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Updated: 48 min 56 sec ago

Keeping kids stimulated all summer can help prevent the summer learning slide

15 hours 43 min ago

(BPT) - For most kids, the final school bell signals a break from learning and a focus on summer fun, but for parents it often means an uphill battle to beat the “summer slide” in their child’s learning. Significant knowledge and skills gained during the previous school year can be lost if children don’t participate in enrichment and learning activities during summer break.

In fact, children run the risk of losing newly learned Common Core curriculum skills they developed during the year.

The good news for parents who are concerned about the summer slide is that several Common Core teachings can be easily adapted from the classroom to fun summer projects conducted at home and in the community.

“The summer slide can mean a child may spend the first two months of the new school year playing catchup instead of learning new material,” says Dr. Ashley Norris, assistant dean of the College of Education at University of Phoenix. “Parents need to plan a balanced mix of activities for their children during the summer that not only include sports and extracurricular activities, but learning activities that emphasize math and reading skills.”

Norris, who prepares prospective and current teachers to address dynamics in schools and the classroom, recommends parents incorporate Common Core themes into the summer curriculum they plan for their children. Here are six fun, educational activities that can help kids avoid the summer slide and also provide parents with opportunities to connect with their children.

1. Turn everyday activities into learning opportunities
According to a recent University of Phoenix College of Education survey, 38 percent of teachers believe Common Core curriculum ties learning to real-world scenarios. Errands are an easy way to engage children in reading and math skills. Consider having your child help make the grocery list, go shopping with you and practice adding up the bill and calculating the tax.

2. Seek inspiration from community events and activities
Visit the farmers market to learn about vegetables and teach the importance of healthy eating. Attend concerts and then ask your child to research his favorite musical instruments. Head to the local nature center to learn about native plants and then return home and ask the kids to draw what they saw.

3. Embrace technology and create interactive projects and activities
Apps and websites such as Pinterest are making Common Core projects available for parents to set up at home. Pinterest has new math and reading challenges that are posted daily. You can also search for Common Core apps developed by schools across the country combining video games with math and science skills.

4. Focus on core competencies
Look for activities that emphasize core skills such as math and reading. Creating a cooking project is one of the best ways to integrate these skills as children are required to follow directions of a recipe and learn about cooking elements such as time, temperature and measuring ingredients.

5. Balance academic and social engagement
Look for activities or summer camps that not only promote social skill development, but allow for knowledge in specific content areas. Science and technology camps provide hands-on learning projects such as bridge building, mouse-trap cars or the construction of robots. Many science museums offer home projects on their websites.

6. Plan a trip to the library
Common Core requires students to conduct in-depth research from multiple sources and then discuss their findings with peers. Families can do similar activities throughout the summer. Each family member can search for information on a chosen topic then set a time to gather and discuss the findings, which research tools were used and if more information is available. Make it a game by voting for the family member who found the most interesting or unique fact.

If you keep them engaged during the summer break, your children can pick up right where they left off when the school bell rings in the fall.

Categories: Lifestyle

From battlefield to boardroom ... jobs report suggests more positive employment environment for military veterans

15 hours 43 min ago

(BPT) - Employment opportunities seem to be on the upswing for military veterans, which is encouraging for the hundreds of thousands of service members returning from duty and veterans who are looking for new civilian career opportunities.

The unemployment rate for veterans dropped to 6.6 percent in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the news is positive, a 2013 University of Phoenix survey conducted by Harris Poll, revealed only one-third (33 percent) of active duty service members reported having made a transition plan for returning to civilian life after separation from the military.

“Service members acquire skills during their military careers that bring value and diverse experience to civilian workplaces,” said University of Phoenix Military Relations vice president, retired Army Col. Garland Williams. “But some men and women leaving the service may not know how to market their skills as they transition to civilian jobs, and may therefore take jobs that do not leverage their experience. As thousands of men and women return from Iraq and Afghanistan to a highly competitive job market, it is imperative that they have a plan to translate their skills into fulfilling and enriching jobs.”

If service members don’t know where to start, there are resources such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) to help veterans translate their skills and find quality jobs.

Service members who have recently returned home might be interested in pursuing careers at firms recognized for hiring veterans. The military has a Best Veteran Employers list as well as current job postings for those companies. This list is updated frequently, so job seekers should check it often. In additional to applying for current positions, service members may consider requesting informational interviews in advance of their job searches to make sure they have the necessary training to be considered for the roles.

Some universities also offer resources for members of the military community who want to understand the available career options, making it easier to get started or continue a career path. For example, the Military Skills Translator Tool provided by University of Phoenix takes a service member’s military occupational specialty code and provides a list of civilian occupations that correlate to the job skills the service member used and refined while in the military. Each military job is linked directly to labor market data to provide background on jobs and the education required to enter a specific field. Service members can also earn college credit toward their degree programs based on their military experience.

Here are some additional tips offered by Williams to help active duty service members and veterans prepare for a civilian job search:

Start early. Begin the transition process from military to civilian life as early as two years before being discharged.

Speak the language. Communicate military experience and training with words, not acronyms, which may not translate on a resume. Promote universal skills such as leadership, management, cooperation, teamwork and strategic thinking.

Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. As every proud service member knows, there is a “we” vs. “me” mentality in the military. The ability to work in a team is important to communicate, but you also have to be willing to discuss your own contributions and results.

Consider flexible education and training programs. Education can help you address knowledge gaps and better understand and prepare for future careers.

Categories: Lifestyle
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