Blog, Seasons and Holidays, Uncategorized

School’s Out: {5 Ways to Curb the Summer Slide}

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With school out, wouldn’t it be nice to just let our kids have fun this summer?

No more being cooped up in a dusty building and confined to a desk. Let’s open our front doors and allow our kids to run free. Get some summer sun. Check out some cool parks, our city has to offer.

Wait a minute. During the 2-3 months with no school, our kids might forget everything they’ve learned, right? They could experience the “summer slide,” falling back in the reading skills and knowledge they’ve attained. Read more here.

 

Blog, Life Skills, Teen, Young Adult

The Ultimate Teen Guide Vol. 1: Social Graces|Things to Do Before You’re 18 #Adulting

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By the time a teen turns eighteen, what sort of things should she know in the world of #adulting? Making a great score on the SAT’s is all fine and good for getting into college, but what about real life skills? We want to give our teens roots, but also wings that they may fly to new heights in their next stage of life called adulthood.

Interpersonal skills are a gift that some naturally possess and others have to learn or constantly suffer the consequences for committing embarrassing social faux pas. As an adult, this skill will translate into pragmatics, networking, or building relational capital.

Unwritten rules of our society are not easily deciphered, but here’s some tips I’ve learned that I’m passing along to my own teen. And going to parties is a great way to learn to apply social graces.

18 Things to Share When Teaching Teens Social Graces

  • When you receive an invitation, RSVP by the deadline. If you cannot attend, try to refrain from saying a plain “no,” but politely reply with the other plans you had made.
  • When you go to a party, stay at least 30 minutes. It’s considered rude to show up for snacks and then leave before making any real conversations with other guests.
  • At a larger get-together, try to talk to at least three different groups of people.
  • Whether at a birthday, wedding, or graduation party, it’s important to know how to speak and act as to not offend others. There are many rules when it comes to learning social graces. If you do end up saying the wrong thing, it’s best to simply apologize. Most people are sympathetic and forgiving.
  • A simple rule for introductions is to remember The “Six S’s”:

1. Smile.

2. See their eyes (make eye contact).

3. Say, “Hi.”

4. Shake hands.

5.  Say, “My name is            . What’s your name?”

6. Say, “Nice to meet you, Mr./Mrs.            .”  

  • Try not to look insecure, even you feel like the simple country mouse visiting the extravagant city mouse. Give affirming smiles to others and add to conversations.
  • As a last resort, if it’s difficult to join in other ongoing conversations, try standing in a line of people, like the bathroom line or the buffet line. Strike up a conversation with others who are also waiting and maybe you’ll make a friend.
  • If there are no more chairs available, give up your seat to an elderly person, pregnant woman, or those with disabilities.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not talk about another person’s body or your own. Even if you’re hot, cold, or recovering from some sort of illness. It’s just not the stuff good conversations are made of and will lead to even more awkwardness.
  • It’s better to comment on what a person is, rather than what they do. For instance, “Sally is such a creative person.” sounds more affirming than “Sally likes to draw.”
  • Figure out your talking points. Try brainstorming about things you are good at talking about before a party.
  • Inquiring minds want to know, but please don’t share others’ personal information that you know they wouldn’t want others to know about.
  • Also, don’t gossip. Just avoid saying negative things about others, even if you add, “and we should pray for this person.”
  • In my writer’s group, Word Weavers Int’l., I learned the “sandwich method” of critique. When saying something that could be upsetting to someone, but it still needs to be said, first say something positive, then the hard truth, and follow up with something encouraging. For example when in a conversation with someone who is gossiping try, “You seem like a caring person, but maybe we shouldn’t talk about Kayla’s boyfriend troubles. Hey, she’s sitting on a chair in the corner by herself. Let’s invite her to sit with us.”
  • Nobody likes to listen to a one-sided conversation. Keep the flow going by asking others about what is going on in their lives.
  • Learn the art of wrapping up a conversation. Steer what you are talking about to lighter subjects, like “Wow, this was a fun party.” Then end with something positive like, “It was so nice to meet you, Mrs./Mrs.            . I really enjoyed our conversation.”
  • When you need to leave, simply tell the host/hostess, “I do wish I could stay, but I really have to go.” No need to explain why.
  • Write a thank you card to your host/hostess. A simple message of thanks for a great party let’s them know that their hard work of hospitality paid off.

Whatever the occasion, applying common rules of interpersonal communication can lay the groundwork on which relationships are built. Doors may open in the way of making a new friends, growing in empathy, or a building connections for a future career. So let’s start those conversations with our teens about what it means to have social graces.

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Blog, Teen, Young Adult

10 Must Have Books for Teen Girls|Learning Essential Life Skills #Adulting

 

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Summer is almost here, but I don’t think we’ll be doing much relaxing. For my teen, there will be camps, volunteering at Vacation Bible School, extra art classes, and studying for a learner’s permit, with some Algebra thrown in for good measure.

Come to think of it, there’s only three summers left before she’s a full-fledged adult.

Do you ever feel like there’s not enough time to teach your teen everything they need to know to grow up? How can a parent ever instill all the tools needed to navigate life? Thankfully, there are plenty of books to help our teens on their way …

Here are ten helpful books that teach our teens the life skills they need to know:

1. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 16th edition.

When I was a teen, my mother bought me my first cookbook. Sure, nowadays a recipe can be looked up on allrecipes.com or foodnetwork.com, but it’s wise to have a kitchen-tested hardcover in your hands. This cookbook is in a three-ring binder, so your teen can can pop out her chosen recipes and get to work.

 

2. Teen Practical Life Skills Workbook by John J. Liptak.

This great little workbook gets your teen thinking about what it takes to grow up. Because “adulting” is now a verb.

3. Getting Ready to Drive: A How-to Guide by Eva Apelqvist.

Education is key in teaching our teens to be defensive drivers and here is one book that will set them on the course to knowing how to be safe behind the wheel.

 

4. Smile and Succeed for Teens by Kirt Manecke.

It helps to get tips on  how to succeed in the workplace. Before getting her first job, this book shares with teens how to give great customer service and the things she must do to become a top-notch employee.

5. So Long Insecurity Teen Edition by Beth Moore.

Do teen girls realize models in magazines are airbrushed and given hair extensions? Comparing themselves to these unrealistic images, teens wind up developing all sorts of insecurities. This inspirational book gives ways to find security in a world where it’s hard to come by.

6. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.

From the “Highly Effective” series of books, written by Stephen R. Covey, now his son, Sean Covey, shares all the tried and true advice his father gave him that works! Teens can also apply what they’ve learned to be successful in the companion workbook.

7. The Executive Functioning Workbook: Help for Unprepared, Late, and Scattered Teens by Sharon A. Hansen MSE NBCT.

For teens who have trouble making a schedule, taking initiative, and thinking outside the box, this workbook gives a preliminary test to find out what areas to focus on and then gives exercises on the areas where help is needed.

8. Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You by Stan and Brenna Jones.

When your teen is ready to know a more detailed explanation of how babies are made, here’s the “how” behind physically developing into an adult, and why it’s good to wait until we say, “I do.” To some, abstinence may seem like shooting for the moon in this day and age, but giving teens high standards will help them to know there are better choices than what media is telling them, and that they don’t have to give in to peer pressure.

9. The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls.

A continuation of the first book in The Care and Keeping of You series produced by American Girl, this book picks up where Book 1 left off. The realistic cartoon-style details share what girls need to know about how their bodies work and what to do to take the best care of them.

10. The How-To Handbook: Shortcuts and Solutions for the Problems of Everyday Life by Martin Oliver and Alexandra Johnson.

In this purse-sized book of over 50 essential life skills, your teen will find tons of tips to learn how to be a fully functioning adult!

Next post, I’ll be sharing The Ultimate “Adulting” List, so stay tuned!!!

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Blog, Reading Challenge, Teen, Uncategorized, Young Adult

2017 Teen Summer Reading Challenge|Tackling “The Brick” #LesMiserables #TheBrickChallenge

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My Harry Potter fan teenage daughter decided tackling all the books in that series wasn’t enough of a feat. It was time to move on to an even greater challenge.

Classic literature.

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Looking for a good book, she chose one involving a love story with a historical element, action, and adventure.

Which classic did she choose?

The complete and unabridged version of Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo.

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There’s a reason it’s called “The Brick.” There’s a wall down our street that has a huge hole knocked through it from being hit in a car accident. Copies of this ginormous book could literally be stacked up to fix that wall.

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Despite so great a challenge, I had confidence in this book-loving girl that if she set her mind to it, the book might be finished in a few months or before the end of this summer.

Turns out, my daughter is a speed reader. What would have taken me a year, she read in three weeks. Three weeks!

And, that is not what I am most proud of her about. The thing that makes my own book-loving heart soar is that she LOVES it! The book she read was on loan from the library. She wants to purchase “The Brick” to place on her own personal bookshelf. She’s saving up all her money to purchase her very own copy.

Not only did this challenge build patience (listed as one of the top 20 longest books!), but it also increased her vocabulary. Throughout the three weeks of reading, she stopped me on more than one occasion asking for the definition of words. At least half the time, I didn’t know the answer and told her to look them up.

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Holding up a book of that size also builds muscle!

A few times I heard her giggling while reading. Victor Hugo’s sense of humor must be timeless. And the love story has been made into a beloved musical and several movies, the most recent of which has become a family favorite soundtrack to sing on long trips. My husband does a great impression of Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean!

I’d like to challenge teens around the world to take up “The Brick” and read! Find an unabridged version of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo at the library, online, at a used, small, or mega bookstore and crack that baby open. Try to refrain from reading it on an e-reader. Have the real thing, in all it’s glory, in your hands. Let’s call it #TheBrickChallenge

What are you waiting for? Go for it!

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