Character Matters

Your First Resume

January 27, 2017

Grades are not all that is on report cards...

"Works well with others."

"Grasps core concepts."

"Is a leader in the classroom."

"Demonstrates hard work to succeed."

The start of a new semester means the end of the previous semester, which also means it is report card time.  Hopefully, your student's report card contained comments like those listed above.  Perhaps the format of report cards that your student receives is different and does not include a "comments" section.  

It might be tempting to look at the ABCs that appear and think that is all that matters.  While grades can be an indicator of the outcome of work done in school, there are a lot of qualities that can be overlooked that went into that grade.  There are also showers of synonyms to use to describe a student's behaviors at school.  As a student progresses into a graduate, these descriptive words will become part of their resumes and job applications, and will become their first impression.  In other words, they will be having a different type of report card, one that can hopefully shape their future in a direction they desire.  

Working well with others displays teamwork

Being able to grasp core concepts shows competence

A leader in the classroom is an innovator in the work place

Hard work speaks for itself.  

 

Building character is similar to building a resume...and your grades still matter.    

Acceptance

January 12, 2017

Acceptance is:

  1. the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
  2. the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.
  3. agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.
  4. willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation. 

When things happen that we do not understand, we have a hard time accepting them.  The same holds true for beliefs that are so opposite to our own, or for people that we do not like.  An automatic reaction is to push them aside, criticize them, or fight with them.  All of these responses take a toll on energy and enjoyment of life.  

It sounds counter-intuitive, but when we offer acceptance to these situations, we take some of the struggle away.  By acknowledging that some things are outside of our control, we can then shift our focus, energy, and action onto the things that we can control.  One approach to change, as proposed by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), helps this to be understood.  Some examples include: 

  • You fail a test: Option 1: Call yourself a failure, fret about the test, and fight with the teacher that it was unfair and you deserve a better grade.  Option 2: Acknowledge that you are upset and disappointed, and change your study habits for the upcoming test.
  • You have to transfer schools: Option 1: Fight whoever is making you transfer schools and refuse to like anyone or anything at your new location.  Option 2: Ask questions to learn why you have to switch schools, then engage in your new lifestyle, all while keeping in touch with your previous friends.
  • Someone is assigned to your group project who you dislike: Option 1: Ignore this person, treat them poorly, and complain to everyone else in the group about having to work with them.  Option 2: Talk to your teacher about your concerns and come up with a plan on how to have the best result for yourself, and your group.  

As you can see in the second options, acceptance does not have to mean approving or liking what is going on.  It does mean that you refuse to add struggle to an already difficult situation.  Accepting what is provides clarity to help free up direction for what steps need to be taken.  It also helps you build character and act based on values rather than on drama or emotion.  

How can you practice acceptance (and commitment!) today? 

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

 New Year Goals School to Career Progressions

Each year, people of all ages decide that there are changes that they would like to see in their lives.  While making these resolutions, it is possible to forget that making and achieving goals is an ongoing process.  It is also a science and an art. Sometimes life makes things easier, and sometimes it works against us.  Sometimes you reach your goals, while other times you fail within the first week of trying.  

There are a number of methods to help outline strategies and work toward goal completion, and finding the one that works for you and the youth in your life is the key to success.  Here are a few suggestions as the New Year approaches (and inevitably continues):

  • SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.  By making this type of goal, you are headed for a very specific destination.  There is a clear "Pass/Fail" and a wide variety of ways to reach the goal.  An example would be someone who wants to run a 7 minute mile.  
  • A Systems Approach means that you focus on the process of moving in a set direction, perhaps with a general direction and outcome in mind.  The emphasis is on engaging with the system, rather than reaching a set ideal.  This approach is more flexible and encourages complete and ongoing lifestyle change.  For example, committing to being active for 2-3 hours a week.  
  • Winging it, or whatever phrase you would prefer, would mean having no set goals, values, or direction.  Without an idea of a future, you can find peace in going with the flow, but you can also get lost.  
  • Choose goals that are appropriate to your stage in life.  This can change depending on age, circumstances, or seasons.  A list of New Year's Resolutions for healthy youth provides a helpful starting spot for choosing goals for youth.  
  • Incorporating regular affirmations and recognition of your efforts can be motivating.  Keep some notes of what changes you can see so you do not forget the results!
  • Ask yourself "Are my goals aligning with my values and needs?"  Perhaps some goals are acting as obstacles, or distractions.  Is running a 7 minute mile more important than other items in your life? 

So this year, why not try blending a few of these approaches.  If you consider the running examples, some people might be motivated by reaching a specific goal, then continuing to push to improve.  Others might reach the 7 minute mark and quit training.  There are also those who would rather focus on improving their mile time without having a set goal in mind at all.  

Having awareness and flexibility to build your desired lifestyle will serve you, and the youth in your life, as you continue to experience success throughout the whole year...and maybe even into the next.   

 

Winter Time

December 07, 2016

 

Keeping Spirits High as the Temperature Drops

"What good is the warmth of Summer,

without the cold of Winter to give it sweetness."

- John Steinbeck

Winter youth school to career progressions

Winter starts on December 21st.  This day marks the Winter Solstice, or the "shortest day" of the year.  While it still has 24 hours, the amount of daylight on this day is the shortest it will be the whole year.  

The seasons and cycles of Earth bring many lessons.  If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, cold weather, snow, and a lack of sunshine can make Winter seem miserable.  However, it is an important time of the year to help nature set up for Spring and Summer.  The same can be said of life.  When you are experiencing a season of undesirable outcomes, keep in mind that seasons do not last all year, and this period of life will not last either.  

Understanding the rhythm of life can be very helpful as you plan your commitments.  Being aware of how you - and your loved ones - handle the changes in life can be beneficial.  For example, if you find yourself getting cabin fever or feeling more sad in Winter, you might need to re-boot your schedule to help set yourself up for success.  The sooner you can do this, the better!  This applies year round, as well, for a variety of circumstances.  Get anxious during tests?  Feel your anger rise up when you are around certain people?  Remembering these patterns, accepting them, and then planning for them in advance can help you save unnecessary struggle.

What might a re-boot look like for youth this Winter? 

For youth in school, it might look like making sure they have access to warm clothing so they can be outside and active, while also staying safe and warm.  It might also include providing activities that can be done indoors, such as art or learning new life skills.  Winter is also a great time to start a new weekly tradition, like a family game night.  

Remember, Winter will not last forever, but it does offer some unique experiences that can make memories and build lessons - all which work together to help make your youth prepared for each season and event in life. 

 

'Tis the Season

School Career Volunteer Resume

As High School approaches, it is time for youth to begin thinking about building a resume.  This resume will explain the activities, accomplishments, and skills to future employers or higher education.  One question that many youth ask is: How do I gain experience to fill out my resume?

 With Thanksgiving out of the way and other Holidays on the horizon, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that can get your youth, and yourself, involved.  Participating in regular community service helps youth in a variety of ways:

  • they begin to learn responsibility
  • they begin to learn how to take direction from authority
  • they can witness how their actions can influence their community

Once a youth is of working age, it is a great idea to get a job and still maintain some community service in their schedule.  You can set an example by participating with them, or by maintaining your own volunteer commitments.  Build even more growth opportunities by discussing what they learned or experienced each day.   

Giving Thanks is not just for Thanksgiving

 School to Career Progressions Gratitude

The upcoming Holiday is a prime time to reflect on the previous year.  You might find yourself sitting around the table with loved ones, or you might be celebrating alone. Perhaps you do not participate in Thanksgiving.  No matter what your Holiday traditions are, the benefits to practicing gratitude are being researched.  These include: 

  • Stronger Immune System
  • Decreased levels of Anxiety and Depression
  • Feeling more connected to others
  • Lower blood pressure

This year, why not start a habit of practicing "Grattitude,"  that is, having an attitude where gratitude is at the heart of your outlook.  What would this look like?

  • Visual representations: Such as a collage of pictures or placing post-it notes or stickers on items you appreciate.
  • Words: Saying "Thank You!" often.  Thank You notes never go out of style!  
  • Records: Keep a regular gratitude journal that will help you remember the joys and lessons of each event in your day or week.

These activities can be done at all ages, and there are more  that can be done, specifically for youth.  Work some into your lifestyle and see what you can learn and experience.  

School to Career Progressions is honored to help teach youth to gain awareness and put a positive spin on their life experiences, to help them gain character that will help them succeed in their lives.  

    The Month of November

    November 05, 2016

    Election, Thanksgiving, and Opportunities to Learn

    November 2016

    Every four years, our country has the opportunity to vote to elect a President.  Elections bring out strong opinions and many conversations, and as Election Day (November 8) gets closer, the whole country is on edge about what the future will entail. 

    November is also the month in which our country celebrates Thanksgiving.  This is an interesting fact as elections can often tear people apart, but this month also encourages us to come together and share our appreciation for what we have in life.  Thanksgiving can also remind us of the History of our country; issues of race, war, abortion, jobs, justice, and immigration have been around as long as America has.  

    While your youth might be too young to vote, it is never to early to start inviting them to make educated choices.  This November, here are a few topics that can be raised with your youth:

    • What do you know about Democrats, Republicans, and other political parties?
    • What values do you hold?  How might these values influence your choice in a Presidential candidate?
    • Did you know that November is Native American and Alaskan Native Heritage Month?  What do you know about the current issues affecting these people?
    • How do you handle uncomfortable conversations where someone might have a different perspective than you?
    • What does Thanksgiving mean to you?  Read up on the first Thanksgiving and the history of this Holiday and those involved.

    While your youth might be too young to vote, it is never too early to invite them to build their character as an active and educated citizen. Allow them to express their opinions without judgment, then ask questions and provide a variety of resources that can help them to further learn and understand these issues further.  You might even learn a thing or two in the process...

     

     

    Comfort Food

    October 21, 2016

    Life Skills With Purpose

    Life Lessons Cooking youth

     

    In order to reach a human's top potential, there are many factors that need to be considered.  Countless theories exist, linking environment, genetics, and a slew of other variables.  One such theory is proposed by Abraham Maslow.  His model shows a pyramid - a Hierarchy of Needs - that details components of human motivation.  The base holds the most basic and necessary of needs, in which he placed physiological needs such as having food, water, and healthy air.  

    Too often we neglect the important role that food and nutrition can play in our success.  

    By inviting youth to participate in the shopping and preparation of the food they consume, they can slowly acquire skills and habits that can benefit them as adults.  Theoretically, this will mean that when they leave the home, they will know how to budget for groceries, plan a meal, keep food safely stored, and of course, cook a meal.

    As the seasons change, it is an excellent opportunity to pay attention to the types of food that are being made in your home.  Some ideas on how to include youth include:

    •  Ask them to pick one meal a week, and list the ingredients for that meal.  You can then ask them to shop with you, or look for coupons or prices for the items involved.
    • Encourage your youth to cook.  Teach them some basic skills first and then allow them to be creative.  Bonus: This could encourage you to learn some new cooking skills, too!
    • Utilize your slow cooker.  This provides an option where youth can simply drop the items into the crock-pot, without worrying about burning themselves.
    • Look for cooking classes in your community and attend one with your youth.
    • Make a recipe book with your youth in which you can keep your favorites.  These might include family traditions as well.
    There is no guarantee that cooking will lead your youth to success.  However, it is a step in the right direction.  It also is means they take each step with a full belly, more life skills, and maybe some wonderful memories in the kitchen.

    The Importance of Free Time

    October 06, 2016

    "Middle School Doesn't Have Recess?"

    Middle School Play

    One of the biggest differences between Elementary and Middle School is that there is no longer structured time for play.  Developmentally, this might seem appropriate, as Middle Schoolers are beginning to blossom into young adults.  However, the benefits of recess should be carried through to these years - and beyond - as well.  These benefits include:

    • Socialization: Allowing students to interact with peers in a less structured format encourages communication about relevant topics such as homework, friends, and making plans for after school.  It also allows teachers to get to know students in another format. 
    • Releasing energy: Sitting still is hard for most youth (it is hard for most adults, too!) and science proves that sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to health and productivity.  Having a chance to get rid of the some energy increases focus and memory as well.
    • Skill building: Giving youth free time allows them to practice problem solving, taking turns, and team-building skills.  They can also interact with other students at their school which can build appreciation for diversity.

    It may not be possible to add recess into your middle schooler's day but you can do some of these things

    • Allow some free time after school
    • Encourage your school to have regular Physical Education classes
    • Ask what options your school offers during lunch or for "break" time to keep students active
    • Enroll your student in a club or other after-school activity

    Our goal is to empower youth as they grow into High Schoolers and beyond.  By teaching them that life can incorporate appropriate breaks and free time, they can learn to organize time well, and to enjoy the time they have. 

     

    Reasons to Read

    September 23, 2016

    Lessons from Literature

    Lessons Reading Youth

    The advantages of reading not only appear in academics, but in social, artistic, and other areas of a youth's life. While movies and television shows can provide educational material that provides an escape and an opportunity to explore other perspectives and habitats, there are few things that can spark imagination like a book. 

    Entering "reasons to read" into an online search engine yields plenty of results that can encourage youth - and adults - to spend more time with literature.  Whether you check out a paper book from a library or buy a book on your reader, here are some reasons to read: 

    • Increasing vocabulary:  By reading a variety of genres, you will surround yourself with opportunities to learn new words.  This leads to more ways to understand what is happening around you, and how to express yourself.  
    • New perspectives: Reading fiction offers the experience of participating in the lives of characters from across the world or fantasy world.  By stretching your imagination, you can learn about how others live, about your own world, and about deeper life questions that we all ask - and answer - in our own ways.
    • Gaining knowledge: Reading non-fiction also offers advantages of learning of different lifestyles and historical eras, while also providing real-life lessons and information so that you can set a positive future by learning from the present and past.
    • Increasing memory and decreasing stress: Exercising your brain can keep neural pathways strong, and allowing your body to rest and escape in a good story can decrease stress. 
    • Free entertainment: Visit your local library and get hours of entertainment, (while also learning responsibility of caring for property and deadlines).

    The reasons are truly endless, and so is the list of books that can be recommended.  A good place to start for your middle school aged student can be this list of 10 Books Every Middle Schooler Should Read.  This list provides books that offer the above perks, plus lessons that youth can learn such as compassion, courage, and the influence of relationships.  

    Find your local library and start your own list of favorite books today! 

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