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Tips for Choosing and Using a Child’s Car Seat

Tips for Choosing and Using a Child’s Car Seat

When you have a baby, there are so many decisions and purchases to make that it can have your head spinning, particularly if you are a first-time parent. From the stroller and the cot to the nursery decor and the clothing, to name just a few, there are plenty of choices you have to make.

One of the most important ones, though, that you really don’t want to rush or get wrong, is your selection of a child’s car seat. Take a look at statistics and you’ll see that thousands of children are injured in motor vehicle crashes each year (the number was more than 120,000 in 2014), and sadly hundreds of children die too.

Many injuries and fatalities occur because children are not safely buckled in or strapped into a car seat during transit. In fact, a CDC study found that, in one year, over 600,000 children aged between zero and 12 rode in vehicles without the proper safety precautions at least some of the time.

In recent weeks, the death of two children in the United States has further raised awareness of the importance of the proper installation of child safety seats. It is imperative that parents select a car seat that is the right option for their child’s age and size, and that it is installed properly. Read on for some tips you can follow today to ensure your family stays safe when traveling by vehicle.

How to Choose a Child’s Car Seat

When it comes to choosing a child’s car seat, you’ll find that there are two main types to choose from: infant carrier car seats, and convertible car seats.

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Infant Seats

Infant car seats are designed to support smaller babies and can be more convenient when you have a young one. However, they are typically only suitable until your baby reaches between 20 to 30 pounds (the weight limit varies from car seat to car seat).

The major benefit of an infant car seat is that it can snap in and out of a sturdy base which gets strapped or latched to the backseat of your car. This means that it is easy to transfer a baby in and out of the car (which is particularly great if they are asleep); plus many models snap straight into stroller frames for convenient transport.

The drawback to the infant car seat, though, is that babies grow out of them quite quickly. Once a baby hits the weight limit of the seat or its head sits within an inch of the seat, you will need to move to a bigger option.

Convertible Seat

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A convertible car seat, on the other hand, can be adjusted to suit your baby as it gets bigger in weight and or length. These types of seats can be converted from a rear-facing position to a forward-facing one once your baby is big enough (generally seen as two years of age or up to 22 to 40 pounds). They can often accommodate children up to 70 pounds, and provide great flexibility and longevity as a result.

The downside of a convertible car seat is that it is less convenient if your baby is asleep since you can’t just snap the cradle out with the baby inside. Also, be aware that convertible seats, due to their nature, are typically a little less secure for newborns. If you decide to go with this type of seat, then make sure your little one fits very snugly — you may need to use a padded head bumper or other padding to stop a newborn’s head from wobbling around in the seat.

Notes for Any Seat

When selecting a car seat it pays to look for one that:

  • Will be easy to clean
  • Has clear, straight-forward instructions available if you want to install the seat yourself
  • Has easy-to-access harness adjusters and an easy-to-adjust harness height

How to Safely Install and Use a Child’s Car Seat

Installing your baby’s car seat correctly is imperative.

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Start With Your Car’s Owner’s Manual

Before you go shopping for a car seat for your baby, it is a good idea to read the owner’s manual for your vehicle so that you can see exactly where a seat can go (keep in mind child car seats must always be in the rear of the car, not the front), and how it must be installed.

Be aware of how much room you will have available in the back seat since large bases may not fit in smaller cars, and consider who else will need to sit in the back of the car and in what spot.

Check Which Attachment Option You Have

Car seats can be attached using either seat belts or a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, so check the user manual to see what option is available to you. Also, read up on where the LATCH attachments might be in your vehicle.

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Contact a Professional

After you have purchased a quality car seat, it is just as important that it is fitted in your vehicle correctly. If you want some assistance with this, consider utilizing a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician. These technicians are certified by the government in the proper installation of child car seats and can be found at locations such as hospitals, police stations, fire stations, and your local AAA. You will find a searchable database online via the NHTSA website if you need help locating a CPS technician in your area.

Featured photo credit: shutterstock.com via shutterstock.com

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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