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Science says parents of successful kids have these 11 things in common

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  • There isn’t a set recipe for how to raise a successful child.
  • However, research points to several factors that could help.
  • Some of those factors might be totally out of your control: research has shown that being wealthier and a college graduate are two big influencers of your children’s success.

Most parents want their kids to stay out of trouble, do well in school, and go on to live successful lives as adults. 

And while there isn’t a set recipe for raising successful children, psychology research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success.

Unsurprisingly, much of it comes down to the parents. Keep reading to take a look at what parents of successful kids have in common.

Drake Baer contributed to a previous version of this article. 

They make their kids do chores

 

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“If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult” said during a TED Talks Live event.

“By making them do chores — taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry — they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life,” she previously told Business Insider.

Lythcott-Haims believes kids raised on chores go on to become employees who collaborate well with their coworkers, are more empathetic because they know firsthand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently.

They teach their kids social skills

 

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Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University tracked more than 700 children from across the US between kindergarten and age 25 and found a significant correlation between their social skills as kindergartners and their success as adults two decades later.

The 20-year study showed that children who could cooperate with their peers, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by age 25 than those with limited social skills.

Those with limited social skills also had a higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking, and applying for public housing.

“This study shows that helping children develop social and emotional skills is one of the most important things we can do to prepare them for a healthy future,” said Kristin Schubert, program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research, in a release.

“From an early age, these skills can determine whether a child goes to college or prison, and whether they end up employed or addicted.”

They have high expectations

 

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Using data from a national survey of 6,600 children born in 2001, University of California at Los Angeles professor Neal Halfon and his colleagues discovered that the expectations parents hold for their kids have a huge effect on attainment.

“Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets,” Halfon said.

The finding came out in standardized tests: 57% of the kids who did the worst were expected to attend college by their parents, while 96% of the kids who did the best were expected to go to college.

This falls in line with another psych finding: The Pygmalion effect, which states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” In the case of kids, they live up to their parents’ expectations.

They have healthy relationships with each other

 

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Children in high-conflict families tend to fare worse than children of parents that get along, according to a University of Illinois study review.

A nonconflictual single-parent family is better for children than two-parent families with conflict, according to the review.

But, conflict between parents before and after a divorce can affect children negatively.

Another study in this review found that 20-somethings who experienced divorce of their parents as children still report pain and distress over their parents’ divorce ten years later.

They’re educated

 

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2014 study from the University of Michigan found that mothers who finished high school or college were more likely to raise kids that did the same.

Pulling from a group of over 14,000 children who entered kindergarten from 1998 to 2007, the study found that higher levels of maternal education predicted higher achievement from kindergarten to eighth grade.

A different study from Bowling Green State University suggested that the parents’ education levels when a child is 8 years old “significantly predicted” the education and career level for the child four decades later.

They teach their kids math early on

 

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A 2007 meta-analysis of 35,000 preschoolers across the US, Canada, and England found that developing math skills early can turn into a huge advantage.

“The paramount importance of early math skills — of beginning school with a knowledge of numbers, number order, and other rudimentary math concepts — is one of the puzzles coming out of the study,” coauthor and Northwestern University researcher Greg Duncan said. “Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement.”

They develop a relationship with their kids

 

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A 2014 study of 243 children born into poverty found that those who received “sensitive caregiving” in their first three years did better in academic tests in childhood than those who did not receive the same parenting style. 

Those children also had healthier relationships and greater academic achievement.

“This suggests that investments in early parent-child relationships may result in long-term returns that accumulate across individuals’ lives,” coauthor and University of Minnesota psychologist Lee Raby said.

They value effort over avoiding failure

 

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Where kids think success comes from also predicts their attainment. 

Over decades, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered that children (and adults) think about success in one of two ways. Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova says they go a little something like this: 

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. 

Dweck’s mindset theory has attracted valid critiques over the years, but the core tenant of believing that you can improve at something is important to encourage in children.

The moms work

 

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According to research out of Harvard Business School, there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home.

“There are very few things, that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother,” Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, who led the study, told Working Knowledge.

Daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned more money — 23% more compared to peers raised by stay-at-home mothers.

The sons of working mothers also tended to pitch in more on household chores and childcare, the study found. 

But, working mothers aren’t necessarily spending every waking minute outside of work with their children

 

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Women are more likely to feel intense pressure to balance child rearing with workplace ambitions. Ultimately, they spend more time parenting than fathers do. 

A 2015 study found the number of hours that moms spend with kids between ages 3 and 11 does little to predict the child’s behavior, well-being, or achievement.

In fact, the study suggests that it’s actually harmful for the child to spend time with a mother who is sleep-deprived, anxious, or otherwise stressed. 

“Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” study coauthor and Bowling Green State University sociologist Kei Nomaguchi told The Washington Post.

It could be more beneficial to spend one fully-engaged hour with a child than spend the whole evening half-listening to your kid while scrolling through work emails.

They have a higher socioeconomic status

 

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One-fifth of American children grow up in poverty, a situation that severely limits their potential.

It’s getting more extreme. According to Stanford University researcher Sean Reardon, the achievement gap between high- and low-income families “is roughly 30% to 40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier.” 

As social scientist Dan Pink wrote, the higher the income for the parents, the higher the SAT scores for the kids. 

“Absent comprehensive and expensive interventions, socioeconomic status is what drives much of educational attainment and performance,” Pink wrote.

 

This article was written by Rachel Gillett from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Afraid of the Dentist? 6 Tips for Helping a Fearful Child

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Make your child’s next trip to the dentist a fun experience with these insider tips.

Taking a child to the dentist is rarely simple. Dentist anxiety and phobia are problems for about 30 million to 40 million people in the United States, according to Colgate. And in many instances, these challenges prevent people from getting the dental care they need to maintain clean, healthy and beautiful smiles.

If your child is scared of the dentist, it is a good idea to address his or her fear as soon as you can. That way, you can show your son or daughter that the dentist is here to help, not harm. You may even reach a point where your child actually enjoys going to the dentist—really!

Below are five tips to help your child overcome his or her fear of the dentist and put them on track for a lifetime of strong oral health.

1. Arrange a Pre-Appointment Meeting

A quick meet-and-greet with your child’s dentist can go a long way toward easing his or her fear or anxiety. This meeting will give your child an opportunity to get acquainted with a dental office and staff. It also gives the dentist a chance to learn about your child, build a rapport with him or her and take the first step toward fostering a long-lasting relationship.

2. Watch Your Language

When you talk about a dental appointment with your son or daughter, try not to use negative words like “hurt,” “pain” and “shot.” Instead, focus on positive words like “clean” and “healthy.” You can also use kid-friendly terms to describe various dental issues, procedures and tools. Rather than say “cavities” or “tooth decay,” for example, you may want to use “sugar bugs” to describe these oral health problems. Kid-friendly terms are not intended to fool a child; conversely, they can be used to set the stage for a positive experience during your child’s next dental visit.

3. Keep Things Simple

Your child might want to know a lot in the weeks and days leading up to a dental appointment. If you get bombarded with questions, try to keep things as simple as possible. Maintain a positive attitude, but don’t tell your child that everything will be fine. If you do and a dentist ultimately discovers that your child is dealing with severe oral health problems, your son or daughter may lose trust in both you and your dentist.

4. Host a Pretend Dental Visit

Practice makes perfect, particularly when it comes to helping your child alleviate his or her fear of the dentist. By hosting your very own practice dental office visit at home, you can help your child prepare for an upcoming dental appointment. During a pretend dental visit, you can count your child’s teeth and hold up a mirror to show him or her how a dentist evaluates the teeth. Of course, it is important to avoid simulating drilling sounds or any other dental office noises that might otherwise make your child’s fear or anxiety levels rise.

5. Provide Positive Reinforcement

Give your child something to look forward to following a dental appointment—you will be happy you did. For instance, you can reward the little patient for good behavior during a dental appointment by visiting a playground afterward. Remember, if your child feels good following a dental appointment, he or she may be more likely to respond positively to the dentist in the future.

6. Take Your Children to a Specialist in Pediatric Dentistry

Make your child feel at ease by taking them to a pediatric dentist. They’re specifically trained to treat children and have a great understanding of child behavior. Their offices are also designed to accommodate small children and make the visits fun.

Lastly, if you want your child to feel comfortable going to the dentist, it typically helps to start dental appointments at a young age. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a child visit the dentist for the first time no later than age 1 or within six months of his or her first tooth erupting. If your child gets accustomed to dental appointments early, he or she can avoid dental fear and anxiety. Encouraging great oral hygiene habits from a young age can also help mitigate any serious future dental issues.

As the top awarded pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, and parent dentistry practice in the greater San Diego area, The Super Dentists are dedicated to providing an exceptional dental experience for both kids and parents. Since 1996, The Super Dentists strive to continue to empower parents with the knowledge they need to make well-informed decisions about their children’s dental health.

 

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

Why You Should Let Your Kid Fail (Sometimes)

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Is your child resilient? How do you, as a parent, support your child while also bringing out their strength and bounce-back for the days ahead? You let them fail. Sometimes.

“At any age, humans are hardwired to have coping skills,” says pediatrician Edward Gaydos, DO. “The real question is, how do we help our children shape and interpret experiences? I think one thing we need to do is give kids a  comfortable space for failure, and then empower them to try again.”

How kids learn from failure

Today, many kids feel the invisible but heavy pressure to be the best, to stand at the top, and to collect the most awards, scholarships or trophies. The truth is, we can’t all always win king or queen of the mountain every time we play.

Parents with unrealistically high expectations can unwittingly create anxiety and fear in their children. Rather than creating an environment where they feel the need to win every time, it would be healthier and more realistic to expect setbacks sometimes — especially because we all tend to learn more from our mistakes than from success,” he says.

For example, if you take a quiz, you tend to remember the answers that you got wrong rather than those that were correct.

A parent’s role

Part of this process of building resilience is about ourselves, the parents. We are the ones waiting eagerly at the sidelines, rooting for our favorite little people.

Check in with yourself and see if you are living any of your own dreams through your child. If so, this can create a lot of pressure and expectation, making kids feel self-conscious or even inadequate. Instead, we need to be supportive while giving children room to breathe.

“Children shouldn’t be the center of attention, but rather treated as part of a special community, your family and those you invite into your circle,” Dr. Gaydos says.

He offers the following tips to parents:

  • Validate your child’s fears or concerns.
  • Let kids figure some things out on their own.
  • Encourage children to be in situations where they interact with others and learn social cues.

Fail, learn and try again — it’s all OK

When children are allowed to have a variety of experiences in which they are allowed to fail and try again, they naturally learn more.

“You can help their kids by teaching them that life is about learning, making mistakes, and then working hard not to make the same mistakes again. This, to me, is how you define wisdom.”

He says it’s OK to tell your children that you are learning from your own mistakes. It helps children to trust you and to understand that we are all in the journey together.

 

This article was written by Children’s Health Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Entrepreneur Mom’s Secret for Controlling Chaos Will Give You More Time with Your Kids

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

It might seem crazy, but it’s totally worth it.

It’s 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and my phone rings. I interrupt my midweek recap with my assistant and best friend, Erin, to take the call. We’ve closed on 12 homes this month, and I have the late-night call log to prove it. This is my busy season, as spring and summer usually are. Business aside, I have one daughter moving into college this week, I’m planning my Nan’s 90th birthday, and I have a radio segment this weekend to discuss the market.

This is my life in all its chaos. Among my many titles: multi-million-dollar real-estate producer with Coldwell Banker, owner of real estate brand the Pittsburgh Property Diva, fashionista and animal lover, but I am first and foremost wife and mother. Together with my husband, Chris Klein, we have a blended family of SEVEN children ranging from the ages of 10 to 25, three dogs and three cats. That’s right. There are nine humans and six furs in this modern Brady Bunch.

While my career is flexible and allows time for my family, it’s demanding. There are no set office hours, and we work around the clock. Just this week I’m launching five new listings along with my property showings, and I have a closing scheduled for Friday and seven open houses on Sunday. Seven open houses! I wasn’t lying when I told you we work around the clock.

Real estate doesn’t exactly offer a set schedule, and the time when you’d like to wind down for an evening with your children doing homework, running errands or carpooling is often overlapping with business. A set schedule isn’t offered, but it’s what I’ve had to create to juggle both roles as mom and agent. So, what’s my secret? How do I keep the chaos in order? I have a plan of action and stay routine-oriented each day. But I’ll let you in on the real secret … boundaries. Unapologetic boundaries.

Women seem to fear this word. So many of us struggle with boundaries out of guilt, fear or mere pride. Reason being that today’s woman is simply expected to be it all. We live in a world where we’re no longer “homemaker or working woman;” usually we’re both. We’re the modern-day superwoman rocking many hats as mom, wife and career woman. These expectations we put on ourselves forbid us from setting healthy boundaries, sometimes to our own detriment.

When I learned that the secret to being it all really was dividing and conquering, these barriers I set didn’t seem as crazy. Over the years, I had a really strict schedule in order to accommodate my children’s needs. I’d only show houses on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for many years. Sometimes that meant seeing four different clients in one night just so I had openings throughout the week. This term gave me some sense of normalcy and routine in an otherwise fast-paced industry.

When my children were really young, I had to learn not to be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people who would love to just sit and hold a baby for two hours while you take a nap and that doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Our health and wellbeing is most important as moms, so when your kids nap or are at school, try to be easy with yourself: rest, eat, exercise, connect with friends. How else will we run the show if we’re not revitalized, ourselves?

The thing is, moms, sometimes life has to be on your terms. The way I see it, we’re the ringmaster of this circus, and it’s our job to coordinate and collaborate to keep things running smoothly. Is it always easy? No. But balance and boundaries run hand in hand. I haven’t exactly mastered the natural “zen” we all seek from in life, but I can say that things run fairly smoothly at Diva HQ after years of experience. I manage to juggle life as mom, wife and agent while still making time to treat myself to a spa day here and there, guilt-free.

Setting your own guidelines can be a scary thing. I get it. The mom guilt is real. But if we want to breeze through this world without losing our sanity, we have to drop the guilt and get used to the word boundaries. The take-all? Take time for you. Time for your children. Time to connect with your hubby. Just two weeks ago, Chris and I fled off to Chicago to see Pearl Jam for our anniversary. Maybe I wouldn’t have that luxury now without those years of practicing the balance. Or maybe it’s all because I gave up cooking three years ago. You make the call.


Lauren Klein is a multi-million-dollar real estate producer with Coldwell Banker, and the owner of Pittsburgh Property Diva. Her successful real-estate career lit a passion in her for mentoring and empowering women in business, and she does so with her new networking series #DivasDoingBusiness.

 

This article was written by Lauren Klein 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.

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.

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.

9 Real Working Moms Reveal How They Got Their Back-to-School Routine Down Pat

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

Read and learn from these seasoned pros.

As summer winds down, many working moms are thinking (fantasizing?) about school starting in just a few weeks (or today, if you live in some parts of the country).

As exciting as a new school year can be, the change in routine from lazy summer days to tightly-packed schedules can lead to more than a few tears—and I’m not even talking about the kids.

We asked real working moms to share their ingenious tips for making the transition back to school as smooth as possible. Here’s what they suggest:

Keep the same routine, no matter the season.

Some parents relax the rules in the summer. Not Ann Holman, who is in the Navy and lives in Jacksonville, FL. “I keep the same bedtime every day (even weekends), the same Internet/video game rules (only on the weekend), and the same diet (we don’t do random snacks at home),” she says. Consistency makes for an easier back-to-school adjustment, she says.

Streamline school-supply shopping.

 

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Buying in bulk is your friend.

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When it comes to back-to-school, some things are worth paying a little extra for. “If your school has the school supply packs that you can pre-order, it is worth every penny,” says Annette Fontaine, an engineer from Austin, TX. Many other moms we surveyed echoed this tip.

Practice your new routine in advance

 

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And head off meltdowns.

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As we all know, young kids can be finicky about their routines—a seemingly minor change can totally throw them off. This is especially true for that most emotionally fraught of rituals: the morning drop-off. Elyssa Morrison, an advertising executive in Hillsborough, NJ, makes things easier for her kids with this trick:

“My husband is a teacher and is always gone before I wake up,” she explains. “He helps out a lot when he’s home over the summer, but about a week before he goes back, I take it back over. I get myself up, get the kids up, do breakfast, and most importantly, do the daycare drop-offs. I find that this helps my kids get adjusted to Daddy not being there in the morning.”

Outsmart the brown bag.

 

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Go for a washable container—with compartments—instead.

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There is perhaps no task working moms dread more than packing school lunches. (Or is it just me?)

Rachel Margolin, who lives in New York City, runs a consulting and publishing business with her husband and co-authored Balancepreneur, a book on work-life balance, says the key to easier lunches is in the container: “I got a set of Tupperware with three sections,” she says. “It makes packing a healthy lunch very easy, and there isn’t a bunch of Tupperware for your kid to try to keep organized at lunch, or for you to have to wash at the end of the day. And I think kids for some reason are more likely to eat the veggies out of the three-section Tupperware than to open a separate veggie cup.” (I plan to test out this theory ASAP.)

Shop early and often.

 

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You never know when you’ll catch a good sale.

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When a new school year looms on the horizon, it’s not just pencils and notebooks working moms need to shop for. There are tons of other odds and ends to buy, often in different stores. An early start to shopping reduces the risk your child shows up on day one without a much-needed item.

“My daughter starts kindergarten August 1,” says Beth Newberry Gurney, a grant project manager from Shelbyville, KY, “so [in July] I ordered a backpack and lunchbox for her from Lands’ End and shoes for her from Amazon. I stopped by Staples on my way to work for supplies and put the rest on our Kroger ClickList.”

Prep the kids for early wake-ups.

 

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Rise and shine, kiddos.

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If you’re not one of those aforementioned parents who keeps summer and school-year routines the same, you may be faced with the daunting task of getting your kids up earlier for school. (I don’t have first-hand experience with this yet, but I hear this is a particularly unpleasant chore with teenagers.)

Here’s how Grace Barbarino, a teacher from New York City, tackles the problem: “Since I’m a teacher, I go to work two days before my kids start,” she says. “They start getting used to the early wake-up times then. I wake them, dress them and get breakfast ready. By the time their first day rolls around, they are better adjusted to the wake-up time.”

Get everything on the calendar ASAP.

 

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If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.

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This scenario probably sounds familiar to many working moms: You schedule an important meeting at work, only to realize it conflicts with a “Professional Development Day” (i.e. day off) at your child’s school.

Here’s how Alison Zvolanek, who works in marketing and lives in Dallas, TX, avoids that headache: “I just went through the district and PTA calendars and added all the important dates to my calendar—meet the teacher, parent night, school holidays, early release days, etc.,” she says. (This is going to be the year I actually follow this tip!)

Do everything the night or week before.

 

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Then just grab it and go in the morning.

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Lynn Little, a group home manager from Bristol, CT, is the kind of working mom who leaves nothing to chance.

“Use Sunday to plan for your week,” she advises. “Put outfits on hangers separately from the rest of the clothes. Put a bag on the hanger with undies and socks. Pack a week’s worth of lunches. Pack separate bags for each night to have all of your stuff for each activity. Put snacks if needed in the bag ahead of time. If you need something from the fridge for an activity put a label on it in the fridge and clip a note to the bag. At night, have the kids pack their school bags and set them up next to the door.”

Or … just wing it!

 

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A risky but sometimes necessary strategy.

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Stacey Hawes, a boiler operator from Addison, MI, prefers to embrace the chaos: “I just like to go at it unprepared,” she says. “Makes it exciting.”

Here’s hoping for an exciting—or, for those who prefer, unexciting—Back to School 2018!

 

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

This Trick for Getting Kids to Do Their Chores Just Blew Our Mind

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Some parents pay kids to do chores. Some wouldn’t dream of paying them. After all, helping out around the house is as non-negotiable as brushing their teeth—and no one gets paid for that. Some families weave table clearing and toy pickup into the fabric of daily routines. Others prioritize homework and getting to bed early, so they choose to just live with Magna-Tiles strewn across the living room rug. But no matter what your stance on chores, everyone can agree that kids suck at them—at least when they’re little.

This, it turns out, is something we must get over ASAP, if we want to raise competent, capable adults. Here’s why:

“Sure, toddlers may want to help, but let’s face reality here,” writes NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff. “They can be clumsy, destructive and even enraging. Their involvement in chores often slows things down or makes a mess. For this reason, many parents…rebuff a toddler’s offer to help.” Some of us have even been known to stick kids in front of a screen so we can do dishes or a load of laundry. This is the mother lode of missed opportunity. Even if kids pour half a bottle of detergent into the dishwasher, even they drench you while watering the garden, even if you have to scream into a terribly folded towel, you need to let them help.

The moms who understand this see the momentary frustration “as an investment,” writes Doucleff. “Encourage the messy, incompetent toddler who really wants to do the dishes now, and over time, he’ll turn into the competent seven-year-old who still wants to help.” She quotes University of New Hampshire education professor Andrew Coppens, who says: “Early opportunities to collaborate with parents likely sets off a developmental trajectory that leads to children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home.”

Stick them in front of Netflix so you can wash glitter glue off the dog and you’ll be de-glittering things on your own for the next decade. Warns Doucleff: “If you tell a child enough times, ‘No, you’re not involved in this chore,’ eventually they will believe you.”

 

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

Everything You Need to Know About Giving Your Kid an Allowance

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Experts answer all the common questions parents have about giving an allowance, including when to start and how much to give.

When do you start giving your child an allowance?
Wait until you feel your child is mature enough to grasp the concepts of saving and spending, most likely around age 4.

How much do you give?
Some experts recommend giving $1 monthly for every year old (e.g., $5 a month for a 5-year-old), but only if it makes financial sense for your family. Otherwise, decide on your annual allowance budget per child, then figure out the frequency. Consistency is key.

How should you give the allowance?
Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, popularized the three-jar approach, in which kids split up allowance into pools: one for spending, one for saving, one for giving. It’s a good starter path for younger children. But older kids have cash flow issues just like grown-ups, says Joline Godfrey, author of Raising Financially Fit Kids—maybe one month they have multiple friends’ birthdays. Consider giving a lump sum for, say, six months to cover expenses you’ve decided are their responsibility. Encourage them to budget it with saving and giving in mind too.

Should you link allowance with chores?
In a word, no. Most experts agree that tasks like making the bed and clearing the table should be expected, not rewarded. Kids might earn money for “bonus chores” that go above and beyond the norm, like babysitting or helping with a big yard project.

What about with grades?
Nope. “An allowance is a tool for practicing financial skills—not a salary,” says Godfrey.

 

This article was written by Kathleen Murray Harris from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.