Study Tips to Help Students Ace Standardized Tests

girl in class doing classwork

Test-taking anxiety affects most students, but it manifests itself in different ways to different kids. Knowing the material and being able to confidently take a test on it are not always one in the same. Standardized tests can be especially intimidating because they have higher stakes than everyday exams. While there’s not necessarily a cure for the jitters, there are steps you can take to help your child prepare. Here are some ways you can help your child do well on standardized tests: 

Create a Study Space

Within your home, create a quiet study space that has all the tools your child needs for their homework. Post-it notes, pens, pencils, highlighters and paper are essential. Mind the lighting in the area to make sure your child can focus and won’t doze off while studying. Allow your child to make the space their own by decorating, and encourage them to clean up the area every night so it’s fresh for their next study session.

Encourage Asking Questions

You may not always have the answers, but it’s important that your child knows they can come to you when they have questions. When it comes to everyday topics, this can help them develop a taste for learning and hone their critical thinking skills. Encouraging your child to ask questions will also make them more comfortable coming to you if they’re struggling. When they have trouble tackling academic subjects, you can help them out or find a tutor to work with them.

Take Practice Tests

The main concern children have when taking standardized tests is fear of the unknown. Practice tests can make standardized testing a lot less scary. Your child’s teacher should have these available. Start by familiarizing your child with the format, then time the tests as the big day approaches. If possible, start practicing weeks ahead of time so your child will be comfortable when the day comes.

Build Healthy Habits

Your child needs to sleep well the night before taking a standardized test and eat a filling, healthy breakfast the morning of the test. However, if they spend the whole week before the test losing sleep over it, one good night of sleep may not be enough. Encourage your child to eat healthy, exercise and sleep well to reduce stress before the test and the day of the test. 

Standardized tests can be scary for students, but they don’t have to be. Preparing at home can make testing much easier. Our Orlando private school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than 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.

Preparing Your Child for Their First Communion

child praying in First Communion dress

Holy Communion — or the Eucharist — is the source and summit of everything we do as Catholics. In the Catholic faith, children take their first Communion at the age of reason, which is usually at 7 or 8 years old. They receive the Eucharist, or the body and blood of Christ for the first time. This is one of the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church. This is a great time for celebration and as such, families will usually have a big celebration afterwards. Here’s how you can prepare your child for this important event in their spiritual life: 

Attend Mass as a Family

Bring your child to Mass every Sunday and days of Holy obligation. Show them how important and special it is to receive the body and blood of Christ through the Eucharist. Get them excited about the fact that it will be their turn soon. Attending Mass will also help your child become more engaged in their faith and feel connected with other believers.

Explain the Real Presence of Christ

Explain to your child that the Eucharist is not just a symbol, but the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is during the Mass, when the priest calls down the Holy Spirit and the miracle of Transubstantiation occurs and the bread and wine becomes Jesus’ body and blood while still appearing as bread and wine.

Consider this when you talk to your child about Communion. Talk about “receiving His body and blood” rather than “taking the bread and the wine” as you prepare. Read from the Bible with your child from John chapter 6 to show them where Jesus himself instituted this sacrament and told us to do this.

priest serving Communion

Practice the Steps

Go through the motions with your child using small crackers and sparkling grape juice. Here’s how you can help your child practice the steps of taking a First Communion: 

  • Show your child how to fold their hands to make a throne and bow their head slightly to show reverence. Remember, your child’s dominant hand goes on the bottom and their non-dominant hand on top. 
  • Say “the body of Christ” like a priest would and have them respond “Amen.”
  • Have your child consume the cracker and juice immediately.
  • Then, have them fold their hands in prayer and walk to another seat in the room.

First Communion is an important time in a Catholic child’s life, and the preparation starts at home. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando encourages children to live in their faith. 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.

 

What to Expect from Catholic Schools Week

Once a year, everyone in the St. Charles Borromeo community gets together to celebrate all things Catholic school during Catholic Schools Week. During this nationwide event, students, teachers and families participate in school spirit activities, Mass celebrations, open houses and more. We welcome members of the community to join in and see what Catholic education is all about. It’s a great learning experience and a fun time. Here’s what you can expect from this year’s festivities. 

A Week of Activities

St. Charles Borromeo is lucky to share a campus with Bishop Moore, a high school in the Diocese of Orlando. The two schools celebrate Mass together during Catholic Schools Week. Our school also participates in student-led prayer sessions, school spirit rallies and an annual picnic in the courtyard. These are just a few of the activities students can participate in during this week-long event. 

Quality Family Time

Families who are interested in Catholic education can attend open house sessions to learn about why our school is a perfect fit for their children. Current families can also come to campus to join in on the events we have planned. In 2021, we were unable to invite families to campus due to the pandemic, so we’re excited to welcome families and the community back in 2022!

What We’re Celebrating 

While Catholic Schools Week is a fun time and a nice break from the typical day-to-day, what we’re really celebrating is the value of Catholic education. Students who attend Catholic school achieve higher than their peers academically and develop a deeper understanding of the material because faith is intertwined with their lessons. Our school also emphasizes the importance of community involvement for parents and students alike. We don’t just give to our students; we encourage our students and their families to give back. 

Catholic Schools Week is the perfect opportunity for us to come together as a community and celebrate all things Catholic school. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than 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.

The Significance of Epiphany

The word Epiphany means “manifestation,” and the feast is a celebration of the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is one of the most significant moments in Christian doctrine, almost as significant as His birth and His death. Cultures around the world celebrate this feast, though different regions celebrate in different ways. Learn more about what Epiphany means in the Catholic faith.

What is Epiphany?

Epiphany, also known as Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day, commemorates the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, or the first believers in Jesus as the Son of God. In the West, we celebrate the first visit by the Magi, or Three Kings. Celebrations in the East focus on the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River and His first miracle. Epiphany is one of the three oldest festival days, along with Easter and Christmas. It’s celebrated in most places on January 6, but in the US it’s observed on the Sunday after January 1.

How to Celebrate

The time from Christmas to Epiphany is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, with the evening before the big day being called the Twelfth Night. As one of Christianity’s oldest traditions, Epiphany is celebrated in very symbolic ways. One way to celebrate is by baking a Three Kings cake, which symbolizes the unity of the Three Kings’ faiths. Children may receive small gifts in their shoes leading up to the day in honor of the Magi’s gifts. Some traditions even involve water as a reflection of the baptism.

Origins

The celebration of Epiphany in January predates the celebration of Christmas on December 25th. The original celebration commemorated the Nativity, Visitation of the Magi, Baptism of Christ and Wedding of Cana all in one feast. The Council of Tours separated the celebrations into Christmas Day and Epiphany in 567. Over time, these celebrations separated more and more to become the liturgical season they encompass today.

Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, is an important celebration for Catholic school students to understand. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than 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.

Celebrating Florida Winter as a Family

two manatees under water

The concept of a “Florida winter” is almost an inside joke among long-time Floridians. It never gets cold enough to snow, though it sometimes gets almost cold enough for a week or two. While winters in Florida certainly aren’t postcard-worthy, there’s no lack of things to do to celebrate the season. Some activities, like going to the beach or a park at the end of the year, are only possible in a warmer climate. Here are a few ways we recommend celebrating the season as a family.

Observe the Manatees

Hundreds of manatees migrate to Crystal River every winter when they’re seeking warmer water. Visitors of the wetland refuge surrounding Three Sisters Springs can see these manatees up close in crystal clear waters. You can observe them from the boardwalk or swim, snorkel, paddle beside these magnificent creatures. Since it depends on their migratory patterns, this can only be done during Florida winter.

kids ice skating with adults

Visit an Ice Skating Rink

While Florida kids may not experience snow in the winter, they can still learn what it’s like to fall on the ice. Winter is the perfect time for Floridian families to head to the ice skating rink. Indoor ice skating rinks are open year-round, and sometimes fairs come into town with pop-up ice skating rinks. Some places, like Gaylord Palms, take the experience a step further with full-on winter wonderland experiences. Whatever type of ice skating rink you go to, you’re sure to experience weather conditions that are a little colder than the temperatures outside.

Give Kids the World Village 

One great way to ring in the holidays is by looking at Christmas lights. The Night of a Million Lights at Give Kids the World Village gives families that experience and much, much more. This immersive holiday lights spectacular includes dancing lights, a tree trail, music and treats. The best part is that by attending this event, you’re helping children around the world. Give Kids the World is a nonprofit organization that gives critically ill children and their families a dream vacation at no cost. 

big wave for surfing

Surfing Santas

It’s great to have traditions, but sometimes, it’s even better to change them up! The Surfing Santas at Cocoa Beach provide a great opportunity to do just that. At 8am on Christmas Eve, you and your family can watch as surfers dressed as Santa Claus hit the waves. This free, family-friendly event includes a surfing contest and a costume contest. 

Our Orlando private school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than 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.

Symbols of Advent and What they Mean

Advent wreath against wall

Liturgical seasons bring with them all kinds of religious symbols. Advent has layers of symbolism that all lead to the main event of Christmas — the birth of Jesus. It goes beyond a Christmas tree; Advent has wreaths, calendars and many different colors of candles. Learn what all these symbols mean.

Advent Wreath

Advent wreaths represent continuous life. The circular shape symbolizes the eternity of God, immortality of the soul, and everlasting life in Christ. Each evergreen woven into the wreath has a different meaning. The laurel represents victory over persecution and suffering. Pine, holly and yew convey immortality. Cedar shows strength and healing. Pine cones symbolize life and resurrection.

Advent candles over a wreath

Advent Candles

Four candles represent four weeks of Advent. Here is what each candle represents:

  • The first candle, known as the Prophecy Candle, symbolizes hope.
  • The second candle, the Bethlehem Candle, symbolizes Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
  • The third candle, the Shepherd’s Candle or Candle of Joy, symbolizes joy and is pink in color. Pink represents joy or rejoicing, showing a shift from repentance toward celebration.
  • The fourth candle, the Angel’s Candle, symbolizes peace, reminding us of the message “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

Candle Colors

The candles lit for advent all mean something different based on their color. Each one represents a different week of the season. Three of the candles are purple, the liturgical color that signifies prayer, penance and sacrifice. Purple, the color of royalty, is traditionally the primary color of Advent. This color shows the anticipation and reception of the “King of Kings.”

Christ Candle

As a more modern tradition, some place a white candle in the middle of their wreath and light it on Christmas Eve. White is for purity, as Christ is a sinless, pure savior. It’s also a symbol of victory, celebrating the birth of Jesus who would go on to become a symbol of hope for Christians.

Advent Calendar close up

Advent Calendar

The Advent calendar is pretty straightforward. Each window of the calendar helps families count down the days until Christmas. Counting down the days using an Advent calendar gives families an idea of what it was like to anticipate Jesus’s birth. These calendars often contain small gifts or candies for children. While these calendars now come in many varieties, from strictly traditional to fun and hobby-based, they all represent the same thing— the period of waiting for Christmas to come. 

Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Diocese of Orlando is more than 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.

Keeping the Kitchen Safe for Holiday Cooking

washing hands in kitchen sink

Quality time comes in many forms, and over the holidays, the kitchen is the perfect place for families to bond. Everyone can get together to make meals that they’re truly excited to eat and share. Whether your child is just learning to roll out dough or trying out knives for the first time, they need to know about kitchen safety. Here are tips for keeping your kitchen safe this holiday season. 

Always Wash Your Hands

Make sure everyone in the family washes their hands before going into the kitchen. Children love to touch everything, and adults bring their cell phones just about everywhere. It’s good practice to wash hands before eating, but it’s just as important to do so before cooking and preparing food. Holiday dinners tend to include several different dishes, and each one needs to be free of germs and bacteria. 

mother supervising child

Supervise Children

When your child helps out in the kitchen, show them what to do. Then, watch to make sure they’re doing it correctly — and safely. The last thing you want is to have a preventable emergency over the holidays. As your child gets older, you may start trusting them to deal with more hot appliances and knives. These can even be tricky for adults, so it’s important to make sure children form safe kitchen habits.

Clean While You Cook

When multiple people are in the kitchen, leaving spills for later is a recipe for disaster. Clean dishes, spills and utensils as you go, rather than planning to do it all at the end. The more you get in the habit of cleaning while you cook, the less work you’ll have later on. This is also a good habit to teach children, who may have an even more difficult time motivating themselves to clean after an hour or so of cooking and preparing food. 

fire in gas stove

Limit Fire and Burn Hazards 

Grease fires occur regularly in kitchens, but oil isn’t the only fire hazard. A child may have to be reminded that metal of any kind — including foil and silverware — can’t go in the microwave. If you store pots and pans in the oven, your child may not realize it and attempt to preheat it, making the oven unusable until the items cool down. Always use potholders or oven mitts when handling hot pots, pans or baking trays. Your oven may also have a pilot light that goes out. If this is the case, safely light it yourself rather than leaving it up to your child. When you’re done using gas appliances, make sure they’re fully turned off. 

Talk About Safety

Children may not see the kitchen as a dangerous place, especially if they’ve never been around when an accident happened. You need to let them know why it’s important that they wash their hands. Talk about the potential dangers of taking shortcuts with knives, touching hot pans and leaving spills on the floor. The more you talk about safety, the more prepared your child will be to help you with Thanksgiving dinner.

The holidays are a great time for children to learn about cooking and kitchen safety. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than 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 Solve Math Word Problems

child doing homework with headphones

Solving math word problems involves skills in analysis, reading and mathematics. This causes some children to struggle, even if their individual skills are up to par. When word problems are first introduced, children don’t always understand the path from a phrase like “two trains are leaving different stations” to a numerical answer. Here are some ways you can help your child digest and solve these problems. 

Highlight Key Parts

Math word problems throw children off by adding fluff to the actual equation. However annoying this may be, it does give children a more realistic view on how math problems work in real life. With these problems, have your child highlight the words and numbers that relate to the question being asked. This will help them hone in on the problem they need to solve.

hand doing math homework

Answer the Question

This may seem as obvious as “solve the problem,” but at first glance, a child may find it difficult to understand what a word problem is saying. If your child can rephrase the question in the form of a statement, they’ll have a firm grasp of the question they’re answering. This is an important step in solving a word problem. 

Write Out the Equation

Now that your child knows what equation needs to be solved, they should write it out. When they show their work, they’ll be able to catch possible errors. It will also remind them that they’re solving a simple math problem. Seeing the problem without the words in the way makes it easier to solve.

child holding up fingers above chalkboard

Read, Reread, Proofread

The biggest error children make with math word problems is rushing through them to get to the next task. If your child reads over the question twice before attempting to solve the problem, then looks over it again after, they’ll have a better chance of catching any mistakes. It will also help them build confidence in their ability to solve these seemingly  complex problems.

Math word problems often trip children up, but you can make the problems easier to solve. Our Orlando private school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than 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.

5 Reasons for Students to Participate in Extracurricular Activities

St. Charles Borromeo students tug of war

The best learning happens when children enjoy going to school. While classes can be fun, they are often stressful. Extracurricular activities can help alleviate stress while giving children something to look forward to after class. The best part about these activities is that almost any child can find one that aligns with their interests. Schools have academic clubs, music and art groups, special interest organizations, and, of course, athletic programs. Here are some of the ways these activities help students thrive.

Better Academic Performance

Students who participate in extracurricular activities see school as more than just a place to study. This creates a positive perspective, which leads to more motivation to do well in classes. Participating in extracurricular activities can increase brain function. Children who need to learn songs, routines, lines or sports moves learn how to focus, which in turn helps them achieve academic success. Sports and performing arts can also teach students about endurance and reacting quickly in tough situations. When it comes time to take the big test, these students have the upper hand.

ballet

Broadened Horizons

Students from all grades, learning levels and walks of life can join and thrive in student organizations. Children who participate in these activities have the opportunity to learn about different cultures and perspectives. They can also learn more about their own interests and discover adjacent interests that their new friends have. By going to after school activities full of students with shared interests, children have more opportunities to meet and interact with diverse groups of people.

Sense of Belonging

Feeling like you’re the only one who likes something can feel isolating. Finding and joining a school club can give children a sense of belonging. In at least one way, children have a shared purpose with others in the group. On sports teams, every student plays a specific role. Children learn about all the different roles and how they work together, as well as how their role impacts the team as a whole. Children who feel they belong to a community often have a better sense of identity and better mental health than those who feel isolated.

leadership

Leadership Skills

All extracurricular activities have a leadership structure, whether it’s a special interest group or a team. Students in these groups learn about how leadership roles work and can become leaders within the groups. This may also involve learning a little bit about politics if it’s a popular club that runs elections. Other skills children can learn by participating in extracurricular activities include teamwork, goal setting, problem solving, time management, and public speaking. 

Career Prospects

Your child may not be building a resume or college application yet, but when they do, they’ll be better prepared if they have leadership skills and experience. As students advance in school, they’ll be inclined to continue being involved in extracurricular activities. This looks great on college applications, especially if they showed leadership within the group. If they’re involved in student organizations at a college level, that will be a great boost when they start their careers. 

Children who participate in extracurricular activities have plenty of opportunities to get ahead in life. Our Orlando private school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than 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 Faith Can Benefit Your Child’s Health

boy wearing hat laughing while holding Bible

Children need guidance to get through life, and for many, faith is the perfect guide. Living by rules set in place by a higher authority helps children determine their values, such as compassion and honesty. Feeling at peace and in control helps with both mental and physical health. Faith can benefit children’s health in many ways; here are a few.

A Hopeful Outlook

Faith gives most believers a sense of control over their lives. Those with strong faith feel hopeful and optimistic when they pray and ask God for guidance. They trust that God has their best interests at heart and has a purpose for them. This relationship with God can go both ways. A child experiencing trauma with a limited understanding of scripture may feel punished or abandoned by God. One way to combat this is by listening to your child and helping them open up if they withdraw. You can also point your child to Biblical figures like Job or Joseph, people who experienced loss after loss, but kept their hope rooted in faith.

Better Habits

Christianity emphasizes caring for the physical body as well as the heart, mind and soul. We’re called to be good stewards of our time, talents and resources, and one of the most efficient ways to do that is by practicing healthy routines. Sure, the Bible never explicitly said to make our beds each day, but 1 Corinthians encourages us to do all things in order. Establishing these types of healthy routines gets kids set up to have more time to focus on scripture or, at the very least, feel more empowered in their day to make good choices. 

children with hands in air and teacher

Community Inclusion

Being part of a community, especially one with shared interests and beliefs, has positive effects on mental and physical health. Children who feel like they can trust those around them are more likely to reach out when they need help. People who feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves are less likely to feel isolated and hide their pain when they’re feeling unwell. This gives them a better chance of healing.

girl praying white background

Connection with God

Those with intense faith benefit from their relationship with God, feeling as though they’re talking with a friend when they talk to Him. Having a positive relationship with God and praying often generally has the same benefits of a close, unconditional friendship. Remind your child that prayers aren’t always answered in the way they might hope, but according to Romans, God is working for our good “in all things.” It’s important to talk to your child about their faith to see how they’re doing and how they view religion as part of their lives.

A positive relationship with faith can help children with their mental and physical health. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than 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.