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.

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.

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.

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.

Say a Prayer While Washing Hands

Your child’s safety and health has reached new heights this year. Handwashing has likely become tiresome for your child, and his hands may be peeling because of it. Continue warding off germs with gospel words and songs to remind your child that although germs are everywhere, so is Jesus. Cleanliness is Godliness, after all

Healing the Sick
Praise God while praying for your health and the health of those in your community. Offer your prayers to the sick by asking God to use His healing to give comfort and strength to them. In Psalm 103 of the Scripture, verses 2–3 reads, “Bless the Lord, my soul; and do not forget his gifts, who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills.”

“Amazing Grace”
This classic song is everybody’s favorite. It’s easier to become fearful during a time like this. With lyrics like, “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved,” this hymn will remind and reassure your child that God is taking care of his safety and security. 


“The Lord’s Prayer”
When Jesus’s disciples asked him how to pray, he responded with “The Lord’s Prayer.” It’s likely that you and your child know the words by heart. Keep the tradition alive by reciting the words to cleanse not only your child’s hands but his mind and soul. Lines like, “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” gives your child hope that God will not harm him.

Blessing Healthcare Workers
Your and your child can give your blessings to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. You can make your own prayer by simply saying, “Bless are all the healthcare workers, those who hold the heaviness of life and death. May God protect you during this.”

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.

Fire Safety for Kids

A fire is an event that you can never expect. Taking precautions in the home and implementing an escape plan in advance can help protect your family. Stay safe from fires by teaching your child these tips for fire safety!

Fire Escape Plan
To create a fire escape plan, you must be sure that there are at least two ways to get out of each room, such as a door or window. Make sure there is a specific spot in front of or behind your home for you and your family to meet when you get outside of the house. Sometimes children hide when they are scared, so you must thoroughly explain that going outside and getting to safety is the best option. Remember: Only call 911 once you escape from the danger zone.

Introduce Firefighters
Teach your child about what firefighters do. Explain that their role is to help put out fires, assist in other types of emergencies, and help people get to safety. This will familiarize them with the firefighters and make them feel more comfortable if they are ever to be around. Arrange a meeting with a firefighter who can chat with your child. Come prepared with questions, and make it a fun interaction for your child so he won’t be scared.

Reading Material
Reading books about fire safety can bring comfort to your child. When he sees some of his favorite characters are implementing fire safety protocols, he will likely want to do the same. Take, for example, The Berenstain Bears visiting a firehouse. Or if your child loves dragons, we recommend “No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (And Dragons).” The story follows a young girl who meets a fire-breathing dragon and invites him for tea. After he accidentally sets the table ablaze, the little girl sprung into action. In the end, she was a hero, which will inspire your child to also remember what to do in case of a fire. Books like these are a gentle way to inform your child about scary topics.

Firefighter Coloring Book
Coloring books are an excellent way to deliver lessons to your child, and connect creativity to an important situation. There are many books you can purchase, such as this Firefighter Coloring Book that will allow your child to learn even more about fire safety, while also having fun. You can also let them trace printouts of fire trucks and firefighters!

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.

Safe and Fun Summer Activities

Your child may be feeling like he can’t do anything fun this summer due to COVID-19. However, there are plenty of things your child can do safely. Here are some safe and fun summer activities your family can enjoy!

Music Class
Carnegie Hall’s Music Explorers program offers resources and lesson plans to teach children new musical genres and cultural traditions. All of the programs include an interactive concert experience where students get to celebrate what they’ve learned. Chrome Music Lab is a site where your child can learn more about music through hands-on experiments!

The Outdoors
Get a little fresh air this summer by safely visiting hiking trails, parks, and botanical gardens. Leu Gardens has opened back up and is cashless. Take a self-guided tour of the garden, then have a picnic. State parks such as Little Big Econ are free and don’t see too big of a crowd. You can plan to camp at the creek.  

Learn a New Language
This summer, your child can learn a new language! Sites like Duolingo, English52, and Fabulingua teach language skills through video lessons and fun activities. Your child can learn anytime, anywhere by visiting the websites or downloading the apps.

Cook and Bake
It’s easy to fall back on good eating habits when you’re home more often. Teaching your child how to cook allows them to be responsible for their nutrition. The CHOC blog offers healthy recipes directly from clinical dietitians!

Start a Garden
Grow your own garden at home to reduce the risk of getting sick by going out. Start by choosing a spot in your yard, clear the sod, work the soil, and plant your seeds. Peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers are great for little beginners looking to get their hands dirty!

Summer Service
Summer is a great time to get into the spirit of giving. Volunteering shows your child how to make a difference. Even during a time of social distancing, your child can make an impact on the world. Our blog includes summertime services ideas, including delivering groceries, making blessing bags for the homeless, doing yard work, adopting a family, and helping an animal shelter.

Online Learning
Our website also includes a list of educational resources your family can enjoy remotely. The list includes opportunities to take virtual tours of places like the Orlando Regional History Center and the Central Florida Zoo. Your child can also color with Crayola, learn more about marine life from SeaWorld, and watch films via the Enzian Theatre.

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.