January 2023

Best Year Ever/Fresh Starts Issue

Ready, Set, Goals! 7 Ways To Teach Your Kids To Focus & Tackle New Challenges

We are living in an age of constant interruption. So when it comes to setting and accomplishing goals, kids who learn how to focus and concentrate have a distinct advantage over those who cannot. We need to help our children learn when to put their blinders on so they can apply goal setting to challenges of their choosing. Achieving personal goals helps kids channel their energy productively and inspires them to become more confident action-takers in the future.

Kids are not lazy or unmotivated these days; it is simply easier than ever for them to become distracted and disengaged. As a parent, encourage your children to practice healthy goal-setting. Follow these suggestions, and you will notice your kids stepping up to set and meet new challenges that bring smiles to their faces. As for your role, get ready to cheer them on and give them credit for their accomplishments as any good coach would.

  1. Let them steer. Encourage him to choose an age-appropriate, just-out-of-reach goal. Be careful you don’t interject your own desires into this process. For a child who is unsure about what goal to set, be patient and offer choices until something appeals. You play a supporting role in helping your child accomplish whatever goal is chosen, so it must be your child’s goal, not yours.
  2. Emphasize fun. If your child is overweight, nagging her about weight loss is not going to help her choose it as a goal, and you just might scar her. Forget the problems you think your child needs to solve and emphasize the fun of setting and reaching goals instead. Let children who have become too sedentary in the past come up with goals, like joining a team or training for a race for the fun of it, not merely to get mom and dad off their backs. Share stories of goals you’ve set and met to inspire them, but don’t be a pushy parent.
  3. Embrace strengths. Every person has strengths and weaknesses. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you only mirror your child’s negative qualities and mention them often, perhaps you have not spent enough time considering your child’s best qualities. There are not merely five or 10 positive qualities that describe people; there are hundreds. Pick up a little book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Go through the book and circle the words you think describe your child. Mention these qualities often and watch your child’s confidence blossom.
  4. Assist with challenges. Offer yourself as a sounding board when kids run into challenges reaching goals but don’t solve problems for them. Listen to their concerns instead and ask questions. Get them thinking about various approaches they could try. Instead of telling them what to do, ask if they think any of your ideas are helpful. Don’t give in to internal pressure to unstick a stuck child. Brainstorm with them and then let them motivate themselves.
  5. Praise progress. If your child is continually focused outward, measuring where he or she stands in comparison to others robs him of personal power. Instead of encouraging your child to be the generic best, encourage your child to achieve his or her personal best. Celebrate the fruition of this expression no matter how it measures up with others. A ribbon for Most Improved can be viewed as just as valuable as First Place or MVP.
  6. Uncover silver linings. Just as strengths can be discovered and flexed for increasing success, weaknesses should be acknowledged and honored, too. Respecting weaknesses rather than denying them or trying to correct them may seem strange. But consider whether or not the investment of time and energy to turn weaknesses around is worthwhile. Sometimes flaws teach kids valuable things they need to learn. For example, a forward who can’t score might make a better midfielder on the soccer field. A dancer who can’t do acrobatic tricks might have a strong sense of showmanship on stage. A scattered student in the classroom might be a talented artist in the studio. Teach your child to forgive weaknesses and pursue undervalued abilities they may be pointing towards instead.
  7. Play the long game. As your child focuses on setting and reaching personal goals, things may not always go quite the way anyone expected. Life has a way of bringing twists and turns to the table. This means short-term victories don’t always pan out as expected, even after time and energy have been invested. When disappointments happen, and they will, help your child focus on the big picture. Getting personal satisfaction out of the process and achieving personal growth while making valuable contributions to the whole can never be emphasized enough. Encourage kids to stay the course, and things will usually work themselves out in the long run.

Double Dog Dares For Younger Kids

You can help prepare kids to meet life’s challenges by turning everyday tasks into fun double-dog dares.

  • Complete a chore in a specific amount of time
  • Find the groceries on the shopping list
  • Create a to-do list for something they already learned how to do
  • Teach something they learned to another family member
  • Complete a puzzle all by themselves
  • Build something they have never built before
  • Make up an invention that solves a problem around the house
  • Cook something using a new recipe

Goals To Challenge Older Kids

Helping tweens and teens choose goals that suit their aptitudes can increase their willingness to take safe risks in the future. As your children get older, encourage them to set goals that are just beyond what they think they can accomplish, like:

  • Running a 5K
  • Installing an exhibit of their art
  • Creating a healthy eating plan
  • Submitting writing to a contest
  • Raising money for a cause they support
  • Trying out for something they are not certain they are good at
  • Sticking to a new plan for one month
  • Saving money to make a dream come true

Books On Goal Setting For Kids

What Do You Stand For? For Teens: A Guide To Building Character by Barbara A. Lewis

Every Kids Guide To Goals: How To Choose, Set & Achieve Goals That Matter To You by Karleen Tauszik

Strengths Based Parenting: Developing Your Children’s Innate Talents by Mary Reckmeyer Ph.D. and Jennifer Robison

Strength Finder 2.0 From Gallup And Tom Rath: Discover Your Clifton Strengths by Tom Rath

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Mid-Year Elementary School Blues: How to Keep Kids Motivated the Entire School Year

Packing lunches, doing nightly homework, studying for spelling tests and scrambling about during the morning rush; the thrill of a new school year has worn off, and kids start to drag their feet a little more on school mornings as they return for the start of the second semester. How do you keep kids motivated to finish out the last months of the school year strong?

Set goals

It’s important to let your child know you have high expectations for them throughout the year, not just during the first semester. Work with your child to set goals for success and reward them for meeting their goals. Some kids may need an academic goal, while others need goals such as no tardies for the quarter or turning all assignments in on time. Communicate with your child’s teacher to come up with some beneficial goals for your child. Rewards could include a special outing as a family, going out for ice cream, picking out a special toy or extra screen time.

Stay positive

As parents who are tired of packing lunches and reminding children to put their shoes on for the fifth time in one morning, it can be hard to stay positive. However, a positive attitude can go a long way for both parents and kids. Focus on the excitement of learning, seeing friends and upcoming events to encourage your child that school is still as fun as it was back in August. Your positive attitude will become contagious, and your child will start to get excited about school again too.

Show an interest

One thing that can have a huge impact on your child’s excitement about school is their parents’ interest. When your child returns home from school, ask him about his day, his friends and the highs and lows of the day. Listen attentively and ask questions. When it is homework time, be available to help and answer questions. When parents are excited and interested in the goings on at school, kids will be too.

Get involved

Kids who are involved in school activities tend to be more excited about school. Encourage your child to join clubs and after-school activities where they will be around school friends. Parents can also get involved at the school to break up the mid-year blues. When kids see their parents working at the school, it shows them that you value their time there. Check with your school to see what volunteer opportunities are available.

Continue healthy habits

Encourage your child to get a good night’s rest, eat a healthy breakfast and focus on good study habits. An afterschool routine to complete homework and chores will help your child fall back into the school schedule after winter break. Set aside time for free time as well. Host a play date, have a movie night, go to the park if weather allows and schedule time for fun and relaxation, so kids don’t get too bored with their routine.

If the mid-year blues are still getting to your child, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher to discuss a plan to get your child back on track. Soon enough, the days will begin to get longer, the temperatures warmer and school will be out for summer once again.

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Cyberbullying: What Is Cyberbullying and How to Stop It

Cyberbullying affects countless teens and adolescents. A 2019 study of 4,972 middle and high school students in the United States between the ages of 12 and 17 shows that 36.5% of the students have been cyberbullied in their lifetimes. Trends are showing no sign of slowing down. Other studies report that 60% of young people had witnessed their peers being bullied, but they didn’t intervene for fear of becoming targets themselves. Victims of online bullying are much more likely to use alcohol and drugs, avoid school, have poor grades, experience depression and low self-esteem, and may even contemplate suicide.


What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a broad term and is any form of abuse repeatedly directed at a child through technology by another child. According to “Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying,” cyberbullying is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” 

The difference between traditional bullying, which takes place in person, and cyberbullying, is that the latter must involve the use of technology. Additionally, to be defined as cyberbullying, the interaction between two or more people must contain the following elements:

  • The action must be willful. The behavior has to be intentional, not accidental.
  • The incident must have occurred more than once. Bullying reflects a repeated pattern of behavior.
  • The victim must perceive that harm was inflicted.

Cyberbullying takes place online through social media sites, like Facebook or Snapchat, in chat rooms, or via instant messages or text messages on their mobile phones. Types of cyberbullying include:

  • Sharing and posting videos or photos on social media of a person that are cruel in intention or violent.
  • Sharing and posting videos or photos on social media or via text messages that are sexually explicit or display violent sexual behavior.
  • Making threats of physical harm towards a person or telling someone to kill themselves via email, text, or social media. Threats may also include family members.
  • Attacking a person online or via text messages regarding their physical appearance, religion, sexuality, disability, or mental ability, or mental health.
  • Impersonating another person online to trick someone into revealing personal details, and then sharing it with others.
  • Hacking into another person’s social networking sites, instant messaging apps, or email to send false and cruel messages to others.

With 95% of teens reporting going online at least once daily and 45% stating that they are “online constantly,” the amount of potential exposure to cyberbullying is high. Unlike bullying, cyberbullying can be unrelenting and seem inescapable since it is online and on mobile phones. It can happen at any time of the day, follows pre-teens and teens home after school, and is often completely anonymous.

Cyberbullies can create fake social media profiles and download apps that provide temporary disposable numbers that allow them to send threatening text messages without the victim knowing the identity of their attacker.

In addition to the anonymity, messages, images, and videos can also be spread very quickly via social media sites, instant messages, and group text messages. Once the information has been shared it’s impossible to permanently delete the information since it can be downloaded by others and repeatedly uploaded.

Facts About Cyberbullying

  • A poll of 200,000 students showed that 70% of teens had someone spread rumors about them online.
  • Girls (38.7%) are much more likely to be victims of cyberbullying than boys (34.1%). Girls also dominate social media, while boys tend to play videogames.
  • Over 12% of LGBT youth have been cyberbullied. 58% experienced hate messages and 35% received online threats.
  • Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are the top three most popular social media platforms for teens. According to a recent report, teens are commonly bullied on Facebook (42%), Instagram (42%), Snapchat (37%), WhatsApp (12%), YouTube (10%), and Twitter (9%).
  • The report also shows that 67% of teens who are online almost constantly have experienced cyberbullying, compared with 53% of less frequent users.
  • Bullying, cyberbullying and cyberstalking are closely related. Children who are victims of traditional bullying in school also experience cyberbullying at home. Children who bully traditionally will also bully other children on social media and with text messages.
  • In a 2019 study, 16.1% of boys and 13.1% of girls admitted to cyberbullying another person at least once.
  • Over 95% of teens have a cellphone, making texting one of the most common means of cyberbullying.
  • 22.5% of teens say mean comments are the most common type of online bullying. That is followed by online rumors (20.1%) and sexual remarks (12.1%).
  • 35% of teens had sent a screenshot of someone’s photo or online status to laugh at them
  • 61% of teens say they were cyberbullied because of their appearance. Lesser reasons include: Academic achievement/intelligence 25%, race 17%, sexuality 15%, financial status 15%, religion 11%. The other 20% lists “other” as the reason for being bullied.
  • 64% of victims who are cyberbullied through instant message know the bully personally.

Cyberbullying and Kids With Learning Differences

Bullies target anyone different from themselves, including those with disabilities, mental health issues, or learning differences. The bullies say mean things about someone who has ADD or ADHD; a student that is dyslexic, on the autism spectrum, or simply learns differently than other students. The bullying takes away attention from the bully’s issues and places them on others. Plus, teens with learning differences or disabilities are less likely to fight back. Many schools have anti-bullying policies, however, that does not prevent cyberbullying which can take place in or outside of the school.

Cyberbullying Laws

Each state has different laws and policies regarding bullying, however, there is no federal anti-bullying law at the moment. As of November 2018, 50 states have anti-bullying laws, 48 states include a definition of electronic harassment in their anti-bullying laws, and 44 states include criminal sanctions in their cyberbullying laws.

Montana is the only state that does not require schools to have anti-bullying policies. It does, however, provide for criminal sanctions against harassment by electronic means. Of the 49 states that have mandatory school anti-bullying policies, 17 states have mandatory off-campus anti-bullying policies. Off-campus policies have been proposed in Georgia and Nebraska.

Please see the table below for a full breakdown of cyberbullying laws in each state.

For more information on the laws and policies in your state, the Cyberbullying Research Center provides an up-to-date PDF with descriptions of all current laws throughout the United States.

Sexting Laws

As of November 2018, only 26 states had sexting laws in place. There are 25 states with sexting laws addressing cases in which the individual sending the inappropriate content is under 18. Only 23 of the 26 states address cases in which the recipient of the messages, images, or video is under 18.

There are currently 42 states that have laws in place to protect victims of revenge porn. The table below shows which states have a sexting law in place.

The Cyberbullying Research Center provides an up-to-date map of current sexting and revenge porn laws throughout the U.S.

For more information on sexting, we’ve created a guide with tips on how to prevent teens from sexting and what to do if private photos and videos are leaked.

How to Stop Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is an issue, but it’s one that can be stopped. There are many online resources to help both parents and children cope with cyberbullying and prevent it.

What teens can do…

…if you are a target of cyberbullying:

  • Don’t blame yourself for the unfair treatment you are receiving. Bullies have often been the victims of bullying themselves and they treat you poorly so that they can feel control and power.
  • Don’t retaliate with more cyberbullying, it’s best to just ignore a cyberbully if you can. You can block them on social media and block texts from them if you don’t want to see it. Bullies are looking for a reaction when they attack a person, if you turn the other cheek they go away.
  • If the cyberbullying is getting out of hand and it feels like it is too much for you to handle talk to a trusted adult and ask for advice.
  • Keep a record of the cyberbullying in case you decide to report the cyberbullying to authorities. With the proof of cyberbullying directly on your phone and computer it can be easy to prove that you are being threatened and attacked by a cyberbully.
  • Report offensive social media posts to the company. If you don’t like what is being posted about you report it. If you are being harassed by text by anonymous numbers you can screenshot the text, block the number, and look it up in a reverse phone lookup app, like CallerSmart. In our app you can also report a harassing number by leaving your feedback so that others will know to also block the number.

…if you see cyberbullying:

  • Don’t become a part of cyberbullying by sharing posts, texts, images, or videos which hurt others. Take a stand against cyberbullies.
  • Support the person who is being bullied, take the time to listen to them and let them know that it’s not their fault. Even if you aren’t friends with the person being bullied, reach out and let them know that it’s not their fault and that how they are being treated is not right.
  • Report the offensive behavior. Most social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, have made it easy to report posts that are inappropriate.

…to protect yourself from cyberbullying:

  • Be careful with what you share online about yourself. If you share overly personal information publicly and even privately via text or private message a person could use it against you in the future.
  • Don’t let other people use your smartphone since it contains personal information and people can access your social media accounts from it.

Pre-teens and teens usually won’t share what is happening to them with their parents, so it’s important for parents to pay attention to any changes in their child’s attitude and talk about the effects of bullying and what to do. Nearly 60% of parents of children aged 14 to 18 report that their children have been bullied. Even if you don’t think your child is a victim, they could be seeing cyberbullying everyday.

What parents can do…

…if your child is being cyberbullied:

  • Make sure your child feels loved and supported. Have open and frank discussions with your child about what is happening. Encourage ignoring the cyberbully and the temptation to retaliate.
  • If the problem continues help your child collect evidence and discuss reporting the cyberbully to school authorities. Go over setting up stronger privacy settings in social media accounts and make sure they know how to report posts that they find hurtful and cruel.
  • Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Hearing that your child is being tormented can inspire a range of emotional reactions, one of them being anger. Make sure to be thoughtful and a good listener, don’t react quickly. This will only create more confrontation and problems.

…if your child is a cyberbully:

  • Your child may be a cyberbully because they were at one time bullied, either in person or over the internet. Talk to them about what they are doing and how they are hurting other people, make sure that they understand the severity of their actions.
  • Talk to them about why they are doing what they are doing and listen to them, don’t react out of anger.
  • Monitor their online and phone behavior to make sure that they are not continuing this type of behavior.
  • If the problem persists and it doesn’t seem like an isolated offense involve your school authorities in order to show your child that this is a major problem. You may want to seek professional counseling to help your child overcome their problem.

…to prevent cyberbullying from happening:

  • Keep the family computer in a public area where you spend a good deal of time.
  • Encourage “offline time” with your family. Try to have everyone disconnect for an extended period of time every evening, this could include having family dinner or practicing some shared hobbies together.
  • Have open conversations about bullying and cyberbullying, discuss why it’s wrong and what your child should do if they see it.
  • Make sure your child knows how to maintain their “digital reputation” and knows not to share personal information that they wouldn’t want made public with anyone. Discuss how to use privacy settings and talk about how to block unwanted content and texts. Teens can report offensive posts, images, and videos to the social media company, they can report and block harassing phone numbers in a community phone book.

For more information on preventing cyberbullying and what to do if you’re experiencing cyberbullying ConnectSafely.org and the Cyberbullying Research Center has many resources for teens, parents and educators.

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Setting Intentions in the New Year

A new year, a new start. Each year 62% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions hoping to make positive and healthy changes. Statistics show that within the first two weeks, 25% of those same Americans have given up on their goals, and only 8% reach their ultimate goal by the end of the year (www.statisticbrain.com). These numbers are not encouraging. In 2019, try focusing on setting positive intentions rather than unrealistic resolutions that may fizzle out faster than you can say Happy New Year.

Set realistic and reachable intentions

If 36% of people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions by February, it is likely they are not setting goals that are realistic or reachable. When setting resolutions, choose intentions that make sense. Goals that are interesting, fun and that you are motivated to keep are more likely to end in success. If you want to read more, set a goal of reading a certain number of books or completing a challenging but interesting book series. If weight loss is a goal, choose a fun way to reach your goal weight. If you despise running, don’t plan to shed pounds on the treadmill. Pick an activity you love and incorporate it into your exercise routine while choosing healthy meal options. “I made a reading goal this year to read my age in books,” says Stephanie Loux, mom of three. “It was a fun self-care resolution which made it easier to reach. It also helped me discuss books with friends.”

Set measurable and specific intentions

How will you know if you have reached your goals? Many people give up on their resolutions because they don’t know how to achieve them or when they have been completed. Examples of immeasurable goals include “Get healthy,” “Become more organized” or “Save money.” Be specific when setting intentions. How will you become healthier? Does that include changing your eating habits? Incorporating exercise? What type of exercise and how often? Your goals need to be both measurable and specific so that you know how to achieve them. Goals such as “Raise my grade in science class from a B to an A,” “Read one book a month” or “Save x amount of dollars for a family vacation” are all goals that are both specific and measurable. These types of intentions are great because you know exactly how to reach them, when you have reached them and when to celebrate your success.

Reward yourself

Speaking of celebrating, don’t forget to set some rewards for yourself as you are choosing your New Year’s intentions. This will help motivate you to follow through when things get challenging. Some ideas could include – “If I lose 15 pounds, I will buy three new outfits.” or for your child, “If you complete your reading goals, you can pick a special toy.” Pick a reward that is enough to motivate you or your child and work together towards your goal.

Don’t overdo it

Many people make the mistake of setting too many intentions or goals that are not attainable, setting themselves up for failure. When you are creating your intentions, list all the areas that you would like to work on. Once you have a list, narrow it down to the items that are realistic, measurable and come with a reward. Prioritize and categorize your goals. Can you consolidate any? Do you see a theme? Which goals are you most excited about? Make your list again and try to be as specific as possible in order to give yourself the best chance of success. If you have several that you would like to achieve, keep your list around so that you can move on to another goal after you complete one of your resolutions. “I find that setting goals for shorter terms, say three months, is easier to stick to than a year-long endeavor,” says Kelly Lawton of Olathe. “It allows me to reevaluate my progress and reset or restart as I need without the guilt.”

While coming up with a list of intentions for the year, keep them positive. Give yourself permission to create intentions that are fun rather than a punishment or chore. When we create goals that are actually accomplishable and set rewards for our completion of them, we are much more likely to be successful.

Reframe Your Resolutions to Intentions

Most resolutions are never reached; try reframing your goals to intentions this year and make them more attainable and realistic.

Resolution: Lose weight
Intention: Create a healthier lifestyle by eating healthier and exercising regularly. Focus on how you feel rather than the scale.

Resolution: Save money
Intention: Create a budget and stick to it, buy used when possible, spend less, save more. What are you saving for? Be specific (college, vacation, pay off debt, etc.)

Resolution: Spend more time with friends and family
Intention: Host get-togethers for friends, put it on the calendar, plan regular family game nights. Ask someone to help you plan events, so you aren’t doing it alone.

Resolution: Get organized
Intention: Define what area feels the most unorganized and focus on that. Tackle one area at a time. Use organizational tools that are realistic and will work for you long term.

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Cold Weather Destinations: Find Your Winter Fun With These Trips

Snow in Florida? Yes, it is a thing, thanks to SnowCat Ridge in Dade City. They have a 60-foot tall, 400-foot-long tubing hill with single, tandem and 10-person tubes! At night, there is a music and light show on the hill. Want to build a snowman? Check out their snow play area, complete with a snowball target area and a bunny slope for little ones under 42” tall. They also have an outdoor skating rink. Bring your own skates or rent a pair. There is even an area for beginners. Food, firepits and a gift shop are also available. Only a 2-3 hour drive from our area. Check them out and reserve your lift tickets at https://snowcatridge.com/.

The closest places for skiing and true winter conditions from Florida are the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina – at least an 8-hour drive. 

  • Sapphire Valley Resort, North Carolina:
    Main run is 1,600 ft. Learning slope, tube park, instruction available, quad lift and firepit and park at the bottom of the slope. For more information, visit https://sapphirevalleyresorts.com.
  • Cataloochie Ski Area, Maggie Valley, North Carolina:
    18 trails and 5 lifts, lessons and lodging available. Day and night skiing.  https:\\cataloochie.com.
  • Sugar Mountain, North Carolina:
    Great variety at Sugar Mountain – skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, tubing, ski school, kids events and child care. They also have lodging, dining and shopping. 18 trails and 8 lifts.
  • Appalachian Ski Mountain, North Carolina:
    Skiing, terrain park and ice skating, as well as lessons and kids programs. They also have lodging, dining, a nursery and RV hookups.

    Want to stay on the east coast and see a bit of Olympic History? Head to Lake Placid (a 19-hour drive, a flight into Albany, New York, followed by a 2-hour drive or fly into the Adirondack Regional Airport.)
  • Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain:
    Ice Skating, Snowshoeing, Cross country Skiing and Whiteface Mountain for downhill skiing. 94 Trails and 12 lifts. Check out the Olympic Ski Jump facility while you are there.

Denver has direct flights from Jacksonville or Orlando and is a great place to ski (and see museums if you want to add to your trip). Ski resorts within a 2-hour drive from Denver are:

Eldora Mountain Resort   https://www.eldora.com

Winter Park   https://www.winterparkresort.com/

Keystone Ski Resort   https://www.keystoneresort.com/

Copper Mountain   https://www.coppercolorado.com

Echo Mountain   https://echomntn.com/

Loveland Ski Area  https://skiloveland.com/

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area   https://www.arapahoebasin.com/

Beaver Creek Ski Resort   https://www.beavercreek.com/

Vail Ski Resort   https://www.vail.com/

Breckenridge Ski Resort   https://www.breckenridge.com/

Granby Ranch    https://granbyranch.com/

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What Parents Can Do to Help Their Students

Monitor and encourage school attendance: Regular attendance is a critical factor in school success because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend school consistently. All students who have reached the age of 6 years or who will have reached the age of 6 years by February 1 until the age of 16 years are required to attend school regularly. Each parent of a child within the compulsory attendance age is responsible for their child’s attendance as required by law.

Know what your child is learning: The Year-at-a-Glance is a document that informs parents and students of the recommended pacing and content standards for selected courses. It includes the topics to be taught each quarter and a list of instructional resources. The Year-at-a-Glance is only a recommended pacing guide; school leaders and teachers make the final decision regarding the pacing of any program of study. The classroom teacher is always the best source of information regarding content and pacing. The Year-at-a-Glance is supplied as a model of one recommended path to the completion of a course.

Know where your child can get help – Use the FloridaStudents.org website:
This site is specially designed for students and parents. It has over 2,000 tutorials, videos, and other resources to support your child’s learning in language arts, math, science and civics. To get help on a specific concept, just click on the subject, the grade level, and the standard you need at https://floridastudents.org/#.

Read to your child: Reading is the heart of education. Read to your child daily from a book that he/she cannot quite yet read on his/her own. For information on what to read to preschool, elementary, middle or high school students, please read The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

Stay informed: Keep up with changes and what your children should be doing at the “Just for Parents” FLDOE website: http://www.FLdoe.org/family/.

Take your child to the library:  There are libraries located throughout every county.

Encourage writing: Writing makes thinking easy to see. Write with your child and let him/her see you writing – shopping lists, thank you notes, to-do lists. Work with your child on his/her written assignments to add detail and to express ideas in order.

Make math part of your language: Your home is a great place to begin to explore and “talk” mathematics with your child. Incorporating math activities and language into familiar daily routines will show your child how math works in everyday life. Play board games, solve puzzles and ponder brain teasers with your child. Your child will enjoy these kinds of activities while enhancing his or her mathematical thinking. Point out the mathematics involved, and have your child discuss the strategies he or she used. For more tips on helping your child succeed in mathematics, visit the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics https://www.nctm.org/.

Make science real: Science is all around us. Involve your child in gardening, caring for family pets, trips to the beach, looking at the stars in the night sky, conducting experiments and other activities that can contribute to a love of science.

Take your child on a “field study”: There are 24 miles of beaches and lots of history in our city. Take your child to downtown St. Augustine and surrounding historical sites to help them imagine life long ago. Social studies opportunities surround us in St. Johns County. Our community is also full of artists – painters, sculptors, glass blowers, potters and musicians. Local schools offer excellent fine arts programs, exhibits and performances for families to explore the arts together.

Get moving: Physical activity is important for good health. Walk, bike ride, surf or play ball with your child. Make it a point to do something active with him/her daily.

Request a mentor: Mentoring is a one-to-one relationship between a caring adult and a student who could benefit from extra help and support. Mentoring has a proven record as a powerful factor in helping students improve their grades and self-esteem and in raising goals and expectations. Mentors serve as coaches, supporters, role models and advocates and work closely with teachers and school staff. Parents interested in the possibility of having a mentor for their child should contact the school’s guidance counselor for more information.



Reading and writing: Talk to your child as often as possible. Talk about his/her day, hopes, goals, and interests. Use interesting words as you talk. Play word games with your child.

Parent-Teacher Conferences: One of the best ways to find out how your child is doing in school is through parent-teacher conferences. Your child’s teacher may request to schedule a conference; however, if you would like to speak to your child’s teacher, you may call, write or e-mail the teacher to set one up. Please be flexible when scheduling a time. Remember, this is the opportunity for you to work with the teacher as a team. After the conference, follow up. Keep in touch. Talk to your child about the conference. Stress the positive things the teacher discussed and talk about suggestions for improvement.

Websites: There is a wealth of information on each school’s website. Get in the habit of checking it regularly for school and district updates.

Check Home Access Center: Access at https://homeaccess.stjohns.k12.fl.us to check grades, FAST scores, assignments and attendance. See Home Access Center for more information.

Pay attention to what comes home in your child’s backpack.

Home Access Center


St. Johns County School District has a web-based service called Home Access Center (HAC) to allow both students and parents to view student educational information.

When using HAC, you will be able to see:

  • A calendar of significant events (assignments due, field trips, absences,)
  • Student’s schedule of classes (not available during summer months)
  • Detailed attendance and discipline information
  • Homework assignments, tests and grades
  • Current progress in each class (not available during summer months or for dual enrollment courses)
  • Credits earned toward graduation
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • Emergency contact information

Parents and guardians will be required to show a photo ID at the child’s school to be granted a username and password to HAC. Once granted a HAC account, you may use the same account to view all your children’s information.

Students will be assigned their own HAC accounts. Account information will be distributed to students at the school’s discretion.

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Insuring Your Teen Driver in 2023

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child. That includes making sure they’re properly insured when they start driving. Here’s what you need to know about insuring your teen driver in Florida in 2023.

Get Quotes from Different Insurance Companies When You’re Looking to Insure Your Teen Driver in 2023

As a parent, you may be understandably concerned when your child is ready to hit the roads in 2023. Shopping for car insurance for a teen can be overwhelming – but getting quotes from different insurance companies can help you find a policy that meets all your needs while providing high-quality coverage.

Get quotes from at least three insurance companies to ensure you’re getting the best rate and coverage available. After comparing, consider talking with the provider’s customer service or speaking with an independent insurance agent to help explain any discrepancies or questions about any of the policies.

Once you’ve considered all of your options, make sure to find the most suitable policy for your teen driver before signing off on anything. Insuring your car in Florida doesn’t have to be a headache!

Compare Rates and Coverage Options When Looking for Car Insurance for Your Teen Driver

Comparing car insurance for teen drivers can be a daunting task for any parent. Finding the right coverage that offers the most protection without breaking the bank is an important step in ensuring your teen gets the most from their insurance policy. It’s important to compare and contrast different rates and coverage options not only between carriers, but also within a specific carrier’s offerings.

Make sure to understand terms such as liability, liability limits, deductibles, accident forgiveness and more so you can make an informed decision about which car insurance policy provides your teen driver with the best balance of cost and coverage.

Choose The Best Option for Your Family

The decision of which car insurance coverage is best for your family when getting a policy for teenagers can be a difficult one. When considering the best option, it’s important to consider the various types of coverage that may be available and what kind of protection is offered.

It’s also wise to think about how much you’ll be able to afford for monthly premiums and if special discounts are available that could help lower costs. You may also want to research any additional benefits that some policies offer, such as accident forgiveness or discounts after passing a driver’s education program.

Taking the time to have an informed conversation with your insurer and make sure all your potential questions have been answered will result in choosing a car insurance policy that offers you peace of mind while protecting your family’s best interests.

Make Sure to Review Your Car Insurance Policy Every Year, Especially When You Have Teen Drivers on Your Coverage

When you become a parent, one of the most important things you can do is make sure your family is safe. Adding teens to your car insurance policy can be a tricky task, and it’s essential to review coverage every year.

Making sure that your teen drivers are aware of rules and regulations for driving is also important for safety. With the peace of mind knowing that your children are properly covered, you can feel confident that they are in capable hands if any incident were to happen on the road.

Ways to Keep Your Teen’s Insurance Premium Lower

As a parent, finding ways to keep your teen’s insurance premium lower can be a great way to save money while still protecting them. There are several strategies you can use to ensure that your teen is getting the most affordable rate on their car insurance while still staying safe.

  • Encourage your teen to maintain good grades; many insurers offer discounts up to 15% if they have higher grades in school.
  • Talk with them about defensive driving and driving habits that could impact the premium; things like speeding or other reckless behavior will cause it to go up.
  • Consider increasing deductibles and getting higher liability limits as your budget allows.

Talk to Your Teen about The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Communication between parents and teens is key when it comes to discussing the dangers of distracted driving. With fatal accidents due to distracted driving on the rise, it’s important for parents to take this opportunity to educate their teen about why this behavior is incredibly dangerous.

Explain that looking at a cell phone while driving slows reaction times and can lead to tragedy. Even though you can’t always be in the car with your teen, you want to provide guidance so they stay safe on the road.

Talk with them about alternative methods of responding that won’t put them and others at risk, such as checking messages at a red light or pulling over before answering a text. A conversation now could save lives in the future.

Set up a System Where You Can Track Your Teen’s Driving Habits

Ensuring your teen is a safe driver is more important than ever. One way to ensure the safety of your teen on the road is to set up a system where you can track their driving habits.

With today’s technology, it has never been easier to build such a system. Smartphone applications and in-vehicle monitoring devices provide parents access to information about their teens’ driving activities and behavior, like when they are speeding or distracted behind the wheel.

By having these insights into their teen’s driving habits, parents can help coach and educate them on safer practices while also providing peace of mind that their child is making safe choices while driving.

It’s never too early to start thinking about how to insure your teen driver. By getting quotes from different insurance companies and comparing rates and coverage options, you can choose the best option for your family. And don’t forget to review your policy every year to make sure it still meets your needs.

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Where to Donate Clothes and Toys after You Clean Out Your Closets


January is a great time to clean out closets, drawers and toy chests. But what to do with what you clean out? You hate to fill up the landfill with clothes and toys in good condition. We have helped by giving you this list of places where you can donate your gently used items.

Clay County: 

Clothes Closet
1010 Fromhart Street
Orange Park, FL 32073
(904) 264-5239


FHS Thrift Store
480 Palm Coast Pkwy SW
Palm Coast, FL 32137
(386) 446-9416

Emmanuel’s Closet Mission
1000 Palm Coast Pkwy SW 106 & #107
Palm Coast, FL 32137

Community Cats of Palm Coast Thrift Store
4500 US-1 Unit 202
Bunnell, FL 32110
(386) 585-4256

Flagler Habitat For Humanity ReStore
2 W Moody Boulevard
Bunnell, FL 32110
(386) 437-9855

Hammock Thrift Store
5404 N. Ocean Shore Boulevard
Palm Coast, FL  32137
(386) 225-4846
Facebook:  Hammock Thrift Shop

Alpha’s Thrift Store
4751 E Moody Blvd #1
Bunnell, FL 32110
(386) 437-8180

Christmas Come True, Inc.
2729 E Moody Blvd Ste. 103
Bunnell, FL 32110
(386) 302-1290

Halifax Health Hospice Resale Shop
122-126 Flagler Plaza Drive
Palm Coast, FL 32137
(386) 439-0333

Flagler Habitat ReStore Palm Coast
5 Hargrove Grde
Palm Coast, FL 32137
(386) 202-2401

Alpha’s Thrift Store
4751 E Moody Blvd #1
Bunnell, FL 32110
(386) 437-8180


Salvation Army Thrift Store
1415 Ridgewood Avenue
Holly Hill, FL 32117
(386) 672-1848

Goodwill – Holly Hill
1577 N Nova Road
Holly Hill, FL 32117
(386) 257-3247

DOC “For The Least of These” Thrift Store
610 Ridgewood Avenue
Holly Hill, FL 32117
(386) 310-4913

Goodwill – Holly Hill
1577 N Nova Road
Holly Hill, FL 32117
(386) 257-3247

Goodwill – DeLand
1600 N Woodland Boulevard
DeLand, FL 32720
(386) 285-0975

Goodwill – Port Orange
1752 Dunlawton Avenue
Port Orange, FL 32129
(386) 898-0308

Big Sisters Thrift LLC
201 S Ridgewood Ave #5
Edgewater, FL 32132
(386) 478-8505
Facebook under Big Sisters Thrift

Once Upon A Child Daytona Beach
2525 W International Speedway Blvd #130
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(386) 281-5731

A Second Blessing Thrift Store
785 S. Nova Road
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
(386) 677-6317

Junior League Thrift Store
122 S. Palmetto Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(386) 253-7486
Facebook: Junior League, Daytona Beach

St. Johns County:

Betty Griffin Center Thrift Store
6509, 1961 A1A S
St. Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 471-4716

Clothes Closet
1010 Fromhart Street
Orange Park, FL 32073
(904) 264-5239

Around We Go
900 Anastasia Boulevard, Suite B
St. Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 770-2261

Goodwill Centers
1115 St. Johns Parkway
St. Johns, FL 32259
(904) 204-4002

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