The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

What parents want to know

With work, family and finances, modern parenting can sometimes feel like a juggling act. The Gerber Life parenting blog gives parents advice and tips to help you take on today-and plan for tomorrow. Our parenting blog offers articles on saving money, college planning, family insurance, parenting tips, living green, and health and safety. Although we may not be able to manage your retirement account, drive your all-star athlete to practice, or cook your family's favorite three-cheese lasagna, our parenting blog can provide you with ideas, advice and tips so that you can focus on what matters most: raising healthy, happy kids. We invite you to join the conversation and enjoy our parenting blog.

  1. Parents Receive A+ for Getting Involved in Their Children’s Education

    Help Educate your ChildWhen parents are asked about their child’s education, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the school that their son or daughter attends. The reality is that while school plays an important role in what children learn, parents are the driving force behind how much their children achieve.

    Research shows that when parents are involved, students have higher grades, better test scores and increased graduation rates.

    As the school year begins, think about ways you can make this school year a family affair. Here are some suggestions that have worked for other parents::

    1. Hello, my name is… An important way to support your son or daughter is to get to know his or her teacher. Be sure to attend parent-teacher conferences so that you understand the teacher’s expectations. This will also give you a chance to hear what the teacher thinks are your child’s strengths and areas that need improvement. You’ll have an opportunity, too, to help the teacher learn more about your child’s personality.

    2. It’s time for homework. For many parents, helping a child with homework can be one of the most frustrating times of the day, especially if the child is disinterested or distracted. However, homework is an extremely important task that not only helps children practice what they are learning in the classroom but also builds discipline and responsibility.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to create an environment that is good for doing homework:

    • Give children a work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that offers privacy. Ideally, this should be a relatively quiet place with plenty of light. In addition, help your children to gather the necessary tools to complete their homework before they begin it.

    • Establish a household rule that the TV stays off during homework time.

    • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but don’t do children’s homework for them.

    • Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. Close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically.

    3. May I help? Volunteering at your children’s school is a wonderful way to show them that you care about them and their education. Here are several ways that a parent can volunteer assistance: become a classroom helper, help plan or chaperone a field trip, attend school board meetings, or volunteer to speak in the classroom or at a career day.

    4. Get excited about what they’re learning. A great way to show you’re excited about what your children are learning is to ask them questions and listen to their answers. Help with a project by pitching in to gather the materials. Study with your children. Create games to help them learn. Put notes of encouragement in their backpack. Many schools and teachers also use the Internet to show what the students are learning. Visiting the designated websites may even let you know what the kids are learning before they tell you.

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    Categories: College Planning
  2. Get your Kids Moving to a Healthier Lifestyle

    Healthy Lifestyles for ChildrenGetting a child to exercise can be a real challenge for some parents, especially if their son or daughter doesn’t like sports, isn’t athletically gifted, or prefers watching TV or playing video games. Still, this is one battle that’s worth fighting, as reports a study earlier this year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. The study found that students who exercise regularly miss fewer classes, are less likely to engage in risky or antisocial behavior, concentrate more, and attain higher test scores.

    In this tough economy, when many school districts are trimming their budgets by trimming gym classes, and with more children overweight than ever, finding creative ways to get your children up and about has never been more important.

    Here are four simple steps to get your kids moving to something other than the couch, refrigerator or game chair:

  3. Smart Steps for Saving on School Supplies

    Saving for school suppliesIf you have a school-age child, you know that back-to-school supplies are a necessity. Thankfully, though, overspending isn’t. In fact, with a little bit of planning, parents can stretch their dollars without sacrificing quality or quantity.

    These five smart steps will help you get more bang from your back-to-school bucks.

    1. Don’t buy what you already own. A survey this past July by the company Deloitte, revealed that 26% of parents with school-age children are planning to reuse last year’s school items. That’s a really smart way to cut costs in a tough economy. So, before heading to the store, be sure to check your drawers and closets (and even under the back seat of the minivan) for back-to-school items that might be usable again this year—things like backpacks, lunch boxes, book covers, pencils, crayons, and glue sticks. Having just one of each of these items could decrease your spending by roughly $40 per child.
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    Categories: Saving Money
  4. Most Popular College Investment Funds

    Popular College Savings PlansWhile many people consider college savings plans the same as college investment funds, there is a difference. When you save for college using standard bank or credit union accounts, you receive a stated return (interest) at a disclosed rate.

    Technically, college investment plans generate earnings based on the performance success—or lack—of the college investment options you choose. You should also evaluate child investment options in light of the presence or absence of tax consequences for earnings and/or withdrawals.

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    Categories: College Planning
     
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  5. Buying a Term Life Insurance Plan: How Much Coverage Do You Need?

    Buying a term life insurance planA term life insurance plan is a good way to provide peace-of-mind, knowing that your loved ones will have the income they need to maintain their current standard of living if you die. Losing a spouse or parent is hard enough without financial concerns during this difficult time.

    To determine exactly how much term life insurance coverage you’ll need, follow these steps.

    1. Discuss your burial wishes with your loved one and estimate funeral expenses, typically between $5,000 and $15,000.
    2. Calculate your debt, including your mortgage. Your family will be able to live on less if they can pay off all outstanding debt in one lump sum from your life insurance settlement.
    3. Include college education for your children. Estimate college costs to rise by about 5 percent per year. If your child intends to work to pay for part of school, you may get away with slightly less.
    4. In most cases, you won’t need to replace 100 percent of your income, especially if your spouse works as well and you’re already paying for childcare. Instead, estimate amounts totaling 50 percent of your pre-tax earnings until your retirement.
    5. Subtract income from other sources to get a final term life insurance coverage estimate. Any investments you have that your spouse can tap into (not counting retirement accounts) can help defray life insurance costs.

    You’ll want to reassess your term life insurance coverage requirements over time, as your debt drops, your salary rises, or if your family or living conditions change. Look for a flexible policy that permits you to change the amount of coverage over time.

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