How Video Games Can Help Your Child Learn

child playing video game

Gaming can open up new worlds for your child, like books and movies but in a more engaging way. When your child plays a video game, they are at the center of their own world. This can come with many benefits, like life lessons, cognitive benefits and career opportunities. At our Orlando private school, we believe play is just as important as attending classes for a child’s development. Here are some of the ways video games can help your child learn:

Educational Content

While not all video games directly relate to education, most can teach life lessons. These games immerse players in thrilling, stimulating worlds. Historical games, like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and the Assassin’s Creed series mix facts about history with challenging scenarios. Role-playing games like the Pokemon and Kingdom Hearts series teach children vocabulary through character dialogue. Minecraft, a popular game for all ages, allows players to build their own worlds. Minecraft: Educational Edition comes with over 500 lesson plans about coding, the environment, history and more. Other games like Math Blaster, Reader Rabbit, and Code Ninjas solely exist to educate children. 

child doing math on whiteboard

Teaches Life Skills

It’s nice that children can learn facts and academic skills from games, but they can also learn skills that will help them in life. For one, video games help children become motivated. They play the main character role, and their success is rewarded throughout the game. With incremental levels of difficulty, children learn the value of practicing and improving skills, which translates to real life. Whether a child plays with a team of pre-designed characters or with real people, video games also help children learn the importance of teamwork. 

Helps with Brain Function

If you’ve heard a parent talk about the benefits of video games, you’ve probably heard that they improve “hand-eye coordination.” While that is true, there’s more to it. With timed challenges and incentives to act quickly, video games help speed up mental response times, which improves real-life troubleshooting skills. Rhythm games help children think quickly and can help with their overall motor skills. By providing instant, ongoing feedback and giving players the opportunity to correct mistakes, video games also teach children how to re-strategize and keep trying if they fail the first time.

child on computer programming

Creating Video Games

Video games aren’t just a fun pastime— they can become a fruitful career. Your child could become part of this estimated $180 billion industry. Creating these games requires code writers, art and level designers, musicians, voice actors, motion capture actors and more. Many of these skills require STEM-based knowledge. Even if your child is not set on becoming a future game designer, they might be interested in seeing what goes on behind the scenes.  The National STEM Video Game Challenge allows students to build games from the ground up, and spectators get to watch the process unfold. This can be a great educational opportunity for gamers of all ages. 

Recommendations for Parents

While video games can be beneficial, like anything, they should be experienced in moderation. Here are some tips for creating healthy gaming habits:

  • Establish firm time limits for your child, and don’t let them start playing before they finish homework or chores. 
  • Encourage your child to play games with friends and family members, helping them learn collaboration and allowing them to engage with others in a meaningful way. 
  • Encourage healthy habits while they’re playing. Good posture, sitting the proper distance from the TV, and not mindlessly eating unhealthy snacks while playing can go a long way. 
  • Before buying a game for your child, find out if it’s appropriate. The ESRB has a ratings scale with ratings like E for Everyone and M for Mature. Not all games are rated, but you can figure out what happens in most games with a quick Google search. 

We believe playing video games is a great way for children to learn about the world around them, whether it remains a hobby or turns into a career. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Benefits of Your Child Playing Chess

Chess is not just a game for the elderly to play at the park. Chess can be a highly beneficial tool to your child’s intellectual development. St. Charles Borromeo, one of the Orlando Catholic schools, encourages your child to play chess in our after-school chess club at school!

Problem-Solving Skills

A match encourages problem solving and thinking fast right on the spot. The opponent in the game requires them to continuously change their parameters. Some studies have indicated that people who learned how to play chess scored much higher on standardized tests, which leads to better brain function. This sort of strategic thinking will prepare your child to be a master in planning ahead.

Brain Growth
Gaming challenges the brain and promotes its growth. It exercises both sides of the brain when your child has to identify the chess positions. She will improve the communication in her brain and it starts to work faster, as reactions occur on both sides of the hemisphere.

Helps Prevent Memory Loss
As your child gets older, it’s important that she works out her brain and keeps it healthy and fit — just like other muscles in the body. Brain games should be started at a young age to reduce the risk of memory loss now and later in life.

Improves Attention Span
If your child has ADHD, or just attention span problems, playing chess can help her focus better at school. She will be so focused on winning and making smart moves that she avoids the distractions around her. This type of attention that the game demands can result in better performance at school.

Raises IQ
They say smart people play chess and that chess makes you smarter. Studies show that playing chess can raise your IQ because of the brain workout it provides. When your child’s IQ raises significantly, then watch her test scores rise, too!

St. Charles Borromeo, one of the Orlando Catholic schools, 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.

Science Fair Preparation and Ideas


The science fair at St. Charles Borrom
eo, an Orlando Catholic school, is on February 19th! This great event is hosted by schools worldwide and allows your child to compete in science and technical activities. To help her prepare, here’s a list of project ideas she can do!

Backyard Biosphere
Is it possible to create a biosphere? In this backyard biosphere experiment, your child will create an ecosystem that can survive with animals living in it to test the plausibility of developing a sustainable environment that is closed off from the rest of the planet. Grab a clear container, soil, grass, a flowering plant, a ceramic bowl, water, a microscope, and slides and follow the procedure!

Center of Balance
Suitable for grades fourth through sixth, this physiology project can help your child find out how to locate a person’s center of balance. Is it easier to balance on a narrow ledge or on a  rope if a person is holding their arms out? To find out, all your child needs is a rope, a meter stick, three meter sticks taped together, three meter sticks taped together with five-pound weights attached to the ends, a stopwatch, and a friend to help. In just a few steps, your child can understand the nature of gravity!

Anaerobic Energy
Humans use two types of energy systems: aerobic and anaerobic. This health science experiment will determine an average person’s ability to use their anaerobic power system and increase their capacity over a period of two weeks. The only materials your child will need is a timer and a few willing participants! 

Caving
With just a few materials, this Earth and space science project allows your child to observe the gradual formation of stalactites and the reverse buildup of stalagmites. Learn about evaporation, gravity, and minerals. You’ll need Epsom salt, black poster board, tape, scissors, four drinking glasses, black yarn, four washers, a ruler, a small pot, a spoon, and a logbook!

Solar System
To understand if the distances in the solar system are proportional to the distances in an atomic system, this physical science project can help. With just clay, a tennis ball meter stick, and a few willing participants, your child will have the opportunity to analyze and conceive the solar system and atomic structures a little better!

St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school, 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.

Stay Learning This Summer

Summer vacation is here, but you don’t have to leave the learning behind! St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school, has tips to help keep your child learning all summer long.

At-Home Theatre Time
No need to go out to see a theatre show — make your very own play at home! Creating their own play can get their creative juices flowing by developing stories that the finger puppets act out. Children can create puppets by cutting off the finger-ends of old gloves, then by drawing a face on them with felt-tip markers and gluing on yarn for hair. They can create animal faces, such as cats and dogs.

Start Writing
Give your children postcards so they can write to you about their summer adventures. Provide them with a journal to write diary entries, poetry, recipes, or to scrapbook. They can also blog! Edublogs and Kidblog offer free blog spaces that have appropriate security. Blogging can help them build research and writing skills.

Build Vocabulary with a Word Jar
Word jars can help build your child’s vocabulary skills. Fill a jar with pieces of paper that have a word on each one. Let your child draw a word every day, and ask them to define it. Challenge them to use that word in conversations throughout the day. Adapt the activity to their grade level.

Count with Ice Cream
Children may not love math, but they love ice cream! Incorporate a sweet treat into their math games. Gather small pom poms of different colors and write numbers on triangles. Your child will stack “ice cream scoops” into each cone according to its number, counting as they go. Treat them to real ice cream once they masters their counting skills!

Treasure Hunt at a Museum
Your child may not be excited to visit a museum, so take your visit one exhibit at a time. When you visit, do not try seeing everything in one day. Start by visiting the gift shop and allowing your child to pick out some postcards of paintings or objects in the museum. Try to incorporate periods of history they have learned at school. Then, have them walk through the museum and treasure hunt those items in the postcards!

St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school, 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.

Finish School Projects Quickly and Efficiently

There’s only so many hours in a day. It can be hard to schedule enough time for homework, much less fit in group projects, where you have to coordinate your schedule with classmates. St. Charles Borromeo, a College Park private school, loves the collaboration and teamwork that happens in group projects — they’re great practice for the future! Here are a few tips for making them as quick, efficient, and stress-free as possible.

Assign and Record Tasks

Start by having a conversation as a whole team about what needs to be done, and make sure no one leaves before you’ve decided who is responsible for what. You can save a lot of time by first deciding who is going to take on each part of the project! You don’t have to worry about two people doing the same thing — or risk an important step being skipped. Make a record of who has what job, when they need to finish by, and how the team can help them.

Communicate Often

If you need help from another group member or have a question, make sure you communicate this as soon as possible. When you talk early and often, you can prevent small problems from becoming big problems. Decide on the best communication method, such as a group texting app, and set a rule for how often members have to check their messages and respond accordingly.

Don’t Wait to Start Your Work

Treat your group project with the same care that you’d give your own work. Don’t put your work aside until the last minute; you may end up needing help from a team member that they don’t have time to give, or you might not have enough time to finish your part. Treat your team members the same way you wish to be treated!

Support Your Teammates

Everyone loves knowing that their work is appreciated. One way you can help your project succeed is by supporting your team. If someone did an amazing job, congratulate them! If someone helped out without being asked, thank them. And if someone’s struggling to get their part done, reach out and ask how you can help. This level of support is key for getting good work done fast.

St. Charles Borromeo and other College Park private schools aren’t the only places your child will experience group projects. Most of our lives include working with other people to get something done. By using these tips, you can put together a project deserving of that A grade — and you can get it done long before it’s due.

Questions to Ask at Back to School Night

It’s September, and school is fully back in session! Back to School Night is the perfect opportunity to get to know your child’s new teachers. As an Orlando Catholic school, St. Charles Borromeo takes the learning process very seriously, and we believe these questions can help you partner with your child’s teacher and get ready for a successful year.

What Does a Regular Day or Week Look Like?

Your child may not always do the best job of relaying what they’re learning at school. To make it easier to get involved, ask their teacher what a normal day may look like for your child, or if there are weekly rituals that are important to know about — for instance, perhaps each child is given a quiet reading time in the morning, or the classroom ends every Friday with a science experiment or hands-on learning project. This will help you start conversations with your child about specific things in their world!

How Do You Adapt Your Teaching Methods For Different Learning Styles?

Every child learns differently. Some pick up concepts at the drop of the hat, while others need time to process or practice; some are kinesthetic learners, while others are visual or auditory learners. This is a great opportunity to discover how your child’s teacher meets the needs of their varied classroom.

How Do Students Practice Critical Thinking Skills in Your Classroom?

It’s important that students learn how to utilize critical thinking! Ask your child’s teacher how they encourage students to ask thoughtful questions, pursue creative solutions, and puzzle through tricky problems.

How Can I Help My Child at Home?

School doesn’t end when your child leaves the classroom! They’ll be taking homework with them and will likely ask you for guidance. Your child’s teacher can offer valuable insight into their learning patterns or what they’re struggling with, and they’ll be thrilled to hear that you want to help your child reach their full potential.

How Do You Handle Students Who Struggle With Their Grades?

It’s important to know when your child starts to struggle so that they can be given the support they need to succeed. Make sure that you’re aware what intervention programs are available for students, and talk to your child as well; tell them to come to you when they start to feel overwhelmed. Together, you can conquer these struggles early in the semester!

The community at St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school, is excited to partner with you and your child for a year of success! We believe our students reach their best when they’re given an excellent education, a firm foundation in faith, and intentional parental support. You can learn more about what we offer on our about us page.