Kids and Students

5 Things Your High School Grad Should Know Before Starting College

You blinked and it happened. Your baby grew up and is leaving for college in a few short weeks. Your child has accomplished so much already and so many exciting opportunities await. As a parent, you may be having mixed feelings about sending your child away to college to live on their own. In your heart, you know your child is ready, but it feels like it was just a moment ago that you were packing their lunch for kindergarten. Your kid will do great. Nevertheless, you can ease your mind by having open and honest conversations about a few key topics which will help your child thrive while away at school.

What to do if they are sick

Your student may need to see a doctor (or possibly go to the ER) or a dentist while at college. If this occurs, they will need to be able to fill out a health history and may need information regarding their immunizations (date of last tetanus shot). They will also need to know how to fill medical prescriptions. All this can be intimidating for a student if they have never had to do it on their own, much worse if they are sick or injured. This may also be the first time your child is responsible for carrying their own health insurance card and need to pay co-pay’s. Have a conversation and let them know what to expect – they’ll thank you later.

How to manage money

College may be the first time your student has had the opportunity to manage a budget. Be transparent about how their education is being paid for. Have conversations about when and how money will be transferred to their account to avoid unpleasant surprises. Will you send spending money monthly or at the beginning of each semester? Set clear expectations regarding the use of a credit card if your child has one. Be clear with your student about what you will and will not pay for. Some parents have their children prepare a budget document detailing how much money they will need each trimester for things like food, books, rent, cell phone bill, gas and any other expenses.

How to do laundry and pack light

Living in a dorm room may be the first time your student has shared a bedroom. Dorm rooms are small and have very limited storage space. As your student considers what to pack for their college dorm, help them downsize the belongings they will no longer need and pack away high school keepsakes and mementos. Do this even if you are not turning their bedroom into a craft room – don’t let them leave their bedroom a mess until they come home for the holidays. If your student is not already proficient in doing their own laundry, now is the time to learn. The college will provide a list of what students are and are not allowed to bring into their dorms. Have a conversation about how to keep any expensive or irreplaceable belongings safe. If you child is living in an apartment, consider renter’s insurance.

What to do in emergencies

Talk to your child about what to do in emergencies. If your child is bringing a car to college they may need to know how to get help if the car breaks down. Let them know if their car insurance plan includes towing coverage, otherwise having AAA may be a good idea. Consider a car emergency kit. Talk to your student about how they will get in touch if their cell phone is lost or broken. Will you have access to their passwords? In an emergency, if you can’t be reached, who can your student get help from?

When to call mom and dad

Lastly, openly discuss what your family communication plan will be while your student is away from home. Will you have a specific day and time when you will check in with your student? Don’t forget to arrange a parent visit and plan when your child will come home to visit!

You child is ready for college. They will do great things. You have prepared them, and now the it’s up to them.

 

 

Photo: Juan Ramos on Unsplash

This post may contain affiliate links.

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Transitions and Change with Your ADHD Child

Change is tough on kids with ADHD

Change is hard on children. For children with ADHD, change is extra challenging. As a mom of an ADHD child, you’ve spent the last nine months helping your child succeed with her school routine. Summer vacation means the familiarity of her school routine goes out the window, and now you begin anew with a summer routine. You may be anxious about your munchkin’s tolerance for a new summer vacation routine. Just like during the school year,

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13 Reasons Why You Should Declutter Your Teen’s Room

13 reasons why you should declutter your teen's bedroom.
Teens might roll their eyes at their parents and seem to heed only what their friends say and do, but parental interaction is still very important to them. Among your many jobs as a parent, you are critical in preparing your teen to launch into college and adulthood. Teaching your teen how to take care of their living space and belongings is an important life skill. Let your teen know that you’d like to spend some time with them spring cleaning (sprucing up, updating) their bedroom. Make an appointment with your teen
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An ADHD Story: My Son Might be a Mad Scientist

Doc Brown Back to the Future
Remember Doc, the white haired, mad eyed inventor from Back to the Future? Do you remember the scene where Marty goes to visit Doc in his workshop and walks through a cluttered kitchen where a complex Rube Goldberg machine is set up to feed the dog?  My twelve-year-old son with ADHD is a modern-day younger Doc.

My son’s recent projects include: Various robots made with Makeblock; An Arduino powered laser pointer mechanism designed to entertain our cats; a Lego EV3 cobra

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The Case for Handwritten Thank You Notes

Thank You Notes are an Important Tradition

The holidays are about traditions. Some holiday traditions are generic and some are unique to the family, some are old and some new. At some point, the job of passing on these traditions shifts from the grandparents, to parents of young children. It’s not discussed, it just happens that way. Family traditions need repetition in order to carry on, much like good habits need repetition to stick. In our half Jewish family, we do a great job with the traditions surrounding Christmas, but we are lousy about lighting the menorah at Hanukkah. This year we only remembered the first day, shame on us. Actually, shame on my husband and me, because we need to be the ones to carry out these traditions so that they become ingrained in our children’s experience of the holidays. It’s that whole lead by example thing. Something else the kids won’t continue, if we don’t, and that is to properly thank their relatives for gifts received.
It’s easy to open a box under the tree, but someone made an effort to pick the gift out. Maybe they even waited in an irritatingly long line at the post office to mail it. They didn’t do it for the recognition, they did it out of love. In my opinion,

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Do You Need a Clutter Diet?

One in four gifts may go unused. Sparefoot.com study says.

What to do With Unwanted Gifts

Once the holidays are over, “on average, more than 1 in 4 gifts go unused.” “79% of Americans admit they never use some of their gifts,” found a recent study by Sparefoot.com. That means in a family of five receiving 4 gifts each, every holiday season 5 items would go unused. If these unwanted and unused items remain in the home over 10 years this would be 50 items. 50 boxes taking up space needed for other things. This number is very conservative – many more gifts are given in a typical family. This statistic also doesn’t include gifts received for birthdays and other special days as well. All these potentially unwanted gifts contribute to our clutter, our overstuffed closets, cupboards, and toy chests.

Why do we keep unwanted items?

Folks will often tell us: “We should keep it because it was a gift. We may use it one day. We can’t give it away it is brand new. The gift has value. Maybe we’ll re-gift it. Maybe someone in the family will use it.”

Clutter causes anxiety

When we keep unwanted items eventually our homes become cluttered and this clutter creates stress and anxiety. If the closets are full then it becomes difficult to retrieve what we need. We lose track of where things are. Toys take over several rooms in the house because there is no more space in the children’s bedrooms or playroom. Kitchen counters disappear under unused appliances and gadgets making meal preparation and cleaning difficult. Garages fill up with bins and boxes and cars no longer fit. The home stops being a restful place.  Anxiety and stress impacts how the family functions.

Gift Obligation

Once the receiver thanks the giver warmly, the receiver has no further obligation to the giver. If your children receive a new board game from grandma and show little interest in playing it, snap a picture of the kids playing the game and let it go. If you receive a duplicate on something you already own, consider donating one of the items.

Clutter Diet

Clutter in our homes has also been linked to poor diet choices. Cluttered kitchens have been linked to increased snacking. Many Americans will make New Year’s Resolutions to eat better or to begin a diet. Many agree that in addition to a food diet they also need a clutter diet.

One in One Out

To keep clutter from growing, utilize the one in one out policy. If you received a holiday gift of a kitchen gadget you are excited about, donate a kitchen gadget from your cupboards that you no longer use. Love your new Nespresso coffee machine? Donate your old coffee maker. This way you will create space for your new gift without increasing the volume of stuff in your home. Utilize this strategy in every room of your home.

 
Much like eating healthfully, keeping a home clutter free is an ongoing challenge. Both require tenacity. To be successful, sometimes we seek the assistance of a nutritionist and sometimes we seek the support of a professional home organizer! Are you ready to begin your clutter diet in 2017?

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Do You Know Your Mommy Bandwidth?

Can you tell when you have exceeded your bandwidth? We moms do have limits too.

Bandwidth – “The energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.” Oxford Living Dictionaries

I don’t need to write about all the different demands on a mom’s time and energy. You already know all about that. You are deep in it every-single-day-of-your-life, just like all of us. After all, you are the person keeping the family going. Sometimes things go along relatively smoothly. Other times, well, things can get a little crazy.
For example, I left the house today to go to an appointment and two blocks from my house I realized that I had automatically started driving to the kids’ school. A few minutes later I made another wrong turn, my inner autopilot taking over once more. This hasn’t happened before. Sure, I’ve

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Store your Child’s Keepsakes, Schoolwork and Art

Simple ways to store your child's keepsakes.

The day our children make their first scribbles with a crayon we begin collecting and storing their art and other keepsakes. Beginning in preschool the volume of children’s crafts, art projects and first handwriting efforts sent home increases dramatically. By elementary school, your child’s keepsakes can start to become overwhelming.

What keepsakes should we keep? Where and how should we store them all?

We recommend storing children’s keepsakes in a clear plastic file box. The Container Store has a great extra-large file tote box.  Label the tote box with your child’s name and create a file folder for each grade, starting with preschool. These files will give you a year by year record for your child making it easy to pick out what you would like to include in a scrapbook.

How should we store large art pieces or fragile ceramic projects?

As your child brings schoolwork home, show them where to recycle paper they do not need. Take out items you would like to save and file them. File school and sports photos together with other schoolwork you are keeping. For those oversized art pieces, we like to use a large art portfolio. When you file these art pieces, note if they are labeled with name and date.  We recommend cleaning out backpacks during all three-day weekends and holiday breaks.
The end of the school year is a good time to take a close look at what keepsakes you have saved. Lots of paper and projects come home at that time. Keep only the best samples of your child’s best work. Many parents like to display their child’s ceramics for a short time. Take a photo of pieces that you like, but which might be too awkward to store long term. This way you have a record and a memory of your child’s creation.
Storing keepsakes can cut into your available storage space. Store full bins on top shelves in closets, or in the garage. Active bins should be easily accessible. Some children love to hang on to their work. Others may not. Be mindful of how you and your child feel about keepsakes. Ultimately it will be your children who are storing these bins in their homes!

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15 Holiday Gift Ideas That Don’t Create Clutter

Holiday Gift ideas without clutter

Holiday gift ideas are easy to find for young children. Young children grow quickly and move through various stages of toys they like. The tougher question is, what gifts do you get for the teens and adults on your list? After all, these are the folks who may already have homes full of the latest electronic gadgets and who might not “need” anything.

The following are creative gift ideas which are experience oriented. Best of all, these items don’t create clutter in your home!

1. Spring Break or Summer camp enrollment is a great gift for tweens and teens.
2. Cooking classes from PCC or Sur La Table are a wonderful gift for young and old.
3. A gift of lift tickets at a local mountain is appreciated by teens or adults.
4. A photo book of a recent trip is a great gift for grandparents.
5. Airplane tickets for college students or young adults to come home and visit are very appreciated.
6. A gift of a spa day for ladies in your family is always a hit.
7. A Mani/Pedi is a fun gift idea for the tween or teen in your house.
8. Play tickets for two or for the entire family make a memorable gift.
9. Concert Tickets to a favorite artist coming to town are coveted by teens or adults.
10. Create lasting memories by gifting a family photo session with a local photographer.
11. Tweens and teens love music service subscriptions like Spotify, YouTube Red or iTunes.
12. Give the gift of books through Audible. Children can listen to Audible books on their favorite device.
13. Private drum or guitar lessons are a fun gift for the musically curious member of the family. Hot air balloon ride is a great gift for an adventurous couple.
14. A tasty early dinner that you make at home and then a tour through the Bellevue Botanical Holiday lights would be a nice gift for friends and feels quite festive.
15. Make an impact in your community by adopting a family this holiday season.

It is a good idea to include a gift receipt with your present. As you check family members and friends off your list, keep a running total of the amount spent on gifts to stay within budget.

Happy holiday gift shopping to you all!

 

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Applying to Private Schools for the 2017-2018 school year

Applying to private schools for the 2017-2018 school year

You may be thinking about holidays, but it is already the season to visit potential private schools and see which may be the best fit for your child. Whether you are considering applying for Kindergarten or Middle School the application process can seem daunting. Following are highlights of the application process:

FALL

  1. What schools will you be applying to?
    a. Research local independent schools. Knowing your child, where would he/she thrive?
    b. Talk to friends about their experiences with different institutions.
    c. Talk to children and parents of children who attend the school you may be interested in.
    d. Attend independent school fairs and Open House days. Organizations such as Puget Sound Independent Schools list upcoming fairs and Open House events.
  2. Narrow down the list of schools you will apply to and become familiar with their deadlines. If your child is applying as a sibling, you may have earlier application deadlines. Find out if your school has rolling admissions.
  3. Reach out to former educators and ask if they would be willing to write your student a recommendation.
  4. Register for the entrance test. Most primary and secondary independent schools require either the SSAT or the ISEE test for admittance.
  5. Become familiar with the entrance test format and content.
    a. Purchase study guides and prepare for the entrance test.
    b. Enroll in prep classes or seek out a tutor to assist your child with preparation.
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