Category Archives: School Newsletters

Getting Parents Involved at School Activities

“What’s the best way for me to stay involved in my child’s school activities?

At the beginning of the school year, attend back-to-school night or other orientation events
Get to know the teachers and other school personnel. Listen to their plans, know what they hope to accomplish with their students, and understand why they chose these goals.
Attend school events
Go to sports events and concerts, student exhibitions, parent-teacher meetings, parents’ night, and awards events, such as a “perfect attendance” breakfast.
Learn what the school offers
Read the information the school sends home, and ask to receive information in your native language if necessary. Talk to other parents to find out what programs the school offers. Maybe there’s a music program, after-school activity, sports team, or tutoring program your child would enjoy. Remember to keep track of events throughout the school year.

Attend parent organization meetings.
At most schools, a group of parents meets regularly to talk about the school. This group is usually called the PTA or PTO (Parent Teacher Association or Parent Teacher Organization). The meetings give you a good chance to talk with other parents and to work together to improve the school, as well as the chance to voice your hopes and concerns for your child and for the school. Help organize parent-teacher meetings around your interests and those of other parents. If you are unable to attend these meetings, ask that the minutes of the meetings be sent to you. Or, find out if the school makes these minutes available on its Web site.”

Read the full post here.

How to Prepare for your Kid’s Summer Holidays

The holidays may be a few months from now but it doesn’t hurt to start planning ahead. In fact, it will serve you well to organize this special time of the year a few months in advance to ensure things to smoothly and you’re on track for all the goals you have for your family this holiday season. You of all people know that school is only one of the places your kids learn, besides their school teacher, you and your partner are their primary teachers. Summer is a great time for kids to learn from you. The best use of these two months is made by creating a balance between the amount of time spent on learning and having fun with your kids.

Here are five tips from URstore to help you prepare the most productive and fun summer holiday for your kids:

1. Book some time off work.
Having a week or two off from work will open doors for exciting things like traveling with your family but if it’s a ‘staycation’ you will get spend more time with your kids which means more bonding and ensures you don’t have to rush from work to tend to your (bored) kids.

2. Create a rough schedule for the holidays.
The schedule will allow you to make the most of your kids’ time off. Use a wall calendar (you can use a digital calendar if that’s what you prefer) and divide tasks/activities by day and week. Once the planning is done, you can focus on the experiencing this precious time with your family.

3. Do some advance shopping for the things you will need.
This is highly important if you don’t want to spend a great chunk of the holidays in malls and shopping centres and instead spend that time out in nature or in the comfort of your home. Remember, this holiday is not just your kids’, it’s yours too.

4. Teach your kids all about safety.
Whether it’s safety in the water or taking care of one’s skin before going out on a sunny day, it’s essential for kids to know how to have a good time while being safe. If the kids are old enough, have them take first aid training. This is a skill that will allow them to foresee hazards as well as come to the rescue of someone injured. For younger kids, learning how to swim is a good first step.

5. Keep the doors of communication open.
Allow your kids to have a say in what activities they will participate in during the summer. Letting them make what may seem like small will have a great impact on their self confidence. If they feel that you respect their decisions and allow them the space to be themselves, it will be easier for them to open up the challenges they face thereby creating a healthy and supportive environment in the home. Talk to your kids about issues that may affect them such as bullying at school, violence among their peers, gender issues and so forth. The more they are informed about these topics, the better they will be able to handle a tough situation.

How to Cope with Stress as a Student

As if students didn’t have enough stress before, the internet has opened door to more anxiety for young students than ever before. Whether it’s unattainable standards of beauty or the pursuit of being the best at everything, millennials suffer immense burden of having it all. Behind the façade of social media, every teen has his or her own insecurities but it’s hard to see through perfectly filtered photos of your peers looking great and having the time of their life. The fact is that everyone has ups and downs but most teens are ashamed of sharing their insecurities to their peers. Some have succumbed to the traps of substance abuse while others inflict themselves in an attempt to silence their noisy minds and attain some level of peace.

The first thing to know is you’re not alone! The second thing to know is that if you are equipped with coping mechanisms, you’ll be better prepared to handle your tensions that cloud your mind. Here are five things the team at URstore believe can make a difference to how well you’re able to handle stress.

1. Diet
As the old adage goes, ‘A good diet makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.’ And the health it is referring to is not just physical but also mental. Add a good amount of green leafy vegetables in your diet because they are rich in folate and that help produce uplifting hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Ensuring your metabolism is running at a healthy pace and you’re getting all the key nutrients will be instrumental in keep stress at bay.

2. Exercise
Exercise has a number of benefits but in the context of stress, what exercise does is it helps produce a feel-good hormone known as endorphins. Once you add some light exercise to your daily routine and see the benefits, you’ll never go back to a sedentary lifestyle.

3. Time management
You have to see time management as a tool to combat stress because it does. Use your smartphone, computer or a planner to organize your tasks by the week. The key to getting more work done is to do it early on in the day when you’re still fresh.

4. Seeking help when needed
Knowing when to seek help and whom to reach out to is crucial. Most people seek help when they reach a melting point yet the same help can be much more effective if it’s sought early on. Take some time to find the resources in your school, library and community that aid in coping with stress.

5. Seeing the big picture
No assignment or grade is important enough that you should worry yourself endlessly about it. Recognize your strengths and opportunities and learn what works for you in times of crisis.

Sports and Education Work Well Together

“Athletics have always been an essential component of a liberal education, but recently sports in school have come under attack. If, because of that, athletics are cut or eliminated from schools, the quality of education would likely be harmed.

There is a relatively consistent body of research showing that students who participate in athletics tend to fare significantly better both in school and in later life. Participating in sports, like playing in the school band or competing on the debate team, are cognitively and organizationally demanding activities that help convey self-discipline and leadership skills. This is especially true for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Read the full post here.

Should Young Students Blog?

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Customized Clothing is for Everyone

Girls-Soccer-Team

In the age of e-commerce 3D printing, getting the clothes you want is easier than ever before. 3D printing allows you to turn your digital artwork into three dimensional objects such as a T-shirt or a phone case. You name it, it will print it! Ecommerce is the buying and selling of products and services and paying for them on the internet. Add to that capable mobile devices and the many secure payment options and you’ve got a shopaholic’s dream-come-true system.

When it comes to buying custom clothes, logo-imprinted apparel and accessories speak to anyone with an interest or passion in life. Say you’re on a soccer team, you can show off your pride by wearing shirts, hats and accessories with your team’s logo on it. There is no doubt that wearing your company’s logo-imprinted clothing turns you into a walking billboard for your brand. But what value does logo-imprinted apparel accessories bring to the average consumer not affiliated with any business? Here are five reasons customized clothing is for everyone:

1. It lets you express yourself.
Clothing has always been a form of self-expression and the ability to print text and/logo onto a shirt you own allows you to express yourself more than ever before. People choose to wear certain types of clothing to express their identity, whether that is a religious identity, a sexual identity, a racial identity or a mix of the three.

2. It makes your stand out from the crowd.
When everyone around you wears popular brands’ logos and pay for the promotion (by buying the article of clothing) of that brand, instead of being paid for it, you get to wear your unique artwork on your clothes.

3. It helps you promote a cause you’re passionate about.
Whether it’s the protection of native lands or the promotion of being pro-choice, you can display your unique stance on important issues through logo-imprinted clothing.

4. It allows you be your own fashion designer.
Why let someone else have a say in the design of your clothes when you can have the creative control of how your clothes appear. If you have the eye for it, you can use digital design tools and create your own artwork. And if you do so, you’ll be setting a new benchmark in creative self-expression through clothing.

5. If your artwork is popular, you can sell it to others.
Are you getting a lot of compliments in the elevator and most public spaces you’re in? Chances are people would love wear what you’re wearing but don’t know where to get it. urSTORE is a website that allows you to upload your artwork and create a free online apparel store of your own. The best part is that you get 10% of the sales so you can start making money for the awesome designs you create.

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Sedentary Lifestyle Impacts Academic Performance

sedentary

“A sedentary lifestyle is linked to poorer reading skills in the first three school years in 6-8 year old boys, according to a new study from Finland. The study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland in collaboration with the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Cambridge was recently published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

“Low levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and high levels of sedentary time in Grade 1 were related to better reading skills in Grades 1-3 among boys. We also observed that boys who had a combination of low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary time had the poorest reading skills through Grades 1-3,” explains Eero Haapala, PhD, from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä.”

Read the full post here.

Reconnecting with Loved Ones this Holiday Season

There is a lot said and written about stress during the holiday season but I believe that the stress pales in comparison to all the joy you can experience in this time of the year. There isn’t single day in our life where we can say that everything was perfect and exactly how we wished for so expecting a few weeks of perfection is simply unrealistic. That being said, here are four ways you can make the most of the holiday season:

1. Gifts matter but only to a certain extent.

Gift giving is a beautiful tradition and it’s symbolic of the love you have for your family and friends. In some ways though, this tradition has become an obsession for many. You should gift giving as being secondary to the way you make your loved ones feel. In other words, expressing love can find many forms and giving gifts should be only one of the ways. For gifts, the more personalized they are the better. I recently wrote a blog post about gift giving, check it out here.

2. Incorporate healthy habits into the holidays.
Whether it’s healthy eating habits or a new exercise regime, it’s important to make an effort in the holidays to stay healthy despite the high-caloric food we may eat or the hours we may spend at home being more or less inactive. A lot of people find it acceptable to put their diet and exercise on hold so they can have a more laid-back time on their days off. This can create issues with your stamina and your ability to stay on track when it comes to the intensity of your workouts.

3. Set expectations.

If you think the holidays are going to be all about fun and relaxation, think again. Studies suggest that this is a period with one of the highest rates of stress, anxiety and depression. One may wonder why that is so. To expect that meeting your extended family members and spending more time at home than at work or school is going to bring you pure joy is being unrealistic. Meeting your loved ones after a long time can mean having to deal with past complications and unresolved issues. Being away from work can break your routine which can be challenging for a lot of people. The key is patience. Make an effort to be kind towards those who are coping with mental issues and that includes yourself! Oftentimes we hold ourselves to high standards and push ourselves to achieve goals that the society expects of us. Learn to love yourself, allow the space for mistakes and failures and be gentle with your spirit lest it breaks under self-inflicted pressure.

4. Start a tradition.

A tradition is defined as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.” Such customs help create unity in the family and its practice can ensue a sense of joy and belonging. The tradition doesn’t have to be out of this world, it can be something as simple as taking a family photograph for which everyone dresses up. The simpler the better!

I hope you enjoy your holidays this year and take the opportunity to build a deeper and more loving relationships with those around you!

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How Pets Help Cope with Stress

pets

Stress levels have increased among adults in the US in the past decade and millennials find it especially challenging to manage this condition. Stress is a major factor in mental health issues such as depression and can also hamper one’s overall health. The good news is that our pets can help is cope with stress among other mental health issues and even help with overall health. This is proven by studies time and again, so much so that war veterans that suffer from post traumatic stress disorder are treated with dogs because their sheer company is healing. Our pets’ simple gestures such as their attempt to play with us, their display of affection and unconditional love is enough for us to forget the stresses of a long day of work.

Here are three ways pets help cope with stress and other health issues:

1. Pets have a therapeutic presence.

The simple act of stroking your cat can have you divert your focus from your daily worries and encourages a sense of safety. Research indicates that owning a pet results in a decreased blood pressure and heart rate. What’s more, even just the thought of one’s pet helps one complete tasks more efficiently and boost confidence. Put those motivational books aside, turn off the self-help talk and start spending quality time with your furry friend because that alone will do the trick!

2. Pets help relieve depression.
The notion of pet therapy is taking a strong foothold in the US as more and more hospitals bring in pets to interact with patients to reduce their stress and anxiety. The presence of pets in a hospital helps create a normal environment and brings in joy and relaxation to patients that spend time with them as they help to generate positive feelings of love and acceptance.
In some cases, patients have been able to get off anti-depression medication because of their frequent interaction with pets. This is because spending time with pets results in the release of anti-depression hormones such as serotonin and dopamine that work even more effectively than any pill would, without any side-effects. Moreover, the mere stare of your pet into your eyes results in the release of the “joy” homone called oxytocin.

3. Pets increase overall health levels.
The company of a pet has positive effects on one’s cardiovascular system, more than conversing with another human could. Pets have the ability to decrease your chances of getting heart disease thanks to hormones that are secreted in your body in the presence of your pet. Dog owners, in particular, tend to have a more active lifestyle which, in turn, helps reduce the chances of having heart diseases. Oxytocin released thanks to your pet’s company can have a great effect on your metabolism helping in maintaining a healthy body mass index. Having a pet can even help those with existing heart condition by increasing their longevity.

Childcare Challenges Facing Today’s Parents

childcare

Across the U.S. and Canada, parents face a great many hurdles in trying to provide their young kids childcare. While seventy per cent of women are in the labour force, it’s evermore crucial to have access to decent childcare options. But is that the case today?

Below are just some of the challenges facing today’s parents with regards to childcare:

1. Daycare fees are higher than ever.
Depending on the age of the child, daycare costs can range between $800 to $1000 a month in most cities across North America. For a lot of parents, childcare fees are one of their biggest expenses, second only to mortgage payment or rent. The government helps out parents in relieving some of the financial stress by making a certain amount of childcare expenses tax deductible.

2. Not enough options for everyone

On the one hand, daycare fees have shot through the roof. On the other hand, there are too few regulated daycare options to choose from, with wait times as long as a year. This forces parents to go for unregulated options with nannies who are not certified with even basic childcare training. These types of facilities are often not monitored for health and safety practices and in some cases serious injuries have been reported. Considering the number of incidents involving daycare injuries, parents consider cutting back on their work hours and taking turns caring for the baby. As Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, argues in her ground-breaking book Lean In, women shouldn’t always have to sacrifice their careers to become stay-at-home moms.

3. Childcare non-existent for single parents.

Single mothers (and fathers) face an even more dire issue of being unable to pay for childcare expenses on top of managing other child-related costs. These parents are most likely to seek help from relatives, friends and even neighbours thereby putting their kid under the care of someone untrained. In a lot of other cases, single moms who don’t have a high income are forced to quit their job because they have very little money left after paying for daycare bills. Maintaining work-life balance is out of the question for such moms, let alone going out with friends. Nonprofits across provinces and states are pushing for cheaper daycare options that are affordable for everyone but are finding little support. Reciprocal childcare may be a solution for single parents struggling to pay for daycares.

4. Daycare a bigger challenge for parents with multiple kids.

Studies indicate that there is a direct relationship between the number of kids and the likelihood of divorce, citing issues of childcare as the main reason for strain in relationship between parents. For mothers, it’s extremely challenging to care for multiple kids while holding a full-time job and are often faced with the dilemma of working and paying exorbitant daycare fees versus staying at home to care for kids themselves. For families where one parent makes around thirty to forty thousand a year or less, staying at home is a no-brainer because it would cost more to send the kids to daycare than the net income coming in. In such a situation, consider consulting a planner to figure out what the best option is for your family.