Homework can be challenging for kids, and not just the homework itself. Kids have to write down the assignment properly, bring home the right books and materials, keep track of due dates, and remember to hand in the completed homework—all of which can be extra challenging for anyone with poor memory, focus, or attention to detail. ADDitude, a website of resources and advice for those who have ADHD or parent a child with ADHD, created a slideshow of their 13-step homework system designed for children with ADHD or learning disabilities, though the system would help any kid who struggles with homework. Among the suggestions are:
- Get the teachers on board
- Set up a home routine
- Designate a homework location
- Use a timer
- Take breaks and refocus
- Have a plan for long-term assignments
If your child is struggling with any step of the homework process, whether they have ADHD or not, be sure to check out the full slideshow to help you set up a system in your house. It may take a few months to become a habit, but creating consistent routines at home and school will help both you and your child stress less about homework.
College is expensive, and as the resolution on financial literacy just adopted at the 2017 Illinois PTA Convention noted, student loan debt is the largest debt in the country, surpassing even credit card debt. US News & World Report has long been known for their college rankings. With high school seniors and their families making college decisions and figuring out financial aid packages, the site has posted an article about the three things high school seniors should know about student loans. These are:
- You are responsible. Student loans are repayable even if you drop out of college and are often not able to be discharged via bankruptcy.
- You can make payments while in school. Paying the interest on student loans while you are still in school is generally not required, but doing so can significantly reduce the amount of money you owe after graduation. Your family, if also borrowing to pay for your education with a deferred payment loan, should consider paying the interest costs while you are still in school.
- Private and federal loans differ greatly. Financial aid can be confusing, with a variety of savings plans, loans, and grants that vary in availability based on your family’s financial situation. Federal student loans are quite different from and have several benefits that aren’t available with private loans. Families should get the maximum in federal student loans available to them before turning to private loans.
The US News & World Report article goes into each of these three points in more depth, so be sure to check it out. In addition, if your family is still navigating the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, be aware that the IRS has recently shut down the IRS Data Retrieval Tool that automatically imported your tax form information to the FAFSA form due to data security issues, so you will need your family’s tax information in hand when filling out the FAFSA. The tool is expected to be available again sometime in the fall.
Photo © 2016 by airpix under Creative Commons license.
Social media “challenges” can spread quickly. Some, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, are relatively harmless and can make a difference in the world. Others, like the Cinnamon Challenge, can have serious consequences. Illinois PTA works to keep families informed about these activities that children are often engaging in without adults’ knowledge, such as with the Choking Game.
Now, a “game” that has been around for many years is making a resurgence on social media. The Eraser Challenge involves rubbing an eraser across the skin while having to do or say something. One common thing is to recite the alphabet while doing the challenge. The challenge is sometimes done as a competition to see who drops out first.
The result of participating in the Eraser Challenge is often a burn or an open wound. While an eraser burn may not sound serious, doctors are warning that they can be extremely painful and lead to scarring. In some cases, there have been serious infections that have resulted in hospitalization. In 2015, a high school student in California was hospitalized for toxic shock syndrome from a strep infection of an eraser challenge wound.
Parents should keep an eye out for injuries particularly on their children’s arms, often on the softer inside of the arm or the back of the hand. If you notice such an injury on your child, ask them how it happened. Wash the injured area with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and follow up with your child’s doctor if it doesn’t start to heal in a few days.
Most PTAs are aware of the annual PTA Reflections program focused on the arts, and chances are you’ve seen the Scripps National Spelling Bee on the news. Those are just two examples of the many competitions that are available to students each year. Kudoswall has created a list of 50 competitions in a variety of areas that might inspire your child to challenge themselves to do their best in a subject or talent that they love. Among the competitions listed are:
- National Geographic Bee: Hosted by National Geographic, this competition challenges kids’ geographic knowledge.
- Kids Philosophy Slam: Focuses on critical thinking skills and open to all K-12 grades, the slam has children creating essays or artwork on a specific topic (2017 topic: Is the pen mightier than the sword?) in order to be crowned “The Most Philosophical Student in America.”
- Congressional Art Competition: Sponsored by the Congressional Institute to recognize high school students’ artistic talents, with winners having their artwork hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year.
- NASKA: Members of the North American Sport Karate Association can compete in variety divisions and skills.
- National STEM Video Game Challenge: Open to middle and high school students, this competition aims to motivate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by transforming their interest in playing video games into designing and creating their own.
- C-SPAN’s Student Cam: A competition for students in grades 6-12 to submit a short documentary film (5-7 minutes) that focuses on a topic related to the annual theme.
Be sure to check out the full list with your child to see if there is a competition that sparks their interest so you can start planning on fielding a team or participating next year.