When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but science at play. Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science.
Science Made Magical
(Family Features) When you see something you can’t explain, it can be easy to mistake those moments for magic, such as a balloon floating into the sky or water disappearing from a surface right before your eyes. However, the truth is these moments aren’t magic but scienceat play. Observing the laws of physics or chemistry can, at first glance, seem too fantastical to be explained, but science can explain a lot.
These moments serving as creative ways to engage kids in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning may be one of the best tricks of them all. STEM touches many aspects of daily lives, and finding the connections between the classroom and the “magical” STEM moments of day-to-day life can inspire children and pique their interests in these topics.
Consider these simple tricks that help convey the “magic” of science:
Knowing how the magic works doesn't necessarily make these tricks any less fun, and these simple tricks help teach children how STEM plays a role in everything, including fun and games. Another way to encourage children with STEM at an early age is encouraging them to participate in a program such as ExploraVision, the only STEM-related competition of its kind. It allows kids of all ages to create ideas for new technological innovations in response to current real-world issues. Participants work on their projects to supplement their science education, while also developing problem-solving, analytical and collaboration skills.
Parents and students can learn more about the competition and how to enter, and teachers can find free tips for engaging students, at exploravision.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Finding the right preschool or care provider for your child doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Because your child’s early years are crucial in his or her development, choosing the right child care facility is one of the most important decisions you can make to prepare him or her for both school and adult life. While most parents start the process by asking friends and family for recommendations, keep these tips in mind when searching for a child care center.
How to Choose the Right preschool
Things to consider when researching child care providers
(Family Features) Finding the right preschool or care provider for your child doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Because your child’s early years are crucial in his or her development, choosing the right child care facility is one of the most important decisions you can make to prepare him or her for both school and adult life.
While most parents start the process by asking friends and family for recommendations, keep these tips from the child care experts at KinderCare in mind when searching for a child care center:
Find Locations Along Your Existing Commute. The rhythm of drop-off and pick-up will soon become a reality of your days, so take into account how a new routine will impact traffic and drive times during your commute. Looking into child care facilities near your home or office, or along your route, can be a sanity saver, especially on those mornings when you’re rushing out of the house behind schedule.
Do Your Research. Child care has come a long way in the past couple decades, and nationally accredited centers like KinderCare can provide everything your child needs to reach his or her potential. Awarded by an independent organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, accredited centers meet rigorous standards in everything from teacher qualifications to curriculum to safety. A simple search online can provide a list of accredited centers near your location of choice.
Make a List of Requirements. Before you tour a facility, it can help to find your focus. Make a list about what you need from a program, what you want for your child and any concerns you may have, no matter how large or small. For example, consider potential concerns like kindergarten preparation, teachers’ management of conflict between children and more. Use your preferences to guide conversations when you’re ready to take tours.
Take Tours. Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a few preferred facilities or programs, schedule tours to check out the spaces, meet the directors and watch how the teachers interact with the children. Keep your requirements in mind and look for clean, safe facilities that focus on nutrition and encourage exploration and reading while building a sense of belonging. If you’re still on the fence or need more information about one or more centers, don’t be afraid to go back for a second visit and ask more questions to ensure you’re picking the right place for your family.
Trust Your Instincts. After taking tours, you may have a lot of information to process. Narrowing down what’s right for your family can seem overwhelming at first, but asking yourself questions such as these can help you in the long run: Did you feel listened to, heard and understood? Was the center warm and welcoming? When in doubt, trust your gut. This is your child, after all, and you know him or her best.
Find more tips and information to help pick the perfect child care center at kindercare.com.SOURCE:
For millions of school-age children in the United States, each day begins – and ends – with a bus ride. These tips provide parents with some additional measures to take and lessons to teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.
School Bus Safety 101
(Family Features) For millions of school-age children in the United States, each day begins – and ends – with a bus ride. While the school bus is the safest way to travel to and from school, according to the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT), it’s important for parents to teach their children how to stay safe in and around the school bus as obstructed views, distracted drivers and more can put kids at risk.
These tips from the experts at NAPT and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) provide parents with some additional measures to take and lessons to teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.
Before the Bus Arrives
On the Bus Ride
Leaving the Bus
For more information and additional school bus safety tips, visit BetterOurBuses.com.
An Alternate Form of Transportation
Many school districts are moving away from diesel buses in favor of buses powered by an alternate fuel, like propane, which offers numerous benefits for school districts and their students.
In fact, school buses powered by propane transport approximately 928,000 students to and from school every day at more than 840 public and private school districts in 48 states, according to a vehicle registration report compiled by PERC using IHS Polk new vehicle registration data.
“There’s a lot to like about propane school buses for community stakeholders and school officials, and school districts across the nation continue to take notice,” said Michael Taylor, PERC director of autogas business development. “Compared to other fuels, propane school buses are quieter and offer reduced emissions. Plus, they cost less for the district to operate, so schools can put more money back into the classroom where it helps students most.”
Start a discussion with your children’s school district about exploring a switch from diesel buses to cleaner alternatives by first downloading resources including fact sheets, videos, a toolkit and more at BetterOurBuses.com.
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images (Bus driver with girl, Two girls talking on bus)SOURCE:
Propane Education & Research Council
When school is in session, it’s the perfect time to renew your family’s healthy eating habits by getting in a groove of lunchbox packing. While packing a healthy school lunch day after day can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be with customizable, make-ahead lunchbox inspiration like Black Bean Empanadas and Rainbow Bento Boxes.
Pack a Healthier Lunchbox this School Year
(Family Features) When school is in session, it's the perfect time to renew your family's healthy eating habits by getting in a groove of lunchbox packing.
While packing a healthy school lunch day after day can seem daunting, it doesn't have to be. By taking the free Power Your Lunchbox Promise, you can gain access to customizable, make-ahead lunchbox inspiration like Black Bean Empanadas and Rainbow Bento Boxes, which creatively include servings of fruits and veggies to keep kids' brains charged all day.
Making the promise not only signals a commitment to making healthier meal choices this year, it also helps those in need. For every promise made, health-focused partner brands will collectively donate $1 to Feeding America programs that support families and children. In addition to kid- and registered dietitian-approved breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner recipes, the promise website features coupons, health tips to help your family during the school year, lunchbox ideas and giveaways.
Additionally, teachers have a special section of the site where they can make the promise as a classroom and download free fruit and veggie themed classroom decor and lesson plans.
To find your lunchbox inspiration and make the promise, visit poweryourlunchbox.com.
Rainbow Bento Box
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
Black Bean Empanadas
Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids
Produce for Kids
Heading back to school is exciting for both kids and parents, but with all the thrill and anticipation, there can be quite a bit of stress, too. As a parent, you can approach the impending school year with a positive attitude and these tricks can help minimize stress and give your kids extra confidence when heading into the classroom.
5 Ways to Squash Back-to-School Stress
(Family Features) Heading back to school is exciting for both kids and parents, but with all the thrill and anticipation, there can be quite a bit of stress, too. As a parent, you can approach the impending school year with a positive attitude and these tricks can help minimize stress and give your kids extra confidence when heading into the classroom.
Lifestyle expert and mother of two Jeannette Kaplun recommends these tips:
Start adjusting bedtimes before school starts. It's common for bedtime rules to be broken in the summer. However, an abrupt transition to early mornings can lead to stress and irritability. The National Sleep Foundation recommends implementing earlier bedtimes two weeks before school starts and setting the alarm a bit earlier each morning for a smooth transition to the first day of school.
Curb the summer slide. Screen time isn't just for passing time; leverage technology to keep the reading skills your kids learned in the classroom sharp all summer long. A device like the Fire Kids Edition tablet from Amazon is built from the ground up for kids with a two-year worry-free guarantee, a kid-proof case and a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, giving kids access to 15,000 kid-friendly books, videos, educational apps and games. Parental controls like Learn First encourage learning before playtime and allow you to set screen time limits to help get kids back into a routine for the school year. Additionally, STEM toys and games can keep math and science top of mind during the summer months and help kids excel during the school year.
Dress for success. There's a reason grownups tend to dress up for special events - when you look good, you feel good. Give your kids that same boost by helping them choose a special outfit for the first day of school that he or she feels comfortable and confident wearing. Shopping for clothes is an opportunity for your child to express individuality, so have fun with it. For added stress relief, lay out the complete ensemble the night before and have your child try it on to head off any concerns. If the routine works, try making it part of your nightly routine for stress-free mornings throughout the school year.
Simplify the shopping experience. Every back-to-school season comes with classroom supply lists and new wardrobe needs. A one-stop shop retailer like Amazon lets you complete your shopping on your own schedule, and its back-to-school store offers deals and a wide selection, making it easy to find everything from must-have items like binders, backpacks and shoes to fun gear such as glitter glue, donut erasers and emoji stickers that allow kids to express their personalities.
"Back-to-school shopping doesn't have to cause anxiety," Kaplun said. "By shopping online at Amazon from your phone, tablet or computer, you can buy everything you need without having to find a parking spot, tracking down a sales associate to help you find your child's size or standing in line to pay, saving you precious time. Plus, Prime members receive unlimited, free two-day shipping on more than 100 million items all-year long."
Share the excitement. It's perfectly normal for parents and kids to feel anxious about the new school year. Instead of revealing your own apprehension, share your favorite memories from your time in your child's upcoming grade. Ask your kids what they're most excited for and what they're a little nervous about and come up with solutions together.
Get a jump start on your stress-free transition back to school with more tips and resources at amazon.com/backtoschool.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Making sure your kids are ready to take on the world as adults is arguably one of the most important roles of a parent. Now, more than ever, education is the foundation of that preparation. As technology continues to evolve, it’s important that kids are learning, and also developing skills in high-demand areas, such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Foundation for the Future
STEM plays a vital role in youth education
(Family Features) Making sure your kids are ready to take on the world as adults is arguably one of the most important roles of a parent. Now, more than ever, education is the foundation of that preparation.
The experts at the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, are aiming to raise awareness of the benefits for today’s students, and partnering with farmers to award STEM grants that enhance programming at rural public school districts.
While nearly everyone has heard about STEM education in one way or another, some people don’t understand its true value in school and in the workplace.
It’s cutting edge. When it comes to innovation, there’s no disputing that STEM is progressing changes throughout society. STEM fields are at the forefront of nearly all of the exciting modern developments, from the latest digital gadgets enabled by technology to ground-breaking scientific research. Another benefit of this progressive environment is the financial and social impact on the community. Skilled STEM workers are driving trends and innovations, which can create jobs and boost the economy. All of these attributes appeal to eager, young graduates looking to make their mark.
It’s where the jobs are. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report on the 10 fastest-growing occupations through 2026. In the report, 100 percent of the jobs fall into STEM categories, from the No. 1 growth career – solar photovoltaic installers – to a handful of medical field jobs to statisticians, software developers and mathematicians.
It’s a chance to make a real difference. STEM fields can drive true social change. Researching and uncovering new treatments, or even the cure, for a debilitating disease is only possible with skills gained through STEM learning. However, science isn’t the only STEM field that brings opportunities to make a difference in others’ lives. A career in technology could mean helping a child hear or see for the first time using a specially constructed device, for example.
It’s a stepping stone to dozens of industries. While STEM learning lends itself well to a fairly large scope of career choices, that list is ever-expanding. In fact, most of today’s graduates find themselves hard-pressed to secure a position without some STEM training. Consider a seemingly distant field such as fashion, for example, where digital technologies enable design sketching, mathematic skills factor into creating patterns and some engineering knowledge is necessary for designing a runway show. Beyond the less obvious career choices, STEM learning provides practical experience with methods of problem solving that can be applied to virtually any aspect of personal or professional life.
It’s helpful in developing additional skills. The specific training involved in STEM education can help lead to certain career paths that will be available in the future. However, it can also help with more general skills your child can use immediately. Students typically follow processes in STEM programming and training, such as the scientific method, that give them a chance to work with other students, test hypotheses and find solutions. These challenges can often help in developing teamwork, leadership and other collaborative life skills.
Learn more about the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program at GrowRuralEducation.com.
Support STEM Learning
As a parent, there are many ways you can support STEM learning in your local school district. It’s little secret that school district budgets are continually shrinking, so an important way you can encourage STEM learning is by exploring funding opportunities that can bolster STEM programming.
Initiatives like America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education focus on bringing STEM education to rural school districts. Eligible farmers can nominate their local public school districts for the grants, which help enhance STEM education. Schools then participate in an application process to compete for $10,000 and $25,000 grants.
One school district in Royal, Washington, is utilizing the program to raise academic achievement for students in the classroom and on state-mandated math tests. The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grant allows teachers to extend learning for students, especially those who are learning English as a second language, who need intervention but lack the technology at home.
An important learning barrier is being removed through the use of Chromebooks and Kajeet, a system that allows internet connectivity but also has a filter to ensure the technology is limited to academic use. Learn more about the program and nomination process at AmericasFarmers.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (teacher with student)SOURCE:
(BPT) - Public, private, charter, virtual and more — deciding what school is best for your children can feel overwhelming. You want them to have an education that prepares them for a challenging world while fitting their unique learning styles. How do you know the best option to ensure they thrive?
"The right school will not only help your child learn essential skills but instill a lifelong love of learning," says Carol Lloyd, award-winning educational writer and editorial director for GreatSchools, a nonprofit school guide. "Bottom line: The school you choose for your child does make a difference."
Lloyd knows making educational decisions isn't easy. That's why she offers her advice on the most important things to consider when researching schools.
Testing scores: How does the school perform on state assessments across grades and subjects? Look at the percentage of students who score at or above proficiency. If possible, look at test scores by student subgroup (race/ethnicity and family income). How are students like your child doing?
Student progress: Test scores don’t tell the whole story. It's important that no matter where students start on the educational spectrum, they make progress and continuously learn as time passes. Understanding student progress can give you important information about how much children are learning at this school from year to year.
Equity: Look at how students from all backgrounds are doing. Is there a big achievement gap between different groups? This helps you understand how schools are serving disadvantaged student groups.
Advanced coursework: To understand the academic rigor of a school, research the advanced courses offered. How many students are enrolling in those courses? What’s the average number of advanced courses a student takes at the school? All these details can paint a picture about whether the students are getting the classes they need for college and beyond.
Discipline and attendance flags: Does the school have high chronic absenteeism? Do they suspend some groups of students far more often than others? This might be a red flag that you should consider.
College readiness: If you have a high school student, you're probably starting to think about the future. If you want to ensure your child's school is preparing them for college, research the high school’s SAT/ACT participation and performance.
To check out schools in your area and learn more about school ratings and data, visit www.greatschools.org. You can quickly view this information and easily compare it against other schools you're considering, helping you save time while providing you the necessary information to make a confident decision about your child's education.
"The updated school profiles on GreatSchools display information parents need, and provide support to help them take action," says Lloyd. "For example, if a school has a low Equity Rating compared to other schools in their state, parents will find tips on how to discuss improving the education of all students at this school with teachers and administrators. This empowers parents today and in the future so their children can receive the education they deserve."
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