How To Make a Child Learn Independently?

Independence in Education. I had a Quora question that might be beneficial to post here with so many parents struggling to keep their kids engaged in online work. How can one make their child more independent in their studies? In a word – impossible. This is a matter of nature and not nurture. Adults can’t speed along a child’s ability to be independent. Children’s independence in learning is a matter of self-control, which is one type of executive function, and governed by the development of the pre-frontal cortex. Children acquire executive function skills from ages 3–6 which is why they don’t start formal education until age 6, when they have enough self-control to sit and pay attention for about 15 minutes while receiving instruction. The next big leap of self-control is age 13–25 years, which is the best time for children to receive more independent instruction such as online learning. They have the executive function to sit and pay attention to the instruction and then the self-control to set about doing a task such as writing an essay or planning a project. Independent learning begins about age 13 or grade 7 in schools to take advantage of this leap in executive function skills. Until that age, children learn best in solitary play, or group activities, or if it is necessary, very, very, very short sessions (5–15 minutes at most) of being assigned a task to do something, but with constant supervision and support. That means being close by their side to encourage them to keep at it. All children will eventually become more independent in their assigned work, but as with most developmental tasks arising from brain development, it comes at different ages with different children. Your child’s brain will get there. Be patient!

Please join me over at Quora in my new forum: https://unschoolingtouniversityandcolleges.quora.com/

Posted in Democratic Education, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Toddlers 1-2, Unschooling/Self-Directed Education | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Actively Listen To Feelings

Feelings matter. When your child is grumbling about something – anything, the best response is to validate their feelings. When someone feels heard, they are more likely to listen to you. Remember that while there are limits on expressing feelings through certain behaviours, there is no limits on the feelings themselves. All feelings are OK. Validating your child’s feelings doesn’t mean that you agree with their grumbles – it just means that you accept them and how they feel. When a child feels heard, it lessens the feeling and they can get on with taking action to solve the problem. Deeply listening to a child is a great relationship builder! Here is a demonstration. The child is complaining and the parent in the upper left corner is blocking the communication by moralizing, rationalizing, threatening and other roadblocks that stop communication. The parent in the right upper corner will active listen. Notice how the feelings are named. The key to listening is lots of practice. You can do it!

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The “YES” List

Express Anger Safely

Too often, we tell our children what they can’t do when they are mad!  No hitting, no pushing your brother, and no swearing!  However, children think in the “can do” creative stage, not the “can’t do” of more non-tangible abstract thinking stage. We need to brainstorm with our families and put together a list of things we can do in the moment.

We call this “The Yes List.” Anything that relieves anger and keeps us from hurting other people or hurting our things is fine – but each family is different. Your list may differ from another family’s list. It’s okay. Have a list!

For more ideas; here are 70 ways to calm down in the heat of frustration and anger that may work for you and your child. Add them to your “Yes List”!

https://judyarnall.com/2020/12/01/calm-down-tools-70-ways-to-calm-down-and-reclaim-patience-in-the-heat-of-anger/

Posted in Babies 0-1, Democratic Education, Emerging Adult Children 19-25, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Toddlers 1-2, Unschooling/Self-Directed Education | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Money Smart Kids

money and allowance

Teaching About Exchange Begins Early

When and How to Teach Finances

A common question I get from parents  is when and how should kids start learning about money. Here is an age-by-age primer of what your child needs to know at each age group, from babies to university students.

Young children (Ages 0-5) – Age to model money transactions but you keep control of it

Small children before the age of 5, are not reliable with money. They are naturally forgetful, lose money, and don’t understand the exchange of a symbol (coins, paper or plastic) for “ownership” of items. This is a good age to begin chores, but not to pay for them. (In fact, don’t ever pay for them!) You can model how to purchase items, but don’t give any money to the child.

Early school-age (Ages 5-8) – Age to start allowances

Children should have a coin purse with real money (coins and bills) at around age five when they start to understand the exchange of money for goods. Parents must still keep a close eye on it though, if the child brings it to the store, because children are still forgetful until about age 10 and might lose it. Many parents begin allowances with the 3 compartment bank which has a separate section for spending, saving and sharing. Let’s look at these 3 uses of money.

Children should have an allowance for spending. A good rule of thumb is one dollar per week for each of their year of age. For example, a 5 year-old would receive $5 per week. For parents that gasp at this statement, I ask them to add up everything they spend on their child in a week such as treats, movies, dollar store toys, games, candy, etc. Then they realize that they spend much more than that on their child. I tell them that they are still outlaying the same amount, but now they are just handing over the control of the money to the child, allowing him or her the opportunity to budget, spend and make decisions about allotments for what they desire.

When parents only give a child a dollar or two per week, the child doesn’t have much choice to purchase anything other than candy or cheap dollar store toys, both of which is not good for the child. It takes forever to save up for something decent like a book or video game, and the child doesn’t learn that reasonable saving will get them what they want – a life lesson that we need to teach kids. As children get older, parents can require the child to buy more and more of their needs – clothes, shampoo, birthday gifts, cell phone plan, etc., and hand over more control of the money they will need.

Part of the allowance should be for long term saving. It can be a percentage of the spending money. It can be deposited in an “at-home bank” where parents can just keep track of totals on a chart or in a little passbook. Interest rates are so low, it makes no sense to keep it at a real bank, because trips to the bank are not worth the gas money.

Should parents have restrictions on what they can spend the money on? Absolutely not.  It’s very difficult for parents to do this, but necessary. By allowing a child total freedom over their “spending” money, (not the saving portion,) they allow the child to make choices and mistakes while they are still young. Children learn that they pay good money for cheap toys that break, or they lose the toys, and it’s a very valuable lesson.  Parents can talk about how cheap things are made, but children need to make those mistakes themselves to learn from them. Children also learn that what is promised in advertising on the box, TV, or the Internet is not always the reality. The kids in the picture on the box may look like they are having fun, but your child may not feel the toy is fun and may question the truth of the advertising, which is another good lesson.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CInXetY9Zfw

Allowance should never be tied to chores. When you do tie chores to allowance, you are giving your child the opportunity to say “No thanks, to the allowance and the chores.” Then you are stuck doing the chores yourself. You want your child to learn all about money management and if they opt of chores, they don’t get the opportunity to have money to use. Chores (I prefer to call them duties) should start at age 3 and continue as long as the child is living at home. Chores should not be optional as they teach children a valuable set of skills such as commitment, empathy, and self-discipline.

The last part of the allowance is for sharing.  It can be saved for charities or bringing happiness in any manner a child chooses.  Buying a coveted toy for a friend is very kind too, as well as donating it to a charity that a child wishes to support.

Bring your child with you when shopping, getting money out of an ATM, buying online and show them what you are doing. Model good money habits and recordkeeping.

Tweens (Ages 9-12) – Age to start a debit card, gift card redemption practices and online shopping

There is no benefit to a child having a bank account until they need and can use a debit card. Again, a debit account can start when a child is about 10 (or beyond the age of losing their items). That is around the time girls start to carry purses and boys can carry a wallet. They often go to the store with buddies on their own and can make a few of their own purchases with a debit card, rather than carrying around cash.

Most banks don’t charge children fees when they are under 18 years old. Parents can help them open savings account but the fees and the interest rate right now are not worth the hassle of running to the bank to deposit money for the child. Parents are better off to use the actual money to pay down their own debts and keep a tangible record of the child’s “bank account” like a sheet on the wall that the child can track ins and outs. When it is time for the child to get a debit card, then the parents can hand over the “real” money from the “bank account” record sheet.

Again, don’t put restrictions on what they purchase. Remember, that children this age are more than halfway to adulthood, so they have limited time to make mistakes. It’s much cheaper to make mistakes at this age, than later at university, when they are away from parental guidance.

This is also a good age to teach about the various charities and where the child might wish to donate some of the sharing funds. The tween years are also a good age to guide and help children research reviews about purchasing their own gifts, some clothes, and electronics online.

Teens (Ages 13-18) – Age to start buying stocks, and learn money saving shopping skills

Now is a good time to teach about stocks, mutual funds, and company investments. Together with your teen, use some of their birthday money to buy some stocks in their favorite companies that they shop from, so they can learn how the economic system works. You can even read annual reports together.

Offload more and more expenses such as clothes, books, gifts, and entertainment to your teens as they get jobs outside the home. Continue the allowance, as you don’t want to penalize them for getting jobs, and also continue the chores as you don’t want to be stuck doing all the work!

Continue teaching about money and all aspects of financing in this last third of parenting. Somewhere between now and when children turn 18, parents can teach about receipt management, online purchase management, store returns, cell phone payment management, gift card management, online refunds, and rebates.

Emerging adults (Ages 18-25) – Age to obtain credit cards, TSFA’s, loans, insurance, RRSPs, tax returns and everything else

Help your emerging adult obtain a credit card with a limit, perhaps with their savings tied to it, in order to establish a credit history, and make  online purchases with parents supervision. Remind them to pay the bill monthly for the first six months, (yes, they still need help with organizational skills) and then let them remember on their own. You may need to help them set up a system for remembering such as paying the bill online as soon as it comes due, in order to not forget to pay it. Go over the rules of credit cards.  Be sure your child knows how interest is calculated and that they have to pay the minimum every month by the due date to keep a good credit history.

Be sure to remind your daughters and sons to never give up their own credit card in their own name, if they become stay at home parents, or entrepreneurs, as it will be harder to establish a credit history in their own name if they don’t have income coming in.

Help them understand bank fees and how to reduce them. Help them open up a line of credit for starting their own business or show them how to fill out student loan forms.

Explain how insurance works and what is covered for cars and residence.

Help them establish a TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account). Show them how to open up an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Account) if they are working and earning more than about $40,000 per year. Show them how to fill out their own tax forms. The online software now makes it easy for them to do.

After age 18, FOIP and privacy laws kick in and the bank will glare at you if you accompany your child to get money. If you feel that your child is not able to handle finances on his own, get him to write a generic letter authorizing you to help him with his financial affairs on his behalf. Even universities and medical professionals require this type of consent and may have their own form letter. You may hand over a cheque to the university paying your child’s account, but you can’t make inquiries at the fees office without your child’s written authorization. Your child may need help to check that his fees are being correctly assessed.

Post-Secondary Student Considerations

Parents, should you pay for post-secondary?

Once a child reaches adult age, they should pay for their future. In Canada, a child can get a credit card and vote in Canada at age 18 or 19 and they are legally considered adults.

If a child is living at home and going to university full time (that’s at least a three course load) then that is their “job.”  I wouldn’t expect regular contribution for rent and groceries.  However, it wouldn’t hurt for them to pick up the gas or a grocery order once in awhile. If they have a part time job, that money should be going to their future school costs and discretionary expenses.

They no longer are entitled to be supported by law. Thus, they should put some funds into the cost of their post-secondary education.  If they work hard in high school and get scholarships, that may be their contribution. If they have part time jobs, they should put some of that amount into their total university costs. If they don’t have either, they should apply for student loans. This is only my personal opinion, but the more “investment” children personally have put to their education, the more they will buckle down and study. The harder they work for that money (like a $10 an hour job) they less they will covet the latest jeans or a case of beer for their friends.

Even if parents decide to pay the bare minimum such as tuition, books, rent, groceries, utilities, and bus pass, (and no child ever needs a car for school), then kids should be paying for their own clothes, parking tickets, beer money, cell phone (yes, a smart phone is a nice to have, but not needs to have), restaurants and all other extra expenses out of their own savings.

What if kids made mistakes at university and have no money left at the end of the month?  Should parents rescue them?

Give them the number to the nearest food bank. Kids are young and healthy. They can live on mac and cheese for months with no long term health effects. Learning to live on a budget is a valuable skill in university (maybe even more important than what they learn in class) and kids are wonderful problem-solvers; they can borrow from friends, learn to cook lentils (get them a rice cooker) and generally make do. Don’t ever bail them out. The bailing should have been done when they made the mistakes under age 18. Otherwise, when does it stop? The kids will figure out a way to eat or buy that textbook they absolutely have to have!

Money smart tips every young person should know when they leave home for university:  Kids, this is for you! You need to….

Tenants Insurance Call the insurance company and get a certificate of tenant coverage for university residence. If you are renting off campus, you need tenants insurance for  a)coverage for your stuff and  b)liability for the premises you are renting in case you leave a tap running or a pot on the stove and burn down the whole house.  If you have shoddy things, be sure to get the lowest coverage you can for your items. Get the highest deductible you can, so your bill is lower. If you make a claim, your insurance will go up, so unless it is a disaster, you might want to pay for repairs to damage to the house out of your pocket.

Car Insurance Review car insurance and ask what the various options are for. Some features are added automatically with yearly renewal and it’s up to you to notice them and take them off if you don’t want them. Ask for what you legally require and then upgrade based on your individual needs. Be sure to check your car insurance needs each school year.  Every year that a child ages, lowers the rate, but the insurance company will not call and let you know that. Parents, if your child is out of town and not driving your cars, phone your insurance company to tell them. There is no point paying the child’s extra insurance as an occasional driver if the child is out of town going to school for the year.

Charities When charities come to the door, ask them to leave a brochure so you can review the organization without pressure. Point out to your child why you do this.

Don’t donate to charities at the till of stores and businesses. You lose the tax deduction from a printed receipt. Say, “I have a specified charity that I donate to for the year.  Thanks but no.” Spend some time reviewing charities’ administration and fundraising costs and compare the percentage of administration costs to the percent of money that actually benefits the goals. Then decide if the charity is deserving of your money if they practice prudent spending according to your criteria.

Cell Phone Review your phone package every year and ask for the phone companies retention department. Ask for what deal they are willing to give you to keep you as a customer if you are not on a contract plan. If you are on a phone contract plan, you can’t quit the terms or the company unless you “buy it out.”

Don’t accept any free downloads from companies you don’t trust.  You could be on the hook for large amounts of data downloading.

License Always bring in discarded/no longer needed license plates.  The person who they have been issued to is still liable for them if they get stolen or lost.

Always carry pink insurance and registration cards as the driver can be fined if they are not produced upon request by a police officer.

Car Collisions If in a car collision, take a photo of the damage, the other driver’s registration pink slip, license, and pink insurance slip.  Take a photo of the car’s model as well.

Residence Try not to be the group contact, or sign the lease for a group house rental. You are liable for all the renter payments, behaviour, etc. If you are living in residence, be sure to check and note all deficiencies in repairs and cleanliness. Take photos when moving in and after cleaning when moving out. When moving out, get a receipt for your room key and have the Residence Assistant (RA) inspect your room, otherwise, you will be getting a bill after you return home. Be sure the last person who leaves the room, leaves it clean or all roommates will be penalized.

Sell your fridge, hotplate and reusable items at the end of the year for pocket money.  Be sure to sell your used books too. Be environmentally conscious – the landfill doesn’t want your stuff.

Travel Always copy and paste an email confirmation into a word file and save it to appropriate folders in your computer. Hotel, airline confirmations etc. Don’t forget school financials such as Opt-out of health plan confirmations. Always read the terms of the sale.  Ask about any fee that doesn’t make sense to you. Get money out of an ATM and not from a credit card, when traveling. Ask what the fee is before you get in the taxi or hostel. Currency exchange rates are always better on credit cards, than on accessing cash from an ATM.

Friends Never lend substantial money to a friend. $20 here and there until their payday is fine. More than that and you put your friendship at risk. If you do lend it, mentally write it off as a gift. If it gets repaid, you will be pleasantly surprised. If not, you won’t harbor hard feelings.

Banking  Always check your bank statement for new fees. Banks add them on and it’s up to you to opt out. Never hand over your student timetable to anyone (including banks and RESP companies) to confirm your student status. You are giving away too much private information such as time and place of classes which could put your safety at risk. Always send in the generic “Confirmation (or Verification) of Enrollment” form when institutions ask for proof of student status.

Get to know bank language and ask them what the terms are. What is a “product” or “vehicle” or “annuity.” Learn the differences between e-mail transfers and wire transfers and how much they cost.

Always pay your credit card a few days before the due date.  Some cards, like American Express, deem the amount paid only when they receive the funds, not when you send them. It can take several days for the amount to travel from your bank to their bank and you will be stuck with interest owing for the whole month if it arrives a day late to their bank.

Always check your credit card statement each month for any purchases that don’t look like yours.

When punching in your pin number at the ATM or at a store, cover your hand and always pretend to punch a few more numbers in case any cameras are watching.

Never, ever use those handy cheques that come with the credit card statement. They are for cash advances that will start accruing up to 20 percent interest from the last credit card statement date.

Gift Cards Many employers give gift cards for employee recognition. Use up gift cards as soon as possible. The longer you keep them, the higher the risk of losing them and the store going out of business. Same for store credits. Send cash instead of gift cards.  Over 50% of gift cards are never redeemed which is why stores love them.

 Records Destroy and shred any receipts or documents with personal information on them. Keep employment and student receipts for 7 years along with your tax return.

Shopping Don’t buy opt-out deals. Most people forget to opt out by the time deadline.

 

That’s it.  Enjoy those student discounts! And parents, enjoy those money smart kids!

 

 

Posted in Democratic Education, Emerging Adult Children 19-25, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Unschooling/Self-Directed Education | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips For Applying To College and Universities

Applications

Apply early.  For many arts programs, you can apply beginning at Dec 1 of your grade 12 year.  However, admission is still contingent on final June marks so don’t slack off!

Upgrade at the high school level rather than the university’s upgrading.  That way, you can still qualify for scholarships from high school and the courses are far cheaper than university equivalents ($60 versus $500).

Post-secondary open houses begin in October of your grade 12 year.

All Alberta students can apply for the Alexander Rutherford Scholarship for grade 10, 11, and 12 marks over 75%.  If you are not sure if you qualify, apply anyways.  The ARS people will figure it out for you.

Many scholarships have deadlines in April to June of the grade 12 year, so do your research and apply early.

Apply to at least three institutions in case you don’t get admitted to your first choice.  Kiss the application fee money goodbye.  Some institutions will happily take your money and then tell you that you’re 330th on the waiting list for a program.  Some won’t even send the courtesy of a letter.  They may email you a rejection or notice of a wait list.  Some may not even send an email. Some may lose your application. The same applies for residence applications too.  Parents, teach your child to stay on top of where he has applied, and phone or email regularly about application progress. 

It should be policy that universities shouldn’t even accept an application fee when clearly they know that they are waitlisting people, or at least  they could post waitlists notifications on their websites. Unfortunately, such policies don’t exist.  In our online world, it should.

For highly competitive programs, some admission decisions don’t come until late August.  The universities are waiting for all the applications to come in to see what the cutoff competitive average is. Have plan B ready such as applications in other programs or institutions and also the application fee paid for residence early.  Otherwise, you may find out you  are accepted into a program but residence is all filled up.

Admission acceptance letters are usually mailed in big 8 X 10 inch envelopes.  Rejection letters come in skinny small one-page envelopes.  Rejoice if  you see a big package in the mail and double rejoice if it comes with confetti inside!

Admission is generally based on the marks of the four grade 12 cores (math, social, ELA, and science) and 1 grade 12 option. Different programs have different requirements, so do your research. Most applications are online and have no fields to put your volunteer work, community service, awards, reference letters or affidavits of your awesomeness. Since computers do the sorting, human eyes rarely see the sorted piles. Save documentation of the above activities for scholarship applications.

Parents, if your child’s five grade 12 subjects don’t average out competitively, they can rewrite diploma exams in August in time for submission to post-secondary’s by September.  The government will take whichever is the highest exam mark – the original or the rewrite, to factor in with the course mark.

Post-secondary’s want original transcripts sent directly from the Alberta government.  They don’t want the transcripts passing through the student or parent.  No tampering is allowed!

Students, research the universities or schools you want, so you know ahead of time, what the competitive average is for admission and which subjects you need.

You do not need a Alberta High School Diploma to apply to most post-secondary’s.  Most people just need four grade 12 core courses and one option course and of course, good marks. Be sure to check the institution’s website to find out what you need.

Apply to competitive programs out of high school.  Many universities like to offer a place in Open Studies so the student can begin coursework and transfer the next year over to the faculty.  The problem is that admission to the desired faculty is not guaranteed and as most students don’t do their best work or get their best marks while adjusting to first year university, their transfer average GPA will not be very high.  Even if their high school marks are stellar, sometimes only the transfer GPA is considered and the student will be shut out of transferring to their desired faculty if they mess up that first year. Better to wait a year, work and then apply the next year with the stellar high school marks.

It is a good idea  to apply for residence before you are even accepted.  Most prospective students apply for 3 universities, but it is a good idea to apply to 5 if you are seeking a really competitive spot like engineering, law, nursing, business, or a really specialized program such as midwifery or veterinarian. So, in addition to paying 5 university application fees, that are totally non-refundable even when you are waitlisted, you also have to pay 5 university residence application fees that are totally non-refundable. Good thing for summer jobs!

Even when you apply before their April 1 deadline, if you are a transfer student, they might not let you know until late August whether they will take you two weeks later or not.  If they accept you at the 12th hour,  you have to scramble to find a place to live. Or worse, they reject you and you have no time to make alternate plans for September. Universities do not cooperate or collaborate with each other.  One institution’s tardiness in offering admission can affect four other’s  institution’s seat and housing availability. You have to juggle each offer’s deadlines.

Paperwork

Make a word file with your prospective institution’s address of residence and your academic (sometimes called student centre ) and residence portal user names, passwords and IDs.  Parents, you also need this information to go in and find things, to remind your child about, until they have the responsibility to do it themselves in the second year.

Students, you will need a confirmation of enrollment to draw out your RESP.  Be sure to use up the government added portion first when taking money out.  You are limited to withdrawing $5000 for the first 13 weeks of study and more after that. Don’t send in class lists as proof. They don’t need that information and it is an invasion of privacy. Send confirmation of enrollments instead.

Loans from both the Alberta and Canadian government can be accessed by a single application from Student Aid Alberta.

Parents, give the new residence address to your home insurance providers so they can add your child’s belongings on your policy for no charge. Get tenants insurance if your child is living off campus.

Let your provincial health and phone know that your child is studying out of province so they can be covered.

Let your insurance company know so you will not be paying occasional driver coverage on your vehicles when your child is not here to potentially drive them.

Get your child to fill out a disclose information letter if they need help with managing administration.  By second year, they should be handling all the admin, but they may require parent’s guidance and coaching the first year.

Students, opt out of the post-secondary’s mandatory health and dental coverage.  You may need a certificate from your company insurance provider.  Some universities make you do this once for the whole degree and others you have to do yearly.

Parents, scrutinize your child’s fee statement. Watch for hidden voluntary fees that are opt out only.  For example, some universities add a small fee for other student’s bursaries. Some will charge for a fridge when your child already has one.  It is usually a small charge and a pain to send in the opt-out paperwork. You might want to print off several opt out forms and keep a stack so you can fill them out yearly and send them with the envelope that you send the fee cheque in.  That way, you know they have received it.

Residence

Parents, if possible, encourage your child to get a single bedroom with a door to it.  Then your child can choose how much social interaction they want by closing it or leaving it open to the main suite or hall. It is worth the extra cost in peace and quiet and better quality of study surroundings (marks!)

Sign up for the lowest food plan available. Many places kids like to hang out and meet their friends do not accept food plan cards, so they will have to pay for meals there and won’t be declining the balance on their meal plan card.  Sometimes the dining hall is inconvenient or not open when your child can have a meal and has no class. Your child will grab food where it is handy, and that is usually not at the dining centre.

Don’t buy a fridge, hotplate, bookcase or bedding (some beds are twins, some are queens) until your child moves in for a week and sees what they need.  Most school supplies are on sale about 90% off if you wait until the last week in September to buy.

Take photographs of damage or dirt at the time of filling out the rental report.

Always get a receipt for keys handed in at the end of the year.  Otherwise, the university could lose the keys your child handed in and you will pay a $100 bill for them.  Always get a cleanliness and damage inspection report the day of moving out, otherwise the university can charge your for cleaning charges if you don’t have proof that your child left the place up to standards.  Both roommates get charged, so make sure the roommate who leaves last has done their due cleaning diligence.

Academic

Find out book return policies before purchasing. Like gaming and video purchases, books shrink wrapped that are unwrapped may not be returnable. Don’t buy books unless the class has started and the instructor says that they really are needed.  So many textbooks are purchased and never even cracked open.

Get your child to find out how to sell used books at the end of term or the year.

Warn your child that marks are cumulative, unlike high school.  Ensure they know the deadline date of when they can drop a course without academic penalty.  My son didn’t know that and paid an academic penalty for three years for a course he left but didn’t drop.  It took nine more courses before that monkey of a mark was no longer in his cumulative average.  It can affect future transfers and entrance into different faculties, scholarships and even institution admission decisions. 

Let go of knowing their marks and due dates.  This is now their job!  Your job is to coach them from home on the bureaucratic business and also coach on how to assert themselves with the new other adults in their lives.  Coach, but don’t do it for them!

Buy a printed copy of the university calendar. Out of town children don’t know the requirements of an institution and don’t know to look things up in the calendar before an incident happens where they have to. You can skim over their program and alert them to any requirements or unusual procedures.  By the second term, they can do it themselves.

Encourage your child to get to know academic advising.  They are your child’s new best friend for program planning.

Be sure to attend orientation week.  It’s lots of fun and everyone looks lost.  Parents, there are activities organized just for you too and a lot of parents go.  This is one parenting class that most parents attend!

Make sure your child knows to save all course outlines with the course content, weighting of assignments and exams, and the professor’s contact information.  These sheets are invaluable if your child wants to transfer programs or universities.  These are the sheets that administration uses when granting transfer credit.  Toss the rest of the course work, but not these outlines.

Health

Monitor your child for signs of depression, anxiety and stress.  Trust your gut instinct.  Talk to them about how they are feeling and encourage them to go to the campus health clinic. Encourage them to get a flu shot now that they are immersed in a bigger pool of potential germs.

Send care packages of cookies, stuffies and notes from home.  They are probably homesick.

Anything your child needs to do, but you haven’t taught them, they can look up on youtube (How to iron a shirt, how to write an essay, how birth control works!)

Text them as much as you need to!  They love to hear encouragement and love from you. They can choose not to answer. Remember, you are their roots as they try out their wings!  Parents, happy launching!  Students, happy flying!

Money smart tips every young person should know when they leave home for university: Kids, you need to….

Tenants Insurance Call the insurance company and get a certificate of tenant coverage for university residence. If you are renting off campus, you need tenants insurance for a)coverage for your stuff and b)liability for the premises you are renting in case you leave a tap running or a pot on the stove and burn down the whole house. If you have shoddy things, be sure to get the lowest coverage you can for your items. Get the highest deductable you can, so your bill is lower. If you make a claim, your insurance will go up, so unless it is a disaster, you might want to pay for repairs to damage to the house out of your pocket.

Car Insurance Review car insurance and ask what the various options are for. Some features are added automatically with yearly renewal and it’s up to you to notice them and take them off if you don’t want them. Ask for what you legally require and then upgrade based on your individual needs. Be sure to check your car insurance needs each school year. Every year that a child ages, lowers the rate, but the insurance company will not call and let you know that. Parents, if your child is out of town and not driving your cars, phone your insurance company to tell them. There is no point paying the child’s extra insurance as an occasional driver if the child is out of town going to school for the year.

Charities When charities come to the door, ask them to leave a brochure so you can review the organization without pressure. Point out to your child why you do this.

Don’t donate to charities at the till of stores and businesses. You lose the tax deduction from a printed receipt. Say, “I have a specified charity that I donate to for the year. Thanks but no.” Spend some time reviewing charities’ administration and fundraising costs and compare the percentage of administration costs to the percent of money that actually benefits the goals. Then decide if the charity is deserving of your money if they practice prudent spending according to your criteria.

Cell Phone Review your phone package every year and ask for the phone companies retention department. Ask for what deal they are willing to give you to keep you as a customer if you are not on a contract plan. If you are on a phone contract plan, you can’t quit the terms or the company unless you “buy it out.”

Don’t accept any free downloads from companies you don’t trust. You could be on the hook for large amounts of data downloading.

License Always bring in discarded/no longer needed license plates. The person who they have been issued to is still liable for them if they get stolen or lost.

Always carry pink insurance and registration cards as the driver can be fined if they are not produced upon request by a police officer.

Car Collisions If in a car collision, take a photo of the damage, the other driver’s registration pink slip, license, and pink insurance slip. Take a photo of the car’s model as well.

Residence Try not to be the group contact, or sign the lease for a group house rental. You are liable for all the renter payments, behavior, etc. If you are living in residence, be sure to check and note all deficiencies in repairs and cleanliness. Take photos when moving in and after cleaning when moving out. When moving out, get a receipt for your room key and have the Residence Assistant inspect your room, otherwise, you will be getting a bill after you return home. Be sure the last person who leaves the room, leaves it clean or all roommates will be penalized.

Sell your fridge, hotplate and reusable items at the end of the year for pocket money. Be sure to sell your used books too. Be environmentally conscious – the landfill doesn’t want your stuff.

Travel Always copy and paste an email confirmation into a word file and save it to appropriate folders in your computer. Hotel, airline confirmations etc. Don’t forget school financials such as Opt-out of health plan confirmations. Always read the terms of the sale. Ask about any fee that doesn’t make sense to you. Some hotels are now adding a DMF (Destination Marketing Fee) to the bill after you check out and you do not have to pay it, if it was not disclosed at the time of booking. It is not a tax and should not be represented as such. Get money out of an ATM and not from a credit card, when traveling. Ask what the fee is before you get in the taxi or hostel. Currency exchange rates are always better on credit cards, than on accessing cash from an ATM.

Friends Never lend substantial money to a friend. $20 here and there until their payday is fine. More than that and you put your friendship at risk. If you do lend it, mentally write it off as a gift. If it gets repaid, you will be pleasantly surprised. If not, you won’t harbor hard feelings.

Banking Always check your bank statement for new fees. Banks add them on and it’s up to you to opt out. Never hand over your student timetable to anyone (including banks and RESP companies) to confirm your student status. You are giving away too much private information such as time and place of classes which could put your safety at risk. Always send in the generic “Confirmation (or Verification) of Enrollment” form when institutions ask for proof of student status.

Get to know bank language and ask them what the terms are. What is a “product” or “vehicle” or “annuity.” Learn the differences between e-mail transfers and wire transfers and how much they cost.

Always pay your credit card a few days before the due date. Some cards, like American Express, deem the amount paid only when they receive the funds, not when you send them. It can take several days for the amount to travel from your bank to their bank and you will be stuck with interest owing for the whole month if it arrives a day late to their bank.

Always check your credit card statement each month for any purchases that don’t look like yours.

When punching in your pin number at the ATM or at a store, cover your hand and always pretend to punch a few more numbers in case any cameras are watching.

Never, ever use those handy cheques that come with the credit card statement. They are for cash advances that will start accruing up to 20 percent interest from the last credit card statement date.

Gift Cards Many employers give gift cards for employee recognition. Use up gift cards as soon as possible. The longer you keep them, the higher the risk of losing them and the store going out of business. Same for store credits. Send cash instead of gift cards. Over 50% of gift cards are never redeemed which is why stores love them.

Records Destroy and shred any receipts or documents with personal information on them. Keep employment and student receipts for 7 years along with your tax return.

That’s it. Enjoy those student discounts!

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Problem-Solving: When Time-outs, Grounding and Consequences Don’t Work

Build the Bond

Problem-solve. Don’t Punish.

Problem Solving

Work through this sheet with your child.

When you look at your child now and imagine the teenage years ahead, does the image fill your heart with dread or joy and anticipation?  Do you see your relationship as a warm, loving, close one that has open communication, shared feelings, consideration, trust, and fun together?  Do you see your teen coming to you first when they have a problem?  Or do you see behaviour such as lying, sneakiness, snide remarks, attitude, and non-existent communication?

 

Parenting is relationship building.  How you parent today will either build or break the bonds you have with your children in the future.  Some aspects of parenting can disconnect the relationship.  One of those aspects is disciplining using punishment.

Can a parent discipline without using punishment?  Of course!  It takes time, a little bit of skill and a lot of patience.  But any worthwhile relationship takes time.  Just think how much time you are investing in meting out punishments.

Why give up punishments?  Children who are not punished have more control over their fate.  They learn problem solving skills and healthy conflict resolution.  They have healthy self-esteem.  They develop the inner voice of conscience and have more empathy for other’s needs and values because their needs have been met.

Why do parents keep using punishments?  In times of stress, we parent the way we were parented.  Sometimes we know of no other way.

Punishments work on some children in the short term.  Children who have an easygoing temperament are easily compliant with even the threat of punishment.  It’s the same with younger children.  As children get older, punishments get harder to enforce because children become more capable of escape and revenge.   Long term damage is the lack of a child’s inner conscience and an increased reliance on other’s approval. Some children may withdraw.  Often, the children who respond the best to punishment are the ones who need it the least.  Then there are older children and spirited children.  Punishments only serve to make them more rebellious, angry, humiliated, resentful and revengeful.  Those are the children that are sent to time-out and instead of thinking of their wrongdoing,  they are planning ways to get even with you.  A minor discipline problem can turn into a major power struggle.  For both types of temperament, the greatest danger of using punishment is that the feelings and needs of the child driving the behaviour are not addressed by the parent.  Punishments can bring about temporary and superficially good behaviour based on threats and fear.  However, it’s a known fact that children do not open up and express their feelings to parents they fear.  Communication shuts down just as you want it revved up for the teen years.   As educator John Holt once said, “When we make a child afraid, we stop learning dead in its tracks.”

How a child feels is how he behaves.  Jane Nelson, author of Positive Discipline, said that “Where did we get the idea that in order for children to behave better, we need to make them feel worse?”  Think of your child as a boiling pot of water on a gas stove.    His feelings are the flame driving the water to boil.  The water boiling over the pot is his behaviour.  Turn up the heat and the behaviour will increase.  Slap a lid on the pot.  The lid is punishment.  The lid will stop the behaviour of water boiling over the sides for a little while, but without the flames (feelings) being attended too, soon the boiling water will pop the lid off and overflow again.   Using the lid is a temporary stop-gap measure.  Turning down the heat and addressing the feelings/needs will permanently stop the overflow.   The lid is punishment.  Turning down the heat is discipline.  Good discipline allows parents to find the unmet need or unacknowledged feelings and help the child find acceptable ways to meet it.  This eventually helps the child learn to identify their own needs and how to address them in appropriate ways.  This is developing inner conscience, not outer control.

So if you are using time-outs, grounding, unrelated consequences, spanking, yelling, and removal of privileges, and it’s not gaining the permanent compliance you want, perhaps its time for another approach.

How does a parent know if their discipline is teaching or punishment?  Ask yourself three questions:  Is it respectful and would I want it done to me?  Is it effective long term?  Does it help my child develop valuable life skills for good character?  For example, let’s look at time-out.  When you send a child to time-out, do you choose the time limit?  The place?  Do you choose the tools/or lack of tools to help him calm down?  Do you decide if he goes alone or with someone?  If yes, the time-out is a punishment.  When you send a child to time-out, does he choose when to come out when he’s calm?  Does he choose the place that is most calming to him?  Does he choose the tools to help him calm down and think such as music, a stuffy, a cozy, comforting place on his bed?  Does he decide if he wants to go alone and not be bothered by anyone, (as preferred by introverted children) or does he want you to come with him so he can talk it out )as preferred by extroverted children).  If yes, this type of time-out is a valuable discipline tool that is respectful, lifelong, and a valuable skill to have as an adult. As adults, we call it renewal time or a break, or even time out for parents.  It’s not punishment.  It’s a tool for building relationships, not disconnecting them.  We are raising an entire generation of children adverse to taking a time-out because they have only experienced it as a punishment in childhood.

So if you are using time-outs, grounding, unrelated consequences, spanking, yelling, and removal of privileges, and it’s not gaining the permanent compliance you want, perhaps its time for another approach.

Parent with the end in mind.  Remember your long-term goals instead of immediate results.  The long-term goals of developing life skills such as respect, problem solving, effective communication, empathy and self-control rather than outside control can be attained faster when punishment is out of the mix.  You can set limits, provide guidance and correct misbehavior all without the use of punishment.

If you would like to know more about many other non-punitive discipline tools that enhance the parent-child relationship, look into the multitude of parenting courses that are available in communities and colleges. Parent Effectiveness Training is one of the oldest, evidenced based, proven skills course among many others. Look forward to those teen years!

Here is the problem-solving template.  Print out a few copies and sit down and together with your child, work the problem, not the person.  You are on the same team!

Problem Solving

Work through this sheet with your child.

 

 

Posted in Democratic Education, Emerging Adult Children 19-25, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Unschooling/Self-Directed Education | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calm-Down Tools: 70 Ways to Calm Down and Reclaim Patience in the Heat of Anger

Children need an adult’s help to calm down just as they need an adult’s help to learn Math. We don’t give a child a math book and send them to their room and tell them to come out when they have learned it. Sometimes the instances they need us the most, when they are experiencing strong emotions like anger and frustration, is the time we choose to be with them the least when we enforce their time-out away from us.

They need our help, direction and practice in handling their feelings. Placing them in Time-out and isolating them is not the best way to teach children to calm-down. It’s a punishment. Taking your time-out is the best way to teach children that a time-out is a good relationship skill and not a punishment. After all – kids model what we do.

Here are some ways to help your child (and you!) calm-down in the heat of anger and meltdowns. Be with them and use some of these tools. Help them move to use them. Create a Time-In place with some of these tools available and go use them with your child. Do it with your child in the heat of the moment and then talk about his feelings after he has calmed down. Eventually, with age and development of his executive function self-control, in the pre-frontal cortex, your child will use his words and choose a calm-down tool as his way of handling anger and frustration, instead of hitting, biting, and pushing and throwing that many young child use because they don’t have self-control or words yet. It will come! Children have from ages 0-13 years to practice using calm-down tools instead of harming others or objects.

It is important to teach him the calm-down tools when everyone is calm – not in the middle of a meltdown. If he knows the tools, then when he is angry, help him move to use them. Don’t lecture – just act! If you are also angry, make sure that you’ve used the tools first to calm yourself down enough to be a helper to your child!

Auditory/Verbal Neutralizers

Yell into the toilet and then flush

Listen to music

Sing

Dance

Blast the radio in the car

Positive self-talk

Do a three-minute silent scream

Say to yourself, “STOP! Breathe! What do I Need?”

Yell in the shower

Talk to a friend

Count to 10 while drinking a glass of water

Count to 10 forwards or backwards

Cry

Shsshhhhing sound

Hiss

Visual Neutralizers

Read a book

Watch an acquarium

Draw pictures

Scribble

Doodle

Imagine feelings floating away

Visualize yourself in a calm place or meditate

Watch a video or DVD

Play a video or computer game

Creative Neutralizers

Write in a journal

Make a poster

Draw a picture

Write poetry

Write an unfiltered letter or email but don’t send until it is edited

Knit

Make a model

Play Lego

Play guitar or piano

Self-Nurturing Neutralizers

Get a hug

Bubble bath

Drink from a water bottle

Make a calm-down room just for you

Eat a healthy snack (not the ice cream bucket)

Go out with other people

Be alone  (The Traditional Time-Out)

Meditate

Physical Neutralizers

Silent scream or scream into a pillow

Take a plastic baseball bat and bang a thick pillow

Squeeze stress or hackey sack balls

Pound play-dough

Take a shower, lock the door and sing or scream

Play Lego or K’nex

Clean room, closet, or yard

Knead bread, weed garden, vacuum

Take the children in a stroller and go for a walk

Dance, roller blade, bike, throw ball, and walk

Shake off feelings

Breathe in calmness, and breathe out slowly

Stomp, Run, or Jump

Scrub the sink

Have a cup of tea on the front porch or back deck

Blow in an anger tube (an empty paper towel roll)

Drum

Hug

Shred paper

Clear out the recycling

Use a fuss box (a cardboard box you can go and kick the sides out of)

Make faces at the wall

Have a bath

Mow the lawn

Stamp feet in one place

Hang laundry on a rack

Wring towels

Blow balloons

Clean up clutter

Play with toys

Humour Neutralizers

Make a joke out of the situation

Read a funny book or sites on the Internet

Watch funny videos

 

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How To Get More Patience

Like a good marriage, it really helps to ignore a lot of daily irritations. Anger is like a fish-hook. We can choose to bite or swim on by. Sometimes, we just keep on swimming! Sometimes, we have to ignore the wet towels on the bed, clothes on the floor, and books strewn about, or we will be constantly criticizing someone for it.

Patience is a learned skill. We all have varying levels of patience, because we all have varying levels of executive function self-control ability. It is rooted in our brains. However, we need to learn how to extend it for longer periods and how to loan it to our children. Part of increasing our patience is to learn child development and understand that much of what our child does is normal behavior. Their executive function has not developed as much and hence their self-control is limited until the pre-frontal cortex is better developed.

Learning to handle things that set us off is part of developing that patience muscle. Ask any parent home full time, and they will wonder why they have so much patience and then hand the children over to the spouse who has only been home half an hour and they are losing it all ready. They don’t have the same patience level because they haven’t had practice developing and using it all day.

Here are some simple steps to gain more patience. Start with one and add more.
 Breathe often!
 Set aside a time limit. Say, “For the next half hour, I will be patient.” Extend your time
limit as you get better at it.
 See the good intent of others. They are not trying to bug you. It’s not about you. It’s all
about them. Children are born egocentric and learn about others as they grow.
 Live in the present. Forget about the future and all that needs to be done. Relish what is
happening now. When you are distressed and more patient, things get done more
efficiently, even if it’s later.
 Prepare for delay. Carry around a good book or something to do when waiting for others.
 Keep perspective. Has anyone died because of this roadblock? Will it really matter a year
from now?
 Be grateful. When you are delayed, think of all the people you are grateful for. Carry
around a notebook in your purse and write a short note to tell them what you appreciate
about them. This helps put you in a way better mood.
 Have quiet time every day – ten minutes on the front step admiring nature, or five
minutes in the shower. Even for school aged children, remove yourself for a half-hour
and savor the quietness. Be sure younger children are engaged in an activity and safe.
You can have a few minutes alone. Hooray for the DVD player.
 Have a time-out room for you! Make it inviting, soothing, calming. A bedroom with
crystals, a water feature, stereo with spa or massage music, candles, calming artwork,
plants, books, and cozy pillows. A welcoming, relaxing room to have a peaceful moment.
If you have a TV or computer in your bedroom, cover it with a white sheet, so it doesn’t
remind you of work to be done.
 Avoid multi-tasking. Living a more peaceful, patient life means taking one thing at a
time. Doing multiple things causes stress and hurriedness, which feeds itself in the
frenzy.

We are taking on an adult role. Part of the adult role in parenting is leadership. Good
leaders model appropriate skills. Yes, we are human, but being parents, we try to be
better at patience every day that we wake up. How we deal with anger is a direct model
to our children on how to deal with anger. They are watching us. Keep at it and pat
yourself on the back for every minute of success!

Posted in Babies 0-1, Emerging Adult Children 19-25, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Toddlers 1-2, Unschooling/Self-Directed Education | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Non-Punitive Screen-Time Family Contract

https://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/an-age-by-age-guide-to-kids-and-smartphones/

Also featured in Today’s Parent Magazine

Family Screen Time Contract 

A Contract for Digital Health and Safety between Parent_____ and Child(ren)_____

Date:_________________

CHILD

  • I agree to always ask you for help, explanation, advice and information regarding anything I can’t handle myself on the cell-phone, Internet and computer/video gaming platform.
  • I agree to abide by safety and health precautions as outlined between you and myself.
  • I agree to never meet strangers in person without your knowledge.
  • I agree to discuss and solve any problems that arise from meeting your needs and mine.

Child’s Signature__________

 

PARENT

  • I agree to discuss and solve any problems that arise from meeting your needs and mine.
  • I agree to never confiscate your cell-phone, TV, computer, tablet, music player or video game console.
  • I agree to abide by the same health and safety rules for my usage as well.

Parent’s Signature__________

 

MUTUAL HEALTH AND SAFETY AGREEMENTS

  • Tech-free zones will be meal-times, church, socializing with relatives, and when visitors drop by.
  • All electronics will be turned off 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Everyone does 30 minutes of physical exercise every day.
  • Giving attention to people takes precedence over attention to electronics.
  • (Add more here)

Date We Will Review Contract To Ensure It’s Function For Child and Parent_________

Child and Parent’s Signatures__________________________

Posted in Babies 0-1, Democratic Education, Emerging Adult Children 19-25, General Parenting, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Teenagers 13-19, Toddlers 1-2, Unschooling/Self-Directed Education | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Playgroup Altercation: Your child is the victim

 

The Playgroup Altercation

 

Part Two – Your child is the Victim

You hear a loud thud, an ear-piercing scream, and then your child appears before you wearing a tear-stained cheek and red eyes and is pointing to another child.  Apparently your son was hit by another parent’s daughter in the playgroup and you are wondering what to do. The mother is busy chatting away to another parent and is missing the whole scenario.  What is the best way to handle playgroup altercations that leaves everyone feeling content and supported?

Hear are six easy steps:

Calming Down

  1. Comfort your child. Attend to any first aid necessary.  Acknowledge his feelings.  Say, “You are sad and hurt because you were hit.”  Wait until he is done crying. Keep comforting him until he is fully calm and able to listen to you.  Ask him what had happened and what he would like to occur. Remember to stay calm yourself!

Restitution

  1. Find the other child if she is still present. The first rule of conflict resolution is to speak to the person directly responsible for the negative feelings. That would be the other child, not the parent.  Go to the child and encourage your child to speak about how he feels over what happened and what action he would like to have.  Perhaps he wants his toy back or wants his turn on the ride-on toys. He may even want an apology. Focus on what your child wants, not what the other child did.  If you child is too shy to speak, you can do it for him.  This teaches him the words and tone of what to say.
  2. If the other child does nothing, the next step is to appeal to their parent. Again, speak in terms of how your child feels or what he wants, not how bad the other child’s actions were. You could say, “My son was hit by your daughter when she took away his truck.  Would it be possible for him to continue his turn with it?”

Follow-Up

  1. Hopefully, the parent will take control of the situation and your child gets the truck back. No matter how the child and parent react to you and your son’s requests, you have three choices:

Persist – Continue to verbally assert your needs, even higher up the chain of command, such as appealing to the playgroup organizer. In conflict resolution, if the problem is not resolved at the level of the direct people involved, move up to people higher on the authority ladder.  That shouldn’t be a first step. Try to resolve things with the child first and then the other parent, because it’s respectful to bring the problem to their attention first. Only appeal higher if there is no effort to resolve things from the daughter and her parent.

Flight – Leave the group for the day. This is a viable option if you just don’t have the energy to deal with the other parent or if a altercation has happened more than once that day.

Redirect– Steer your child to another activity and ignore the other Mom and her child and enjoy your day. Say to yourself and your child, “Oh well, what else can we play with?” This might be a good choice if the other child or parent is no longer present.

In fact, with every situation in life, from a bullying teacher, a manipulative friend, or an unfair boss, we only have three basic ways to deal with what we have been handed: Persist, Flight, or Redirect.  Outlining those three options to your child teaches them a valuable life skill.

  1. While playing with your child, or even on the ride home, debrief by asking him how he feels about the outcome and what he could do differently next time. This gives him a chance to vent and also to feel in control of his actions, even if he can’t control the other child’s actions.
  2. Many parents feel that they need to teach the other child a lesson. This is not advisable.  The other child is a product of her parents.  You are not in charge of her life lessons.  Focus on your child.

If another altercation ensues with the same child or another child, recognize that your child is having a bad day and go home.  Have some snuggle and one-on-one time, because your child needs to feel comforted by his parent and shown that his feelings matter.  It gives him the message that even though there are challenging people out there, we feel better by immersing ourselves in people that are good and nurturing to ourselves. Don’t forget to give yourself some pampering too!  You are an excellent parent dealing with a challenging day.

Excerpted from: Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps.

Posted in Babies 0-1, Preschoolers 3-5, School-Aged 6-12, Toddlers 1-2 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment