Schooling at home during Coronavirus: 4 Tips to Make It Easier

Schooling at home is hard. Yes, you get to be an active part of your child’s education, and you get to spend a lot more time with them (those being just a couple of the many benefits), but…

But you’re suddenly in this dual role of both parent and teacher. Not only does it take a lot of time and effort to do both, but you also need to work on separating these roles. Otherwise, the teacher in you may end up shortening the classes and canceling some difficult ones!

Now, if you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ve probably gotten the hang of it. But if you’ve been thrown into it after the pandemic hit, you may be struggling, along with so many others. As I said, it’s anything but easy and simple! And it’s not only the classes themselves, but the fact that you need to keep your and your kid’s motivation high in the midst of all the panic surrounding you.

We’re here to help, so without further ado, here are four things that can make homeschooling easier for both of you.

No.1: Talk About Your Fears and Expectations.

By assuming we know what our kids think, we’re robbing them of the chance to share their actual thoughts and emotions with us, and we’re damaging our communication. So don’t start from a place of, “They’re already hearing enough about this, let’s just jump straight into the equations”. Talk with them openly.

Start by sharing your fears, hopes, and needs first. Parents often think that by doing this they’re scaring the kids further, but all they’re doing is showing them that it’s okay to be scared and not feeling very productive. This way, they won’t end up covering up their feelings because they don’t want to scare you and make you sad! Kids need a safe zone for that, and what better place than at home, with someone they trust?

You should also tell them what you expect of them, negotiate some goals for every class as well as every week, and let them know that being unproductive and not motivated at all right now is understandable and that you’re there to help them through it by making it an interesting experience.

No. 2: Use Project-Based Learning – a Lot!

And here’s the answer to the question you were probably going to ask anyway!

“Make it interesting for them? How am I going to do that?”

Here’s a question right back. What are your most memorable learning experiences from school? Was it hours upon hours of rote learning, or those chemistry experiments and science fairs? My guess is the latter, and for a good reason: you got the chance to learn something by doing it yourself and understanding how it happens in real life.

So instead of “when am I ever going to need this” you were thinking “this is so cool, I want to do more of it!”

And that’s where project-based learning comes into play. You can learn all about it from one of our previous articles. And for the actual projects, here are some ideas to get you started.

Now, having a project at home when it comes to science is fairly simple, but what about, say, literature? Well, the great thing about PBL is that you can always create your own projects – all you need is a plan and a goal! For example, instead of a regular literature class, you can form a book club so it doesn’t feel as school-y to your kid. For history, you can dress up as famous people and re-enact certain parts of history together – and you can bet they’ll remember it much better than they would from a book!

Remember King Hedgehog of Gardenia?

You can find a complete list of resources to help you out with schooling at home in one of our previous articles.

It’s okay if you don’t feel up to task for certain subjects. Our tutors are very experienced and have a unique approach with every student. Schedule a free first class with one of them today:

No.3: Schedule Matters

Remember when I said that one of the hardest parts of homeschooling is having to juggle between the two roles? Sticking to a schedule is where they’re likely to clash from time to time, so what you need are firm boundaries. After all, would a teacher let your kid go home early because they don’t feel motivated to learn? It’s highly unlikely! But…

Yes, there’s a “but”. The great thing about homeschooling is that you can negotiate the schedule together so they have an active part in their education as well! If they learn better around noon, then why not start their classes then? After all, it’s been shown that most schools start too early, at least when it comes to adolescents.

However, once you both agree on a schedule, you need to stick to it. I’m not saying that no matter what, that math class has to be finished according to schedule, even if they’ve got a splitting headache! But you should stick to it as much as possible because it will create a routine, and a routine helps raise focus and productivity.

No.4: Understand How Your Kid Learns Best

Some kids prefer working alone, so once they get a certain task from you, it’s best you leave them to it. Others learn better in a group of peers, so organizing group sessions through Skype or Zoom is a fun idea that can really benefit their learning. You can also sign them up for our international STEM camp where they’ll be learning to code and practice teamwork with peers from other countries!

As I already mentioned, some kids function better in the morning, and others – not at all! One child may thrive in absolute silence, while another needs some light instrumental music in the background (I know, because that was me growing up – shoutout to all those chill music YouTube compilations!)

Get a home classroom going, but make sure it’s their learning space, rather than what you think it should look like. If they like a messy desk, let it be messy! You have a unique opportunity for an individualized approach that can help your kid make the most of their education, so don’t be afraid to try it.

 

I know it’s scary, and at times, you’ll be wondering whether you’re doing a good job, but as long as you’re both open about your expectations and struggles, negotiating, and doing your best, I can tell you honestly – you’re on the right track.

Keeping Kids Active and Learning while School’s Out

In these challenging and uncertain times, our Coaches are stepping up and helping families adapt and make the most of the situation. That includes something a lot of parents are anxious about: how do I make sure my kid continues learning and doesn’t fall behind?

You can hear more about it in the video our wonderful Coach Ana prepared for you, and you can also find her lengthy list of activities and resources below!

VIDEO

As always, we encourage you to try out our service by scheduling a free first consultation with Ana or one of our other Coaches!

This resource list is here not as a quarantine prescription, but as an inspiration. Don’t forget: learning is not just a way for your children to grow, but also a chance for you to bond. 

The best way to find what works for you is to share this list with them and start with those activities they find interesting.

The list is separated into different categories so you can more easily choose your first activity!

All About Art

Visit world-famous museums and galleries together!

Google Arts and Culture partnered with museums and galleries from around the world to allow you to explore and learn from the comfort of your home. Visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York, the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorishes Museum) in Vienna, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Natural History Museum in London, and many, many others.

After each “visit”, you can further explore what you’ve seen by watching a documentary, reading about it, through a discussion, or by writing a short essay on the museum highlights.

Stimulate the Mind with Origami!

Origami is a great activity to both calm and engage the mind. This can also be a great family activity. You can start with simpler forms, and when you get enough practice,  you can advance to Mathematical Origami.

Science & the Digital World

Science lessons with NASA!

NASA Glenn Research Center offers virtual tours of its facilities. There are 10 unique tours for your student to explore. Depending on the age of the student, you can continue learning with some  tour-inspired projects. For example, a student can make a model/diorama of NASA’s facilities, dig into NASA research, learn about the people who shaped NASA history, etc.

Learn College Level Programming

The University of Pennsylvania, through Coursera learning platform, offers a Robotics specialization . This is a chance for all  students who are interested in a career in Robotics. The courses require seven hours of learning per week. Students can learn on their own and communicate with other students on moderated Coursera forums, and can also get their friends to join with them and learn together.

Improve Practical Knowledge of Basic Digital Tools

Knowing how to use programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as Google Docs, Spreadsheet, and Forms is not only super useful but will save a lot of time later on in their education and career. If these tools are already familiar, they can upgrade their knowledge or expand it by learning how to use other tools such as Adobe Reader or Photoshop. These are the basics of today’s digital literacy, and the more of these they can use, the better they’ll be prepared for the future!

Learn How to Edit Videos!

It’s both fun and useful to know how to make professional videos. There are many affordable or free resources online, so feel free to research on your own. We’ve found this one – a video-editing workshop in Sony Vegas 8 on Udemy for beginners.

Education & Inspiration

Listen to and discuss the TED Talks

The voices we hear on  TED Talks shape our world. These are scholars, influencers, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts from all around the world with powerful messages to impart. Browse through more than 3,300 talks and engage your child in finding the ones they’re interested in listening to. You can choose a few to watch and discuss together. You can also choose a topic that interests them and find TED Talks based on that!

Discover Educational YouTube Channels

YouTube can be a great educational resource if we use it smartly. For example, the channel AsapSCIENCE addresses important, fun, and relevant questions tweens and teens may have through science. If they like their learning in a more “serious” form, they may want to check out Smithsonian Channel or Khan Academy. There’s so much out there! Have them do the research and create a list of top #10 educational YouTube channels you can then watch together and discuss what you’ve both learned.

Embrace the Opportunity to Learn from the Best in the World

You have surely heard of the MasterClass Online Classes. It is likely that many of your tweens’ and teens’ role models are leading these classes. Make sure to check them out!

Everyday Life & Skills

Introduce Self-Reflection to a Daily “Routine”

Self-reflection builds self-awareness. One of the ways to practice self-reflection is to journal. Have your children make their own Quarantine Journal. In fact, you can all make your own journals together, as a family. The idea is to create an outlet for expressing thoughts and feelings. It’s important to commit to not reading their journal unless they choose to share it with you (yes, no matter how curious you are!).

To prompt self-reflection, you can come up with a list of questions that may look like these:

 

  • How are you today?
  • What are you grateful for today?
  • What was the most challenging part of your day?
  • What have you learned about yourself today?
  • What’s on your mind?

 

If your children prefer apps to pen and paper, here are some that they can use:

Learn and Practice Life Skills

This is a great time for your child to learn new life skills that you may have been doing instead of them, or that they simply didn’t have the time for yet. Here’s a list of some of them:

  • Writing a formal email 
  • Creating a resume
  • Basic first aid: how to deal with a minor burn, fever, or cold.
  • Numbers to call in an emergency
  • Writing a motivational letter
  • Cooking basic meals.
  • Using a microwave, stove, and the oven
  • Making a weekly budget.
  • Knowing the reasonable price of groceries
  • Reorganize a closet.
  • Organize their material.
  • Do laundry.
  • Iron and fold clothes.
  • Pack a suitcase
  • Dusting and vacuuming
  • Fixing a broken circuit
  • Locating water, furnace
  • Addressing  basic plumbing issues.
  • Hang a picture on the wall
  • Sewing a button

You can have your tween/teen assess the importance of these skills and rank them from the most to the least important. This can also be a fun discussion to have that can help you better understand their point of view.

I hope this list helps you and your family during these strange times. Let me know which of these you found the most useful!

How Can We Be Happy In a Hectic World?

Are you happy?

It’s such an important question – something we should be asking ourselves daily to make sure we’re taking care of our mental wellbeing. And yet, with our lives being extremely busy, and with our 24/7 availability, we forget to ask it. We find ourselves caught on a treadmill –  wake up, eat, work, back home, watch Netflix, go to sleep, repeat.

Is there any way to escape that routine and improve our lives? Sure there is – and what better time to talk about it than on International Day of Happiness!

Without further ado, here are six ways to find happiness in our busy world.

1. Find something that gets you in the state of flow

If you’re not familiar with this term, take a look at one of our previous articles. In short, the state of flow happens when you’re so interested in an activity, so invested in it, that the outside world ceases to exist and you lose track of time completely!

But when was the last time you caught yourself in such a blissful state?

Can dressed as Pennywise with a baloon

We all flow down here.

As adults, we tend to forget that life shouldn’t just be about work, our next paycheck, and all our to-do lists. If you loved drawing as a kid, take it up again! Maybe you love jogging, or simply listening to music with no other distractions.

The list of possibilities is endless. So find something that makes you forget about the outside world and don’t give it up!

2. Don’t steer away from life’s challenges

We all want to live happy lives, and it may seem counterintuitive to say that life’s challenges and even the pain that comes along are a necessary part of it.

If you’ve never faced any obstacle that you overcame after some serious struggle, how are you going to feel a real sense of accomplishment and self-esteem? Besides, only sticking to what we know we can do, we’re limiting ourselves from ever trying something new, and – who knows! – maybe even finding out it’s the most exciting thing we’ve ever done!

The bottom line is – don’t settle. Set goals for yourself even if they don’t seem easily achievable, and with every step along the way, you’ll be feeling prouder and more fulfilled.

3. Surround yourself with caring people

This should go without saying – even for us introverts who prefer staying indoors to going out, friends and family are an essential part of a full life. And though it’s easier to react to someone’s story or send them a message rather than agree on when you can meet and actually go through with it, the physical presence of others is extremely important for our mental health.

Studies have shown that in extreme instances, loneliness can be just as bad as smoking. Imagine that! And it’s no wonder, really – we live in cities with millions of people, we see hundreds of them daily, and yet, striking a chord with a certain person and becoming close is becoming increasingly difficult.

So don’t settle for social media. Call up your friends, or even those you don’t really know yet but who simply seem like great people, go out with them, and have fun! But keep in mind that your me-time is also very important. If you notice your social battery has been drained, it’s perfectly fine to go back home and recharge it for a while.

4. Don’t compare yourself with others

You know the drill – you go on social media to look at some funny pictures and cute cats. Next thing you know, you’re being bombarded with perfect-looking people dining at a 7-star hotel in the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen! They’re overlooking the beach, enjoying a fabulous meal and being so, so happy!

Does that ring a bell?

What we don’t understand is that we’re comparing ourselves to an illusion.You can’t possibly know what happens behind that photo. Just because someone is sitting at a beautiful beach resort doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy. That takes a lot more than a great view!

This woman faked an entire trip to Bali by careful posing at an IKEA – so that’s something to think about!

But what about people you know well – say, your sister? She’s married to a great guy, has lovely kids, lives in the most elegant house you’ve ever seen, and she even looks amazing! Not to mention she’s going on trips every two months! How can you not compare yourself to her?

For one, by comparing the two of you, you’re not getting any closer to achieving your own goals. Chances are you’re so stuck being unhappy about yourself that you don’t have the energy to change something. You can be happy for her, but it’s okay to still want something similar. Instead of thinking endlessly of everything she has and is and you aren’t, make a plan for yourself – or even a vision board!

You want to live abroad? Learn to play the piano? Shed some weight? Great, that’s already a goal – all you need now is a plan to stick to! If you’re struggling with doing that, here’s something that might help. Changing our perspective from envy to a motivation to change something is a huge step towards being happier and better about ourselves.

5. Acknowledge the negative feelings

Another consequence of focusing on those picture-perfect lives we see on social media is that we start thinking that, by feeling sad, angry, or even jealous we’re somehow betraying the sanctity of a #grateful life. It takes years of meditation at the top of a mountain to almost eradicate negative feelings – so how can you expect yourself, with all your daily struggles and stresses, to always feel happy and content?

It may sound like I’m defeating the very purpose of this article, but the bottom line is: only by acknowledging our negative feelings and understanding what lies behind them, can we solve the issues we have and move towards being happier.

This is something our Coaches can help you with – and the first consultation is free!

So if you’re sad about your friend moving away, it’s okay to sulk and cry for a bit! If you’re angry at your husband for forgetting your birthday, be angry! As long as you work through it by addressing the issue that caused a certain feeling, you’re on your way to a happier life and better relationships.

6. Live in the present

Not the future or the past! We spend most of our lives thinking about the mistakes we’ve made or the mistakes we might make, but that in itself is a mistake. By spending so much time in our own head, we often forget to enjoy the things we’re experiencing right now. 

Just think about all the things you could enjoy far more if you stop overthinking for just a second: beautiful sunsets, that new song you’ve been hearing on the radio, the food you’re eating… Not to mention that the time you spend with those you love will give you a lot more satisfaction if you’re mentally there, rather than at work.

It’s easier said than done, but some simple exercises in mindfulness can help you change the way you’re thinking.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with our readers about what happiness is and how we can live happier, more fulfilled lives? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

How to Help Your Child Prep for the SAT

Your child is taking the SAT and you can see that they’re stressed. But are you stressed even more than they are? We believe the advice people usually get – don’t worry – doesn’t work. Therefore, we’re offering you ways to help with preparation for the upcoming SAT exam.

We’re sure your child already has a study plan. However, even though a student knows a great deal, their fear of failure can impair learning and hurt test performance. So it’s important to be mentally prepared for taking the exam.

Facts about the SAT

Before going through our suggestions for making preparation for the SAT easier and helping your child have a higher score, let’s review some important facts about it.

did you know infographic

Did you know

The March SAT is just days away now and pressure increases every day. The fact we need to keep in mind is that the SAT is a test, as are AP tests, EOC, PSAT, and ACT. The score your child gets by taking some of these may be important for college admissions but is not defining their future. Also, many schools all over the U.S. dropped the SAT/ACT testing requirement.

Do these facts reassure you?

Still, you want your child to have a high SAT score. How can you help them?

Four ways to help your child be prepared for taking the test

  1. Start early

Oh, if I’ve had one more day, I’d…

How many times did you have a thought like this? Starting early gives your child a buffer to try a few study approaches and get comfortable with the test content. And if they start early, it’ll be easier – they can study one hour a day instead of six, and still cover everything. Plus, knowing that we have plenty of time to do something makes us less anxious.

Is starting three months ahead too early? Is it possible to do well on the SAT with only one month of studying?

Answers to these questions are not universal. It depends on whether your student is motivated, has test anxiety, a study routine they already follow, their schedule, etc. In any case, it would be great to add an extra week or two to the time your kid estimated to be enough.

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However, if you think you’re running out of time and your teen is still struggling with the preparation, you can ask for help. We’ve worked hard on finding tutors who can give your student the best chance of succeeding. All our tutors are highly knowledgeable, they pay attention to every individual student, and are able to adapt their approach to the student’s needs.

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  1. Help them develop test-taking skills

As we’ve already emphasised, the SAT is a test. Therefore, developing good test-taking skills helps your child answer faster and perform better.

Talk with them about reading the directions carefully – we all tend to skip over directions sometimes. Also, if they answer questions they know first and after that return to the more difficult ones, they’re going to be faster and motivated. You can find some tests online and help them practice this skill.

  1. Encourage your child

Giving your student lots of praise and encouragement will make them look forward to learning activities. Praise their efforts and the time they devote to preparation. Don’t focus on results. Also, help them understand that their self-worth is not defined by the score they get.

  1. Help them stay healthy

If a kid is physically or emotionally exhausted, it will be more difficult for them to handle stress and anxiety.

So, pay attention to their sleep hours and assist them in preparing healthier meals. Exercising can help them deal with stress and focus better, too. Don’t forget to allow them personal time – a break and relaxation are necessary.

P.S. Don’t forget your own me-time! Your mental health is just as important.

 

Note: don’t push it too hard

 These four suggestions can certainly be a big help in dealing with the SAT or any other exam. However, despite good intentions, some parents are so focused on getting a high score that they push their child too hard.

Now, helping your child is great but pushing them hard may hurt and hinder them. Imagine how they’d feel if you were to tell them to work harder when they’re already doing the best they can. You’d be invalidating  their efforts and killing their motivation.

Always remember that your student is taking the test and not you. Talk to them about their study routines, how much they know, etc., but always encourage them to tell you about their challenges and  the best way to help them.

If you still worry your efforts are not paying off, our Coaches are here for you. They work with the student but also help family members to deal with the challenges they face.

family looking at the laptop

You’ve got this!

Digital Nomad In A Global Team: A Success Story

Meet Daria, Coach and Nobel Explorers’ facilitator, and a digital nomad! After she moved to the UK, we spoke to her about her experiences, thoughts on digital, international teams, developing soft skills, and so much more!

Hey Daria! You recently moved to the UK. Do you feel that being a part of a global online team helped make the whole process easier?

It absolutely did!  All it took to get back on my feet after the move was one day off on the day of my flight! The very next morning I woke up thinking: “If I didn’t have this job, this would be the day where I would go through job agencies, interviews, CVs…” And I was so happy I could just open my laptop, see the same people, and continue my work. It was beautiful. The place I moved in instantly felt better and more welcoming, and it didn’t really feel like such a big change.

That sounds wonderful! And what would you say were the benefits of such a situation, both personal and professional?

In short: I wasn’t suffering and my job didn’t suffer. Everything stayed the same regarding the projects i was working on, because all I needed was a desk, chair, and an internet connection. There was no pressure to apply or to meet a bunch of new people right away… It was so relaxing!

So good to hear that! And how do you feel working in an international team affected your adjustment to a new place and new culture?

It did affect it, a lot! It made the whole thing much easier. Working here on an everyday basis with people from five or six different countries and seeing them daily helped me learn so much. For one, there’s making sure you understand everyone’s accent, learn about others’ cultures, making sure you speak in the way they’ll hear you, being aware of your own cultural background and how those may differ and affect other people, how to prevent common misunderstandings and get used to different ways of communicating…

The whole experience really made me open to the world, so that once I moved here I didn’t have a problem approaching people, asking for help when I needed it, and implementing some of the soft skills we teach our Explorers (we really grow with them every day!) It’s been amazing to function as a citizen of the world, to put our differences aside and focus on the things we share.

So you really try to use the soft skills you teach in your everyday life? How do the people around you react to it?

I do! In our lessons, we transfer soft skills into badges, and I’ve caught myself thinking about the way I act with my husband, friends, parents… And I must admit, every time I start talking about what we do, people get really interested! The truth is, we simply put the name to the processes we would engage in anyway on a daily basis.

I mean, as soon as you start talking to someone, there are soft skills right there! The only difference is, if you’re not a coach, you don’t really think about them, and that’s okay – that’s why we put a name to it, and introduce badges.

What do you think – are all teams going to look like this in the future – digital and international?

I’ll be honest here. Eight years ago when I went to college, I chose psychology, but a part of me was reluctant and thinking – “Is this something that’s sustainable, a profession that has a future? IT, medicine, law are progressing so quickly, so what am I doing?!” A few days ago that came back to me and I thought – “Wow, did I score!”

With IT progressing, it’s only natural that a lot of work will be transferred online. I think that globally oriented companies have the biggest chance of success simply due to being based online and connecting people from different cultures. That way, you get the best out of those cultures – you build a team that’s resilient, diverse, that can combine knowledge, cultures, and experiences. And all of that helps us grow as people and as a team, making our job more productive. I think this goes way beyond the IT industry – anything that’s a service will eventually be transferred online.

I work as a coach, and I have sessions with clients every day, online! I’ve moved and I kept all of my clients. Our therapeutic process didn’t have to be cut down because I made some life choice. Technology allows us to do that, and I think the more we develop, the more the world is going to be oriented online and that’s the way it should be. I don’t think that everywhere in the world people are aware of this shift, but it’s coming.

Do you feel that, thanks to the experience you have with Nobel, you’d find it easier to adapt to any culture you find yourself in?

The process of adaptation would be way easier because of my experience, I’m sure of that! Meeting daily with these people, I’ve learned a lot about other countries, our differences, how to ask for something, what to keep in mind… And it’s crucial even when it comes to the basic things we take for granted, like celebrating Christmas. We don’t celebrate it on the same day, our time zones differ… But when you go someplace else, you can’t expect people to know that, and that could cause some misunderstandings.

Being a part of a global, international team and collaborating daily helped me build a sort of resilience in a way, and it’s helped me be more relaxed in communicating with other people. It also helped me perceive that our differences aren’t something to be afraid of, but something to celebrate and learn from. I do believe I’d find it easier to adapt anywhere – that is, any place with a stable internet connection!

It’s amazing to work from home, and online, but I do see a possible downside… Do you ever get to really disconnect?

Well, let’s be honest: I’m in the house all day, my phone is with me 24/7, and every time someone messages me I see it, whether it’s at 7am, 2pm, 2am… I’m practically available all the time.

In the beginning it was challenging to make sure I took time to disconnect. However, Nobel does a brilliant job in making sure we all maintain work-life balance, and I truly feel fortunate, because I’m not really sure that’s very common with jobs like these. We make sure everybody has 1-2 days off in a week at least! It’s an actual requirement for all the team members to turn off their phone notifications, and we would get a call if something is really urgent.

But as our brilliant CEO, Andrew, says: “Nothing really can be urgent because if it’s urgent, you should have thought of it earlier!” If it’s your day off, don’t answer – it’s perfectly fine. Maintaining that balance and being okay with it was something that was a challenge for me in the beginning, but I think now I’m fine with it. Not feeling left out or burdened that the team is missing because I’m not there, or fearing that they’re going to leave me out of important decisions – I’m not really bothered by that anymore. In the first month, that feeling was definitely there, but right now I’m pretty good at saying – these are the working hours, these are my days off, and that’s something that people really respect.

Any final thoughts?

Working online really gives you huge freedom to organize your life the way you want to, and to make life decisions that only depend on what you want to do with your life, and not on the place where you work. I remember being 15-16, and talking with people who would tell me – “I’m miserable in this city but I can’t move because I work here!”, and I was thinking: “Aren’t you going to find a job some other place eventually and end up being happier?” But people are reluctant to do that, and I can kind of understand why.

But with the development of tech, globalization, we have this opportunity to work in online-based teams, and that’s so beautiful, and it’s not caging us! It gives you control of your life and the job is something that brings you pleasure rather than stress. If there’s anyone out there thinking – “Is this a good decision? Can I do this? Is it going to be weird?” I would 100% support you to try, because personally it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. And aside from enormous professional development that I’ve had here with Nobel, I would say it made my personal life better, because it allowed me to make choices I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to make. So go for it!

 

 

 

 

Raising Teenagers: Challenges – And A Survival Kit

Raising a child ain’t easy, but raising a teenager… that’s really tricky! Today, peer pressure, cyberbullying, alcohol consumption and other challenges seem increasingly more of an issue among teens. All of which makes it tougher than ever to maintain a close relationship with your teenagers. How do you remain a strong and compassionate parent and keep communication open as you face these challenges? What’s in your survival kit?

We’re aware that it can be hard to handle every challenge that arises, but it’s no easier for your teen! Not only is their body changing, but their brain is as well.

Understanding these changes and challenges, along with a large dose of patience and the tips we’re going to share with you, can make parenting a lot easier.

Let’s start with challenges and the survival kit.

Your teenager is pulling away

One of the first things parents notice is that they’re not as close to their child as they used to be. Teenagers are pulling away from their families and moving towards independence. In the process, they sometimes distance themselves and spend all their time with friends or alone in their room. Relationships that used to be warm and close become cold.

Even though you’re probably concerned about this, be aware it could just be a phase. However, there are things you can do to make your relationship stronger again. Our Coach, Milena Cuk, wrote an article where you can find 4 ideas to help you get closer to your teen.

Plus, try not to be overly critical. When I was a teenager (and I didn’t make life easy for my parents) they would instantly start to criticize me when I came home. So I found ways to spend less time at home. It took them some time to realize that. From then on, they started pointing out things I did well. And that motivated me to do more of those things! I began seeing them once more as a source of my emotional support.

Peer pressure

Family relationships that are growing colder leave more room for peer pressure. Peers can make kids do something they wouldn’t do on their own. Drinking, fighting, bullying others, and skipping school are only some of those things.

Yet, what you need to know is that not every peer influence is bad. It’s comforting for your teens to face challenges with friends who are into the same things that they are. You’ve probably asked some of your friends who have a child the same age as yours for advice, right?

Getting closer to your teen is going to make them have more confidence in you. Consequently, they’ll tell you more about their routines, habits, and the relationships they’ve formed with their peers. The second important thing here is teaching your child to say no. Although it’s obviously easier for you if they always say yes at home, it’s important they understand that saying no is okay if it’s done with respect. Otherwise, they’ll find it hard to do so with their peers. Explain to them there’s no reason to feel guilty when they refuse to do something that might harm them (or somebody else). Sometimes it means they will lose their friends – but if they asked them to do something harmful they’re not really their friends, right?

Teens and alcohol don’t mix

Did you know that teenagers are at greater risk of alcohol-related harm than adults? To say nothing of driving under the influence of alcohol!

You assuredly know why teens and alcohol don’t mix, but maybe your teenager doesn’t. If you see that they’re willing to learn more, show them this article. At the end of the article there’s a suggestion that can be helpful in learning to say no.

Social media

When your teenager isn’t with their friends they spend their time glued to their screens, right? They could sit and scroll through social media for hours. They isolate themselves, spending time alone in their room and their grades are dropping.

panic

Don’t panic right away! Not all screen time is created equal. Not every one of your fears is justified. It’s really hard for anyone today to socialize without screen time.

However, we agree that screen time should be limited. Talk to your child and make a compromise as to when and for how long screen time is allowed. For example, using a mobile while having lunch is not desirable. On the other hand, laughing together at memes can be a great chance to bond. You can send them funny messages or funny selfies when you’re at work, so it can also be a chance to stay in touch.

 

We hope this article helped you realize you’re not alone in this. Many parents face these same challenges. However, if you don’t see any improvement after some time and feel you need additional support, our Coaches are here for you. They not only work with teenagers but also with parents. They’ll help overcome the challenges you face so you can rebuild strong relationships.

 

How to Help Kids Build Self-Confidence

The best way to understand how people benefit from having developed a strong sense of self-confidence is to imagine the struggles of someone who hasn’t. You probably know someone who never reached their full potential due to chronic self-doubt.

At the most basic level, self-confidence reduces the fear of failure and being overwhelmed by negative thoughts. It allows children to focus on the task at hand and improve their performance.

Believing that you’re capable of doing something can also be a good motivator. Children with higher levels of self-confidence will be more likely to persevere in the face of frustration. If they’re less likely to quit, they’re more likely to develop their skills and gain valuable experience.

Another way children benefit from being self-confident is improvement in their social status. Even as adults, we view confident behavior as something positive and admirable. It’s also one of the key characteristics that we associate with leaders.

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Nobel Explorers’ projects are a place where children can build healthy self-confidence through teamwork and overcome modern STEM challenges.

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Four Tips to Help Your Kids Build Self-Confidence

1. Praise Them Appropriately and Properly

If you believe in your child’s capabilities, they’ll learn to do so as well. Praise is just one way, but also very effective in communicating these feelings. A couple of things you should keep in mind, though.

As a parent, you soon learn that a kind word of praise brings a smile to your child’s face. However, you should never rely on it as a way of cheering them up when they’re down. Kids aren’t impressed by false praise and can usually spot it pretty easily. If they can tell your praise is inappropriate, it can hurt their self-confidence and self-esteem. Or worse, they’ll start buying into it and create a false sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that will only burn them in the long run.

Secondly, make sure you direct your praise at their approach and effort, rather than at their result. Getting an A is already a form of positive reinforcement and something they can get from their teacher or their peers. But teaching them the value of putting in the effort is something that will help them throughout their life.

2. Give Them Space to Be Independent

“It is confidence in our bodies, minds, and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures.” – Oprah Winfrey

When trying to encourage independence in children, practice is a must. Still, it’s easy to get carried away with micromanaging every aspect of their chores, school assignments, or even playtime. The main motivation behind these interventions is simple – we’re hard-wired to want the best for our kids. We want them to do the best they can and we feel obligated to step in.

Learning by doing is the optimal way to learn. So if we’re constantly stepping in, we’re denying our children the opportunity to build self-confidence and self-reliance.

The key is being able to set up your child with tasks they can handle themselves with little-to-no guidance. This approach is largely based on Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. It’s about finding the optimal balance between their feeling challenged and not being turned off the task by frustration or stress.

3. Teach Them Realistic Goal-Setting

As we already noted, positive reinforcement that builds self-confidence comes naturally with results. It comes from setting a certain goal and then being able to achieve it. That’s why it’s important that children learn to set goals that are attainable and realistic.

Dealing with unrealistic goals leads to disappointment, frustration, and a distorted image of their capabilities. By teaching them realistic goal-setting, we’re giving them the ability to set themselves up for success.

4. Encourage Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is a well-known technique for improving performance and it’s used by elite athletes from all fields. It’s proven to be effective through reducing anxiety but also by strengthening self-confidence.

Using positive self-talk to build confidence is indeed a clever technique, but it also has further benefits. It can do wonders for self-esteem and instill a more optimistic approach to life.

You and your child can practice together! This heartwarming clip from 2016 is the perfect example of a parent helping their child build confidence through morning affirmations and positive self-talk.

A Crucial Mistake to Avoid When Helping Children Build Self-Confidence

“Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

We tend to fall into certain traps when we’re trying to help our children become more self-confident. Truth be told, we usually do so with the best of intentions. Still, the end result can be vastly different from the one we’re trying to encourage.

Parental anxiety is a heavy burden but it shouldn’t be eased through helicopter parenting. Overprotective parenting can seriously stunt the emotional development of a child. We’re not talking about reasonable impulses to protect your child from harm and suffering. This is about an overbearing approach that involves removing your kids from situations that cause them even the slightest discomfort. By protecting them from all kinds of frustration, sadness, and disappointment, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to develop resilience. You’re also fostering a sense of dependence, which directly clashes with their ability to build self-confidence.

Although they’re different concepts, resilience and self-confidence complement each other splendidly. Together, they create a perfect foundation for your child’s growth and development. They’ll know how to endure setbacks while being able to keep a clear head when they try again.

If you’d like to learn more about dealing with parental anxiety, you can always schedule a free consultation with one of our Coaches! They’ll share everything you need to know and help you avoid falling into the trap of becoming a helicopter parent.

Gifts That Don’t Cost A Dime – A Holiday Guide

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and big corporations know it!

The moment Thanksgiving’s in the offing,  we’re bombarded with ads telling us how important it is to give, and that we should be rushing out to the stores to buy all these discounted items. Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve the best way possible – with your heart full, and your pockets empty!

But should that really be how our kids think about these beautiful holidays? That they should be looking to presents and not much else?

Growing up, my family didn’t have much, but I remember all my childhood Decembers with such fondness! I couldn’t wait to get in front of the fireplace, sprawled out on the floor, eating mom’s home-made cake and watching Harry Potter.

That’s the reason I’m still so emotional when the holidays roll around – not because I had the most expensive gifts there were.

And don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to make this into a sappy piece that claims a hug (as beneficial as that is) will suffice. What I’m attempting to convey is: make this time of year unforgettable for your kids for non-material reasons, and they’ll be more grateful to you than they ever could be for a gift that will just end up in the attic by the end of the year.

How can you make the holidays unforgettable without spending a dime? Here are some ideas!

1. Homemade Sweets

You know your kids best and know what kind of cookies they like. So go ahead and make their favorites, and even include them in the process if they’d like! They’ll enjoy it twice as much as they usually would, both because nothing can compare to mom’s or dad’s warm cookies that haven’t been packaged and frozen for weeks, and because they know it’s the product of their work, too! If you’re feeling extra jolly, make some interesting drawings on top and expect lots of laughter when you see how they turn out!

 

Image result for cookie monster

Beware of this guy!

2. Choose a movie playlist

For me, it was all about Harry Potter and Home Alone. Let your kids choose whatever they’d like. So many Disney movies depict the wonders of Christmas, and the newest one on Netflix, (Klaus), has left lots of kids  – and adults! – misty-eyed! So make your choice, get those cookies out, and get the tissues ready, too!

3. Create a cozy atmosphere

In our Getting rid of fall blues article, we mentioned the importance of coziness on these cold, dark days. This is especially important during the holiday season. Your kids are on vacation, you’ve probably got some days off, too, and spending them cuddled up together is the best possible way to use them.

So bring on the blankets, sweaters, warm socks, hot chocolate, hot tea and cinnamon, get the fire going, and let the coziness overtake you!

Related image

Is Christmas really Christmas without these sweaters?

4. Love and hugs

I did say it wasn’t going to be only about that, but they still matter quite a lot. Has your kid ever gifted you with a macaroni necklace, or a drawing depicting you with horrendously large sun in the background? It made you feel all warm and gooey inside, didn’t it? (Metaphorically – if you’ve felt that physically, better get a check-up).

They’ll feel the same way getting signs of love from you. Making cookies for them is one, but getting hugs and being told they’re wonderful and they’re the greatest gift ever makes a world of difference, too! (Just make sure your child is comfortable with demonstrations of physical affection, though.)

Now, here’s something that shouldn’t be reserved just for the holiday season, but it’s especially important around this time to complete the warm, cozy atmosphere. Look through old photo albums together and reminisce about the good ol’ days – it’s a wonderful thing to recall all the good times you’ve shared.

The coziness and best holiday season ever can now start!

Let us know if you agree with this list or if you’d add anything else. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

 

How to Help Your Kids Cope with Peer Pressure

“Peer pressure is pressure you put on yourself to fit in.” – Jeff Moore

What Is Peer Pressure?

Any type of direct influence that a peer group makes on a person is considered peer pressure. This influence can be established both verbally and through nonverbal communication. It can also be achieved through direct social interaction or digitally through social media, for example. The results of this influence are changes in behavior, values, and/or attitudes a person might make in order to conform and satisfy the expectations of their peers.

We’re all susceptible to peer pressure but children are particularly vulnerable to it. So it makes sense that this is a particularly burning issue for parents. Perhaps it might help if we explored this phenomenon from a little broader perspective.

Our Coaches work with students to help them develop self-confidence, resilience, communication skills, and coping strategies that will allow them to resist peer pressure. You can click here to schedule a free consultation!

Is It Always a Bad Thing?

We’re used to hearing about peer pressure in a negative sense because any kind of pressure is inherently negative. Still, peer influence can be positive in cases where it leads to improvements in behavior or reinforces good attitudes and values. Peers can affect each other positively in two ways – through encouraging or rewarding good forms of behavior:

Example 01
“Let’s organize a study group so we’re better prepared for the math quiz!”

Or by discouraging or punishing bad ones.

Example 02
“Pick up your candy wrapper! You shouldn’t litter, it’s bad for the environment.”

Peer pressure or influence can also be much more complex and can sometimes produce both positive and negative effects. Let’s say for instance your child wants to take up soccer because a couple of their friends are already on the team. Knowing about all the benefits that sports have for children and their development, you decide to support their decision. But youth athletes face a whole spectrum of unique challenges. So even though joining the school soccer team brings some positives, there’s also a chance it might have negative effects on other things. Such as if they start falling behind on their homework or feel more stressed due to their schedule filling up.

Bottom line is that peer influence is a normal aspect of social dynamics and it’s not inherently good or bad. Now that we have a better idea of what we should be looking out for, let’s consider what we can do to help kids become more resilient to negative forms of peer pressure.

What Makes Children Particularly Vulnerable to Peer Pressure?

As a parent, you are trying to instill a set of values in your child. You teach them good manners and try to help them develop useful habits. Essentially, what you’re really helping them build and internalize is a moral code – a sense of what they should or shouldn’t do. However, parents are not sole-contributors to a child’s upbringing. Turns out their friends and peers get a say as well!

Children, much like adults, want to fit in and be approved of by their peers. They’re scared of being rejected, isolated, and made fun of. What they don’t have are the necessary skills to cope, persevere, and not give in to pressure. This is where you come in.

Four Ways to Help Your Kids Cope with Peer Pressure

Now that we’ve narrowed down what we’re trying to do, let’s explore some of the best practices towards reaching our goal. These are the top four ways to help children become more resilient to peer pressure.

1. Talk to them About Peer Pressure

Teaching them about the concept of peer pressure should help them recognize it and make it easier for them to reject. You can use examples from your own life and not just from your childhood. Letting them know about your adult peer-pressure challenges will give them a new perspective. It will show them it’s not just a “kid” thing and it’s something that you can both relate to.

There’s a good chance your children understand the dynamics even though they don’t know about the concept. For most, conforming to peer pressure leaves you feeling powerless – that there wasn’t anything you could have done. That’s why role-playing can be an effective teaching tool, where you can allow them to practice different ways of taking a stand.

2. Help them Build Confidence

Saying “no” to people and risking disappointing or alienating them is not easy. It takes courage, and that’s usually drawn from being confident and believing in yourself. By helping your children develop self-confidence, you’re providing them with the tools to stand up for what they believe in and resist peer pressure.

You can boost your child’s confidence by using positive reinforcement, but there’s more to that than simply praising them all the time. In fact, if your praise is inappropriate or dishonest, it can actually hurt their self-esteem.

In conclusion, positive reinforcement is important but should come from multiple sources. That’s why you should encourage your children to make decisions and do things by themselves. The goal is for them to learn to understand they can actively affect the world and the people around them. Surrendering to peer pressure is purely reactive.

Peer pressure quote by Bruce Lee

3. Encourage them to Broaden their Network of Friends

The effects of peer pressure are stronger the more you think you have to lose. So let’s say that your child’s social network consists of friends from one single group. Maybe they’re all from the same class or they all learn karate at the same dojo. The amount of peer pressure the child will feel will be much greater because if they’re rejected, a lot is at stake. They’re actually risking having no friends at all.

That’s why you should always keep an open mind if your child wants to try out different things. Get behind their desire to take up dancing, or join the drama club, or even learn a new language! Having friends from different areas of life will make it easier for them to stand their ground.

4. Offer to Be their Lifeline

A lot of the time, children succumb to peer pressure because they don’t feel there’s anything else they can do. Let your child know that they can always count on you if they need a way out. If they’re ever in a situation where they just want to pick up and leave, they should be fully aware that you’ll be there to come and get them. You can also pre-agree on an excuse in case your child is worried about saving face.

Additional Tips on How to Approach the Topic

As you can see, there are lots of things that you can do as a parent. However, in order to really be successful, you need to have the right approach.

Acknowledge and reference your own worries, thoughts, and emotions. Don’t just hide behind such classic lines as, “If Jimmy jumped off a bridge, would you?” Children usually find parenting cliches particularly annoying and even insulting. You don’t want to alienate your kids when you’re actually trying to teach them something.

It’s also safe to say that you should balance your efforts and pick your battles. You shouldn’t be pressing them on everything because there’s only so much they can tolerate. And if you keep focusing on the little things, you’ll be diminishing the significance of the really important ones.

Lastly, try to keep an open mind. Don’t let anxiety cause you to overreact and refrain from making accusations or assumptions drawn from fear. Being able to put yourself in their shoes will give you a better chance of saying things that actually resonate with them. They need to really feel that it’s coming from a good place.

It’s not going to be easy, but you have to try. These types of conversations can be a solid foundation for your future relationship and it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Gratitude Through the Ages: A Thanksgiving Story

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent to all others.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Can you remember a moment in your life when you felt really bad because you forgot to say thank you to someone? Or do you remember being really angry with someone because they didn’t seem to show any appreciation for your kind gesture or lending a helping hand?

The negative emotions that arise as a result of both of these situations are not always necessarily intense, but the fact that they are there indicates how much we actually value expressing and receiving gratitude.

“What Do We Say?”

Gratitude is a fundamental aspect of human relationships, something that we inherited. Studies of animals that speak of reciprocal altruism, along with neurological and developmental studies of humans, suggest that gratitude is an inherent characteristic of our human experience.

It’s also moderated by society and we have very clear means of passing it on from generation to generation. It is usually instilled very early, primarily through our parents. You can probably remember a time from your childhood when you were firmly guided to say “thank you” when you received a gift or any other form of generosity. You can also probably recall how upset your parents would get if you forgot to say it.

And it’s not just about having good manners. Research suggests that positive reactions to receiving a benefit are not simple expressions of momentary happiness. Rather, they’re a means to spark the desire to give back to others, the community, and the world. Data from this research also shows that gratitude and social integration go hand in hand. Gratitude helps us fit in and build strong relationships.

Expressing gratitude is just one of the techniques you can use to improve mental health and well-being.
If you would like to learn more, click here to schedule a free talk with one of our coaches!

Aside from conveying the value of being grateful through education and social interaction, we also rely on yearly group activities based on gratitude which strengthen its place in human culture.

Using Customs to Preserve a Culture of Gratitude

For centuries, humans have engaged in festivals based on expressing gratitude. They are popular all over the world and in different cultures, these customs take on different forms. In Germany, they celebrate Erntedankfest. The people of Japan celebrate Kinro Kansha no Hi or the Labor Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is a monumental part of American culture. It’s a time when we do our best to bring out the good in ourselves and others. There’s a reason why Thanksgiving has remained such an important event in our society. Most likely, it’s because it resonates with something very deep and meaningful to all of us. The message goes far beyond its pilgrim origins and it help us remember the importance of appreciating what we have.

Gratitude quote by Dalai Lama

A Modern Day Thanksgiving: Taking the Good with the Bad

Today’s Thanksgiving is a rich blend of various traditions centered around a very simple idea – sharing a delicious feast with friends and family combined with the ritual of taking turns in talking about what we’re grateful for. And sometimes, that simple practice is all it takes to bring out the best in us. It’s not the parade, it’s not the football, it’s not the pardoning of the turkey. They’re all good fun but it’s the expression of gratitude that can give you that honest, warm and fuzzy feeling.

The spirit of Thanksgiving is a wonderful thing but getting into it isn’t easy for everyone. Some consider that planning a big dinner is too stressful, while others simply aren’t huge fans of family gatherings. Lots of us have a pretty hard time during the holidays and are dealing with issues like loneliness, anxiety, depression… It’s not easy to feel thankful or give thanks when you’re feeling down.

In the end, it might be just too much to ask from a holiday. This celebration of gratitude comes only once a year, but all the stuff that makes it hard to embrace the holiday spirit can happen any day of the year.

A Thanksgiving Gratitude Experiment from Nobel

This year, why not experiment with being grateful throughout the day? Way before you start stressing out on whether or not you have enough seating in the house or whether everyone will be able to make it. Hours before you start doubting your cranberry sauce or worry if you’re going to end up stuck in traffic. Before and in between these challenges, make time to actively show appreciation for the little things.

Being grateful takes effort. If you’re lacking inspiration just think about the folks who are working on Thanksgiving, helping everyone else enjoy their holiday to the fullest. Hey, wait a minute! You might be one of those people! If you are – please know that you’re awesome!

And think about all the people who might have contributed to your Thanksgiving dinner without expecting anything in return. People you’ve never met. Think about the sweet old lady from Wisconsin who was kind enough to share her family recipe with the world and helped you knock this year’s stuffing out of the park!

Thanksgiving is a reminder to take a step back and shift our attention to the things that mean the most to us. If we get caught up by small, irrelevant issues that distract us from the bigger picture it makes it no different than any other day of the year. Instead, we invite you to do the exact opposite and take a piece of that Thanksgiving Day spirit into the next day… And the day after that one… And the one after that…

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

Happy Thanksgiving from the Nobel Family!