How to Help Kids Survive Online Schooling

By Brooke Campbell

Coming back to school can be a difficult thing to adjust to. You know what is harder? Coming back to a computer screen for classes. Online schooling has recently become the new normal for students across America. Either that or taking extra precautions for in-person classes, like wearing masks and carrying hand sanitizer at all times. It can cause a lot of stress and be extremely overwhelming. Luckily for you, I have a few tips and tricks that can help ease your child of the pain of online schooling.

Wake up early

This one may sound simplistic, but it is more helpful than you think. I am personally not a morning person, and the thought of getting up early on purpose everyday is not something I choose to do, but it has proven to be helpful in beginning to make a routine for the day. You can start by making your bed, brushing your teeth, and having breakfast. Think of one of those movie moments where the main character wakes up and the shots continue in a montage of happy morning moments. Sounds pretty nice right? The most important outcome of establishing this morning routine is that in a short period of time it becomes the norm, and your body adjusts.

Pace yourself

When I am taking classes, I feel like the work begins to stack up, layer on layer…on layer. Did I mention that I think there are many layers? Sometimes it stacks so high it looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, ready to topple over. I try to do a million things at once and get stressed out when I cannot complete everything in one sitting. It was not until I dug myself too deep in the work – hole that two important words engrained themselves in my brain. Slow. Down. I know it can be frustrating when it feels like the workload is never – ending, but taking your time to complete tasks is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it is the best thing to do. Scratch that. I think it is the ONLY thing to do. Part of pacing yourself is setting up a schedule before you get bogged down. Working to complete a task in small interests over a period of time is so much better than waiting and letting things pile up. Time management is essential and the secret to getting things done without that last – minute stress. This is not always easy, and many students need help planning this type of work schedule, especially at first, but once they have learned how to pace themselves, it is a tool that will be helpful throughout school and beyond.

Find Time for a Break

Times right now are tough, and putting too much pressure on yourself can be tiresome. Take some time for yourself to do something fun. Whenever I have a break in the day, I make sure I go to the nearest coffee shop so I can drown myself the biggest cup of iced coffee I can find (and I might even go back for more). As something as simple as a coffee break can brighten my mood and relax me. Find something that makes you feel that way. Reward yourself. It can be something as simple as playing on your phone for a little while. Look at Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. You can pull Netflix up, watch an episode, work some more, and watch another episode. It does not matter what it is as long as it makes you feel more relaxed and level – headed when you get back to working on things. You can even schedule these break times into your work routine.

Unwind at the Day’s End

After working all day long, you need time to relax at night. This is the opportunity for you to really unwind and pat yourself on the back for achieving everything you set out to do. Watch a movie or eat a bowl of ice cream. Allow yourself to feel satisfied that you have accomplished a great deal during the day and look forward to a new start tomorrow. Get a good night’s sleep and begin the next day rested and relaxed.

While not completely guaranteed, these few simple tips will give your children a push in the right direction. You can even try them out yourself! Children typically learn by example, so if you have a positive attitude towards these steps, and even model them in your own hectic life, they most likely will too. The results could be a more productive, successful, and stress – free life for the whole family.

Sources:

https://www.edutopia.org/article/why-are-some-kids-thriving-during-remote-learning

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/06/29/back-to-school-reopen-online-classes/3251324001/

https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/homework-study-skills/online-learning-how-to-prepare-child

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/03/23/how-effective-is-online-learning-what-the.html

End Summer with These Social Distancing Sports

By Seth Woolcock

As the summer continues to segue into grey September days, this Autumn feels a little different than usual, especially when it comes to youth sports.

Some states have decided to cancel fall youth sports altogether, while others have given the green flag. 

But, whether your kid’s athletics are canceled for the season or still going, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about some different options that they can do to stay active while also staying safe and healthy.

And with social distancing here to stay for the time being, I recommend you check out these sports that can be played while maintaining social distancing:

Running

It’s one of those sports that it seems like you either love it or hate it. It also is something that all you need to get into it is a decent pair of sneakers. 

But either way, running and cross country, especially for would-be varsity athletes, really should be a sport that makes a comeback because of COVID-19.

If you are someone who doesn’t necessarily love sports or is a little self-conscious about being athletic, running is a great place to start mainly because it’s largely an independent activity.

It improves cardiovascular health and also reduces the body’s stress hormones, says a Harvard Healthstudy.

I suggest you do make sure you’re kid does learn some safety protocols and procedures, such as running against traffic in highly-visible clothing.

Pickleball

Pickleball was first played in 1969 in Washington State.

Known as the middle child between traditional tennis and table tennis, pickleball is a similar paddle sport played between two or four players.

In my high school, we had a pickleball tournament every year in gym class. I think one of the coolest things about the game is that so many kids, even the ones who normally didn’t get overly excited about gym class, could get decent at pickleball pretty quickly.

Paddles and balls are relatively inexpensive. And there are more and more pickleball courts in communities today. If your community doesn’t have a pickleball court, you can modify a tennis court by doing the following.

FootGolf

The first footgolf tournament was played in the Netherlands.

So Footgolf is, as you probably guessed, a combination of soccer and golf. Played just like regular golf or disc golf, it is played by golfers using a soccer ball to navigate the course, working around hazards to get the ball in the hole in the fewest amount of kicks or strokes.

Most footgolf courses are played at regular golf courses, but for a substantially lower price than regular golf. If your kid is into soccer but can’t play this season due to concerns regarding COVID-19, or if they just like kicking things, try taking them to a footgolf course and see how it goes.

Cycling

If your kid isn’t into running, maybe they’d be interested in one of the best alternatives, cycling. The sport has become so popular since COVID-19 hit back in March, that it’s been difficult to find bicycles to buy at times.

But if your kid already has a bike, or you’re able to get your hands on one, enjoy it. Cycling can be a great, healthy sport that the whole family can get involved in.

It seems like more bike trails are being put in yearly, which gives cyclists a safe place to enjoy biking while seeing the world and nature in a different way than they’re used to.

The sport is also another one that provides cardiovascular benefits, while also helping your kid develop better coordination.

Fantasy Sports

Alright, so I might be a little biased here, but I believe that fantasy sports are a great way for teens to keep in touch with the game while still being removed from actually playing it.

While fantasy football is the most popular and well-known fantasy sport, nowadays there is pretty much a fantasy version for every real sport. There’s everything from fantasy golf, to fantasy NASCAR, to even fantasy cricket.

Fantasy sports can be a great critical-thinking challenge and has various stats and trends to follow. Believe it or not, to be a high-level fantasy sports player, you actually need to be decent at math and statistics.

But there is the other side of fantasy sports, gambling. Quite obviously there is a large amount of luck involved in the game and you can quickly lose your buy-in if you’re playing for money. Warn your kids about playing for money. I’ve written other blogs on this site describing how some of my friends went several thousand dollars in the hole. I suggest keeping it low-stakes and for primarily bragging rights. But remember, kids should be able to enjoy fantasy sports without any betting at all.

Useful Links:

Teen Running Safety Guide: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/safety-running.html

Helping your kids cope with quarantine emotions

pic of Megan D
By Megan Donny

Now that America is beginning to open back up, I find myself feeling upset about everything I missed out on because of the pandemic and anxious about the future. 

Unfortunately, I’m not the only one feeling this way. The outbreak of the Coronavirus has created a lot of anxiety in not only adults but children and teenagers as well. 

This can be a confusing and stressful time, especially for children and teenagers. 

All of the stress and memories of the things they are missing out on can cause them to feel depressed or more aggravated than they usually are. 

As a parent of a child or teenager, you’ve probably experienced some of the backlashes from your kids these emotions are creating. When children are angry or upset, many times they express that anger by yelling, being rude or acting out physically by slamming doors. 

According to clinical psychologist Sherry Kelly, many teenagers who are usually mild-mannered are acting out because they are feeling unusually trapped with no control over their lives anymore. 

While nobody can change what is currently happening with the pandemic, there are ways to help your kids process and control their emotions during this time. 

Four Strategies for Coping During These Times

One way, according to Kelly, is to encourage them to focus on the things they can control, rather than the things they can’t control. She recommends helping kids come up with two lists; one of the things they have control over and one for the things they don’t. You can then help your kids focus on the things on one list, and avoid thoughts about the other. 

Many kids are feeling especially isolated from their friends and other family members they may not live with. I know I personally have felt very lonely during the stay at home order and quarantine. It’s not a surprise that kids are feeling this way. To keep your children engaged with their family and friends, encourage them to Skype or play online games with them as a way to connect. 

Keeping an everyday routine for your kids is another way to help prevent negative emotions associated with the pandemic. By creating a new routine for your kids, it will help them feel less anxious about all of the uncertainty they may be experiencing.  

Make sure you also acknowledge your children’s feelings. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and to express any of their worries they may have. Children are likely to feel secure during times like this if they know their parent has acknowledged their feelings and is there to support them.

We know you’re going through a tough time, parents. Hang in there. And remember what Dr. Lauber always says, “Parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love!”

Resources:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-03-ways-kids-happy-home-self-quarantine.html

https://www.today.com/health/quarantine-tips-help-your-kids-stay-physically-mentally-fit-t180028

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/04/23/even-mellowest-teens-are-raging-against-quarantine-heres-how-help-them-cope/

Shocking Vaping Stats to Know Going into 2020

By Katie Mest

As we head into 2020, vapes are everywhere.

Your family members and friends might have already substituted their cigarettes for the latest in smoking technology. Instead of walking down the sidewalk and being hit in the face with a cloud of tobacco smell, you’re now greeted with scents like cotton candy or bubblegum.

Kids certainly seem to find vaping to be a preferred form of smoking. JUUL proved that. I’m sure you’ve encountered plenty of JUUL pods on the ground in lieu of cigarette butts.

And vaping is still on the rise. Here’s what you need to know about vaping as we head into a new year.

Vapes Make It Easier Than Ever For Your Kid To Smoke Marijuana

Picture this: A kid is sitting in the park with his friends smoking a cigarette. You and many others would pass by without giving it a second thought. It’s not necessarily an unusual occurrence.

Now, consider this: A kid and his friends are sitting in the park passing a joint between them. It’s far more obvious they’re smoking marijuana because of their behavior and the distinct smell. They’re more likely to get in trouble for this scenario either with their parents, the law, or both.

There’s a thin line between these two circumstances. Vapes can completely erase that line.

Regardless of the substance in the vape, odds are you’re going to smell something delightful, not tobacco or marijuana. Unless you get up close and personal with the cartridge in the vape, you’re not going to be able to tell what’s in it unless you’re super familiar with the substances and cartridge brands.

Not shockingly, kids are taking advantage of this.

Kids Are Vaping Marijuana (THC)

A survey from the University of Michigan (posted in the Journal of the American Medicine Association) found that 1 in 5 high school students have vaped marijuana in the past year.

While more kids are still vaping nicotine (1 in 4 said they had done it in the past year), the number of kids vaping marijuana has taken a huge leap from the previous year.

The survey showed that 1 in 7 kids are considered to be current users of marijuana vaping (meaning that they had vaped it sometime in the month before the survey), while the previous year showed only 1 in 13 were current users. Almost double the amount of kids are taking up marijuana (THC) vaping.

Vaping is making it easier than ever before to take up smoking marijuana. It’s convenient. It takes away some of the paranoia that you’re going to get caught since people near you can’t tell what substance is in the vape.

But black market THC cartridges aren’t just causing your kids to get high. They’re posing some serious health risks for users.

With Vaping-Related Hospitalizations Going Up, Officials Are Cracking Down

More than 2,400 people have been hospitalized for vaping-related lung illnesses since the beginning of the summer, and vitamin E acetate is to blame in most cases, according to the CDC.

Vitamin E acetate is used as a thickening agent in illicit THC vape cartridges. You can read more about it in this blog post.

The FDA and the DEA have since shut down 44 sites claiming to sell illegal cartridges. This Associated Press article names Stoners Marketplace and Anonymous Meds as two now-shutdown sites. Investigators were led to some of these sites through interviews with patients. Other websites were shut down because they were scam sites that took money without delivering products.

While studies show that high school kids are decreasing their average usage of alcohol and cigarettes, there has been a slight increase in daily marijuana usage overall and a concerningly large increase in marijuana vaping.

Public health officials are worried about this, and you should be, too.

Links:

https://apnews.com/fc4d6d53d0e722de5cb7be850743d138

https://apnews.com/91b897691ec0b201b912247fd573ff02

Does your daughter access birth control online?

By Megan Donny

pic of Megan D

“Easy” and “affordable.” 

Those are the two words you see when you open any of the multiple websites that offer online birth control prescriptions. 

While this method of obtaining birth control may be helpful for women trying to renew their previous prescriptions, it’s also an easy way for young tweens to bypass a doctor’s trip to obtain a prescription. 

Websites like “The Pill Club” and “Nurx” offer first-time birth control prescriptions to women as young as 13 years old. Girls under 18 do not need parental approval to get a birth control prescription.  

These websites offer birth control options such as the pill, the ring and the patch. They also offer emergency contraception pills and at home HIV and HPV screening tests. 

The process for obtaining a prescription is simple: you provide information about yourself, select the kind of medication you want, a doctor reviews your request, fills the prescription, and your new medication gets mailed right to you. 

It is very easy to bypass questions in the process that are important, like if you’ve had your blood pressure measured in the last 6 months and the current medications you may be on. However, if you don’t answer the questions as accurately as possible, you may be prescribed a medication that negativily affects your health.  

Insurance information is not required to obtain a prescription from these websites. Nurx, one of the most popular online contraceptive websites, says that you will pay as little as $15 without insurance. 

Many young women dread telling their parents when they have become sexually active. The process can be awkward for both the child and parent. But it is necessary for the child to know the dangers that come with sexual activity. 

Online birth control websites give young women the opportunity to skip the awkward talk and get a prescription without their parent’s knowledge. 

The problem with getting birth control online for a first-time prescription is that many young women do not get informed about different methods of birth control and the side effects that may occur. 

Some medications can affect young women suffering from mental and physical health problems. It is very important for anyone considering filling an online prescription for birth control to get well-informed. 

Useful Links:

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/birth-control-methods

https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/birth-control-for-teens

Do You Need a Family Game Night?

by Morgan Rihn

Family life is chaotic.

School events. Sports. Concerts. Church. Socializing.

Lots to do. It can seem pretty stressful sometimes. You’re running them around. Maybe you’re feeling you don’t have any real quality time with them.

So, have you considered a family game night?

My Family Game Nights

I grew up in a very rural area.  Hardly any neighbors. This meant no other kids close by I could play with. So my family and I ended up pretty close.

When we weren’t running around for school functions and sports, we would sometimes have family game night. Turns out, these were my favorite nights. Dad might teach us how to play poker or other card games. Maybe we’d break out an old board game like “The Game of Life”. Sometimes we’d play Wii sports games or Xbox Kinect games. If you don’t know, these are games where you actually get up off the couch and pretend to play ping pong or throw a bowling ball. We were very competitive, but playing these games was always fun. And it created a bond between us that I think will last forever.

Benefits of Family Game Night

Others have talked about the benefits of a family game night. This article at Www.cbc.ca talks about family game night can teach good sportsmanship.  No one really stays mad at a family for every long, and Mom and Dad are always there to role model how to be a good loser. You also learn how to take turns and follow rules. Sometimes you get to practice an actual skill. 

The article also says you can work on your communication skills, and perhaps even negotiation skills. You should see the wheeling and dealing we do playing Monopoly. And of, some games require cooperation and teamwork.

I think all of these are important to learn at a young age. You’ll use them over and over and family game night was one of the most enjoyable time I had while building stronger relationships with my family.

Family Game Night Ideas

If you’re stuck on what kind of games to play, here’s a brief list from Www.today.com. It includes classic boards games al the way to video games. Some of them are actually quite recent. Some of their picks include:

  • Trouble
  • Clue
  • Candyland
  • Operation
  • The Game of Life
  • Telestrations
  • What Do You Meme?

I also recommend the “get off the couch” video games that come with PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii. Coommonsensemedia.org has a list of family video games and includes things like “Family Game Night: The Game Show”, “Hidden Folks”, “Trivial Pursuit”, “Wii Sports”, “Disneyland Adventures”, “Just Dance”, “Guitar Hero”, and many more.

Lastly, if you’re looking for more active games, and ones that you may be able to conjure up from items laying around the house, consider “Minute To Win It Games”. This was a popular TV show, but now refers to a while category of games that are fun and can be completed in a minute or less. A quick Google search can provide you with a list of “Minute To Win It Games” with instructions and videos. Of course, don’t forget the old classics “Twister”, “Nerf Gun Battles” and “Legos”.

I think you’ll enjoy family game night. Give a few tries, however. If you haven’t done it before, it will take some experimentation to figure out your own “house rules”. You’ll see what I mean.  Enjoy!

Some useful links:

https://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/family_game_night_is_more_than_just_fun

https://www.today.com/home/game-ideas-kids-adults-teens-family-game-night-t118566

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/family-video-games

Best Game Ideas from Chaos and Clutter

Is Your Kid Vaping?

by Erick Lauber

Vaping: Part I

Ok. Here’s a startling statistic. Teen vaping increased 80% last year in high schools. Here’s another one. It increased 50% in middle schools. This is according to the U.S. FDA, so I’m going to believe those numbers.

Ironically, those two numbers don’t include my two boys (who are now in their twenties) who also started vaping in the last few years.

What’s going on here?  It’s quite simple. This is a new drug delivery system that has not yet been adequately regulated. By “drug” I don’t necessarily mean illegal drug. Some vaping devices put out something similar to vegetable oil. But that’s not what I’m hearing about. Most kids are not vaping vegetable oil. The ones I know are vaping nicotine and THC, the mood altering chemical from marijuana.

Is it legal to do this? No. Not if you’re under 18. And recreational THC is still illegal in many states.  But that hasn’t stopped anyone. Vaping has come on super-fast and its catching many parents off guard.

In fact, the FDA has gotten so frightened by the numbers that its recently imposed huge new restrictions on many e-cigarette/vaping manufacturers. But in my town, it’s too late. Vaping is everywhere. And though the chart below says 4.7% of teens vape, more recent data says 12% or higher. Oh, and what’s starting? Unlike smoking cigarettes, vaping is done more by the young!

What’s scary is young people are smoking these MORE than older people!

High school and middle school teachers and administrators are telling me they’re confiscating as many as a dozen vaping devices a day.  And they don’t know what’s in them! There is no testing device they can use to determine if their cigarette policy, their marijuana policy, or perhaps neither should apply!

And where are kids getting these devices? Well, until the FDA recently changed the law, they could be bought in gas stations, convenience stores, etc… They’re still available online. And at vape shops. It’s easy to get a vaping device. And also easy to get it with nicotine or THC.

Will you know if your kid is “smoking” one of these in their room? No. Probably not. The devices don’t have to give off a smell. One kid smoked a THC vape right in front of me and I had no idea. No smell whatsoever. And they don’t have to produce a big cloud of vapor either. Some kids can just blow the tiny vapor up their sleeve. In class! I know. I’ve seen it.

So, is it dangerous?

Yup. But I’ll get into that in another blog post. Look up “popcorn lung” while you’re waiting. And don’t get me started on addiction to nicotine or THC.

Hey parents. This was not around when you were growing up. Get informed. Get a household policy in place. Get with your kids.

Don’t let vaping get your kid.

Here’s some links if you want more information:

https://truthinitiative.org/news/e-cigarettes-facts-stats-and-regulations

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/15/health/fda-vaping-ecigarette-regulation/index.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44295336