Add new experiences to your holiday gathering

  • Written by BPT

Family gatherings during the holidays often involve everyone sitting around, catching up while children play with the toys they received as gifts.

It’s a wonderful time for family to hear the latest on jobs, trips, hobbies and health, but it can also turn into a tedious repeat of listening to Uncle Joe’s story of the Christmas of 1954 when the tree caught fire and burned all the presents underneath.

If your family gathering needs a little spicing up this holiday season, consider adding new experiences to the plans and making a new and fun tradition out of them. Here are some ideas to get started:

• Get out and enjoy the outdoors —

If you live in snowy parts of the country, organize a snowshoe trek, sledding time or ice skating at a community rink.

These activities can bring a healthy glow to your family members’ cheeks, as well as create new memories you can reminisce about at future family gatherings. If you don’t have snow in your area, consider planning a bike ride, a hike or even a golf outing to bring everyone together.

• Plan a meal away from the house —

Instead of cooking all the meals for the gathering, plan a formal brunch or dinner at a nice restaurant where everyone in your group can sit together and enjoy the food and holiday decorations.

• Make the gathering a retreat for all —

This year, consider getting your family out of the house and turn your holiday gathering into a festive retreat.

• Host a family talent show —

Everyone has a special talent in your family, so encourage them to bring their talent to the gathering.

Promote costumes or props, if needed to help enhance the fun.

Just clear out a small area in the gathering location, set up a couple of chairs for audience members and if you have the ability, dim the lights so the stage is in the spotlight.

Of course, host a reception following the show with hot apple cider and cookies for all.

By bringing new activities to your holiday gathering this year, you’ll be creating many new memories to share in the future, as well as making the event much more enjoyable..

The conversation on giving: What is your family passionate about?

  • Written by BPT

How many times has your child come home with news of a new penny drive or fundraiser happening at school or a place of worship? How often does this come with an explanation of who the cause or charity serves and how else your child can get involved?

Often, children are eager to get involved with these fundraising efforts because there are reward incentives at the end, but parents can take this opportunity to discuss with children the real value of supporting nonprofit organizations.

So what’s the best way to start this conversation with your kids? Find out what’s important to them. Everyone has a cause or charity that is close to their hearts.

For your kids, was it helping that lost kitten found in the backyard that sparked their philanthropic passions? Was it when they spent the weekend helping grandma plant a garden? Was it helping mom clean out their toys and taking them to kids who had nothing to play with?

Nonprofit organizations span across many different categories, such as arts, education, environment, animals, health and more. When children focus on things they find interesting, they’ll be more apt to stay with them.

Whatever it is they are passionate and motivated about, you can help them make a positive impact in the community through giving. It’s important to let kids know that even little contributions can make a big difference. Below are tips to help you get your child engaged in giving:

• Learn what they love. Have a conversation with your children and ask them what they care about. Learning about their passions can help to motivate them and also help you find more ways to get them involved, such as volunteering.

• Make it a family affair. Include your children in your decision-making process, too, so that they can start to see that there is a clear and thoughtful manner in which you make contributions to charity.

•  Acknowledge their good deed. Since children don’t get the tax deduction or other tangible benefits of giving that adults often receive, their reward is based on your words of encouragement and evidence of the impact they made. Let them know you’re proud of them and tell them exactly why, using specific examples.

• Make this an ongoing effort. There are many ways to get involved with a charity, so introduce children to other forms of donating besides monetary contributions, such as their time and talents. This can foster a lifelong joy of proactive giving.-

A good way to get involved this year is with Georgia Gives Day. Georgia Gives Day is a 24-hour, ‘flash-mob style’ statewide giving event that will take place on Dec. 6. With the trend of 24-hour flash mob giving growing across states like Colorado, Texas, Washington, Alabama and Pennsylvania, these “days of giving” have raised millions of dollars, all going straight to local community nonprofits.

Visit to search and select the nonprofit or cause of your choice, and make a donation via credit card. makes donating easy for the community by organizing nonprofits on one easily accessible online platform and providing key facts about these charities. Every penny counts when giving back to nonprofits.

Dual-enrollment programs jump-start students’ careers

  • Written by ARA

(ARA) - In today’s globally competitive economy, a college degree is increasingly becoming a critical factor in attaining career success. Yet, as of October 2011, only 68 percent of the year’s high school graduates had enrolled in a college or university, even though the national unemployment rate of high school graduates is nearly twice as high as that of college graduates - 7.9 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Addressing the need for more college- and employment-ready high school graduates, many policymakers, educators and researchers promote dual-enrollment programs as an effective vehicle for building a workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a 21st century economy.

Dual-enrollment programs allow high school students to jump-start their postsecondary education and career by enrolling in college courses before they graduate, earning both high school and college credits in the process.

DeVry University, for example, launched its Advantage Academy in 2004 to improve college access for high school students with limited financial resources. In two academic years and one summer session, students can earn an associate degree in a high-growth career field while they finish high school.

Eligible high school students in the public school systems in Chicago, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio may enroll to earn their associate degree in health information technology, network system administration or Web graphic design. Graduates of the program can either enter the workforce or enroll in a bachelor’s degree program at DeVry University or another institution.

Dual-enrollment programs help meet a growing need for more academically and professionally prepared high school students, arming them with tools and resources that can improve their college and career decisions, says Steve Pappageorge, dean of the College of Continuing Education, New Programs and Outreach at DeVry University.

Programs like DeVry University’s Advantage Academy can help remove barriers to college access while introducing students to career opportunities in high-demand fields.

Triplets Simeon, Sydney and Shea Spivey can attest to the value of dual-enrollment programs. Each of the incoming high school seniors is deep in college planning mode and currently enrolled in Advantage Academy. Columbus City Schools (CCS) and DeVry University cover their tuition costs, so they can graduate from high school with two years of higher education to put toward four-year degree programs without incurring student debt.

“Advantage Academy has helped me become more familiar with the college experience and realize all of the benefits it offers,” says Simeon Spivey.“My siblings and I hope to attend colleges on the East Coast, and we feel more confident knowing we’ll be applying with associate degrees under our belts”

When they graduate in June 2013, the Spivey triplets will be two years ahead of their peers academically.

By 2018, approximately 63 percent of the 47 million U.S. jobs will require workers with some postsecondary education. Dual-enrollment programs provide high school students with an effective on-ramp to college and career success, helping to close the gap between students’ knowledge and the skills needed to achieve professional success in a globally competitive economy.

“Why Can’t My Child Do Simple Math?”

  • Written by AAA Tutoring
Does your child  struggle to remember multiplication or addition math facts no matter how many times they practice?

Do  little math word problems become a BIG problem?

Is keeping numbers in columns for addition or subtraction difficult?

Does he/she switch to addition while doing subtraction or vice versa?

Do they struggle to remember the order of steps in math exercises?

These are some of the symptoms of dyscalculia, a math learning disorder. If you think your child may have dyscalculia, they are not alone. It affects thousands of children, teens and adults, but it does not reflect their intelligence.  In fact, great minds like Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Bill Gates all had dyscaclulia!

Researchers believe that dyscalculia involves weaknesses in the visual and processing portions of the brain.

Dyscalculia is similar to the dylexia that we are all familiar with except it is with numbers.

Discalculia can often be determined when there is a big difference between scores on math tests and the student’s abilities. Although dyscalculia is a math learning impediment, there are strategies listed below that can be used to help.

Keep numbers in columns by turning lined paper sideways so lines become vertical guides.

Circle mathematical signs such as + and -  before doing computation.

Draw visual aides to solve word problems.

Talk out loud (sub-vocalize) while doing math.

Create stories to create “memory hooks.”

There is now storybook curriculum that can teach children with this condition their multiplication facts in a few weeks.

You can request more information about this program at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

  • Written by Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool
• Respect your child’s appetite — or lack of one

• If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack. Likewise, don’t bribe or force your child to eat certain foods or clean his or her plate. This might only ignite — or reinforce — a power struggle over food.

In addition, your child might come to associate mealtime with anxiety andfrustration. Serve small portions to avoid overwhelming your child and give him or her the opportunity to independently ask for more.

• Stick to the routine

Serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day. Provide juice or milk with the food and offer water between meals and snacks. Allowing your child to fill up on juice or milk throughout the day might decrease his or her appetite for meals.

• Be patient with new foods

Young children often touch or smell new foods and may even put tiny bits in their mouths and then take them back out again.

Your child might need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite. Encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child’s favorite foods.

• Make it fun

Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce.

Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner. Serve a variety of brightly colored foods.

• Recruit your child’s help

At the grocery store, ask your child to help you select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.

Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table.

• Set a good example

If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.

• Be creative

Add chopped broccoli or green peppers to spaghetti sauce, top cereal with fruit slices or mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles and soups.

• Minimize distractions

Turn off the television and other electronic gadgets during meals. This will help your child focus on eating.

Keep in mind that television advertising might also encourage your child to desire sugary foods.

• Don’t offer dessert as a reward

Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which might only increase your child’s desire for sweets.

You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights and skip dessert the rest of the week — or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.

• Don’t be a short-order cook

Preparing a separate meal for your child after he or she rejects the original meal might promote picky eating. Encourage your child to stay at the table for the designated mealtime — even if he or she doesn’t eat.

Keep serving your child healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred. If you’re concerned that picky eating is compromising your child’s growth and development, consult your child’s doctor.

In addition, consider recording the types and amounts of food your child eats for three days. The big picture might help ease your worries.

A food log can also help your child’s doctor determine any problems. In the meantime, remember that your child’s eating habits won’t likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.