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Archive for the ‘School’ Category

How to Help Your Child Transition Back to School after Covid

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By Lee Scott and Helen Hadani, Contributing Writers and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Members

We have been asked by many parents how they can help their children transition with the changes at school this summer or fall. What happens when it will be a move to a new classroom or teacher? Things will feel strange enough after being away for so long. We suggest a few steps that may help you prepare. 

Get started by planning for returning to schoolSet up your schoolday routines – set a time for waking up in the morning, create relaxing bedtime rituals, select clothing at night, etc. Start these a few weeks before returning to school. Connect with the school before returning. Ask which classroom your child will be in and who will be his or her new teachers. You can also ask whether some of your child’s friends from the previous classroom will be returning. Share the details with your child.   

Practice and roleplay. Walk your child through security or safety protocols such as handwashing, taking temperatures and wearing a mask. Explain what your child will do when he or she gets to school. Roleplay the sequence at home. What will you do? What about the teachers and your child? The Goddard School has a short video you can watch with your childTalk about the routines with your child. 

Make sure you connect with what your child is feeling and support helpful behavior. Research shows that when parents encourage children to talk about mental states including emotions, they are more likely to adjust to change and be helpful to others. Look for opportunities in your daily activities such as reading a book or watching a movie to highlight how characters are feeling (e.g., “How do you think that character was feeling?” or “How would you feel if that happened to you?”). This may help children talk about how they are feeling when they get back to school and hopefully lead to them helping their peers who may be struggling more with the transition.  

Help your child adjust to the changes by managing expectations. One way to help your child adjust is to create a play plan. Tools of the Mind is an early childhood curriculum for preschool and kindergarten designed to promote executivefunction skills through playful learning activities. For example, children start their school day by drawing or writing activities they envision for their day. Those plans help children to think and act purposefullyEncourage your child to create a play plan before he or she goes back to school to get in the habit of thinking about the day. It could help ease fears about what to expect and build excitement around doing favorite activities at school. When you are sharing a play plan, you can also talk about your child’s new classroom and teacher. Ask your child what he or she might expect from the new classroom or new routine. 

Reconnect with friends a few at a time. For some little ones, seeing peers in large groups might be a bit overwhelming since they have spent the past several months with their families and maybe only seeing one or two friends at a time. Set up a time to get together with a friend. Plan a simple activity, such as a ball game outside or a board game or puzzle. Your child might not know what to talk about, so thinking of a few things to share could be helpful. Parents can ask their child to think of three things that the child has enjoyed (or not enjoyed) about staying at home (e.g., having more family movie nights, not being able to visit grandparents). 

Following these steps and building expectations will help your child make a smooth transition. Try not to worry and remember that many others are having the same experience.    

Here’s What Your Children Are Learning While They’re at Home

man teaching preschool girl sitting at table with him teaching her math and letters

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Many parents have expressed concerns over what their children may have lost in terms of education while schools have been closed. The parents fret that they haven’t had the time or experience to ensure their children are learning. Rest assured that learning doesn’t begin and end at school. There is a great deal of value in what you have been doing at home. 

A new survey by MumPoll of British parents reported four in five say their families have formed a closer bond during this time. The survey also revealed some parents are engaging in new activities with their childrenFor example, 28 percent of families reported picking up family gardening. Parents also said they are playing more games and puzzles together. 

Think about all of the learning taking place in those activities listed above. For example, puzzles and games help support mathematics, self-regulation, communication and science skills. Gardening supports science, develops motor skills and requires planning and organization. These may not be formal school lessons but they are definitely learning opportunities. 

In our Goddard At Home activities, we have focused on fun and engaging experiences that cover a variety of learning areas instead of one or two skills. We have purposely made it easy for families to select activities that work for their routines. Parents do not need to try to recreate school but rather focus on following their children’s interests and enjoying the activities. 

Parents have reported to us that they are seeing positive changes in their children over the past few months while they’ve been at home. This is especially true in language development, taking on more responsibility and being more self-confident. These skills will help children cope with change and be better prepared when they do return to school.  

The simple acts of reading a story, taking a walk or cooking together are all learning experiences building language, math, science, executive function and other skills. 

When you think of what your children are learning in this context, it can be a lot less stressful. You got this and your children are learning.  

 

 

Four Questions Not to Ask Your Child about Returning to School

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by Dr. Kyle Pruett, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

While the return of a schedule for which you are not responsible and a little less chaos overall can make us welcome sending our children back to school, we can’t guarantee a smooth transition. A common temptation is to start grilling our offspring about school readiness stuff in a well-meaning attempt to anticipate trouble and cut it off at the root. Examples of some things a four-year-old might say to some seemingly innocent inquiries from mom or dad include, “I don’t know if I want to see my friends yet.” “I liked being at home with you every day.” Here are four questions you may want to reconsider asking:

1. Are you excited about going back to school?

Most preschoolers feel a mix of emotions: excitement, uncertainty, curiosity or fear and not all at the same time, so it’s hard to answer this one directly. Instead, let them overhear you talking to family or friends about getting ready to send them back and some of your mixed feelings just to let them know this is an okay topic. Doing this may help encourage them to ask their questions about going back, to which you can then listen carefully and deal with where your children are about going back, not just where you are.

2. Do you want to practice your letters and numbers to get ready for school?

Isn’t this tempting since you know practice might help them in reentry? Instead, it often makes a preschooler think he or she is already a little behind because he or she hasn’t been doing his or her due diligence. Instead, before your child heads back, start saying things like, “Can you find the letter A in the billboards along the road?” Playing small games may help him or her get back in the swing of identification without feeling like it’s a getting-ready-for-school thing and is more a growing-up thing.

3. Anything special you want to do before school begins again?

Of course, we want to please our kids by giving them what they want, but this question carries with it the idea that something serious is about to happen, and they’d better get in their goodbyes. Instead, use the last long weekend for family time that is more laid back than what is to come when school starts. Talk about how much these times mean to you as a mom, dad or family and how you look forward to more of them.

4. When you do want to start getting ready to go to bed earlier to get ready for school mornings?

This question may seem like you are trying to partner up with them on this issue, but it’s just better to get it started without their consent, which you are pretty unlikely to obtain.

How to know your kids are contagious (and when to keep them at home)

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No one likes to be sick. As a parent, when you feel terrible, you just wish that the world would stop and you could just curl up on your bed and sleep. Unfortunately, this is not how the world works. Even when you are sick there are things that have to be done.

However, when your kids are sick, you’ll need to decide whether they are contagious or not before sending them off on their way. You don’t want to spread whatever your child has to the entire school.

So how do you know when your child is contagious?

1. Fever

Fever is a sign that your body is still fighting the virus or bacteria. A fever is always a sign of sickness, so if you notice that your child’s temperature is running high, it’s a sign they should stay home today.

2. Runny nose

If their sinuses are draining, they are sick — despite the color of the drainage. “All colds are contagious regardless of mucus color.” says Sara DuMond, MD.

3. Feeling sick

We live in a culture where even if you are feeling sick, you just keep going. When our kids say they feel sick, it can be easy to ignore it and send them on their way.

However, that might not be the best approach. DuMond said, “When your child is feeling his worst (days three through five), he’s most contagious. But symptoms can last for up to two weeks, and he’s contagious as long as he’s sick. Of course, you can’t quarantine him for days. So wash your hands frequently after touching him, and keep him away from other kids during the … peak.”

“In most of us, flu is contagious for about a week. By the time you’re feeling better, you have probably stopped spewing virus particles everywhere,” Dr. Salber says. Therefore, if you are feeling really sick you are probably still contagious.

When should you keep the kids home?

If you suspect your child is contagious you should keep your kids home — it might be inconveinent, it might be unexpected, but it’s the right thing to do.

What to do?

If your child is sick there are a lot of options. You can see if you can work from home, take a sick day yourself or call the grandparents or a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your child. Be sure to call the school and excuse your child’s absence and work on getting their day’s work so they don’t fall behind.

 

This article was written by Christa Cutler from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

What to do When Your Kid’s Teacher Wants to Talk About Behavior Problems

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Be ready to listen and help create a plan.

A creeping feeling of dread comes the first time the teacher reaches out. Early in the school year, the teacher pulls you aside or sends an email saying,“Can we find some time to talk?” Most parents know in the back of their mind some behavior challenges are on the horizon, but don’t know how they’ll manifest in school. As a parent, the conversations that follow can be daunting. But you can do your child, and yourself, a world of good if you hone in on what your child’s teacher is saying. Here are five steps to engage with your teacher in the most productive way possible.

1. Don’t Panic

The teacher isn’t judging you. She isn’t judging your child. In fact, everybody involved is aligned on the same goal: how can we create the best possible experience for this child? Of course, you’re going to have anxiety over the wellbeing of your child, so it’s not easy to put it aside. But in its place, view the conversation as an invitation to start a dialogue. Until you have more information, you don’t want to make assumptions about the road ahead.

2. Listen

Your teacher spends a lot of time with your child, especially in the early grades. Teachers know your child and want to see him succeed. As the conversation begins with your teacher, gather as much information as you can. Ask her to be specific about the behaviors that have been observed, and why they are concerning. Here are some specific questions you can ask:

  • How big of a problem is this? The teacher could simply be telling you about a single challenging episode, just so you know, with no long-term plan of action necessary. Or, they could be clueing you into a more significant problem.

  • What is the nature of the problem? It could be things like trouble with transitions, or aggression.

  • Should we be pulling in more resources? There are many things a school can do to help a kid who is struggling, including specific supports at school (sometimes called Response to Intervention or RTI) all the way to arranging for an evaluation for your child. An evaluation is a more significant step, but also opens up doors to increased aid and professional services your child may be entitled to. Schools are responsible for creating learning environments for all students.

  • What supports might help at home? The teacher will have some ideas about tools and methods that might work at home. Even better, they can match the system at school.

3. Build a Team and Stay Positive

Everyone wants your child to succeed. If you get defensive, it makes the team less productive. If the teacher is helping you understand the onset of more complex issues, the two of you are going to have to work together to communicate with doctors and insurance. You’ll want to plot out strategies and understand how you can navigate your specific school to create the best environment possible for your child. Your teacher isn’t blaming you and wants to work with you. Complex problems are going to mean stepping into a world of increased supports with a catacomb-like vocabulary. Your teacher and the school staff have been there before. At the point you get here, you’ll also want to turn to your pediatrician, and start thinking about additional professional services (like a psychologist or clinical social worker).

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t be able to talk to school staff with trust. While you shouldn’t give up on re-establishing that trust, there are members of your community you can turn to. Many communities will have a SEPAC (special education parent advisory council) that can help. A special education advocate can also be a starting point, since they’ll know the system. Finding a local advocate is usually as simple as turning to your local parent community (a Facebook group in your hometown) and asking for recommendations.

4. Follow Up

Once a teacher alerts you there’s a problem, try to check in after you first talk. This is going to be the first clue on how seriously the teacher takes the problem. If the check-in suggests everyone has moved on, that’s great. If the teacher is talking about supports that have been put in place and how everyone is responding to them, then you have a clue they view the challenges as something that will persist. If supports are ongoing, try to keep checking in, and see how things are progressing. Even if your child is receiving supports, you should still expect progress. Schools are getting better about taking data and should be able to tell you how things are going.

5. Find Ways to Support Your Child in the Home

You can extend your child’s learning into your home. What this looks like will depend on what challenges you’re facing. Your teacher might have some recommendations, or you could echo the supports being used in the classroom. If you’ve reached out to your doctor, then they might have some ideas as well. I personally tend to recommend methods that reward kids’ innate drive to learn through exploration. At some level, we all know we’re not going to be able to reason kids through behavioral challenges. But we can tap into experiential learning. Sports can do this; some kids find a place where they latch onto the teamwork aspect. Surprisingly, video games can sometimes pull off the same trick, especially if the family can play together and develop ways to cooperate.

Jason Kahn PhD is a dad, Researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, Instructor at Harvard Medical School, Co-founder & Chief Science Officer at Mightier. Mightier uses the power of bioresponsive games to help kids build and practice calming skills to meet real-world challenges.

 

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

My top 5 school stain removal hacks

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Marker pen, gravy and glue. If I had $1 for every time the oldest comes home from school wearing one or all three of those items I would be significantly richer than I am now.

The question is: how best to remove them?


stain removal hacks

If you’ve got one or more kids at school like me you’ll know stains go with the territory – ranging from the innocent to the best-not-think-about-it downright suspicious. My attitude to these stains ranges from the ‘must remove said stain immediately’ to the ‘it can wait until the weekend’ sort of a stain, depending on where we are in the working week, and indeed the school year.


stain removal hacks

I’ve acquired quite an armoury of products to deal with these stains, and I’m a sucker for new ones to help in the constant battle too. So, what’s in my armoury at the moment? A month into the new school year and with half term rapidly approaching I thought now would be a good time to share my top 5 school stain removal hacks.

My top 5 school stain removal hacks

1. Whiteboard marker

Now blackboards have been superseded by whiteboards there’s a new stain in town: the dreaded whiteboard marker. They come in every colour of the rainbow and in our school the kids are allowed and even encouraged to use them. Who in their right mind lets a child loose with a marker pen? Sadly, they don’t simply wipe off their school uniform like they do the whiteboard, either.

The solution:

Hairspray. Put kitchen roll under the item of clothing and area of the stain, then spray it within an inch of its life. Blot the stain and repeat the process until the stain is gone, then wash as normal.


stain removal hacks

2. Code brown

Yes, I am talking number twos (not whole ones, but marks left by them). I don’t know what it is about school compared with home (I’m pretty sure tracing paper loo roll was outlawed years ago) but I regularly find tyre marks in undercrackers (don’t worry, I’ll spare you a picture).

The solution:

ACE for Colours. I love a new find and ACE is one of my latest – if you haven’t heard of ACE for Colours before it’s a liquid stain remover (£2) with an ‘8+ system’ designed to tackle stubborn stains including ‘body soils’, which is a polite way of saying code brown. Just fill the dosing cap with ACE, stick it in the machine on top of the offending item and bingo: tyre marks have vanished.


stain removal hacks

3. Gravy

What do they put in school gravy? My goodness the stuff sticks! Roast dinner is on Thursdays where we are, and you can put money on the oldest coming home with a splattered front and dipped cuffs. Owing to the fact it’s Thursday you could just leave it (no-one’s spotlessly clean on a Friday, right?) but if you really can’t stand it or gravy is served up earlier in the week there is an answer.

The solution:

ACE Stain Remover, which I discovered alongside ACE for Colours. There’s no need for a full wash and dry for this one, a simple sponge down will do: just spray some ACE stain remover directly onto a sponge or cloth and apply it to the gravy stain. As well as taking away the stain it also takes away the smell – leaving a fresh one in its place!


stain removal hacks

4. Grass

If they play on a field grass stains are inevitable, the question is what’s the best way to tackle them? Forget washing uniform over and over again in the vain hope the stains will eventually fade – there’s a far easier solution.

The solution:

White vinegar and baking soda – and a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease. Pour the vinegar into a bowl, soak the stain (or stains – there’s never just one, is there) for 10 minutes, then remove from the bowl. Dip an old toothbrush in the vinegar, and then dip it in the baking soda. Using a circular motion scrub the stain with the toothbrush until it’s gone, then wash as normal. It really works, I promise!


stain removal hacks

5. Glue

Remember that glue we used to have when we were at school that peeled off when it dried? Well they don’t appear to use that anymore. I don’t know what type of glue it is but what I do know is that they use it a lot and it doesn’t come off easily. Even worse, it sometimes contains glitter (and I hate glitter).

The solution:

Cold water and liquid laundry detergent. Make sure the glue is completely dry, then scrape off as much as you can. Soak the item of clothing in cold water overnight, then massage liquid laundry detergent into the stain. Wash as normal at your usual temperature, et voila!


stain removal hacks

Do you have any school stain removal hacks? I’d love to know what they are – the weirder the better!

 

This article was written by crummymummy1 from Confessions of a Crummy Mummy and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Back-to-School Tips from Moms Who Are Total Pros

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

It’s back-to-school time, which means gearing up for those early starts, packed lunches and the mad rush to catch the bus. But the goods news is that you can make the transition so much easier (for kids and parents) with these genius tips that we gleaned from some of the coolest moms we know.

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Element 1

Pinterest Is Your Friend

“I pack my son’s lunch every day, but I run out of ideas a week or so into the school year—and he gets bored of the same old, same old. To make matters worse, he’s also very picky, and I never really know what he’s going to like. So right before the school year, I like to make a Pinterest board with tons of different lunch ideas. Then I go to the computer with him every few weeks and have him pick out the ones he’s drawn to. This way, he’s more into the lunch because he was involved with the planning—and it helps me out because I don’t have to rack my brain trying to think of something he’ll actually eat!” – Alyssa Hertzig, beauty editor and blogger

Give Kids Some Options

“Getting the kids dressed can be quite a challenge and the fastest way to run late! To avoid this, each morning (or night before), select three different outfits for them to choose from to wear. My girls love picking out their clothes and it makes them feel like they have some control but still gives me the ability to carefully decide which three outfits, while saving time. Win-win!” – Nicole DiGiacobbe, lifestyle blogger

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Element 2

Lay Out Clear Steps

“My top tip for getting kids out the door on time? Create or purchase a customizable chart—something simple that tells kiddos what to do in the morning by using easy-to-complete steps like ‘brush hair,’ ‘get dressed,’ ‘eat breakfast,’ and ‘brush teeth.’ It’s so simple but such a life-saver.” – Kendall Rayburn, lifestyle and family blogger

Ask Specific Questions

“As a mom, I am always dying to know what my kids did during the school day. And it’s always so frustrating when they come home and say the day was ‘fine’ or that they don’t remember what they did. So, I’ve learned that it’s best to ask very specific questions or to give them prompts like, ‘tell me about something funny that happened today’ or ‘what was the most surprising thing you learned today?’ These questions essentially force them to give you an answer—and you’ll end up learning a ton about what they’re actually doing during the day!” – Alyssa Hertzig

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Element 3

Don’t Just Prep Their Lunches

“To avoid the craziness in the morning, I like to meal prep as much of my kids’ breakfast as I can. For example: My kids love to have bacon every morning, but it can take a lot of time to fry it up every day. (Plus, it’s messy!) So, on Sundays, I lay out a whole package of it on a sheet pan covered in oil. Then I bake it in the oven. I keep the cooked bacon in the fridge, and just take out a few slices each morning, pop them in the microwave for a few seconds, and breakfast is ready in no time.” – Alyssa Hertzig

Pick Your Battles

“If they don’t want to eat carrots for lunch, switch it up and give them a treat instead. Something in their belly is better than nothing. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every single day but sometimes it’s easier to be the fun mom that packed her kids some cheddar bunnies!” – Nicole DiGiacobbe

 

This article was from PureWow 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.

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.

The 15 Best Pinterest Hacks to Make Back-to-School a Breeze

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

Prepare for school without any of the craziness.

Believe it or not, back-to-school season is already upon us. In some parts of the country kids are already loading up on yellow school buses and starting new chapters of their academic lives. Which means that many working moms are currently experiencing the “morning madness” that comes with trying to prepare for work while also preparing children for school.

It may seem like the only way to get it all done stress-free is to wake up hours in advance, but there are plenty of simple parenting hacks that can save you time and help you start the school year organized. Here are some of the best hacks on Pinterest for a smooth and enjoyable first day of school:

1. Keep the bathroom organized.

There will be no questions about where the toiletries are with this simple solution. All you need is a labeled empty jars and your kids will have everything they need for an efficient trip to the bathroom before heading out in the morning.

2. Nail the first day picture.

Everybody loves the classic “first day of school” photo, but we don’t all have the time or crafting skills to make a completely original sign from scratch. That’s why it’s perfectly fine to borrow from the Internet. Hey, you can even print out all of elementary school years in advance so you won’t have to worry about it again next year.

3. Get your paperwork in check.

Now that the school year started, you are sure to be getting swamped with permission slips, hand-outs and notices from your kids. Create a stylish filing system to make sure you don’t find yourself scrambling to find something important the morning before it is due.

4. Create the ultimate morning checklist.

Put everything you need on a checklist and make sure nobody leaves the house without a final check and approval. Because nobody wants to use their lunch break to drop a forgotten item off at school.

5. Get the family on the same page.

This family bulletin board keeps everything you need to know in one place. Post everything from soccer practices to lunch schedules to teacher contact information. And when your kids ask you a basic question, you can just point to the board.

6. Make snacks easy-to-assemble.

Prepare all of your non-refrigerated lunch items in advance and keep them ready at a moment’s notice with this handy organizer. Just drop them in the lunch box and you’re done. It’s a great way to help little ones learn how to pack their own lunch—and it works for afternoon snacks as well.

7. Make school supply organization stations.

With this easy station, kids will never waste time looking for school supplies again. Put everything they need into a container (a divided shower caddy works well) and leave it on the table.

8. Turn leftovers into lunch.

Kill two birds with one stone by taking leftovers from the night before and packing them in a insulated thermos for a home-cooked hot lunch.

9. Keep track of extra-curricular activities.

If your family’s schedule is getting out of hand, then try planning it out and posting it where everyone can see it. Now nobody has an excuse to forget about a practice or field trip.

10. Plan a week’s worth of outfits.

Use this closet organizer to select all of your kids’ school clothes in advance on Sunday and save yourself some time in the morning.

11. Make a one-stop spot for sporting goods.

Make sure no important gear gets lost or left behind with a designated sports storage section. Keep it stocked with everything your kids will need for gym class or practice after school.

12. Let your kid’s teacher know you care.

It’s never a bad idea to get on a teacher’s good side. You may not have time for a lengthy chat with the teacher after dropping your kids off, but this sweet and simple craft will score you a great first impression. Plus, if your kids are old enough, you can make them do it or a similar project.

13. Stick to quick and easy breakfasts.

Every minute matters in the morning, so plan out breakfasts that are simple and can be made ahead of time. This banana and Nutella wrap fits the bill and will surely be a big hit with your kids.

14. Make a morning chore board.

This chart will help your kids understand exactly what they need to do before school in the morning. It also helps you keep an eye on what still needs to be done before they head off to school.

15. Prepare a locker kit.

Help your middle schooler out with a kit of all the locker essentials she may need while at school. It’s much easier than her coming to you with a new request every single time she needs something.

 

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