(Family Features) Throughout the pandemic, teachers have gone above and beyond for their students, becoming not just educators, but also counselors, role models and friends to their students by supporting their overall well-being.
Even so, only 52% of teachers feel valued by their communities, according to PDK International, a professional association for educators. What’s more, teachers are more burnt out than ever, with 81% reporting their workloads have increased and 55% sharing they have less time for planning than before, according to a State of Teaching survey conducted by Adopt a Classroom.
Heading back to school means stocking up on supplies, updating wardrobes and planning new routines for hassle-free mornings. This fall, as you prepare for the new school year, consider these ideas for supporting your children’s teachers, too:
Volunteer in the Classroom
With the extra roles and responsibilities many teachers have taken on in recent years, there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete special projects or keep up with certain tasks. Ask teachers how you can lend a hand. That might mean spending some time physically in the classroom, or there may be ways you can support your children’s classes from home, such as assembling instructional packets or researching field trip ideas.
Recognize Teachers Who Go Above and Beyond
Chances are good you know at least a few educators who have gone beyond the call of duty and made an exceptional impact on their students. Honoring their contributions shows appreciation for all they do. One way to demonstrate your gratitude is by nominating educators for Staples’ fourth annual #ThankATeacher contest, which recognizes 20 stand-out educators who go above and beyond for their students. Winners’ schools will be awarded $5,000 in classroom essentials for the upcoming school year. Learn more about how to nominate a teacher at staplesconnect.com/thankateacher.1
Be a Partner in Your Child’s Learning at Home
Supporting teachers isn’t just about the classroom and supplies; you can also provide a helping hand by creating good habits and modeling the importance of education at home. Actions like creating routines that keep students on a comfortable, familiar schedule help teachers manage classrooms more effectively. You can also make communication with your children’s teachers a priority so you’re aware of concerns and can help address them early.
Donate School Supplies
Often, teachers dip into their own income to create fun, engaging learning experiences and supplement student supplies when they run low. In fact, the average teacher spends $745 on supplies for their classrooms that are not covered by school budgets. According to Adopt a Classroom’s State of Teaching survey, 71% of teachers spent more of their own money on classroom materials in 2022 than during the previous year.
You can ask teachers what supplies they need, or you can give back to teachers through Staples’ Classroom Rewards program. Join for free and earn 5% back on every qualifying purchase for you and 10% back of qualifying purchases to donate to local teachers. The program helps reduce teachers’ out of pocket costs for their classrooms by allowing them to earn up to $2,000 a year.
Attend School Board Meetings and Voice Support
Keeping tabs on the issues affecting your school district and teachers is an important part of monitoring and advocating for your children’s education, but it’s also a way for you to lend your support on topics affecting teachers. Stay informed about issues that matter to your children’s teachers and support school board policies and actions that serve teachers’ best interests.
1NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open to 50 U.S./D.C., 18 or older as of date of entry who possess a web-enabled mobile device as of July 24, 2022. Begins 12:00 am ET on July 25, 2022 and ends 11:59 pm ET on August 15, 2022. Sponsored by Staples® the Office Superstore, LLC. For complete rules and eligibility, visit staplesconnect.com/thankateacher.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away
Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away
(BPT) – Food and gas prices continue to rise, on top of record-high housing costs in many cities across the U.S. If you’re an older adult who is already living on a tight budget, today’s inflation can be particularly difficult. Fortunately, there are programs available that can help you save money on health care, prescriptions, food, utilities and more.
One of the easiest ways to find out if you’re eligible for benefits is to visit the National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckUp.org. The free and confidential tool connects older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers to benefit programs. The site is easy to use, even for people with minimal digital experience.
“It only takes a few minutes to learn about all the programs available and how to apply,” said Ramsey Alwin, president and CEO of NCOA. “For example, there are Medicare programs that can boost your budget by helping with prescription drug costs, as well as premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.”
There are thousands of programs on BenefitsCheckUp, including:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which can help you pay for healthy food
- The Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Programs, which can help people with Medicare afford their out-of-pocket health care expenses
- The Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing Programs, which can help with housing costs
- Supplemental Security Income, which provides cash for basic needs
- The Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides discounted internet services
- The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which can help you pay for home heating and cooling
Millions of older adults are eligible for, but not enrolled in these programs. In fact, NCOA estimates that $30 billion in benefits go unused each year simply because older adults don’t know about these programs — or how to apply.
BenefitsCheckUp.org will give you a personalized list of benefits you may be eligible for and the steps you need to apply, including links to the correct government agencies and applications. Just a few minutes could save you money every month.
Helping teens develop financial literacy
(Family Features) Developing financial knowledge and effective money management habits are important stepping stones for teenagers to become financially stable adults who aspire to build assets and achieve personal goals.
For example, most teens (88%) would like to own a home someday, according to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Junior Achievement USA and Fannie Mae. The survey of 1,000 teens ages 13-17 in the United States found most (85%) believe “owning a home” is part of “the good life,” compared to nearly as many adults (87%). However, fewer than half (45%) could correctly identify the definition of a home mortgage and 76% said they lacked clear understanding of credit scores.
“There’s been this theme that younger Americans aren’t interested in homeownership, but the results of this survey contradict that assumption,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Teens appear interested in owning a home someday but seem to realize they need more information on how to do it.”
To help teens gain a better understanding of financial decisions they’ll face in adulthood, consider these common terms.
While nearly all teens (96%) believe credit scores play an important role in the ability to purchase a home, approximately 3 in 4 (76%) said they understood credit scores only “somewhat,” “a little” or “not at all.” A credit score is a number from 300-850 based on a number of factors, including credit history, open accounts, total debt, repayment history and more. Lenders use credit scores to evaluate a person’s ability to repay loans.
A person’s credit score may also determine the size of a down payment needed when purchasing a smartphone or home, or the deposit needed for renting property or obtaining utilities and may impact interest rates and credit limits on credit cards. Generally, scores below 620 may require paying a higher rate, a shorter repayment term or a co-signer. Scores of 700 or higher are considered more favorable to creditors and may result in lower interest rates while scores higher than 800 typically provide the most benefits to consumers.
While a slight majority of white teens (52%) correctly identified the definition of a mortgage, only around a quarter (26%) of Black teens and fewer than half (41%) of Hispanic or Latino teens could do so. A mortgage is a type of loan used to purchase or maintain a home, land or other types of real estate. The borrower makes a down payment for a portion of the purchase price then borrows the rest from a lender. The borrower then repays the lender over a number of years – typically 15-30 – via a series of regular payments that are divided into principal (the money originally borrowed) and interest with the property serving as security.
Nearly all teens surveyed (97%) thought it would be helpful if schools offered lessons that explained homeownership, including mortgages. In response, Fannie Mae is supporting the development and deployment of Junior Achievement learning experiences for thousands of students annually in various age groups by integrating relevant content from its HomeView homeownership course materials and resources, which are designed with first-time homebuyers in mind.
“Young people today are the homebuyers of tomorrow,” said Jeffery Hayward, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Fannie Mae. “By providing them access to quality, foundational education now, Fannie Mae and Junior Achievement are helping these future homeowners prepare for the mortgage and homebuying process when they’re ready to take that step.”
Visit ja.org for more tips and information to help teens improve their financial knowledge and reach their goals.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Helping families manage holiday stress
(Family Features) ’Tis the season for holiday parties, travel, hosting and more. While it is a joyous time of year, the never-ending to-do lists and school being out of session can make everyone feel a little overwhelmed, children included.
Consider these five practical tips from the experts at KinderCare to help families proactively manage holiday stressors.
- Manage expectations. The commotion that often comes with the holiday season can be stressful for young children, but you can help alleviate worries by familiarizing them with what’s to come. Talk to them about upcoming travel arrangements, who they’ll see at events and what to expect throughout the season. If they are cautious in their current developmental stage, let loved ones know beforehand to give them a little extra space at festivities. Parents can also begin familiarizing little ones with relatives through photos and phone calls.
- Empower children. It’s important for children to understand they have a choice – and family members are willing to respect that choice. Parents should acknowledge their children’s body language and empower them to say “no” in uncomfortable situations. Parents can help by proactively asking questions such as, “Do you want a hug?” and if they say “no,” support them in their decision. This also helps establish healthy long-term social skills.
- Maintain your schedule. Children thrive on consistency, and during the holidays it’s important to at least try maintaining as much of what they’re used to as possible, such as naps, meals and playtime. Changes in schedule can result in more tantrums, so be sure to allow space for them to safely work through their emotions.
It’s also important to note that children feed off their parents’ energy, so make sure you’re in tune with your own emotions. When overwhelmed, openly discuss how you’re feeling and involve your children when taking breaks. For example, “It’s loud in here, would you like to go sit outside with me?”
- Have fun. Make time to spread joy and integrate activities to bond as a family, such as reading holiday-themed books, crafting, playing games, singing or baking. Whether old traditions or new, these are moments your child can cherish for years to come.
- Keep others in mind. While it’s important to set children up for success ahead of the holidays, parents should also teach children the holiday season can look different for others. Putting a focus on experiences rather than the gifts can help them have more to discuss with their peers when returning to school. It’s also a good time to consider donating toys to make room for new ones or volunteering at a local charity to show children joy can be experienced through more than just gifts.
To find more tips to help manage holiday stress, or to access additional resources around social development, setting boundaries and routines, visit KinderCare.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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