific designated space for each activity that together make a cohesive play area. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint for an art corner. Keep a stack of comfy pillows or beanbags by a wall-mounted bookshelf for a fun reading nook. By designating areas for each activity, it also makes it easier for your child to recognize each area, so when you say, “Let’s clean up the art corner!” you won’t get a blank stare as they try to figure out if the sticker covered couch or the jar of lidless markers under the stairs is the “art corner.”

4. Rotate toys

At the beginning of every month, or every couple of months, look around the playroom and see what toys just haven’t been played with very much recently. Take a bin, put those toys in it, and put it away. At the end of the month, bring those toys out again and put the un-played-with toys from that month in the bin. Repeat. You’ll be shocked at how excited your kids get when you pull out their old toys they haven’t seen in a while — it’s like they’re brand-new toys! If you bring them out of storage and your kids aren’t that excited, it’s time for those toys to be donated. This might seem a little tricky (who can remember to take a vitamin every day, let alone swap out bins of toys), but have no fear — set an alarm on your phone to remind you.

5. Double duty

Nothing in a playroom should serve only one function. There are countless ways to double up on an item’s functionality. Use storage boxes that double as seating, use a hanging pocket organizer to house both art supplies and small items that would get lost in bigger bins. Lastly, use picture-hanging wire and some clothespins to display your child’s handiwork (which conveniently doubles as a means of drying their painted works of art without taking up table space or floor space with a drying rack.)

6. Keep it open

It’s tempting to keep everything in bins out of sight, but “out of sight, out of mind” is a saying for a reason. If you keep everything hidden away, it’s not very inviting for your child, and isn’t the point of a playroom to, well, play? On storing all those markers, crayons and pencils, interior design guru Emily Henderson tells SheKnows, “…the original packaging tends to get damaged pretty quickly and can make it tricky for little fingers to pull out pencils and crayons. Storing art supplies out in the open can create a more inviting creative space, but the containers will help keep the space organized yet fun.” 

7. Stick ’em up

Is your child one of those kids who leaves toys strewn all over the floor for weeks because they’re “not through playing with them?” Well, now your carpet won’t be covered in cars. Make a part of one playroom wall magnetic with a magnetic board like this one from Amazon. It doubles as a dry-erase board, so you can draw roads, maps, etc., on it for your child’s cars to traverse. And if they insist you don’t move a thing, the cars will stick to the board for the maximum play with minimum cleanup.

Steelmaster magnetic board with dry-erase pad, pen and magnets, $29.19 at Amazon

8. Give everything a place

This is a simple enough tip that you (more so than your child) will find hard to follow. Take everything off a shelf. See how much stuff you’ve shoved into such a small storage space? Things stacked on top of each other, bins on top of bins — each shelf is most likely packed. Put three things back, and only three. By limiting the number of items on each shelf, you’re allowing each item to have its own space with plenty of space between each toy, which allows your child to really focus on what’s available. 

9. Get down

The thing about a playroom is that it’s meant for tiny people. You might not realize it, but we’re willing to bet there are a few bins you’ve unknowingly placed out of your child’s reach. Or a chair that’s just a little too daunting for your little one to climb up in comfortably. Sit down on the floor and look around the playroom from your child’s perspective. Make sure things are accessible to them and they are comfortable in the space. Foster independence — if they don’t like getting messy, keep a container of baby wipes next to the paints so they can clean themselves up without your help. If they insist on reading the books on the shelf that is just out of their reach, keep a stool nearby. Get down on their level and see what changes you can make.

10. Don’t expect perfection 

It’s not going to happen. The caps aren’t going back on the right color marker every time, there will be days that, despite your best efforts, it looks like an artistic, tower-building hurricane ripped through the playroom. You have too much going on in your life to stress out about one room in your house. These tips may be helpful, but might also seem overwhelming. Don’t panic. Choose what works for you and your family. Start small. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish.

 

This article was written by Lilian Burns from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

9 Investment Tips for Parents Who Are Setting Up a College Fund

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We’d all love to remain in denial where our kids are concerned. We have so much time left. They’ll be my baby forever. They’ll never move away. The hard reality, though, is that we’ve got 18 years from the moment they enter this world until they are technically considered adults themselves. So we wouldn’t find it one bit surprising if you were already looking into setting up a college fund for your progeny’s future education. In fact, we’d say it’s a smart move. 

When your child is born, you are flooded with so many feel-good endorphins that the only things on your brain are cute little baby toes and that sweet squishy baby nose. Then you wake up one morning and that tiny bundle is waddling into kindergarten with an oversize backpack, and it hits you: college. Before you know it, your child will be trading times tables for an undergraduate course load. And then it hits you that a college education doesn’t usually come cheap. 

If the mere thought of your baby decorating their dorm and pledging a sorority or fraternity makes you want to break out in hives, just breathe. To help lighten your load, we tapped three investment experts to weigh in on tips for parents who are ready to set up a college fund. Here’s what they had to say. 

1. Start a 529 college savings plan ASAP

“A 529 college savings plan is the best way of saving for college because 529 plans provide tax and financial aid advantages over other college savings options,” Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and VP of research at Savingforcollege.com, tells SheKnows. Kantrowitz recommends investing after-tax dollars into a 529 plan, noting that earnings accumulated on a tax-deferred basis are totally tax-free if used to pay for qualified education expenses, and the money in a 529 plan is treated favorably by financial aid formulas. 

Plus, there may be additional tax perks. “Almost three dozen states offer income tax deductions for contributions to the state’s 529 plan. So, you should consider your state’s 529 plan(s). You should also consider the 529 plans of states with low fees — under 1 percent — since minimizing costs is the key to maximizing net returns,” says Kantrowitz.

2. Think incrementally

College Aid Planners‘ Joe Orsolini likens college savings to a marathon. “You can’t go out and think you are going to complete 26.2 miles without a little practice. You have to build up, run around the block, do a 5K, etc.,” he tells SheKnows, suggesting that parents should start saving in small amounts and increase the amount over time when feasible. 

“Saving for college is a lot easier in smaller pieces,” Orsolini advises. “Ultimately, you are going to write checks. Do you want to write a lot of small ones along the way or a big one when college starts? Slow and steady wins the race when saving for college.” 

3. There’s no such thing as too soon

We’ve already established that college is expensive, right? And that if you don’t save a little along the way, you’ll wind up staring down a possibly prohibitive lump sum. For these reasons, Student Debt Warriors founder and editor Tim Stobierski stresses that there’s no time like the present to start saving. 

“Start as early as possible, ideally from the day of your child’s birth. Even if you don’t currently have a child, you could open a plan in your own name if you plan to have a child in the future, make contributions and allow the money to grow. Then, once your child is born, you can move the plan to their name and Social Security number,” Stobierski tells SheKnows. 

4. Shoot for saving at least one-third of tuition

So, how much are we talking here? Well, per Kantrowitz, college costs triple over any 17-year period from birth to college enrollment. Therefore, you should shoot for saving about a third of future college costs. 

More: 7 Little Things You Can Do to Send Your Kid to School With Confidence

“Like any major life-cycle expense, the costs will be spread out over time, with a third coming from past income (savings), a third from current income and financial aid and a third from future income (loans),” Kantrowitz explains. “Combine the two rules, and your savings goal should be the full cost of a college education the year the child was born. That’s the equivalent of $250 per month for a child born this year who will be enrolling in an in-state public four-year college, $400 per month for an out-of-state public four-year college and $500 per month for a private four-year college.”

5. Get loved ones involved

Stobierski says a great way to get your college fund to add up even more over time is to think outside the box — or rather boxes, as in gifts. Getting family and friends to pitch in provides a practical opportunity to grow those savings.

“One easy way to do this, especially when the kids are younger: forgo expensive parties and gifts (especially for infants and toddlers) and instead funnel the extra funds to their 529 plan. Though parties are fun, your child most likely won’t remember them; and I’m willing to bet they’d be happier in the future without student loans than they would be now with another toy,” said Stobierski.

6. Make it automatic

As with many things in life, establishing a routine leads to results that are more consistent. In that regard, Orsolini recommends making savings contributions a habit. And the easiest way to do so is by having it done for you. 

“Sign up for a monthly auto-payment plan,” he suggests. Thanks to today’s automated technology, it’s easier than ever to set up monthly transfers from your bank account to go straight into your savings account or 529 plan. 

7. Keep an eye on the market

Of course, what you don’t want to do is play it fast and loose with all the money you’ve saved for your child’s college education — and end up taking a major financial hit when the market dips. 

Cautions Stobierski, “Remember that investing always involves risk. As your child ages and gets closer and closer to graduating from high school, make sure that your 529 plan becomes more conservative to offset the risk of a market decline. It would be really counterproductive to have saved money all of your child’s life just for it to be wiped away right when they need it most.”

8. Plan super-strategically

If you’re just starting to grow your family and you’re a type A when it comes to planning, you might want to consider this particularly interesting tidbit from Kantrowitz: college can actually be more affordable if your children are close in age. 

 

Here’s why. “Financial aid application formulas, such as the one used by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, divide the parent contribution portion of the expected family contribution by the number of children in college at the same time. So, going from one child in college at a time to two children in college at a time is like dividing the parent income in half,” Kantrowitz elaborates.

9. Realize that your college fund may not be necessary

At least not how you thought it would be, that is. “It’s important for parents to realize college isn’t right for every child, and while parents should encourage education, they should not pressure their child to earn a degree,” Stobierski says, adding this could ultimately lead to a child not graduating and yet still being saddled with expensive debt throughout their life. 

This doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t prepare by saving and investing, says Stobierski. If your child decides college isn’t a good fit for them, 529 college savings plan funds can be diverted toward trade or professional school and even transferred to a grandchild or other relative. 

 

This article was written by Julie Sprankles from SheKnows and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Five Ways You Can Help Children Cope with Homesickness

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When children spend a night away from home at a sleepover or on a family vacation, they may experience feelings of homesickness. Here are five ways to help them cope with these feelings.

 

  1. Talk about being away before your child is away. Some children might not even be aware of how homesickness feels, so it’s a good idea to have a conversation about what homesickness is and how you will be available if your child needs to talk.
  2. Keep the lines of communication open. Your child can keep in touch with you through text messages, phone calls and emails while she is away from home. This provides a comforting connection.
  3. Remind your child that it’s only temporary. A sleepover is only one night; a vacation may only last a week. The time away from home will not last forever, and neither will the homesickness.
  4. Encourage your child to do things that will take his mind off being homesick. Suggest that your child read a story, play a game or play with friends or siblings. Having fun is one of the best ways to cope with homesickness.
  5. Suggest that your child take something comforting along. A favorite stuffed animal, a blanket, a pillow or a familiar item that reminds your child of home can soothe him if he is homesick.