Kids

Can't Afford to go to College Because of Childcare Costs?

Check out how I did it for free!

Only 8% of single mothers graduate from college within 6 years. The Achieving a Dream and the Biden Foundation are working together to find solutions to help these mothers go to college and get a degree, but they don’t have any funding.  Congress just increased funding to the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program (CCAMPIS) from $15 million to $50 million.  This program gives grants to colleges that support child care on campus but supports only 5,000 college students nationwide.

Mothers who don’t have family or friends who can help out with child care can set up free child care in their homes while they go to school and work part-time. I set up a preschool for my 2 daughters for 9 years so I could work full-time. By inviting 3-4 children to join the program and hiring a teacher to teach the classes, the parents’ tuition covered the cost of the teacher’s wages and materials. Check out The Millennial’s Guide to Free Child Care in Your Home to learn how to set this up for your children.

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All Families Should be Able to Afford Child Care

Affordable child care continues to plague both families and day care workers.  The cost of child care often exceeds the cost of tuition at four-year public universities! That’s ridiculous!

Then, consider that day care workers make on average less than $23,000/year and 75% of them earn less than a living wage. So naturally, there’s a shortage of child care in most cities across the nation.

This hits low-income families the hardest because they pay about 30% of their income for child care. Higher-income families pay only about 8% of their income for child care.

The Child Care for Working Families Act proposes to cover 90% of the cost of infant-toddler care and meet quality standards and provide a living wage to teachers. Unfortunately, the current administration will only give funds to states that “remove unnecessary regulations” and the funds are insufficient to make a difference in the current child care crisis.

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Step Back, Helicopter Moms!

Moms who hover over their children are Helicopter Moms. They’re worried that their children might get hurt so they constantly make sure that there environment is void of sharp corners or opportunities to put their kids at risk. These moms consider themselves to be superior to other types of mothers because they are always fussing over protective layers of clothing and gear for sports.

Children of Helicopter Moms might wear multiple layers of sweaters and jackets so they will be warm. When playing sports, they’ll be the player wearing every form of protective gear available. And if the flu is going around the school, this child will be wearing a mask and downing Vitamin C every few hours, and then they’ll be on their way to the ER to get antibiotics.

Helicopter Moms don’t stop worrying at high school graduation.  They’re the moms who make excuses for their college kids by requesting retakes on exams, or call in sick to their adult children’s employers. Yup, I can only image how they get entangled in their marriages and grandparenting.

The result of helicopter parenting is that these children aren’t prepared to make decisions on their own. This can lead to insecurity and often depression. So rather than hover over your child, let them experience some risks and manage their own consequences. A Helicopter Mom will never step back far enough to ever be accused of neglect or endangering their children. Just reel it in a bit so your children can experiment and grow. 

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30 Million Words by Kindergarten

We know that reading to our children encourages them to read and explore ideas. Educators have been encouraging parents to read to their children for decades.  And we know that educated and wealthier parents try to make it a ritual – at bedtime if not more often – to read piles of books to our kids. There’s evidence that children from low-income homes have heard about 30 million LESS WORDS than kids from middle or upper income families. Here is just another example of how poverty negatively affects children and sets them back in the academic world.

If parents read 5 books per day to their children, these kids will be exposed to 30 million words when they enter kindergarten.  They’re more likely to be prepared to start school, read at their grade level, and be success in academics. Many low-income children don’t have access to books and may have been exposed to under 5,000 words (compared to 30 million!). Groups are donating books to underprivileged children to give them a head start. If you have books on your children’ bookshelves that they no longer read, consider donating them to women’s shelters, clubs, and other organizations. 

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What's A Bulldozer Mom?

A bulldozer mom forges ahead of her child, clearing all obstacles to ensure success. While this may seem like a dedicated mother whose sole purpose is to protect her child, she ultimately sets her child up to be psychologically frail and afraid to fail.

A bulldozer mom might pay thousands of dollars to get her child into a selective college (Lori Loughlin), or hire a hit man to murder her daughter’s rival so she could get on a cheerleading team (Wanda Holloway). This is ultimately more about the mother’s insecurities than their children’s.  It’s the mother’s ego that needs to boast that her child got in or made the team.  The children are victims of their mothers’ personal ambitions.

As a result, bulldozer children don’t learn coping and problem-solving strategies. These children often grow up to be adults who can’t navigate their careers to reach their goals. In the case of the Loughlin daughter, she didn’t want to advance her career, her goal was to go to college to party.

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Three Tips to Create a Healthy Device Balance in Your Home

Concerned that your children are spending too much time on electronic devices?  Worried about how this might negatively affect their learning and even their health? Think that you can’t do anything about it? It’s time to rethink how we can use technology to enhance our children’s and our own lives – not hurt them.

3 Tips to Implement NOW:

1) Set up specific times that are okay for cell phones, computer games, and other digital distractions. Be consistent!

2) Supervise device use. Install nanny software, check in to see what they’re doing online, have all passwords to make sure they’re safe.  It’s your right and your privilege as their parent!

3) Organize activities where no devices are allowed. Getting exercise with the family promotes a healthy lifestyle.  Plan hikes, outings, and physical activities.

You’ll probably notice that your kids will get better grades in school, be less anxious, and be happier.  And, you’ll appreciate preserving family time again!

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Student Loans (and Contracts) are Good for Grades

Amidst the chatter about how student loans create a financial burden for student after graduation, a new study finds that students with student loans do BETTER in classes than those students without loans. They earned more credits and received a higher GPA. And, community college students with loans are 11% more likely to transfer to 4-year colleges.

When students are motivated to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time because they are paying for the courses, they will finish quicker and they’ll study harder than students whose parents are footing the bill.  When parents whip out their checkbooks to pay tuition, room and board, and living expenses, why would their children rush to leave such a sweet deal? Four years of partying with no parents in sight! Hmm.

I’ve created a 4-Year Plan and Contract for my students to make sure that both students and parents benefit from the college experience.  We lay out all of the student’s major, electives, and general education requirements so the student understands what they’ll be taking and why.  Then they sign a contract indicating what the parents will pay for based on course completion and grades.  If the student’s grades drop or they withdraw from classes, the student is responsible for a portion of the tuition and room and board.  It’s a great way to make sure that college students understand that their parents are making a huge sacrifice to send them to college and this gives them incentive to do well and graduate on time.

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"Lawnmower" Moms Actually Harm Their Kids

When parents take control of their children’s lives, their children never learn personal accountability.  If a parent cuts down all obstacles before a child (thus, lawnmower), that child is missing a lot of important lessons and experiences.  Parents shouldn’t need to wake their children up or remind them to study for tests in high school. Sure, in elementary, and even for some middle school students need parents to set rules and guidelines to help them establish good ethics and a sense of responsibility. But, in high school? 

I see this behavior all the time. Parents set the alarms, drive the kids to school, get them to extracurricular activities on time, and help with homework. Why would a kid ever worry about taking responsibility for things when they know their Lawnmower Mom will make sure everything is handled. It’s no wonder why some parents bribe their children’s way to college admissions – they start doing this in elementary school and continue through college.

According to a New York Times poll, many parents never stop doing things for their kids.

76% remind their college students about deadlines

74% make doctor’s appointments for their adult kids

15% call or text their college students to wake up for tests or classes

11% call their adult child’s employer to discuss issues at work

22% help their kids study for college exams

16% write part or all of their employment or internship applications

14% helped set up internships and jobs

12% gave their adult children more than $500 per month for rent and living expenses

11% helped their kids write college essays

So if you think you’re helping your child by taking all of the responsibility upon yourself, think again. You’re not. You’re actually setting your child up for failure when you actually stop doing the work for them. My girls used the Merit Planner to get organized and took it upon themselves to reach their goals.

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Is YOUR Kid OK?

We all want our children to be happy and to have good friends. With busy after-school schedules, we may miss signs of bullying from classmates, teammates, or neighbors. That’s understandable. But what used to take weeks or months to spread amongst their peers, now takes mere seconds on social media. And kids today don’t have friends that they hang out with as soon as they’re home from school.  They spend most of their after-school hours by themselves in their bedrooms. So the signs are easy to miss.

Strike up conversations while driving in the car. Kids feel less threatened when they don’t have to give eye contact; and you’ll have them as a captive audience so they’ll be more inclined to talk. Ask questions that require dialog and not yes-or-no responses. Sometimes telling them something about yourself demonstrates that it’s a safe place to share.

Check their social media interactions. Yes, you are the parent, and you are entitled to know what is going on in their lives until they turn 18. You’ll be privy to who they are talking to, how they are treated, and how they treat others. Unless there is something alarming going on, use this information to monitor their moods and behavior but don’t tell them that you are snooping. If they are in danger, ask them to tell you about the situation and reach out to authorities to get support, if needed.

Granted, kids have off days just as we do. Puberty can turn a sweet child into an obnoxious terror, and that is normal. But pay attention to signs and patterns in their behavior. Your parenting instinct is usually right, so ask questions and snoop around. If they’re harboring fear because someone is threatening them, your love and support can save them. You may need to talk to teachers or school officials, law enforcement, or community members. You may even need to step in to remove your child from the danger by changing schools or even moving to a different neighborhood. It’s our job as parents to be there for them – even when they shun us.

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After Xmas Party!

I made a castle out of pretzels and that became the centerpiece at our After-Christmas Party for toddlers. 

Yup, invited Merit alums, friends of my girls, and family friend's grandkids to make their own edible houses out of cookies, candies, and pretzels. 

Great way to end the holiday season!

 

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