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This week, Alabama students will join over 8,000 other Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) members at California’s San Diego Convention Center to participate in the 2016 FCCLA National Leadership Conference (NLC).
 
The FCCLA NLC provides wonderful opportunities for students to compete in national competitions, gain valuable leadership skills, explore interesting career pathways, have fun making new friends, and be inspired by some of our nation’s leading professionals and top motivational speakers. The theme of this year’s conference is “Empowered.”

                                                                                                                                             Sponsored by: 

By Marlena Rice

 

Fall is finally here: Hello cooler weather, back-to-school, and football! Parents who have gotten all too familiar with the easier flow of traffic from home to work are now readjusting their morning schedules to entertain the influx of school buses and University traffic that were easily forgotten during the summer months. As parents, as we adjust to our new schedules, our little people are adjusting as well. But with new schools, new classrooms, new teachers and new friends comes butterflies and anxiety that we may not be used to seeing in our children. See below a list of ways to combat “school refusal,” a common form of anxiety that many of our children experience, whether it is easily recognizable or not. 

 

So what is school refusal? I think all parents have experienced excess clinging during morning drop-offs to school, avoidance, flat-out defiance and the good old-fashioned tantrum. In older children, this refusal may occur in terms of “not feeling well” in attempts to stay home, away from all things that are causing their anxiety (the fear of not knowing the correct answers in class, having to meet new friends, or even worries about who to sit with at lunchtime), as well as real physical symptoms, like stomachaches, or nausea.*

 

Usually, these childhood fears dissipate over the course of learning a new routine. We have to wake up a little bit earlier to avoid the additional school traffic on the road in the mornings, and our children have to adjust their minds to what is new in their lives before becoming comfortable.

 

How can we, as parents, help to combat school refusal?

 

·       Don’t rush your mornings. Prepare lunches and backpacks the evening prior to bedtime and wake up just a little bit earlier in the mornings. This gives you time to eat breakfast with your child, talk about the day’s expectations and gives the child a chance to voice any concerns they may have.

 

·       For little ones entering a schooling environment for the first time, adjust them to school in small doses. Once assigned a classroom and teacher, ask if you can start dropping your child in for a few hours a day to help them adjust.

 

·       Talk with your children about their fears and feelings, and find solutions together for things that may cause them stress or concern. A good time to do this is during a family dinner when your child is relaxed and comfortable.

 

·       Encourage playdates for little ones and extracurricular activities for older children. This will help them relax while being around people their age in a similar environment. Having your child build excitement over activities that are school-related will not only encourage them to like attending each morning, but it may very well make them more in tune with the classroom aspects of school.

 

·       Most importantly, make yourself known at your children’s school. Know your child’s principals, directors, teachers and part-time aids. Not only is this a great way to let educators know just how involved you are, but your child will be proud that you are involved.

 

*While some of these symptoms are normal and affect a large majority of children, should you notice 

 your child not getting better, consult a mental health professional.*

 

Marlena Rice is a local mom and author. Her new book, Pacifiers, Flatbeds and Barn Wood Thingamajigs, a 'Come to Jesus Guide' for the New, Southern Mom,” will be available on Amazon.com this fall. Follow Marlena on Instagram at marlena_rice.

 

Article sponsored by ERC Roofing and Construction.

Find them on the web at: http://alabamaroofingexpert.com

 

By Tori Linville

 

College dorms are a home away from home, so it’s only natural to make it more comfortable. Some go the full nine yards and hire an interior decorator, but there are some easy and affordable decorating hacks that don’t break the bank. Check out what tips we picked up from Pinterest and add them to your room this semester!

 

Utilize as much wall space as possible

 

Use the walls around you as the built-in space savers they were meant to be:

 

·      Use clear command hooks, staggered down the wall to hang up festive jewelry for eye-popping color. Another option would to decorate a bulletin board with colorful jewelry pieces that dry the eye.

·      Create a simple shape out of pictures for a collage that doubles as a focal point on the wall.

·      Hang some strings of lights around your room to offset the harsh fluorescence of the dorm light.

·      Using some cheap twine string, command hooks and clothespins, create a picture collage by stringing the twine along in a random shape. Attach photos to the string with the clothespins

 

Optimize storage space wherever possible

 

·      Hang a refrigerator caddy over your mini fridge to store utensils and dishes

·      Use hollow ottomans for multi-purpose seating and storage

·      Hang storage racks inside closets and use hangers that can be staggered in closets

·      Cut up old cereal boxes for desk organizers

·      Repurpose a shower caddy for above-the-desk organization

·      If you don’t have a side table, use a bedside caddy for storage

·      If you aren’t using an over-the-door shoe rack for actual shoes, make the a storage hub for crafts, make up, hats, etc.

 

Most importantly, have fun!

 

Photo Credit: hercampus.com

 

Article sponsored by Spiller Furniture and Mattresses

Find them on the web at: http://spillerfurniture.com

By Tori Linville

 

Back to school isn’t just about backpacks and new classes. It’s the one time of year that a student’s immune system is re-exposed to millions of germs after a three month break. It’s back to the cafeteria for school lunches instead of food at home. It’s back absent-mindedly touching doorknobs and noses. If you’re not too grossed out, here are some reminders and tips to helping the transition from home to school easier on the whole family.

 

Stress the importance of common sense when spreading germs, meaning:

 

·      Washing hands after using the restroom to reduce the spread of sickness. For little ones, reminding them to wash their hands through the duration of the Happy Birthday song two times in their heads can be a helpful tip.

 

·      Cover mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing

 

·      Keep hands away from eyes and mouth

 

·      Regularly use hand sanitizers and disinfectants, especially after touching eyes, mouth, keyboards, community tools such as scissors, etc.

 

·      Don’t share food, drink or personal items with classmates in order to reduce illness and other possible contagions

 

·      Double check for possible sicknesses before arranging any play dates or sleepovers

 

·      Pack a lunch complete with more whole grains, fruits and veggies. Low-fat dairy products and low-sodium and low-fat choices are best along with portion control to make a healthy meal

 

·      Ensure plenty of exercise and sleep for a healthy body

 

 

Some products that are backpack and pocket-friendly and can help slow down sickness include:

 

·      Pocket sized Germ-X

·      Personal Tissue Packs

·      Tea Tree Oil (to prevent lice)

·      Sanitizing Wipes

·      Vitamin C Drink (or drink mix)

 

Photo Credit: Barterco.com

 

Article sponsored by Med Center Urgent Care.

Find them on the web: http://www.medcenterurgentcare.com

By Tori Linville

 

Being at college, let alone paying for college, can be a completely nerve-wracking experience. The game has changed and so have the finances. There are so many different avenues to financing a college education that it can easily be overwhelming and confusing. While there’s a never-ending amount of information about student loans and other ways to pay for college, the first step isn’t what you might think.

 

Organize your thoughts and prep mentally for the Financial Aid Jungle.


Doubt and assumptions are your worst enemies when looking to apply for a loan or scholarship. Believe it or not, many people assume they’re not good enough in some type of way to qualify for the various types of aid. It’s never too soon or too late for investigating which loans and scholarships you can apply for.

 

The best tools to use are perseverance, tenacity and self-control. Just getting started with the search for the correct aid is an extremely large step to finding the best aid possible. Taking on a controlled money-saving plan to supplement whatever aid you receive is also a big battle, as cutting corners is something that isn’t taught in a college course but picked up along the way.

 

Lastly, every bit counts. If that means writing a five page essay for a $50 scholarship that you won’t have to owe later plus interest, why wouldn’t you do it?

 

Exhaust all avenues of securing aid

 

To figure out what kind of funding you can secure, you need to know all the different ways to get some moolah. See rachelcruze.com for further info. about what types of aid to look out for.

 

·      College-Specific Aid – colleges are sneaky sometimes. Scholarships aren’t always published and to see what you could be missing out on requires some dedication and legwork. While a phone call is okay, the ideal would be to visit the financial aid office to check for any and all opportunities you could be eligible for.

 

·      Federal Aid – this is where your FAFSA comes in. While federal aid does have the largest amount of aid available, it’s mostly based on financial need that is reflected by the household income. A.k.a. don’t rely on just your FAFSA to get you to the finish line.

 

·      State Aid – this kind of help is usually financial need + achievements = money. This is where the hard work and studying pays off.

 

·      Military Aid – if you or a family plan on serving or have served the country, military aid is a definite possibility.

 

·      Personal – obviously, this comes from your wallet. Last resort only.

 

Use loans as a last option for funding your experience and remember that debt is NOT a requirement for a college education.

 

Focus on Federal loans first: Known as federally guaranteed Stafford loans, these are usually offered as part of financial aid awards and have lower-than-market interest rates. Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest immediately, while subsidized loans don’t start until you graduate.

 

After that, consider a PLUS Loan: Federal Direct PLUS loans are open to parents of dependent undergrads and graduate students. They’re based on your credit rating and FAFSA. The government insures the loan and sets the interest rate and benefits. Parents have to apply for this loan and an application can be found at a financial aid office. You can defer the repayment until six months after no longer being enrolled.

 

Finally, consider private loans as a last resort of the last resort. (College financial aid offices occasionally give private loans. These don’t have to be accepted.)

 

Research other secure and stable strategies to help generate funds

 

Look into 529 College Savings Plans: These come in two different breeds, but can help a ton.

 

A 529 college savings plan simply helps save for college. These are usually managed by an investment company and are state-sponsored. You can enroll in a plan from any state – eligibility isn’t determined by residency.

 

A 529 prepaid tuition plan cover future tuition at today’s prices.


To enroll in a 529, there are additional requirements. See collegedata.com for tons of free and useful information to get started with your financial aid journey.

 

Article sponsored by Belle Chambre.

Find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/BelleChambreTuscaloosa

By Tori Linville

 

School is almost in session for another year. Teachers will be sending home assignments to complete and requests for classroom supplies. Children will be stuffed with knowledge and lunches. To survive the back to school daze, we’ve got some great ideas to try that will supply smiles all around. Good grades not guaranteed.

 

Teacher Survival Kit

 

A great way to get on a teacher’s good side is an unforgettable survival kit. The start to the new school year requires tons of supplies that teachers need for the day to day of operating a classroom. Grab a small dollar store basket and line it with some tissue paper. Then, load it up with some of these goods:

 

·      Germ-X or any type of hand sanitizer

·      Post-It Notes

·      Pens

·      Pencils

·      Printer Paper

·      Notebook Paper (wide ruled)

·      A box of tissues

·      Paper Clips

·      Binder Clips

·      Dry-Erase Markers

·      Dry-Erase Board Cleaner

·      Candy

·      Stickers for grading

 

Back to School Candy Pencil

 

Send your kiddos back to school with these treats to hand out to classmates. They’ll be sure to be a class favorite and allows for a quick break from all the learning!

 

What you’ll need:

            Rolo candy

            Hershey Kisses

            Yellow scrapbook paper

            Pink scrapbook paper

            Metallic of foil scrapbook paper

            Paper cutter (optional)

            Markers, black

            Glue Stick

            Scissors

            Ruler

            1 piece of lined paper (to guide)

            Large skewer or scoring tool

           

What you’ll make:

1.     Cut Paper

Yellow paper: cut 3.5 in. by 4.5 in.

Pink paper: cut .5 in. by 3. 5 in.

Metallic paper: cut 3.4 in. by 3.5 in.

 

Cut a circle from another piece of pink paper by tracing around the rolo candy and cut out.

 

2.     Using the lined paper as a guide, score the long side of the yellow paper every two lines.

 

3.     Write a fun, nice message in the middle of the paper. Fold the paper on each of     the scored lines.

 

4.     Attach the pink and metallic paper to the end of the yellow with glue.

 

5.     Carefully remove the white paper from the Kiss and color the tip with a black marker.

 

6.     Using glue, wrap the Rolo candy with the paper and secure, then add the Kiss.

 

7.     Attach the circle of pink paper to the end of the candy with glue.

 

Check out this website for more fun school-themed craft ideas.

 

School Countdown/Art Display

 

Using a simple picture frame and some twine, you can generate excitement about the upcoming school year by displaying a countdown and then displaying any artwork the children come home with during the year.

 

Just take a large picture frame and wrap it with twine. Start by tying a secure knot with the twine at the top right of the frame, then wrap around the frame.

 

Hang a fun, festive countdown by securing sheets that display the days with a clothespin. After school has started, use clothespins to hang artwork and enjoy!

 

Article sponsored by Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

Find them on the web: http://www.hschurch.com

 

Birmingham Post-Herald (BPH) is Birmingham, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

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