It’s August, meaning that the start of school is just around the corner. Mailboxes are overstuffed with waxy promotional mailers advertising deals on staplers and chapsticks, and kids are scrambling to get in all the playing and relaxing they’ve neglected to schedule. For this year’s back to school shopping trips, you’ll want to keep an eye out for more than just crayons and glue. Today’s students have some additional needs that you need to shop around.
A Smaller Backpack | Study after study has demonstrated that students do irreparable damage to their shoulders, necks, and backs when they carry too many books at once. To reduce the stress on young joints and muscles, buy your child or teen a smaller backpack. That way, they’ll be forced to reduce the sheer number of pounds on their backs. They may find the practice of picking and choosing books tedious and annoying, but their future selves will thank you.
Trendy Lunch Box | Although they’ve long since gone out of style, teens are more likely to eat a full, healthful lunch if they have a say in what goes into it. Whether they’re picky or weight-conscious, your teen needs to be properly fueled to be focused and successful throughout the school day. You can find some really nifty lunch boxes online that take advantage of scientific advances and modern design to make carrying a lunchbox a fashion statement.
Chargers Galore | It’s a digital world out there, from all the devices to all those devices’ accompanying devices, like Bluetooth headphones and wireless mice. You wouldn’t want your child or teen stranded without a functioning phone, tablet, or laptop, or dead accouterments. Pick up a few extra cables while you’re out shopping, as well as an additional wall brick or two.
Planners | Today’s school children are wildly over scheduled as it is, but you can help them get into the habit of planning for what’s ahead, from tests to sports practice to time with friends. Sometimes, a good old fashioned paper planner is just what the doctor ordered. But, if you have a particularly tech-savvy child, you could opt for a more connected option. Slice planners, for example, connect your paper planner with your smartphone or connected device to seamlessly integrate the digital and physical experiences of keeping track of a schedule.
If you and your family plan on driving to visit a vacation destination or relatives while your children are out of school, you don’t want drive time to be wasted to mindless ipad scrolling or unbearable bickering. Instead, get your kids interested in an audio drama brought to you by way of a podcast, free on itunes or other apps. Your children will finish the drive informed, entertained, and most of all, not fighting with each other. Here are some of the best history podcasts for your summer driving pleasure.
Presidents are People, Too: Alexis Coe and her co host Elliott Kalan review the presidents of the United States of America in ways you’ve never seen before: as actual regular people. The two historical comedians delve into the lives of who the presidents were when they weren’t on the clock — if you were William Howard Taft, you were in the tub, or if you were Jimmy Carter, you were on the family peanut farm. Between the expertise of the history professors they interview and the hilarious commentary from the hosts, it’s definitely a hit for the whole family.
Revisionist History: Straight from the desk of acclaimed writer and researcher Malcolm Gladwell comes his long-anticipated podcast, Revisionist History. Gladwell has made a career on weaving together stories and research that the average person may not put together. Who would have thought that going to a better college would decrease someone’s chances of finishing with a STEM degree? Gladwell rekindles the old magic to bring a brand new season of his brilliant and fascinating research to eager listeners worldwide.
Presidential: Even though the United States has been a country for nearly 300 years at this point, there are some job responsibilities for the president that haven’t changed since day one. The Washington Post runs through each person who has served as president and traces their run for office from the day they announced they were running to the day the were sworn in. Well researched and always informative, this podcast is perfect for learning about the long and winding road to the presidency.
More Perfect: The creators of the Golden podcast Radiolab present their first spin off series More Perfect, which details the twisted sticky history of the US Supreme Court from its inception to how early rulings impacted today’s most controversial rulings. The role of the court, it’s own frailties, and the loopholes in the justice system tend to be glossed over at best in civics classes, so these exciting and suspenseful episodes will reopen history to you and your family.
If you have high school aged children, you know how valuable the summer is to getting ahead on SAT preparation, college essays, and staying on top of school work. You don’t want to lose these valuable months before all the burdens of high school, extracurriculars, and life in general return. After you’ve bought all the prep books and done the research, you now have to make sure your child puts the pedal to the metal. Here’s some tips:
Set aside regularly scheduled study time. Your child and all your child’s friends are out of school, and plans pop up and fall apart very quickly. Make sure your child has on the calendar regularly scheduled blocks of time when the phone is off and the focus is a textbook or admissions essay. Some people are known to set reminders on their phones and settle into a coffee shop or library to help direct their focus on their work and not the plans they may be missing or updating their snap story. Humans are creatures of habit, so help your child make a habit out of study time.
Read and read and read some more. Nothing helps expand a vocabulary, sharpen critical thinking, and improve writing like reading. Help your child find books, newspapers, or magazines that appeal to personal interests and make them readily available during downtime at home and car rides. Some even choose to keep a stack of books or magazines in the restroom so as not to waste a single moment! If your child is more auditory, you can also encourage listening to books on CDs or podcasts.
Provide Incentives. The part of the brain that handles forethought and consequence doesn’t fully develop until age 26, so telling students to study for the sake of their future selves may be a tough sell. However, as the old adage of economics reminds us, people respond to incentives. Trips to Dairy Queen, relief from chores, and sometimes even small amounts of cash may give your child that extra incentive to stick to studying for the allotted time.
Your child will likely want to try something out of the box here or there. Maybe they want to take up a new sport, petition for a rule change, wear something out of the ordinary, or otherwise try to “disrupt” the market. You as the parent have to encourage thinking outside the box and let your child know that it’s okay if they gave something their best shot and it still fails. You can try to steer the child into revisiting their aforementioned goals and strategic plan, but in the end, give them the freedom and support to try something new and different.
It’s becoming more and more important for people entering the workforce to be able to sell themselves and their ideas to potential employers or investors. As your kids have to start applying to summer camps, honors programs, or even college, guide them through thought experiments that will help articulate what sets them apart from their peers, from their quantifiable skills to their hobbies to their personality traits to their life experiences. As they write their “elevator pitch,” they’ll get a handle on how to market themselves, “sell” an idea, and get people interested in what they have to say.
There’s been a huge outcry from young adults about how they are clueless to savings, budgeting, and other tasks related to personal finances, and these issues could easily translate into business problems if these people wind up owning a company someday. If you want to prepare your child for life after mom and dad don’t control the purse strings anymore, make sure your child understands the basics of the economy, different forms of savings, and the importance of living within one’s means.
The very first step of any plan is to set a goal and define what “success” will look like. In the adult business world, we call this “strategic planning,” and this process takes anywhere from weeks to months. You can help your children start to think about planning while they’re still young. Consider, for example, studying for finals. You can ask your child what the goal is (passing, I would assume) and how they can track their progress to make sure they’re on the trajectory to meeting that goal. For many young business, the inability to see a plan to get from here to there or the myopia that prevents them from seeing that they’ve fallen off the path has lead to countless failures. If you can help your child become comfortable with the idea of setting a goal, planning to reach that goal, and staying on task, your child will be light years ahead of their peers.
The school system as it stands today has trouble developing students’ soft skills. Traits and skills that are hard to quantify on resumes such as grit, presence, flexibility, and problem-solving are important to a child’s development and ongoing success in life, but are often not directly taught in a school setting. If you want to help your child have the tools necessary to become a top-tier business person or entrepreneur, keep an eye on my blog. Every week I’ll be posting a new tip for how to make sure your child is prepared to take on life after school in the business world.
Rescuing pets has so many benefits to you, your community, and the helpless animals who have been waiting for a loving family to adopt them. David Ariagno and his wife regularly support the ASPCA and volunteer to take care of friends’ rescue animals at every available opportunity. If you’ve ever considered rescuing a pet, you’re in for a wonderful adventure. For all the benefits of adopting a furry family member, visit David’s philanthropy blog at DavidAriagno.org.
With all the stress, work, and drama of grade school, kids have to get some sort of a break eventually. Many students turn to extra-curricular activities like sports, clubs, etc., which have been shown to relieve stress and improve academic performance on the whole. One more step removed, though, is non-school activities altogether. While there is strong merit to extra-curricular activities, there’s a few added levels of benefits that students can earn by leaving campus for a little while.
Meeting fresh faces: High schools are insular incubators in which students and teachers see the same faces day in and day out. By participating in non-school activities, students can meet new people outside of their classes. Kids can practice interpersonal skills and networking tactics, all while enjoying an escape from the complicated interconnected relationships that exist in high schools.
Learning new skills: Whereas most school programs are run by either teachers or other students, non-school activities are run by independent groups of professionals, experts, or dedicated, educated volunteers. Kids can ask deeper questions and learn new skills by applying them to the real world outside of their high schools.
College Apps: Every kid applying to colleges will have a litany of school activities on their resumes, but there’s something to be said for kids to diversify their high school experiences by getting away from campus. Non-school activities will offer admissions boards a new perspective on the student’s’ ability to apply their school knowledge outside the classroom.
Lasting Community impact: New waves of students ebb in and flow out of high school programs, but community-based organizations and establishments have enough people and wherewithal to stand the test of time. Kids can see the long history of the organization and continue to contribute throughout their college careers and adult lives.