10 Keys to Raising a Great Teenager

It can be difficult having a teenager in the house. At times, it seems like your kid has become a giant toddler, with every request from you met with “Why?” or “No.” And it’s not nearly as cute as it was then when they stamp their foot and pout. But this turmoil is also an essential part of becoming an adult.

To help you through these challenging years, All-Pro Dad has a list of ten keys to raising a great teenager. These keys are:

  1. Under all the scowls and frowns, your child is still there.
  2. Let your love show.
  3. Encourage their faith.
  4. Don’t talk at your teens.
  5. Remember to listen.
  6. Reinforce a standard with teens.
  7. Get to know their friends.
  8. Offer your wisdom.
  9. Help them stay focused.
  10. Take them on an adventure.

These keys will help you maintain your sanity through the teenage years, so check out the full article for more information on each one. And remember, just like the toddler years, the teenage years will eventually end.

Teacher Gifts That Go Beyond the Coffee Mug

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and the end of school is coming up fast. Are you at a loss for a gift for your child’s teacher? You know that another #1 Teacher mug is not the answer, but what is? Both National PTA’s Our Childrenmagazine and Great Schools! have suggestions for great teacher gifts.

National PTA’s article suggests:

  • Coffee and treats (perhaps with a gift card)
  • A supply gift box
  • A mobile battery charger
  • Something homemade
  • A crafty phone case
  • A personalized, handmade thank you card

Great Schools! has additional gift ideas, including:

  • Flowers or a live plant
  • A gift card for coffee, supplies, or something more indulgent
  • A gift basket with a theme
  • A donation to the teacher’s favorite cause
  • A donation to your child’s class

Avoid the mug or apple-shaped tchotchke. Check out both the National PTA article and the Great Schools! article for more information on these gift ideas.

Photo © 2011 by Edward Ross under Creative Commons license.

Five Ways to Teach Coding Without Technology

Coding and computational thinking are increasingly becoming part of our children’s education. For adults, though, coding may still be a mystifying skill. A recent article describes five ways to teach coding without using a screen or technology. Whether you are a parent or teacher, comfortable with programming or not, you can use these approaches to help your child develop coding and computational thinking skills.

  1. Real-Life Routines: Any process that has repeated steps can be thought of as a program. Whether it’s getting breakfast on the table or getting ready for bed, you can help your child break down the steps of the process. Once that’s done, you can work with your child to look at the steps and think about ways to make the order quicker or more efficient.
  2. Cooking: Every recipe is like a computer program, providing a set of inputs, process steps, and actions to reach the desired goal. Even if your child isn’t old enough to handle a kitchen knife, you can have the “program” you to do the steps they aren’t old enough to handle yet. Should the final product not be quite right, you can work with your child to “debug” what went wrong with the recipe.
  3. Simon Says: Simon Says is a simple game that encourages programmatic thinking. If there is no “Simon says…” at the start, the instruction is invalid. Valid instructions need to be clear. This can be a gentle introduction for younger children.
  4. Tangible Programming Toys: Toys that incorporate, like the Montessori-inspired Cubetto or Lego MindStorms, can engage children through exploration of what programming does by letting them create and modify their own programs. While many such toys are expensive, if you have a Minecraft fanatic in your house, there are many free and low-cost tools to let them explore coding within the Minecraft world.
  5. Treasure Hunt: Building and executing a treasure hunt can provide a fun way to have your child create their own program of instructions. Whether it is putting together a handmade paper puzzle to get the next clue or having a gatekeeper who can give the next clue once a task has been completed, a treasure hunt can give your child the joy of watching their program be executed in real time.

Check out the original article for more ideas on how to incorporate coding and computational thinking into your child’s day.

Photo © 2014 by Jeff Jackowski under Creative Commons license

Nurture a Love of Nature and Health with These Resources

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has a website to help nurture your child’s interest in the environment, science, and health. The site, Kids Environment Kids Health, provides resources for parents, teachers, and kids to explore these topics.

Among the topics covered on the site are:

  • Environment & Health
  • Healthy Living
  • Pollution
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Science—How It Works
  • The Natural World

The games section of the website provides brainteasers, puzzles, songs, and riddles, while the activities section includes coloring pages, stories created by kids, and science experiments to do at home. For teachers, there are lessons plans on environmental health topics from kindergarten through high school. The site also provides a section aimed just at little kids, gathering all of the age-appropriate materials in one easy-to-find location.