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July 2018 Published by

Growing During a Gap Year

Questions to ask before taking a gap year

The Big Day How to help kids overcome firstday-of-school jitters

Mastering Mornings Calming the chaos on busy school mornings


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Questions to ask before taking a gap year

5 Did you know?

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6 Be aware of all the costs for college 7 How to make applying to colleges less stressful 8 Tips for studying abroad 9 Get schooled on education savings plans 10 Back-to-school ice breakers to ease first day fears

kids calm firstDid you know? 11 Help day-of-school jitters

According to the Gap Year Association, a gap year is a year “on” during which students, typically after graduating from high school, do not go directly to college. While no rules govern gap years, students who take them typically spend their year emphasizing experiential education. Some students challenge their comfort zones and make sacrifices during their gap years that they would not necessarily make if they went directly from high school to college. Many students take gap years because they are unsure of what they want to study in college, and such students typically use the gap year to explore potential majors and career paths that might be available to them once they earn degrees in those fields. Other students may take gap years to volunteer, feeling that a year of service is both a great way to give back and to better understand the world beyond the one in which they grew up. Burnout from the competitive pressures of high school is another reason many students take gap years. The Gap Year Association urges students considering gap years to do their research regarding the opportunities available to them during the year so their year is truly transformative and not merely a year to pass time without the pressures of school.

12 Promote healthy weight starting with school lunch 13 How to ease kids’ transition to a new school 14 How does classroom design impact learning? 15 School hygiene tips


Calm the chaos on busy school mornings

17 Tutoring benefits and how to find a tutor that fits 18 Strategies parents can use to motivate students 19 Student cyber security precautions

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Questions to ask before taking a gap year


igh school seniors are on the cusp of significant change as they begin their final year of secondary school. As students try to decide what to do after high school, many will be preoccupied with applying to college and exploring their interests in the hopes of finding the right subject to study upon enrolling in college or university. Students consider those weighty decisions while simultaneously preparing to leave home for the first time and focusing on their schoolwork. While the vast majority of high school seniors will enroll in a college or university in the fall after they earn

their high school diplomas, a small but growing number of teenagers are taking gap years. A gap year is a year away from the classroom between high school and college that students use to gain more life experience as they try to decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives. The Gap Year Association notes that

gap year planning should be conducted with purpose and intent. While the gap year need not be as structured as a typical school year, a year entirely free of structure might not provide the insight students are hoping for. In fact, the Gap Year Association recommends students answer the following questions before taking a gap year so they can be sure they’re making the best decision possible. How can I make college possible after my gap year? The Gap Year Association recommends students confirm whether they need to

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defer, take a leave of absence or arrange for a Consortium Agreement in order to enroll in college after their gap years. Make a note of all deadlines, including when tuition deposits are due, before taking a gap year so your enrollment is not jeopardized. How long do I have for my gap year? Fitting a gap year into existing academic structures should allow students ample time to get what they want out of their gap years and still afford them the chances to earn money via summer jobs. So students who plan to travel or volunteer overseas should aim to do so during the months they would normally be in school. Should I go with a group or go it alone? Students should assess how they have fared in collaborative situations in the past as they try to decide if a group setting or something more independent is best for them. Students may fare better in

teams or working alone, and that can be used to inform their decisions. However, students who want to challenge themselves to grow may benefit by making a decision that takes them out of their comfort zones. How much structure do I need? Some students may take gap years to get a break from the structure of student life. But students should be honest with themselves when assessing just how little structure they can handle. A year completely free from structure can be disorganized and therefore not as enlightening as students hope. In addition, students must consider safety concerns when deciding how much structure they want. Going it alone with very little structure may put students in compromising, unsafe situations, a potentially dangerous course for students who have spent their lives within the often protective confines of school and family.

Where do I want to be, and what do I want to do? A lack of purpose or direction during a gap year will not provide students with much insight into themselves and the world. Students should determine where they want to be and what they want to do (i.e., volunteer, teach, etc.) before deciding to take a gap year. What is my budget? Gap years can be enlightening, but they also can be expensive. Students should figure out how they’re going to finance their gap years in advance. Students who will need to work during their gap years should make sure work does not take up so much time that the goal of their gap year, namely learning about oneself, is compromised. Gap years can help students learn about themselves. But like many of the other decisions facing teenagers as they prepare to graduate high school, the decision to take a gap year requires careful consideration of a host of factors.

Did you know?


The terms “college” and “university” are often used interchangeably, but there are distinctions between the terms. Specifications may differ based on where a school is located, but generally speaking colleges offer only associate’s and bachelor’s degrees while universities offer those degrees as well as graduate degrees. Colleges may be private institutions that tend to have small student bodies, while universities boast more sizable enrollments. Universities also tend to be home to vast libraries and may feature teaching schools with major research projects being conducted at given times. According to the education resource CollegeRank, in order for a college to receive university status, it must first meet a few requirements. A university has the financial resources to support its graduate and professional programs and has the facilities and equipment required to meet the needs of students in those programs. The school also must be accredited and, depending on the location, possibly licensed and incorporated within that area. Despite the differences between colleges and universities, many students find they can achieve their academic goals S c h o o l

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Be aware of all of the costs for college C

ollege is often met with excitement and interest by students pursuing their passions and what they hope will be fulfilling, lucrative careers. And the rising costs of college, coupled with the growing number of students taking on substantial debt to finance their educations, make it necessary that prospective students consider their earning potential when deciding on a major. According to the College Board, the average cost of college tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. Canadian citizens studying in Canada can expect to pay $6,571 per year, according to Statistics Canada.


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The cost of tuition and room and board may catch parents’ eyes, but there are some lesser known expenses associated with college that can make attending school even more expensive. According to Cappex. com, a website offering ideas on how to pay for college, the extra costs of college can cost between $250 and $500 per month. The following are some lesser known expenses that college students and their families may need to budget for this school year. Transportation: Commuter students will need to drive to and from campus, which involves budgeting for gas, repairs and auto insurance. Students who live on campus may be subjected to a high fee for a resident student parking pass. Colleges in the United States earn an average of $4 million to $5 million in parking revenues each year, according to the most recent rate study from the National Parking Association. A typical four-year college or university in the United States charges about $635 per space for the school year. Other


students use public transportation or ridesharing services to get around. Those fees can quickly add up, too. Students attending school far away from home also need to budget for plane tickets home during the holidays and other breaks. Fraternities and sororities: Many students join Greek organizations to fully immerse themselves in the college experience and make new friends. Many of these groups charge fees to prospective pledges and then semester dues once students are accepted. Parties, trips, living expenses, and other expenses may come up as well. Added fees: Many colleges and universities charge technology fees, sports center fees and activity fees. Exploring these fees in advance of the school year can help families create accurate budgets. Dining out: Families spend hundreds of dollars on campus meal plans per semester, but students also like to visit local eateries during the school year. Snacks, lunches and dinners purchased from such establishments can cost hundreds of dollars per year. Farmer’s Financial Solutions, a division of Farmer’s Insurance, says off-campus dining expenses cost an average of $770 a year. School supplies: A new laptop or tablet, textbooks and other supplies a professor requires can cost thousands of dollars. The College Board estimates students spend $1,300 on books and supplies in a typical school year. The cost to attend college extends beyond tuition and room and board. Many additional expenses can stretch families’ budgets.

How to make applying to college less stressful


pplying to colleges is exciting for many high school students. But that excitement is sometimes tempered by anxiety. The college application process can affect students’ lives for years to come, so it’s understandable why some teenagers might feel stressed as they apply to college. The National Center for Educational Statistics says 69 percent of high school graduates in the United States enroll in college the fall after graduating from high school. Many students begin applying to college before entering their senior year of high school. Students can employ various strategies to make applying to college less stressful. Create an inventory of student experiences and awards When completing their college applications, students submit a variety of materials. In

addition to students’ track records in the classroom, schools will be interested in kids’ extracurricular activities, hobbies, volunteer work, and even things they do during their free time. Parents and students can work together to develop a master list that includes information about what students have accomplished during high school. These may include involvement in certain clubs, participation in sports teams, advanced ranking in scouting programs, or even a list of books read. Having this document handy will make it that much simpler to fill out college applications. Investigate the Common Application The Common Application began as a niche program for select private liberal arts colleges, but now has grown into an organization that services more than 750 schools. The organization enables students to create an account and complete one basic form that will be accepted by all institutions who are members. The CA helps students streamline the college application process and reduce redundancy. An alert system also helps applicants manage application deadlines.

Avoid applying everywhere Some students think that applying to dozens of schools will improve their chances of being admitted. However, applicants may be wasting their time applying to schools they have no intention of attending, and that only adds to the stress of meeting deadlines. Narrow down the possibilities to a handful of favorite schools and go from there. Use the resources at your disposal Students who have access to guidance counselors, mentors, college centers, or even teachers who are willing to help with the application process should use these resources wisely. In addition, iPhone and Android apps can help streamline the college application process. Consider scholarships concurrently Some schools automatically consider applicants for scholarships, grants and work-study programs. But that’s not so with every school, so students may have to apply on their own or rely on third parties for scholarships. Fastweb is a leading online resource to find scholarships to pay for school.

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Tips for studying abroad


tudy abroad programs can change students’ lives, opening their eyes to other cultures and helping them to make memories that last a lifetime. Study abroad programs also may inspire a love of travel that students will foster for the rest of their lives. Students who have enrolled in or are considering enrolling in study abroad programs can make their experiences overseas more memorable if they take some time to prepare for life abroad before boarding the plane. Learn about your host country. Students who can successfully assimilate into their host countries may get more from their time overseas than those who do not. Studying a host country’s customs and history is a great way to learn about life there before your plane touches down. If the native language in your host country is different than your own, do your best to learn the language. While you won’t become fluent overnight, learning some basic words and phrases can make your time overseas go more smoothly and increase the chances that

you develop meaningful relationships with locals. Enthusiastically leave your comfort zone. Daily life might be vastly different in your host country than it is at home. Rather than dwelling on the differences between life overseas and life at home, embrace this chance to leave your comfort zone. Approach cultural differences with enthusiasm instead of skepticism, even trying local cuisine you might otherwise not experience back home. Get out of the dorm. Study abroad programs include the word “study” in their titles, so students should recognize they will still need to devote time to their schoolwork. But during your down time, embrace chances to get out of your dorm room or apartment to soak in your host city. If your host country is in Europe, where traveling between countries tends to be simpler than in other regions of the world, learn about neighboring countries and do your best to visit some during your time overseas. Disconnect from your devices.

Whether or not life at home is dominated by devices, use your time overseas to disconnect so you can fully experience your host city and country. Don’t miss out on the sights and sounds of your host country by spending too much time using your tablet or smartphone. Keep a journal. One of the best ways to commemorate your time abroad is to keep a daily journal. You will no doubt enjoy many unique experiences while overseas, and keeping a daily journal is a great way to ensure you remember each of those experiences and all the people you meet along the way. Study abroad programs can benefit students in myriad ways, and a few simple strategies can ensure young men and women make the most of their time overseas.

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Get schooled on education savings plans


ccounts to pay for college or even private high schools can be a smart way for parents to prepare for their children’s futures. Not every account is the same, and certain savings accounts could affect financial aid eligibility and taxes. It is in parents’ and students’ best interests to educate themselves on the various education savings plans available to them — and which ones make the most sense for their families. Families should do their research and work with professionals who understand the subtleties of school savings plans. For example, according to, a college information site, students’ income and savings have a larger, more negative impact on the availability of financial aid than the portion of their parents’ assets factored into the equation. Students with sizeable savings accounts in their name may end up adversely affecting their financial aid eligibility. A financial advisor and loan expert can advise families on these confusing financial facts. 529 College Savings Plan: 529 accounts are a popular education savings plan. They operate in a similar fashion to IRA and 401(k) plans in that savings for education

are earned tax-free through investment opportunities. SallieMae says 529 plans are offered by states or educational institutions under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. These taxadvantaged plans generally have no income limitations and high contribution limits. The usage of funds in 529 accounts are subject to regulations. Coverdell Education Savings Account: Coverdell accounts are versatile in that they enable the money to be spent for elementary through college education, which is a larger range than other plans. This is another tax-free plan when used for school purposes. Coverdell contributions are capped at $2,000 per year, and they’re only available to families below a specified income level, says the resource SavingforCollege. com. Uniform Gifts to Minors Act Account: These accounts are not traditionally designed for education but can be established to offer gift assets to minors. The custodian of the account can sell the assets for the child’s benefit at any time, and once the child reaches 18 or 21, recipients can use the funds in whatever manner they choose. However, UGMA may affect financial aid eligibility. Roth IRA: Parents can open up a Roth IRA in their child’s name once the child begins earning income. Even though there are penalties to taking earnings out before the age of 59.5, exceptions include purchasing a first home or qualified education expenses. A Roth IRA isn’t subjected to legal and administrative fees that can come with trusts, which are another savings avenue.

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Back-to-school ice breakers to ease first day fears Using a smartphone screen image template, students can illustrate their “school selfie” for display in the classroom.

School selfie Students can craft “school selfies” on a piece of paper using a smartphone image template. This selfie illustration will give the class key facts about each student and present an interesting, creative and enjoyable way for students to get to know one another.


arents and educators can sometimes underestimate children’s anxiety over the dawn of a new school year. Many students feel nervous when wondering if their teachers will be nice or if they will make new friends. These worries may be compounded by the return to routine and the end of an enjoyable period of rest and relaxation. In 2015, CNN polled campers at a summer day camp outside New York City. The campers were elementary school students who were asked about what they were most nervous about for the return to school. Homework, tests, competition, greater expectations, grades, and making new friends topped the list of fears. To help students transition to the classroom with fewer worries, teachers and parents may want to initiate ice breakers and other stress-reducing interactions. Here are some ideas.

Buddy up Many schools will give out classroom assignments a few days before the first day of school. Parents can investigate who is in their child’s homeroom and initiate contact with the parents of one or more of those students. Collectively, parents can make a buddy plan for students to arrive to school together and enter the classroom as a team. Coordinate clothing colors or have students wear another unifying symbol. This may allay fears and make the first day of school more fun. 10 S c h o o l Y e a r

their preferential name and including a brief synopsis of their interests and what makes them unique. Teachers also can initiate other icebreakers by giving students a sheet with various questions, which students then have to complete by asking around among the other students. For example, “Who has a pet fish?” or “Find someone who has blue eyes.” The first day of school can be difficult for some children. Fun activities and some extra effort from parents and teachers can make the return to the classroom less stressful.

Student word search Word searches are entertaining and educational tools that can be put to use in the classroom. Parents or teachers can create word searches featuring the first names of all the students in the class. Children often enjoy searching for their own names, and then they can help others, opening up lines of communication. Word searches also Your Locally-Owned Hometown can be customized Bank for 140 Years! for any subject. Therefore, if student names aren’t Whether your financial goals are great or small, the experienced staff at desired, the theme Exchange State Bank will help you get where you want to go. Get in can be classroom touch with Exchange State Bank today to see how we can help! items or school terms. Personal introductions Students may worry about teachers mispronouncing their names or using a full name instead of a nickname. Rather than a traditional roll call, teachers can encourage students to introduce themselves to classmates, using

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Help kids calm firstday-of-school jitters


he first day of school can be an exciting time, especially for children who have never before attended school. But even youngsters excited about the first day may also experience some jitters. Such nerves are normal, and parents can help kids calm those jitters in various ways. Talk about the first day as it approaches. A child’s first day of school is a milestone, and parents may do various things to commemorate the occasion. The excitement leading up to the first day can spark kids’ enthusiasm, but it also may lead to some anxiety about the unknown. Parents can quell those fears by discussing the first day as it approaches. Explain why the first day is so special, encouraging youngsters to share their feelings. If kids express fears about their first day, parents can explain they felt similarly on their first day of school but quickly adjusted. Let kids choose their own clothes. Parents may be tempted to buy special outfits for their children for the first day of school. But kids who are jittery about their first day may calm down if allowed to choose their own attire for the big day. A favorite T-shirt or outfit might be just the thing to comfort kids feeling a bit nervous about their first day of school. Get a head start on your morning routine. As summer winds down, begin acclimating children to the morning routine they can expect when the school year begins. One to two weeks before the first day of school, start waking children up when they will need to be up for school. Kids who are accustomed to the morning routine may be more calm on their first day of school because of their familiarity with their new schedule. Going cold turkey on the first day of school may make kids less enthusiastic about attending school. Attend school orientation events and plan some play dates in advance of the first day. Seeing familiar faces might make kids forget all about their jitters when they arrive at school on the first day. Inquire about school orientation events and attend as many of those sessions as possible. If encouraged to do so, take kids along so they can meet prospective classmates. Arrange for play dates with those classmates in advance of the first day so kids have a few recognizable faces their own age come the first day of school. Start the day off on the right foot. The night before the first day of school, make sure kids’ outfits are clean, their supplies are packed and ready to go and their lunch is made. The less parents have to rush around on the morning of the first day of school, the calmer kids are likely to be. S c h o o l

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Promote healthy weight starting with school lunch


lthough there are a variety of theories behind the growing obesity problem plaguing North American adults and children, the most consistent findings point to caloric intake as the culprit. Here’s a simple equation to get to the root of the problem: Calories eaten > calories spent = weight gain.

According to National Health Examination Surveys, adult obesity trends in the United States between 1976 and 2014 indicate the percentage of the adult population classified as obese has roughly doubled to more than 38 percent in the last three decades. Children may be learning eating habits from their parents, potentially contributing to rising obesity rates in children as well. Recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate one in five school-aged children and young people in the United States is obese. In Canada, the Public Health Agency says roughly one in seven children is obese. Teaching children healthy eating habits starts at home and can extend to what students are given to eat while at school. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says schools across the country are working hard to improve school nutrition. Here’s how parents and


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school districts can help make school punch. Water, seltzer and unsweetened lunches more nutritious and delicious iced tea are healthy beverage options. and lower in calories. If milk is the go-to beverage, choose a Control snack intake. The U.S. reduced-fat version. Department of Agriculture says that more Introduce new foods. Children can than one-fourth of kids’ daily caloric be notoriously picky eaters, but with intake comes from snacking. Choosing patience and perseverance, parents smarter snacks may help reduce overeating. Good snacks can include can introduce new, healthy foods at grain products that contain 50 percent or lunchtime. Yogurt, hummus and salsa are more whole grains by weight; snacks in healthy and can add flavor to vegetables which the primary ingredient is a fruit, a and fruit. When making sandwiches, vegetable, dairy product, or lean protein; exchange refined breads for whole-grain snacks that are a combination food that varieties. Choose lean protein sources, contain at least a 1⁄4 cup of fruits or and go heavy on vegetables and fruits for vegetables; and foods that contain no more than 200 calories. natural fiber, which will create feelings of Read nutritional information. When satiety. selecting foods for school lunches, Read the school menu. Let children parents should read the nutritional indulge in ordering from the school menu information to make sure they know when healthy options are featured. Urge exactly what they are feeding their them to try something unexpected, rather children. Select foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol and high in than sticking to chicken nuggets or pizza fiber and nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, days. grains, and legumes. Healthy eating habits begin in childhood Go with water. Rethinking beverage and can be initiated with school lunch. choices can help control kids’ caloric intake. Many people don’t realize just how many calories beverages add to their daily intake. Even a six-ounce, 100-percent apple juice can include as many There’s a unique combination at the Dixon as 96 Family Y. Little ones build skills and selfcalories. JOIN TODAY esteem. People connect while strengthening Dixon Family YMCA Sodas body and mind. The Y offers everything from 110 N. Galena Avenue and weights and fitness equipment to improve Dixon, IL, 61021 other soft well-being, to kids programs that nurture their 815 288 9622 drinks potential through learning and play. At the Y, Visit pack a hefty caloric


How to ease kids’ transition to a new school


eing the new kid in school can be a tall order for youngsters. Children who change schools may face a host of challenges that studies suggest can affect both their social and academic development. In a 2010 study that followed students who entered kindergarten in 1998 through 2007, the Government Accountability Office found that 13 percent of students changed schools four or more times by the end of eighth grade. Such mobility can adversely affect students, as a study of 13,000 students in the city of Chicago found that children who had changed schools four or more times by the sixth grade were roughly a year behind their classmates. In addition to the toll transferring schools can take on their academic performance, students also may experience difficulty assimilating into their new schools. Though there’s no formula to make such transitions easier, parents can try various strategies to help their kids successfully adjust to new schools. Speak with children about the transition., a not-for-profit organization devoted to providing free child development information to parents and health professionals, recommends parents speak with their children about transitioning to a new school. Encourage children to share what excites and worries them about the transition. The way parents discuss transitions can go a long way toward shaping how kids view the change. Stay true to your routine. Pathways also recommends parents of students who are transitioning to a new school do their best to replicate first day of school routines from years past. Some familiar traditions might help calm kids’ concerns about their first day in a new school. Assimilate into a new community before the school year begins. The

education resource notes that the most common causes of students changing schools are residential moves related to parents’ jobs or financial instability. Parents on the lookout for a new job or those who may need to relocate for financial reasons may want to delay moving until the current school year has ended. Moving between school years gives families time to acclimate to their new communities. That means kids will get time to make new friends. Some familiar faces on the first day at a new school can go a long way toward alleviating the fears children may have. Volunteer at your child’s new school. Parental involvement at school can have a profound impact on children. The National Education Association notes that children whose parents are involved at school 25 E. are more likely to perform academically than students whose

parents are uninvolved. In addition, such students are more likely to have good attendance and exhibit stronger social skills than children whose parents do not involve themselves in their children’s school. It stands to reason that students transferring to a new school may benefit from parental involvement even more than other students, as seeing their parents approach a new school with excitement and energy may inspire children to follow suit. Transitioning to a new school is not easy for many students. But parents can help smooth that transition in various ways.

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How does classroom design impact learning?

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dults who think back to their time in the classroom may remember arrangements of rows of desks and industrial-looking seating. Classroom design was built around students facing the chalkboard, and teachers typically placed their desks at the front of the room to keep an eye on their students. Such arrangements have steadily been on the way out as classroom environments are changed to promote learning. According to the education resource The Professional Learning Board, different classroom arrangements have their own benefits and drawbacks. But the liberty to alter classroom layouts means teachers can experiment with what works for their teaching styles and which arrangements benefit their students. While rows may enable educators to see all students and keep them focused, students in the back may miss out and/or lose focus. Circle arrangements work well for class discussions, enabling all students to congregate around the teacher and participate in the conversation. “Circle time” is a frequent component of pre-school and early elementary school lessons

because it directs focus on the teacher and feels more intimate than laying the room out in rows. Group seating is another arrangement teachers may explore. Desks are arranged so they form small tables. Students can work collaboratively and discuss assignments. However, maintaining focus may be challenging when students are facing other students and may be more likely to chit-chat among one another. A study involving fourth graders in Germany investigated whether certain seating arrangements promoted greater student participation. Traditional rows and a semicircular layout were studied. Children in the semicircle asked more questions, but in both layouts, children who occupied central seating locations asked more questions and participated more per lesson. Another study conducted in 2015 and published in the journal Building and Environment found that changing some elements of classroom design can increase student learning outcomes by 16 percent. Air quality, lighting and students’ sense of ownership of their classroom impacted the students’ abilities

to learn more than seating arrangements,, advises the study. Giving children choices, including flexible seating options, such as bean bag chairs, mats or cushions, standing desks, sofas, or individual workstations, can help students find arrangements that are best for them. Furthermore, teachers who rearrange furniture so that classrooms are cozy and inviting may see their students thrive. Lighting also is an important factor, particularly when glare can impact the ability to see smartboards or personal tablets, which are now widely used in classrooms. Natural light is preferred in classroom environments. In fact, students in classrooms with big windows and daylight progress more quickly in reading and math than those in darkened rooms, according to a Heschong Mahone study cited in ScienceDirect. Overhead fluorescent lighting may interfere with student learning. Educators are urged to see their classrooms from students’ perspectives to evaluate how design may be impacting learning. A few easy changes can add up to big gains for students and teachers alike.

School hygiene tips C hildren are in close contact with others at schools and daycare facilities, where germs can be easily transmitted. Children may not be as conscientious as adults in regard to the health risks associated with poor hygiene. These tips can keep students stay healthy and help prevent germs from being transported home, where they can affect other members of the family. Hand washing is essential to good hygiene. Children should wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before eating and after playing outdoors. Children can bring along their own tissues and use them when their

noses become runny. Tissues should be promptly discarded after use. Parents should ensure that fingernails are clean, as under the fingernails can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Clipping fingernails and regular hand washing can remove a number of germs. Keep ill children home from school, especially if they have a fever. Kids should not return to school until they are fever- or symptom-free. Toys and community supplies should be washed or disinfected regularly to kill germs. Cleaning classroom furniture regularly also can help establish healthy educational environments.

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Calm the chaos on busy school mornings


ornings can test the patience and stamina of busy families as adults and children hurry to get out the door on time. Starting off the morning already stressed can lead to feeling tense throughout the rest of the day. There is no magic formula to make mornings less hectic, but the following are some ways families can streamline their morning routines. Make use of the night before. Morning madness may come about due to lack of preparation the previous night. The more that can be done the night before, the less there will be to do on weekday mornings. Encourage children to lay out clothes for the next day and take a shower or bath that evening. Make lunches the night before a school day,

School mornings tend to be calm when certain tasks are completed the night before, everyone is well-rested and routines are adhered to. and gather all supplies from homework stations, restocking backpacks and gym bags so everything is ready to go come the morning. Get to bed earlier. Sleep experts say that if you need to rely on an alarm clock to get up in the morning, you may not be getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation says school-aged children should get between nine and 11 hours of sleep a night. Teenagers require between eight and 10 hours of sleep per night, while adults need between seven and nine hours. A good night’s rest can reduce morning crankiness and get everyone moving more efficiently. Incentivize timeliness for kids. Children who are reluctant to head to school may need extra motivation to get out the door.

Offer small rewards to kids when they get ready on their own or finish breakfast in a certain amount of time. Rewards can include a treat like choosing a favorite show to watch after school or a special outing on the weekend. Follow a schedule. Make mornings the same each day so everyone knows what to expect. Uniformity can streamline tasks and ensure everyone knows what’s expected of them. Stay organized. Racing around trying to find keys or jackets can be very stressful. Make it a point to return items to their proper places so that everyone knows where to look for the items they need. School mornings can be challenging, but with some ingenuity and forethought, the stress can be tamed.


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Bob Sondgeroth Regional Superintendent of Schools for Lee, Ogle, and Whiteside County

their classes, and some may face yearend retention or experience difficulty keeping up in the next grade. The National Tutoring Association says students at all grade levels participating in tutorial programs improve their reading performance and can achieve significant cognitive gains. Tutoring can be the answer for students affected by inconsistent delivery of classroom content. For example, when families move, students may be forced to catch up in a new school where teachers may have different styles than students’ previous teachers. Students who have missed classroom time due to illness or injury may face similar difficulties. Sometimes children struggle because they have difficulty processing or remembering their lessons. In such instances, a fresh approach through oneon-one tutoring may be necessary. Parents and students have different tutoring options at their disposal. Some services may be offered through the school system at no extra charge. Pull-out instruction during the day or before or after school might be part of

Tutoring benefits and how to find a tutor that fits


hildren tend to learn at their own pace, and certain subjects may challenge them more than others. In many instances, students can benefit from working with tutors. Tutors can be very effective. Children who work with tutors and then see their grades improve may develop greater confidence and feel less anxious about going to school or taking tests. Without intervention like tutoring, at-risk students (those who are not meeting academic standards) may not pass

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such services. Private tutors, academic coaches, peer tutors, online tutoring, and home tutoring are other options. Depending on need, budget and comfort levels, families can explore these and other options at their disposal. Parents should contact their children’s schools for information about tutoring programs. Schools typically keep lists of tutors or tutoring programs. Examine credentials and seek recommendations prior to hiring a tutor to get a feel for the person and his or her teaching philosophy. Certified tutors also can be found by visiting www.ntatutor. com. Keep in mind that it isn’t enough for the tutor to know the subject matter. He or she also has to relate to your child. According to the tutoring firm Test Prep Authority, motivation plays a key role in the success or failure of a students’ work with tutors. Motivation may be compromised if the tutor and student do not connect. Tutors also should know how to present materials in ways similar to how it is being taught in school so that lessons are in sync. Tutoring has helped many children gain confidence and succeed in school.

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Strategies parents can use to motivate students S

tudents may need some time to adjust at the beginning of a new school year. Summer vacations typically lack the structure of the school year, and it might be unfair to expect kids to seamlessly slip back into their more regimented lives as students. While some early school year sluggishness might be normal, that should wear off pretty quickly. If not, and students appear to be struggling to get motivated for their schoolwork, parents can try various strategies that should help reignite youngsters’ passions for learning. Make your home more school-friendly. Summer is a relaxing time of year when parents have a tendency to relax rules around the house. But come the school year, parents must make sure their homes are as conducive to studying as possible. Resist the urge to turn the television on each night so students are not distracted from their studies. Keep the home quiet so students are motivated to focus on their studies. Encourage participation in extracurricular activities. Various studies have examined the relationship between extracurricular activities and academic performance. A 2002 study published in the journal Sociology of Education found that participation in extracurricular activities is associated with improved grade point average, increased college attendance and reduced absenteeism. The link between participation in extracurricular activities and improved academic performance is still in need of study, but such participation may help children acclimate to the structure of the school year more quickly than they might if they do not participate in such activities. Encourage curious youngsters. Kids are curious, and fostering that curiosity can be a great way for parents to get their kids excited about learning. Whether it’s during the school year and part of their curriculum or on summer break, encourage kids to engage in subjects that interest them. As kids learn more about the topics and subjects that interest them, they may develop a passion for learning that they can then take with them to the classroom. Express an interest in the subjects children are studying. Another way to motivate students at the dawn of a new school year is to express an interest in the subjects they’re studying. Ask questions about their studies and encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions. Engaging students about the subjects they’re studying can motivate them to explore those subjects more deeply than they otherwise might. Motivating kids to be excited about their schoolwork at the dawn of a new school year can sometimes be difficult. But parents can employ various strategies that can help their children readjust to life in the classroom and motivate them to perform to the best of their abilities. 18 S c h o o l Y e a r

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Student cyber security precautions Students should implement cyber security practices at home and in school.


hanks to advancements in technology, students and educators are increasingly turning to birth, tablets and computers when working on daily assignments and classroom activities. Students rely on the internet for research and keeping in touch with teachers and other students, and work is even assigned and completed via digital platforms. Despite the upside of technology, cyber crime is a potential pitfall of all that time spent online. The internet provides instant access, and that can put students at risk. According to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, the education sector ranked sixth in the United States for the total number of reported “security incidents.” Schools are data-rich, meaning they give hackers access to information like identification numbers, birthdates, email addresses, financial data, medical records, and more. Students must understand cyber security risks when working and sharing data online. The following are some tips students can follow.

Protect passwords. Students are urged to keep their passwords to themselves. This prevents others from using accounts maliciously or even in seemingly harmless ways that can put you in trouble, such as searching for inappropriate content in school. Choose complicated passwords that can’t be easily guessed, and opt for two-step authentication whenever offered. Use secured WiFi networks. Free or open WiFi connections are not encrypted, meaning they can be accessed by anyone. Many cyber criminals gain access to information through these channels. Schools should have encrypted systems in place. Limit what you share on the internet. Students are urged to be aware of what they share online. According to DataManagement, a computing service, information posted to social media is permanent, and deleted items aren’t necessarily gone. Exercise caution on social media. Don’t post unless it is something you would be comfortable sharing in public.

Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing usually occurs through fraudulent email messages that mimic the look of reputable solicitations. Scammers rely on these tactics to tempt people to click on links or download attachments that can put malware on a device and steal personal data. Exercise caution with all links and downloads. Schedule routine backups. Data can be lost if a device crashes, so routinely back up personal devices and home computers. Backups can be stored on external hard drives or with cloud services. Exercise caution when filesharing. UC Santa Cruz’s information technology services says viruses and malware can be transmitted by filesharing software, and files offered by others may not be what they say they are. Only used school-approved filesharing options. Cyber security is something students should prioritize this school year. The right security measures can protect students, their classmates and their schools.

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