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Kids needs tax education

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Regardless of whether you believe taxes are crucial and helpful or unnecessary and unfair, it is important that your kids understand the concept of taxation, how tax money is collected and used, and what they can do to influence tax policy.

Here are a few kid friendly facts you can share with your children.

There are a lot of taxes in the U.S.
Individuals are taxed on property, purchases, income, wages, facilities use (tolls), and dying (death tax). Companies pay duties, tariffs, fees, registrations, and employment taxes. They pass these extra costs onto consumers as higher prices, which means individuals ultimately pay for business taxes.

U.S. taxpayers have little say on how tax money is spent.
Once the taxes are collected by a taxing agency, taxpayers have little control on how the money is allocated. As a result, it is critical that voters consider all tax referenda carefully. If a taxpayer does not like a tax he/she can circulate a petition to have the tax recalled, run for office, and/or work to get different politicians elected.

Taxes increase the power of the government.
Tax revenues give government entities control over large budgets, which can create problems with corruption as companies and individuals lobby to obtain projects bid by the government.

Taxes fund a wide variety of programs.
Taxes are used to pay for everything from roads and bridges to special projects like studying methane emission from dairy cows.

Private sector worker taxes pay for government jobs.
When someone works for a public school, a public college or university, the TSA, the military, a company who executes government contracts, an organization that receives government grants etc. his/her salary is paid by people working in the private sector. Even though government employees pay “taxes”, these “taxes” just reduce the cost of that worker, since the taxes go back into the pool of money used to pay government salaries. As a result, it is impossible for the government to operate without loans or tax contributions from private sector workers.

Tax marketing is often different from tax implementation.
Taxpayers are often more willing to approve taxes for education, so government agencies will sometimes market a tax as a way to improve schools without restricting the money to schooling.

Once your kids have an understanding of taxation they can make sound economic decisions for themselves and help their communities make wise choices about taxes and community services.

Financial intelligence as important as IQ

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

The latest Center for Microeconomic Data Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit revealed that total American household debt reached $13.15 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In addition, a recent bankrate.com survey suggests six in 10 Americans (61%) don’t have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency and four in 10 (39%) have nothing in their savings accounts.

At first glance, it is difficult to understand how so many Americans can be in such poor financial shape. After all, making wise money decisions does not require proficiency in particle physics or an understanding of Shakespeare.

The biggest challenges appear to be intense peer and marketing pressures. If friends and marketers can create this type of havoc in our personal lives, it is imperative that we make sure our children are aware of the pressures and have the tools to make wise financial choices.

Some of the key concepts and teaching ideas are:

Money is limited. Give your child a fixed amount of money. If he/she spends it all on candy near the store entrance, he/she will not have money to purchase a doll or toy truck a few rows back.

Money is earned. Rather than giving a child an allowance, issue money based on successful execution of tasks – emptying the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, folding the laundry, etc.

Spending beyond your means comes at a cost. Credit card companies are VERY good at marketing. It is critical for kids to understand that marketers play on their desire for immediate gratification. Whenever you spend money you do not have you are charged extra money. For example, if you put $100 on a credit card for a year, you will have to repay about $115.

Saving makes sense. Kids need to understand compounding. The sooner you start saving the more the money will grow. If you save $1000 this year and make 5% you will have $1050 at the end of the year. If you make 5% the following year, you will have $1102.50.

Cheapest is not always the lowest cost. Remind your child that there are more than immediate costs. If the $15 shirt falls apart in the wash after the first month, it would be less expensive to buy a $25 shirt that lasts a year.

Even though teaching children financial responsibility may seem overwhelming, it is imperative that children are aware of the marketing and peer pressures they will face and are empowered to make wise decisions with their money.

Changing our Paradigm

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Technology is changing so fast, it is impossible to know what the world will be like in a year, much less four or five. Just 25 years ago, the Internet was still in its infancy, mobile phones were just gaining popularity, and genetically modified foods were not yet on the market. Now we are worried about biological computers, electronic currencies, and the health impacts of genetically modified foods.

For decades, education experts encouraged schools to track kids into narrow areas like molecular biology, medieval history, copyright law, or Fortran programming. As technology advanced, the lines between disciplines began to disappear and some areas vanished.

Now a person’s long-term employment prospects are based on his/her ability to quickly learn new things, interact with others, and change. This means everyone needs a strong understanding of all the disciplines including the arts, math, history, science, languages, etc. In addition, employers need people who can communicate, listen, and empathize with others; have a strong work ethic; and possess good character. This means our kids need a completely different type of education than we did when we were growing up.

Here is a list of the skill gaps that exist in our education system and parenting approaches.


1. Ability to think critically and assess and analyze information
The problem often develops in elementary school. Primary school teachers need strong proficiency in this area.
2. Collaborative/Influential
Students need practice working with others. Schools are not structured to provide exposure to different ages.
3. Agile/Adaptable
Schools/parents want stability. Students need exposure to change.
4. Initiative
Students need opportunities to start new programs, etc.
5. Effective Written and Oral Communication
Schools need step by step teaching approaches and effective ways to assess proficiency.
6. Curious, Imaginative, Creative
Schools should foster these abilities with short creative blocks during the teaching day.
7. Ethical
Parents need to demonstrate acceptable behavior.
8. Polished and Courteous
Parents need to teach their children basic life skills – allow others to finish speaking before you begin, chew with your mouth closed, etc.
9. Well-read
Parents should discuss world affairs and technological advances with their kids.
10. Strong work ethic
Parents need to teach their children about self-discipline, punctuality, follow-through, etc. and then allow them to experience consequences when they do not deliver.

Once we realize what worked in the 1900s no longer makes sense today, we can work together to make sure our kids are ready for life on their own.

Common sense a prerequisite for brilliance

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Do high standardized test scores assure success?

Many highly-accomplished people had far from perfect scores on the SAT test. Some struggled to get through college and others dropped out. With these results, there must be more to success than academic brilliance.

Granted, technological advances have made academic knowledge, especially in math and the sciences, more important. However, common sense is just as vital as it was fifty years ago. Sadly, many parents have become so focused on academic knowledge and fame that common sense has fallen by the wayside.

Common sense is something most of us understand intuitively, but is difficult to define. It is a combination of wisdom and self-discipline.

According to Wordnik wisdom is, “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Wisdom is not something that can be found in a textbook, taught in a classroom, or downloaded from the Internet. It is not tested through standardized tests like the SAT, MCAT, or GRE. Instead it is something that comes with exposure and experience.

The same dictionary defines self-discipline as, “Training and control of one’s conduct.” Self-discipline is generally modeled and taught at home through structure, responsibility, consequences, and praise.

Before the age of helicopter parents, most kids developed common sense as part of everyday life. Children were given considerable responsibility. Parents set expectations and there were consequences for poor choices. Only the winners received trophies. Through the school of hard knocks kids gradually learned how to present ideas, communicate with others, and alert people of delays. They came to understand the importance of punctuality and how to diplomatically address problems.

Now many parents are so worried about the “perfect” D1 sports program, landing a lead movie role, etc. that they do too much of their kids. It is often better to set general extra-curricular involvement requirements and establish minimum effort expectations rather than micromanage.

Finally, it is important for children to take responsibility for their actions. If a child is going to be late, he/she should notify the adult in charge. When a child damages property, he/she needs to earn money for the repair. And when a child performs poorly on a test, he/she needs to get a poor grade rather than have his/her parent negotiate with the principal.

Stepping out of the micromanagement role is challenging. However, it is easier once we realize our children need an environment that fosters common sense to become truly brilliant.

Love and communication important during teen years

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Parents and teenagers live in different worlds with different pressures and perspectives, so communication between adolescents and parents can be strained. Here are a few strategies you can use to minimize conflicts during this challenging time.

Use humor.
Humor is an effective communication tool, because it breaks down barriers and commands attention. Disguised as fun, humor can be used to teach, introduce new ideas, share beliefs, and implant knowledge.

Listen.
Perspective and practice make a big difference. The way an adult perceives a problem is often very different from the way a teen views the same issue. What seems like a life catastrophe to 16-year-old may seem insignificant to a 40-year-old.

As a result, teenagers often have things to say to adults, but get frustrated because they do not feel like they can express their concerns and feelings. Epictetus, a Greek philosopher who was born in the 1st Century, might well have been instructing 21st Century parents when he said, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

Keep it short.
Teens are perceptive and smart, so a few words go a long way. No one wants to feel like they are being lectured, so it is best to say it once.

Compliment.
The way we speak can often result in the outcomes we are trying to avoid. Comments and instructions couched in negative language, with excessive use of words like “don’t”, “never”, and “no” may lead to poor behavior. Instead try to focus on the positive things your teen does.

Prepare and Allow.
It is easy to view your kids as younger than they are. As teens age, they need more responsibility. Adults who continually enforce rules that do not acknowledge demonstrated capacity for independent and responsible behavior, can alienate teens.

Wait.
If it isn’t an immediate health or safety issue, it is sometimes better to wait for the right moment to discuss a problem rather than force a discussion at a poor time.

Connect.
Your kids internalize and interpret everything you do. They read your face, posture, voice, and stance. They subconsciously search for physical cues to what you really feel about them. Make sure they know they are loved, respected, and appreciated.

Even though the transition from child to adult can be challenging, love and open communication can make the journey easier for everyone.

Well-adjusted or only peer socialized?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Over the past fifty years what Americans believe makes a child well-adjusted has changed. Today many parents think a youngster is well-balanced if he/she interacts easily with his/her peers. Even though this type of social interaction is important, it is only part of what is necessary for a child to be happy, secure, and successful.

Children need to know they are loved and must have daily attention and socialization. Even though our society prioritizes peer socialization, it is equally important for kids to learn how to interact with people who are older and younger, of different socio-economic backgrounds, and from other cultures. It is also important that our children have open dialog with people who have different political viewpoints, interests, and careers.

Providing broad socialization does not have to be an expensive or time consuming process. Every community has people with diverse talents, passions, and interests and almost all areas have people from different cultures and of different ages. Rather than seeking safety in people who are similar, parents can reach out to those who are distinctive and include them in family events and social gatherings. This step allows their children to experience uncommon worldviews and cultural perspectives and have exposure to new career options, hobbies, and sports.

Sometimes we forget that emotional development is tied to physical well-being. To make matters more challenging, our lives are so busy that we overlook these physical necessities. Well-adjusted children need adequate sleep and exercise and need to eat well-balanced diets that include ample unrefined and minimally processed fruits, vegetables, meats, legumes, and grains. There are many websites that include recipes for quick, healthy options and fast food restaurants that provide fresh, wholesome choices.

We have less experience monitoring how our children are progressing beyond peer to peer socialization. As a result, it will likely take a conscious effort to make sure development is on schedule. Observation is often an effective tool. Do our kids actively engage adults in meaningful dialog in a broad range of subjects? How do they respond when someone broaches a topic which is new to them? Are they able to diplomatically disagree? Do they take the opinions of adults at face value or are they able to listen and form their own opinions? Have they developed new sports, art, or community interests?

Once a parent starts monitoring a broader range of emotional and physical components, they will have a good idea if their child is well-adjusted.