Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Transitioning Back to School: Parenting Tips for a good school year

Make it a good school year.
Many parents have prepared for the past several weeks by purchasing school supplies, uniforms, clothes, books, and other necessary items to start their new academic year.

They also are staring a new schedule at home.  Summer is over and it is back to getting on a schedule.

Here are some tips for the first week of school transition for parents:

  • Clear your own schedule. To the extent possible, postpone business trips, volunteer meetings, and extra projects. You want to be free to help your child acclimate to the school routine and overcome the confusion or anxiety that many children experience at the start of a new school year.
  • Make lunches the night before school. Older children should help or make their own. Give them the option to buy lunch in school if they prefer and finances permit.
  • Set alarm clocks. Have school-age children set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. Praise them for prompt response to morning schedules and bus pickups.
  • Leave plenty of extra time. Make sure your child has plenty of time to get up, eat breakfast, and get to school. For very young children taking the bus, pin to their shirt or backpack an index card with pertinent information, including their teacher’s name and bus number, as well as your daytime contact information.
  • After school. Review with your child what to do if he or she gets home after school and you are not there. Be very specific, particularly with young children. Put a note card in their backpack with the name(s) and number(s) of a neighbor who is home during the day as well as a number where you can be reached. If you have not already done so, have your child meet neighbor contacts to reaffirm the backup support personally.
  • Review your child’s schoolbooks. Talk about what your child will be learning during the year. Share your enthusiasm for the subjects and your confidence in your child’s ability to master the content. Reinforce the natural progression of the learning process that occurs over the school year. Learning skills take time and repetition. Encourage your child to be patient, attentive, and positive.
  • Send a brief note to your child’s teacher. Let the teachers know that you are interested in getting regular feedback on how and what your child is doing in school. Be sure to attend back-to-school night and introduce yourself to the teachers. Find out how they like to communicate with parents (e.g., through notes, e-mail, or phone calls). Convey a sincere desire to be a partner with your children’s teachers to enhance their learning experience.
  • Familiarize yourself with the other school professionals. Make an effort to find out who it is in the school or district who can be a resource for you and your child. Learn their roles and how best to access their help if you need them. This can include the principal and front office personnel; school psychologist, counselor, and social worker; the reading specialist, speech therapist, and school nurse; and the after-school activities coordinator.
Source:  National Association of School Psychologists

Most teens go to school with cell phones.  Here are 10 rules parents should enforce about cell phones and also check their school's policy on them.

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Do you have a struggling teen? Visit www.HelpYourTeens.com.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why Teens Drop Out of School and Prevention

Some reasons why teens drop out of school:

There’s no single reason.

Students drop out of school for a number of different reasons—and it’s typically a combination of many issues.

Here are some of the top reasons students give for leaving school:
  • Classes aren’t interesting
  • Parents/family/adults have low expectations
  • Poor attendance
  • Failing in school
  • Family responsibilities (work, caring for siblings, etc.)
  • Becoming a parent
  • Too much freedom 
Warning signs to look for:

What to watch for. There are specific factors to watch for in students who are likely to drop out of school. If you see one or more of these signs, get involved! You can give these students the Boost they need to stay in school.
  • They don’t feel challenged in school.
  • They don’t feel high educational expectations from either their family or school.
  • They believe their parents are too controlling and they want to rebel.
  • They have trouble with schoolwork or feel like they are not as smart as other students.
  • They have drug, alcohol or mental health problems.
  • They regularly miss school or are frequently tardy.
  • They struggle with problems at home, including physical or verbal abuse.
  • They feel like they don’t fit in or have friends at school.
  • Their peers or siblings have dropped out of school.
  • They have poor learning conditions at school—such as overcrowding, high levels of violence and excessive absenteeism. 
Learn more at www.BoostUP.org about school drop out prevention. 

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Parents Learning to Text to Talk to their Teens

Is  your teen listening?
If you aren't texting in today's culture, you may not be talking!

Many parents are experiencing that texting is the best way to communicate with their teens.  Although many prefer talking, many more parents have finally given into texting to their kids.  Even in their own home - room to room!

What has happened to communication, discussions, and heart to heart conversations - face to face?
Texting happened.  Technology happened, and here we are today.

Here are 10 reasons why Lindsay Willison chooses to talk to her friends rather than texting:
  1. Texting cost extra on my mobile phone plan.
  2. I have better things to do than to work my fingers on a key pad smaller than the palm of my hand.
  3. I’d rather hear my friend’s voice.
  4. I can talk with them on my way somewhere, even in the car with the hands free voice equipment.
  5. I hate to read abbreviated English language – and writing it would really go against my grain.  Example, ur, u, i, lol, etc.
  6. Though it is a growing tradition, I find it a lazy way of communicating with friends.  A fast sentence here and there hardly makes for a conversation, much less communication.
  7. When there was just the land line, I remember talking with my sisters in another state for hours at a time.  We don’t do that anymore since we have e-mail and face book.  I don’t get into texting with them.
  8. Calling versus texting is a vital part of any relationship.  Knowing I’ve picked up the phone, sat down and taken time out of my day to call means much to a good friend.
  9. A text has no tone to judge how a statement is to be taken.  The written word can be misunderstood. On the phone one can hear the persons voice, interpret their reactions based on what how they respond with a laugh, a sigh or even silence.
  10. If I initiate the call, I can vocalize my greetings, my concerns, my best regards – give my friend a chance to respond and then I can hang up and go on my way.  The call may last a few minutes, and again it may last much longer.
As a last resort (if I had the texting feature on my phone) I may text my spouse to “bring home some milk and bread”, other than that I’ll stick with a phone call.

Source:  Landline Phone Service

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Teen Drug Use: Sizzurp - Cough Syrup Abuse

What will teens come up with next to get high from?  Why don’t some of them understand the dangers of substance abuse – the risks that come with even experimenting with some of these drugs?  We just heard about the alcoholic whipped cream, now we have this next trend.

Sizzurp: Another trend for parents to be concerned about.

We’ve had several requests for information about cough syrup abuse recently. This is a good reminder to keep a close eye on the items in the medicine cabinet. Cough syrup is a main ingredient of Sizzurp. This is a mixed drink which consists of codeine cough syrup, a fruit flavored soda and often a Jolly Rancher. The codeine causes a feeling of euphoria which can impair driving, cause lethargy and extreme tiredness. Pop culture has embraced this trend in many songs and movies. 

During this month – Partnership at DrugFree.org has also rolled out their campaign – You Are Not Alone.

Many parents are more fearful of the stigma attached to having a teen use drugs than they are concerned for the teen that is using the drugs.  It is time to stop being a parent in denial -know that  you are not alone, and there is help and resources to get your teenager the help they need.

Get involved today!

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/youarenotalone
Drug Guide: http://www.drugfree.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/drug_chart_10.25.10_opt.pdf
Parents Toll-Free Helpline:  1-855-DRUGFREE
If you have any further questions, partnership ideas or comments, please feel free to email us at youarenotalone@drugfree.org.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to School: Bullying Prevention

Do you know your school's bullying policy?

As school will be opening, unfortunately we may start hearing about the ugliness of bullying and teasing of kids.  Many, if not most, schools have employed an anti-bullying policies and programs.  But what happens if they don’t work?

A special guest post from Blair Wagner of A Way Through helps sort through this dilemma.

Why Anti-bullying Programs Miss the Mark

As I direct my focus to a new school year about to begin, I reflect back on the past school year and the approaches I’ve seen schools take to address school bullying among their students and their staff.  The one that really misses the mark is starting an anti-bullying program.

It is common for us to see something we don’t like and to join an anti-[fill in the blank] campaign.  We talk about, write about, and complain about how bad it is.  Our focus is on resisting the thing we don’t like, in this case bullying.  We push against it.  And that’s the problem.

What We Resist Persists

There’s an old saying: What we resist persists. Put another way, when we are negative about an issue, we perpetuate or spread negativity.

When we jump on the anti-bullying bandwagon, our attention, energy and focus are on the negativity of bullying. From this place of negativity, we lack emotional access to positive solutions. The anti name has a persistent negative influence.

As an alternative to a dooms day attitude or an angry approach, a more effective option is to recognize the bullying we see.  Name itBe curious about it.  Look at it from several angles.  But don’t stay stuck there.

Once we’ve gotten clear on what we are seeing and where it is coming from, work to clarify what we DO want. We want better social skills, social competence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, healthy friendships, a positive culture, a positive climate, and positive role models.

A Springboard to Create a Replacement of Bullying Behavior

This positive focus gives us a springboard to create what we want.

Once we know what we want in bullying prevention, our job is to provide structures, training, and ongoing support for our students and for our school staff – all based on a focus of creating what we want, not on stopping what we don’t want.
Let’s replace those anti-bullying posters (of kids bullying or being bullied) with posters representing healthy friendships and acts of kindness. Start social skills training early. Put forth positive examples, language and visuals everywhere to influence your students in a positive way!

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at www.AWayThrough.com.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Troubled Teens: Is Your Teen Using Drugs? It's Not 'Just Pot' Anymore

Partnership at Drugfree.org is marching out their new campaign.

Your Are Not Alone!

You Are Not Alone, sponsored by The Partnership at DrugFree.org is dedicated to supporting the 11 million American families whose teens need treatment for drug and alcohol abuse - 1 in 7 seven teens!
Back to school can mean new friends, new relationships and sometimes new peer pressure that is not positive.  Although many parents believe it is not their teen, the fact is - in many cases it is.  Once a family has accepted they are not alone - there is help out there, the sooner you can get your teen back on a safe and healthy path.
With your help, we can lower the barriers families face in getting teens the treatment and recovery support they need.

Work on bringing your family back together.
Help us transform stigma and isolation into hope and change.

Get involved today!

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/youarenotalone

Drug Guide:
Intervention ebook:
Treatment ebook:
Time To Get Help:
Parents Toll-Free Helpline:
If you have any further questions, partnership ideas or comments, please feel free to email us at youarenotalone@drugfree.org.
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Classroom Learning or Online Course: What is best for your teen?

As technology continues to influence and change our way of living, parents are now faced with the consideration of allowing their teenagers to prepare for or begin college through online courses for credit. During the past five years or so, a great deal of development in this area has been taking place, all with the backing of the U.S. Department of Education.

There are, however, a number of pros and cons when it comes to this modern method of study, and launching young adults out into the world is a heavy responsibility. Most parents want to get through the process with no regrets, so it is wise to take the time to determine if online classes would actually be a good fit for your teenager.

Let’s face it: not all kids and family situations are alike. What works well for some may spell disaster for others. With the growing number of options available in educating our children, this should certainly be considered from more than one perspective. Whether you’ve sent your son or daughter through public or private school, or even educated them at home, the subject of entry-level online college courses is very likely to come up at some point before or after high school graduation.

Considering all the angles when it comes to online education may mean doing some personal research and evaluation. Web-based education has some fantastic benefits, but there are additionally some serious drawbacks. Allowing a teen to stay home in front of a computer for extended periods of time could possibly have health or psychological disadvantages. Parents needs to assess things such as the physical condition and mental health of their children. Some parents may also wonder if they actually want to encourage more screen time in a lifestyle already loaded with digital activity.

On the flipside, there are cases where studying online may be a hindrance to teens with more outgoing personalities, leading to a sense of isolation, or at minimum feeling somewhat separated from other people. Those are the students that truly need to have face-to-face interaction with others and will learn better in that environment.

Another big consideration ought to be the student’s learning and communication style. Teens whose learning styles lean more toward the auditory than visual or who are more kinetic learners may do better in the usual face-to-face classroom setting than sitting in front of a laptop screen loaded heavily with text. If this seems like a big mystery, it may be sensible and wise to consult a professional for some input or learning style testing just to be sure. Some community colleges even offer this sort of help in their student services departments.

It isn’t uncommon for older teenagers to take a gap year before starting a rigorous academic program, and in fact it’s becoming something of a trend. While some use the gap year for travel and a complete break from school, others may combine a few courses of study with travel opportunities. Still other students simply need a time to gear up gradually, or do some soul-searching and exploration of ideas before making the big break from home. Online courses may fit in well with any of these situations. Students might find that studying via the Internet before leaving home is a safe way to make decisions while still living under their parents’ roof. This can also be a time to test the waters, get a better feel for the responsibilities of college, and the demands and workload involved with being a more advanced, full-time student.

Some high school students engage in programs that allow for dual credit. This option not only provides credit toward high school graduation, but gives students a head start in college. If saving money is a big issue for parents and their kids, encouraging an early start with online courses could save thousands of dollars. Programs are popping up both on the Internet and through local community and state colleges, and there will be more in time. So whether high school students go for dual credit or want to have a gentle start to their college careers, big savings can be realized through taking courses online.

Taking advantage of online college courses is a viable option for many families, but it is understandably not everyone’s cup of tea. Parents should definitely weigh it all out before allowing or encouraging their teens to sign up for this route. One way or another, online college courses are here to stay as we move more and more into an electronic society.

Special contributor:  Lindsey Wright

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Parenting Styles and How they Effect Underage Drinking

Could your parenting style be driving your child to binge drink?

For teenagers, friends play a big role in the decision to take that first drink. And by the 12th grade, more than 65 percent of teens have at least experimented with alcohol. But what parents do during the high school years can also influence whether teens go on to binge drink or abuse alcohol. Researchers at Brigham Young University have found that teenagers who grow up with parents who are either too strict or too indulgent tend to binge drink more than their peers.

"While parents didn't have much of an effect on whether their teens tried alcohol, they can have a significant impact on the more dangerous type of drinking," says Stephen Bahr, a professor of sociology at BYU, and the author of the study that was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

As part of the survey of 5,000 teenagers, Bahr and his colleagues asked 7th- to 12th-grade students a series of questions about their alcohol use. We asked how many had taken five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks," says Bahr. That's the typical definition of binge drinking. They also asked the kids about their parents: What kinds of rules did they have? Did their parents know where they were on weekends? Did their parents check up on their whereabouts and set curfews? How much oversight and monitoring was typical?

The teens who were being raised by so-called indulgent parents who tend to give their children lots of praise and warmth — but offer little in the way of consequences or monitoring of bad behavior — were among the biggest abusers of alcohol. "They were about three times more likely to participate in heavy drinking," says Bahr.

The same was true for kids whose parents were so strict that no decision was left to the teenager's own judgment. "Kids in that environment tend not to internalize the values and understand why they shouldn't drink," says Bahr. They were more than twice as likely to binge drink.

The parenting style that led to the lowest levels of problem drinking borrowed something from each of the extremes. From the strict parents: accountability and consequences for bad behavior. From the indulgent parents: warmth and support. Bahr says these parents tend to be more balanced. "They recognize their kids when they do good things and praise them, but they offer direction and correction when they get off a little bit," he says.
Lots of factors contribute to teenagers' experimentation with alcohol and drugs. Genes play a significant role, as do peer relationships. And the teenage years can be adversarial. "Parents get really frustrated with teenagers," says Aimee Stern, who has wriiten a book on delaying teens' first drinks. "I have two of them — and you can't tell them anything they don't already know."

That's why it's important to start talking to kids about alcohol when they're young — as early as fourth grade, recommends Stern.

Credit: NPR News