Helping Your Child Stay Safe Online

child online Orlando Catholic School

The internet can be a great resource for developing minds. Children can form connections and find a wealth of information online. However, there is a dark side to having an infinite amount of information and access to others. With the internet being more a part of our lives than ever before, it’s vital to ensure your child’s online safety. Here are our tips for helping your child stay safe online:

Talk About Internet Safety

The first step in keeping your child safe is talking to him about safety. When your child first accesses the internet, start talking about what he’s reading, watching and doing online. Listen to your child’s thoughts on what he wants to do online. Each family handles this differently, but it helps if you establish clear rules. Discuss online behavior and its effects on offline life. Talk about online reputation, emphasizing that everything your child posts will be public and permanent. Remind your child that everyone he talks to online is a real person, so any hurtful comments he makes could have a long-term impact.

Track Your Child’s Online Habits

Keep the computer your child will be using in a central part of the house where you can monitor his activity. Check the browser history to make sure he’s not seeing anything he shouldn’t be. Aside from the websites and apps your child is using, pay attention to how much time he’s spending online. One way to do this is by setting a timer for each session for an agreed upon amount of time, like 30 minutes or an hour. When time is up, say so, and be firm. When it’s bedtime, consider turning off the Wi-Fi so the whole family can get offline for the night. 

online phone on social media next to laptop Orlando Catholic School

Know Who Your Child’s Online Friends Are

Before your child gets online, inform him that not everyone online is who they say they are. Look for warning signs, like spending long hours online at night, phone calls from strangers, and your child shutting off the computer when you walk in. Human trafficking is a growing problem that affects teens everywhere, even Central Florida, so it’s important to look out for the signs and have a conversation with your child. Talk to him about saying no, getting out of uncomfortable situations, and letting a teacher or parent know when something suspicious happens around him. Even if it doesn’t affect him directly, reporting suspicious behavior can save a life.

Along with the threat of human trafficking, cyberbullying is an issue for children, both being bullied and becoming the bully. Become friends with their social media accounts, and monitor their posts. If your child or his friends post something inappropriate, try to talk about it in private and offline. You want to be a trusted advisor, not an embarrassing parent. 

Find the Parental Controls

The good news is that parental controls are readily available. Internet service providers typically offer parental controls, so that’s a great place to start. Figure out how they work, and look into additional options like browser plugins and website filters to keep your child protected. Bookmark their favorite websites so they can easily access them. While you have a certain amount of control over what happens in your home, keep in mind that these filters aren’t perfect, and your child will be using the internet in other places, like at school and at friends’ houses.

mother stands behind child on computer Orlando Catholic School

Help Your Child Protect Themselves

To keep your child safe online, help them protect themselves. Tell your child why it’s important not to share information like their full name, location and school with strangers online. Show them how privacy filters work. No matter how hard we try, sometimes inappropriate messages get through. Teach your child how to report these types of messages and block accounts. At our Orlando Catholic school, we believe the internet can be a great resource for children, as long as they use it responsibly.

St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Give Up Waste for Lent

online shopping

Over the next 40 days of Lent, Christians around the world will take time to focus on their relationships with God. One step that many take is giving something up for Lent. In the past, we have recommended sacrificing soda, negativity and screen time. This year, we recommend giving up waste. The environmental impact of discarded products, such as single-use plastics, cannot be overstated, and now is the perfect time to consider what you can go without. Here are our recommendations:

Reduce Your Consumption

During this time of preparation for Easter, stop shopping. Rather than buying whatever makes you happy in the moment, narrow down your list to items that you need. Depending on your current habits, this could mean making food at home or avoiding the allure of online shopping. This also means not buying your beloved child the toy he picks out at every store. Be mindful with your spending, and you’ll be amazed by how much you can save. Once Easter comes around, consider donating some of the money you would have otherwise spent. 

bamboo utensil set in cloth

Switch to Reusable Products

Plastic has been a convenient material for years, and it’s especially popular because it doesn’t break down. Unfortunately, this is also a major downside to plastic, especially single-use plastics that end up in landfills and oceans. Consider purchasing items that can be used multiple times, like metal or bamboo straws, bamboo or thermoplastic utensils, and metal or BPA-free reusable water bottles. Buying these items for the whole family and making sure everyone uses them will remove more waste than you may realize.

full clothes closet

Recycle What You Don’t Need

Unless you have already taken serious time to declutter, chances are, you have items you don’t need. Each day, go into a different area of the house, and look for items you can donate or, if no longer usable, throw away. We recommend donating as a way to give back to others, but there will be items that you’ve held onto that have seen better days. Think about how long it has been since you used each item, not how quickly you may use it again. Encourage your child to do the same, and help him choose items that another child might love.

At St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando private school, we believe every person can make a difference and that Lent is the perfect time to create better habits. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Books for Children to Read During Black History Month

Learning about history is an essential part of education. While we cover what we can in our curriculum, there is always room for stories that help paint a picture of what life was like before we were here. Modern stories are great, as well, to help provide context. During Black History Month, encourage your child to discover incredible stories that may inspire them to make the world a better place. Here are some of our recommendations:

I Am Rosa Parks book cover

I Am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer

This book tells the story of Rosa Parks a Black woman who refused give up her seat on the bus for a white man in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. She initiated a bus boycott that helped start the Civil Rights movement. This picture book about her story is perfect for a new reader. The friendly, conversational tone makes the story digestible for a young mind. Meltzer has written a series of picture books about historical figures.

Hidden Figures book cover

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

This book takes you on the journey of four Black women who helped the United States find its way to outer space. The story takes place between the 1930s and the 1960s. At this time, being Black and being a woman were challenges to overcome in the workplace. The author has published several versions, including a picture book and a young reader’s edition. No matter what your child’s reading level, this book is guaranteed to inspire. After reading the book, you and your child can also watch the movie adaptation.

The Hate U Give book cover

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

While this month focuses on Black history, young people also need to understand current issues. This young adult fiction book follows the story of Starr, a 16-year-old who finds herself between 2 worlds— her poor neighborhood and her fancy prep school. These worlds collide when she witnesses her friend, Khalil, being fatally shot by an officer while unarmed. When his death becomes a national headline, she must decide whether to tell her story amid criticism and intimidation. This modern-day story could give your teenager perspective on the current climate and the Black Lives Matter movement. This book is raw, so we would not recommend it for younger children.

At St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando private school, we see beauty in diversity and believe that learning about the world around us is an essential part of education. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Celebrating Catholic Schools Week

student walking with book

The 47th annual Catholic Schools Week is coming up, and this year’s theme is “Faith. Excellence. Service.” At St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school, we believe these three words perfectly represent Catholic education. We will be launching our Catholic Schools Week with an open house Sunday, January 31st, and we welcome anyone who is interested in our school to join. Here is what we will be celebrating that week:

Emphasis on Faith

Faith is the foundation of a well-rounded Catholic education. Our students participate in daily prayer and gather weekly for Mass. By incorporating faith into our education, we remind students that their belief is an important aspect of daily life. Every step of the way, our students know that God is by their side. This is just one of many ways we help our students become responsible citizens of the world.

classroom with plexiglass

Promoting Academic Excellence

Challenging students with academics that prepare them for the real world is a priority at our school. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Education awarded St. Charles Borromeo the honor of being a Blue Ribbon School, placing it in the top 200 schools in the nation for academic excellence. Every year, we aspire to maintain this level of achievement with a rigorous curriculum that helps students reach their full potential. 

children packing lunches

Service to our Community

As part of our curriculum at St. Charles Borromeo, we strongly encourage students to help those in need. Some service projects take place during school hours so our students can work together toward a common cause. We also believe parent involvement is crucial to building our school community, so we established a parent volunteer program called P.A.W.S. With every family doing their part, our school can help every part of our Orlando community.

St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Ringing in the New Year with Your Child

Dress up

Celebrating the New Year as an adult looks a little different from celebrating as a child. First of all, New Year’s Day becomes more significant with every passing year. Secondly, like with any party, children and adults just celebrate differently. Get together with your child this year, and ring in 2021 in a way you will both remember for years to come. 

Get Fancy

When attending a major celebration, dressing up is always part of the fun. Trying on your new favorite heels or dusting off your best suit is basically the adult version of playing dress up. Find fun items like costume bow ties and pearls to dress up with your child. Seeing what they think of as fancy will be fun, and you will have the opportunity to take great pictures for family photo albums. Add in a photo booth, and get creative with paper masks, speech bubbles, and other fun props. 

chocolate fountain

Kid-Friendly Refreshments

While adults immediately associate New Year’s Eve with champagne and black-eyed peas, there are options that are more palatable for children. For mock champagne, use sparkling grape juice, or add Sprite to another flavor of juice. Instead of a drink bar, set up an ice cream or hot cocoa bar, depending on what the weather in Florida decides to do. Consider a chocolate fountain, but only if you are ready to monitor it throughout the night. Crockpot foods and dips are also a great option, as they can stay heated up, but they also tend to get a little messy. 

photo album

Create Lasting Memories

With the year drawing to a close, now is the last chance to make lasting memories of 2020. Put together a scrapbook of memories for the year or look through old photo albums together. Let your child reminisce on their favorite games and toys from the year. If you have a white board, let everyone write their memories down for the rest of the family to see. Taking time to look at the positive aspects of 2020 will help your family prepare for a great year in 2021. We encourage students to always look at the bright side, and we believe a positive mentality starts at home.

At St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando private school, we encourage families to spend time together to continue faith-based education at home. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Who was the Real Saint Nicholas?

Saint Nicholas painting

While we celebrate Advent, we should reflect on why we celebrate the way we do. Our first priority is celebrating the birth of Jesus and watching and waiting for His second coming. Most families also recognize the tradition of Santa Claus, a jolly round man with interesting origins. We wanted to take a deeper look into Saint Nicholas, the saint who brought us so many traditions for Christmas that we still celebrate today.

Early Life

Saint Nicholas, also known as Nicholas of Myra, grew up not wanting for anything. His wealthy parents raised him as a devout Christian. Unfortunately, they both died in an epidemic when he was young. Young Nicholas used his inheritance to assist the needy, sick and suffering. He became well-known as a friend and protector to everyone in need. He would go on to become one of the most popular saints in the East and the West.

Saint Nicholas Candy

Facts 

In Saint Nicholas’s life, the line between fact and legend is blurred. Saint Nicholas protected anyone in need, especially orphans, poor families, sailors and prisoners. During the persecution of Christians in the Roman empire, Saint Nicholas was imprisoned for defending religious doctrine, later to be released under Constantine the Great. The reputation that followed Saint Nicholas gave way to legends that he performed miracles, a popular subject of medieval art and liturgical plays. 

Legends

One of the most popular legends of Saint Nicholas involves a family in need. In this story, he anonymously gave dowries to three young women whose father could not afford to marry them off, which would have led to a life of destitution. Another legend is that, during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he prayed during a storm that would have capsized the ship, causing the storm to let up and allowing the voyage to continue. This story helped secure his place as the patron saint of sailors. 

Santa Claus

Becoming Santa Claus

The first step to seeing how Saint Nicholas became Santa Claus is looking to the legends. Much of Europe celebrated Saint Nicholas as a benevolent gift giver. However, the legend that led to our Christmas traditions is the one of the poor man’s daughters. When Saint Nicholas threw gold into the house, it is said to have landed in stockings or shoes, which is the origin of the Christmas stocking. 

During the Reformation, the Netherlands began to celebrate St. Nicholas, calling him Sinterklass. They later brought this tradition to the U.S. The English-speaking country adapted “Sinterklass” to “Santa Claus.” In the 19th century, Saint Nicholas fully transformed into Santa Claus through written works and fables. 

At St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school, we consider learning about all of the saints to be an essential part of a faith-based education. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Fun Ways to Spend Thanksgiving Break as a Family

girl cooking

family at camp fire

Soon, your child will have a full week off from our Orlando private school to celebrate Thanksgiving. You may be tempted to allow your child to spend the entire break relaxing on their own. While some alone time is necessary, this week is the perfect opportunity to get together as a family. Travel and large gatherings may be out of the question, so we have gathered some ideas for spending quality time at home:

advent Christmas tree

Get Ready for Advent

Allow your child to participate in holiday preparation. Let them help put up decorations or shop for a tree. Have them take time to make lists of what they want for Christmas. As a family, get together to get a head start on writing cards. Depending on their creativity level, let your child create their own cards or write their own messages to friends and relatives. Advent will be here soon, and now is the best time to prepare. 

Unleash Creativity

During this inspiring holiday season, get creative with your child. Think of ways they can help with cooking and baking. Create themed DIY crafts with your child, whether it be handprint turkeys or gratitude jars. If you’re not worried about the quality, put your child in charge of taking family photos. Having pictures from a new perspective will be a great way to look back on the times you shared.

girl cooking

Spend Time as a Family

The best holiday memories are shared holiday memories. If you have a big backyard, play some football with your child or set up a backyard campout. The weather may be perfect for a bonfire, complete with s’mores. Staying indoors can be just as fun! Throw a family game night, dance party, or just a tech time out where you talk without devices in hand. Your child will appreciate the time you spend together.

St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando private school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Meet St. Charles Borromeo

St. Charles Borromeo

Every year on November 4th, we get together to celebrate the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo. The namesake of our school, St. Charles Borromeo is the patron saint of bishops, catechists and other spiritual leaders. As one of the most important bishops of all time, he continues to inspire our mission to this day. At St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, students from Pre-K to 8th grade learn how to live as St. Charles Borromeo did — with faith leading the way.

Early Life of St. Charles Borromeo

St. Charles Borromeo grew up in an aristocratic, wealthy family and the third of six children. At the age of 12, St. Charles Borromeo decided to dedicate his life to serving the church. The only money that interested him was what he needed for education and his work with the church. As a young adult, he worked as secretary of state for his uncle, Cardinal Gian Angelo de’Medici, also known as Pope Pius IV. St. Charles Borromeo helped draft a catechism and contributed to the reform of liturgical books and music, then became a bishop at the age of 25. 

St. Charles Borromeo communion

Accomplishments of St. Charles Borromeo

After becoming a bishop at such a young age, St. Charles Borromeo went on to become the first resident archbishop of Milan in 80 years. He founded a literary academy, colleges and other schools along the way. He gave most of his money to the poor, and he helped nurse and feed families during the plague. Along with helping his fellow man, he reorganized the diocese, established seminaries, enforced standards of morality and founded a confraternity to teach Christian doctrine to children. This was not popular with everyone, however, and an attempt was made on his life. 

Relatively unscathed after the assassination attempt, St. Charles Borromeo went on to work in Switzerland to help combat witchcraft and other heretical teachings. He died in 1584 at the age of 46, and Pope John XXIII dedicated a feast to him later that year. In 1610, St. Charles Borromeo officially became a saint. 

Celebrate the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo

There are several ways to celebrate the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo. The most popular, of course, is to eat. In honor of the patron saint of Italy, it is customary to eat an Italian meal. Cook together as a family, allowing your child to participate in making the food to honor this saint. Tell his story to your children so they can appreciate the rich background of their school. 

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

How to Help Your Child Choose the College that’s Right for Them

Notre Dame University

Choosing a college can be overwhelming, and it helps to know where to start. The United States alone has almost 5,000 higher education institutions — ranging from two-year and four-year schools to private nonprofits to public schools. Plenty of factors will weigh into your child’s future education: location, student population, programs offered, even whether to continue an Orlando Catholic school education. Whether your child is a freshman or a rising junior, it’s never too early to help them start planning for the future.

Location

Find out if your child wants to relocate and how far she wants to go. Local options may seem easier and more affordable, but sometimes moving out-of-state creates a better college experience. Consider the campus itself and the surrounding area. Use virtual tours to help narrow down the options, and visit the colleges that make the most sense.

Student Life

Going to college is like entering a new world, one where daily life will completely change. Student newspapers and social media are great sources for insight into campus culture. When possible, ask students about their personal experiences. Look up data like retention rates per year and graduation rates. This will give you an idea of how many students have an enjoyable experience at the school.

Programs

Look at which programs are available to help your child start her college journey. See which programs are emphasized, both inside and outside of the classroom. Most colleges allow students to take classes before declaring a major, and more times than not, majors change. Student organizations can enhance a student’s experience moving toward her future career and help her meet others with shared interests. 

Why Catholic College

With so many options available, narrowing the list down to Catholic colleges may be a safe bet. At these private colleges, expect smaller class sizes, a focus on individual students, and staff that prepare students for fulfilling careers. Catholic schools also provide an environment for spiritual growth, and students and faculty often share beliefs and values. This could lead to a more comfortable learning environment for your child. 

Your child has a difficult, sometimes stressful decision to make about their secondary education, but  with support from family and trusted advisors, the choice becomes easier. At St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, we build up our students to prepare them for high school, college and beyond. 

St. Charles Borromeo, a top Orlando Catholic School located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Apps for Children and Teens

Help Your Children Stay Connected to Church with These Digital Tools

girl and boy on phones

In today’s ever-changing world, we are always looking for new ways to connect. Every day, we use the Internet to keep us on track. Children and teenagers are no different. While in-person Sunday school and church services may not be available, consider these online options to keep your child connected to God. 

SunScool logo

SunScool

In 1958, missionaries Bert and Wendy Gray found a girl living in a remote village in Ireland who wanted to learn about God but had no access to Sunday School. Ever since, the couple has been creating accessible Bible lessons for children. The Grays adapted their lessons to modern times by creating the SunScool app. This app incorporates play and critical thinking with Sunday school teachings using word puzzle games, quizzes and coloring pages. Along with this app, available on Apple and Android, you can download the paper course called Bibletime for free at besweb.com

Life Teen

Life Teen is a one-stop online shop for teenagers and their families to form deeper relationships with Jesus Christ and His Church. While the website primarily sells spiritual growth programs, it also provides several free resources. Your teen can read relatable blogs with titles like “Step Up Your Friend Game” and “25 Ways to Keep Dating Simple,” or follow Life Teen on social media for inspirational quotes, images and videos. The Life Teen team believes that teenagers who encounter Christ through the beauty of the Catholic faith will change the world, and their goal is to guide teens on that journey. 

teen on phone with coffee

Staying Connected to Faith

While we work together to navigate the new normal, apps and websites can help keep families on track. Motivating children and teens can be challenging, especially with daily changes in the outside world. However, with the help of resources like SunScool and Life Teen, families can work together to build and sustain a strong connection to God. 

At St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, we educate our students to excel in the modern world. We build our students up to focus on following their faith, and sometimes that means adapting to the times.

St. Charles Borromeo, a top Orlando Catholic School located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.