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Back to school lunches without the hassle
School is just around the corner, and that means no more raiding the fridge for last-minute lunch ideas. Lunches need to be quick to assemble, nutritionally complete, and last sitting in a lunch bag for a couple of hours. This can be tough, meeting all three of the criteria mentioned above, but it is not an impossible task! This past summer we created a list of easy meal ideas for summer lunches. With back to school season fast approaching, parents not only have to worry about packing a quick, nutritious lunch but how that packed lunch is going to impact their child’s day. Often times, children indulge in what parents have packed for them during the regular lunch period. Other times, they drool over what their peers have been packed whether that’s because it looks, smells, or tastes more delicious then what was packed for them. Some times, they don’t eat their lunch at all because they are worrisome of what their peers may say once they open their lunch box. That is why it is important to emphasize planning lunches ahead of time or even having your child involved in the lunch-making process. By doing this, it ensures those lunches are doing exactly what they need to be doing: nurturing your child mid-way through that long, exhausting school day. To take away some of the school year preparation anxiety, we have gathered together some unique ways your child can enjoy their lunch without any lunch-time anxieties! Meal Prep - Turkey taco lunch bowl - Buffalo chicken meatball bento box - Build your own pizza - Meat and cheese pinwheels - PB&J triangles - Sandwich skewers - Tomato bruschetta 2 ways - Lettuce wrap box - Mediterranean box Prep for the Week - Egg salad - Tuna salad - Couscous salad - Banana bread - Energy balls - Pasta salad with fruit - Pesto pasta with tomatoes Night Before Snack Prep - Froyo fruit cups - Homemade chewy granola bars - Yogurt parfait box - Peanut butter protein box - Strawberry fruit rollers - Hard-boiled eggs - Sliced cucumber - Melons - Mangoes - Cheese and crackers No Prep Snacks - Cheese sticks - Fruits and vegetables (i.e. bananas, apples, clementines, grapes, carrots) - Yogurt - Fruit cups - Applesauce - Pretzels - Nuts
Must-have skills for children #10: practicing self-care
Just like it’s important to brush and floss your teeth regularly to avoid cavities, it’s important to exercise proper mental health before you burn out. This is something you can do with the help of self-care. Self-care is all about creating the proper routines and lifestyle choices to take care of your body and mind before you need it. And if you need self-care, your child needs it, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children suffer from stress and anxiety than ever before, and this may worsen as they age. The earlier you introduce self-care to your child, the better they can handle stress down the road. Think of it as a preventative measure to fight off stress and dial up joy in your child’s life! Teach them about the importance of self-care, and then guide them with tips, such as... Exercise Habits for a Healthy Body Proper physical health allows for proper mental health. For your child to show themselves love, they need to care for their body by exercising proper habits. Even slight dehydration can cause a drop in mood, lower performance, and affect the memory, so your child needs to make sure they are drinking enough every day. They should also move around to increase circulation in the body and the brain, which boosts the mood and improves thinking. What may seem to be basic orders of the day are the foundation of good self-care. Your child should practice incorporating these into their daily routines. They can track their daily water intake, turn off their phone at night for better sleep, join a sports team, and eat their greens in the name of self-care. Reward Yourself—You Deserve It The hustle mindset is so deeply ingrained in modern times that people have a hard time allowing themselves breaks. They work, work, work, then feel guilty when they’re not working, which is why the hustle culture has been criticized as damaging to mental health. Breaks are important and well-deserved rewards for productivity or hardships. No one should feel bad for taking them. Let your child practice this mindset as early as possible. This way, they can take care of their mental health and energy, preventing burnout and depression. “Being always on can create a constant sense of anxiety and like there is always something we should be doing.” Dr. Alice Boyes On top of breaks, your child should get in the habit of allowing themselves rewards or treats. Depending on their age, you can provide these or they can practice rewarding themselves. They can indulge in a slice of chocolate cake, watch their favorite movie, purchase a game they wanted for weeks, or host a dance party! They should realize that they deserve to feel good, particularly after completing a task or experiencing a challenge. This helps them release tension and prepare for the next task and reward for a positive cycle. Quiet the Mind to Relax A TV break could be a good reward for hard work, but too much screen time can overload the senses, leading to irritation and impatience. The same thing happens when your child is overthinking or multi-tasking, which hinders the brain’s ability to sort information. So what can your child do to ease all this pressure on their brain? They can focus on one task by engaging in a hobby, like reading or writing, in peaceful silence. Even when tackling schoolwork or chores, they should pay attention to one rather than multiple things at a time. Otherwise, they’ll feel overwhelmed and become scatterbrained, which actually slows down the whole process! Your child can also leave behind all the hustle and bustle by going to a quiet place, enjoying time alone, meditating, or taking a walk in nature. Practice Self-Compassion “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” Jack Kornfield Your child may show great compassion for others, but are they showing themselves the same care and attention? In a society that might shun the idea of the “self” as “selfish” or “self-centered,” your child might put others before themselves too often. They may repress their feelings in an unhealthy way or be too hard on themselves. Instead, they should rediscover the good in thinking about themselves through terms like “self-care,” “self-love,” and “self-compassion.” Self-compassion is knowing there is nothing wrong with not having all of the answers and asking others for help. It is forgiving themselves for shortcomings and mistakes, for being proud of themselves for growing and learning. A few other ways they can give themselves the attention, love, and compassion they need are through journaling about their feelings, opening up to others, and artistic expression. People can’t pour from an empty glass, so it’s okay—actually encouraged—for them to make sure they’re feeling their best so others can, too. — More and more attention has been placed on mental and emotional health over the years as people recognize the importance it holds in a fulfilling life. If you want your child to be able to focus well, strengthen resilience against hardships, and treat themselves with respect and kindness, the best thing you can do is teach them the must-have skill of self-care. JEI Learning Center recognizes the importance of a healthy mentality in effective learning and personal growth. We hope that as your child continues to internalize self-care in partnership with our grit-centric JEI Self-Learning MethodⓇ, you can see your child mature into a joyful, intelligent, and inspired learner for life. Learn more about the benefits of the JEI Self-Learning MethodⓇ. Contact a JEI Learning Center near you today!
What to do when you don't understand your kid's homework
It’s bound to happen eventually. Your kid comes home from school with an assignment requiring knowledge you have never been taught. Sure, you took chemistry in high school, but this is not the chemistry you remember. If you remember it at all. Don’t panic. Just because you are not the intellectual authority doesn’t mean you can’t still help your child with their homework. With these six steps, you can help your child approach mastery of any subject and learn something yourself. 1. Remain Calm Children, even young children, can pick up on emotions and will respond in kind. A panicked reaction from you will likely induce a panicked reaction from them. This is especially unhelpful because of how our brains are wired. Our emotions color our thinking. Anxiety will interfere with your and your child’s ability to think clearly, making the homework that much harder. If you need to, calm your brain with a few deep breaths. This sends extra oxygen to your brain, refreshing your mind and helping you return to focus. 2. Be Honest It may feel embarrassing to admit to your child that you don’t know something. You’re supposed to be there to provide guidance, but in this instance, you can’t. That’s okay. Confessing your lack of expertise opens the door to different styles of learning and teaching. Admit your lack of knowledge in a calm, level manner to communicate that hope is not lost. Some ways to do this might be, “I didn’t learn this in school, but we can learn it together,” or, “It’s been so long since I’ve seen this, I don’t remember where to begin.” 3. Learn from Your Child Just because your child is asking for homework help doesn’t mean they know nothing. Ask your child to tell you what they know, so that you both can start from the same foundation. If your child has class notes, have them walk you through those. Teaching is one of the best ways to solidify your knowledge, so having your child teach you strengthens their understanding of the material. To enhance this approach, make sure you ask questions along the way when you don’t understand something. 4. Identify Gaps After assessing what knowledge you and your child have between you, now you need to assess what you don’t know. This may require the two of you to go through the homework and make an attempt at it. It may help to keep a list of problems you run into. 5. Research If your child’s textbook isn’t helpful (or if they don’t have a textbook), there is information on the internet about nearly any topic your child will learn in school. Here are a few resources to get you started: - Math Planet - Math Planet is directed at older students, with lessons ranging from Pre-Algebra through Geometry. The site has both text and video instruction. - English Grammar Online - English Grammar Online has short lessons on individual rules of grammar, writing, and vocabulary. The site is directed at English language learners, so it is an especially useful resource if English isn’t your first language. - Zinn Education Project - The Zinn Education Project is an outgrowth of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Organized as a database, with lessons you can select by time period, topic, and type of resource. - CrashCourse - CrashCourse is a video series with lessons on a diversity of subjects. Scroll over to their playlists to see subjects they cover or use the search feature in their navigation bar to find the subject you’re looking for. - Annenberg Learner - Annenberg Learner has videos, interactives, and other resources for students and teachers alike. You can browse the site by grade or by topic, as well as search the site for your subject. - Wikipedia - Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia editable by anyone in the world. This has the advantage of giving up-to-date information. The disadvantage is that, in some cases, the information can be inaccurate. Take note of warnings about bias provided by the page and check the edit history to see if there are still details under review. Be sure to follow the citations on the site, and like with all encyclopedias, don’t end your research there. - Simple English Wikipedia - Simple Wikipedia is useful when the information on Wikipedia is too complicated or when English isn’t your first language. Simple Wikipedia uses easy-to-understand language to summarize a variety of topics. The best way to approach internet research is to search by using words or phrases in your search that you don’t understand and the name of the subject your child is studying. Although search engines are increasingly recognizing sentences, a keyword search will get you more precise results. A good keyword search could be the name of the subject followed by the lesson your child is studying followed by a word or phrase you don’t understand. An added benefit of researching with your child is that you can steer them away from cheat sheet websites that can often mislead your child with inadequate explanation and, in some instances, incorrect information. 6. Apply What You’ve Learned As you are able to answer questions based on your research, have your child come up with a way of explaining it. This is best done out loud first, so your child can organize their thoughts before writing them down. When you don’t understand your child’s homework, you have to change your role from teacher to facilitator. You are on a journey with your child to help them organize their thoughts and find answers to their questions. ---- It’s important to remember that just because you can’t teach your child everything doesn’t mean you are a failure as a caregiver. This situation just opens up new approaches to learning. In some instances, particular subjects may simply be beyond your level of comprehension without the same formal instruction your child is receiving in school. When this is the case, it may be a good idea to seek outside help. JEI’s supplemental education programs in math and English can help your child to understand difficult topics you may not be able to help them with. JEI not only provides Common Core-aligned instruction, but it also teaches students how to manage their own study time with our Self-Learning Method. To get started with JEI’s programs, find a center near you today!