With a name like FutureSoBrite, it doesn't come as a surprise that we talk a lot about preparing our children for their future. And as parents, it's never to early to start thinking about, and saving for, our children's future college education. Unfortunately, the cost of that college education is approaching staggering amounts. According to current statistics, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year is $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. What's a parent to do? Well there is one type of savings plan that is specifically intended to help us parents with saving money for college. It's called a 529 savings plan.
What's a 529 savings plan?
A 529 plan is a college savings account that's exempt from federal taxes. The plans were introduced in 1996 to help taxpayers put away college expenses for a designated beneficiary. These plans, named for Section 529 of the federal tax code, often have tax benefits at the state level for in-state residents. This only applies to states that have an income tax. In many cases, if the maximum deduction is surpassed in a calendar year, the deduction can roll over into subsequent years. However, each state enforces a specific total contribution limit.
Within each state, there are often multiple plans from which to choose, and dozens of state plans are sold nationally, regardless of where the account owner lives. Don’t limit yourself to only your state’s offerings, particularly if you live in a state with no income tax. Each plan comes with a host of corresponding fees, including maintenance and investment fees. When you open a 529 account, your account will be under the direction of the program manager. Most of the time, the program manager is a fund company or other financial institution, although occasionally it’s the state itself. Your money is invested in your name in custodial accounts, so even if the state or the manager has financial problems down the road, your money is protected.
The bottom line is that it's never too late (or too early) to start planning for the future. The website Savingforcollege.com is an excellent resource for more information. Find out more about which 529 plan is right for you here.
As parents, we've at times all wondered whether our children, and the tsetse fly (and now apparently the goldfish) share something in common. And now science has unfortunately confirmed our suspicions.
Here's the bad news.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish.
Here's the good news (well at least the not so bad news).
Attention span is defined as the amount of concentrated time one can spend on a task without becoming distracted. But sustained attention span is the one that really matters. And here we are doing a little better than Mr. Goldfish. Sustained attention span is what produces the most consistent learning results over time. A recent study by psychologists has determined that, over the last 10 years, our average sustained attention span has fallen from 12 minutes to just 5 minutes. So what does this mean? It means that when teaching our children something new, they are giving us approximately 5 minutes of focused, sustained attention to make it stick.
Not surpisingly, many leading educators believe that the best method of actually teaching a subject is by delivering short, multiple, engaging bursts of information, repeatedly, over an extended period of time. In other words, capturing kids attention and then engaging them with rich content, in a compressed time period, leads to maximum learning absorption. It's kind of a riff on the old "repetition gets results" theory updated for the digital age.
Getting kids excited about learning is not easy. But fortunately, as parents, modern technology provides us with a lot of options other than the dry text books and long, boring lectures of the past (and in the case of a lot of schools, still the present). And I don't just mean on line, monthly subscription "learning platforms" that really are just a bunch of games disguised as a teaching method. Time is precious. We've always known this, even without science confirming it. And every moment we have to prepare our children for their future is priceless. Let's use them wisely.
All of us here at FutureSoBrite are really happy to have you as a part of our community. You are probably wondering, "what exactly is that community?"
Well if you look to the right sidebar, that pretty much sums up who we are. To paraphrase, we believe every child deserves a bright future and that education makes all things possible. And great education doesn't just happen in school, it also happens at home.
We know that a lot of schools are doing a fantastic job, but we also know that far too often, in too many schools, too many kids are experiencing learning in a way that is uninspiring and ineffective. Dry text books, boring lessons, outdated methods, overworked teaches, etc... the list goes on. We as parents know that sometimes, whether our kids are in public, private or home school, no matter how good the "schooling" is, sometimes our kids need to experience learning a little differently in order for it to take root. At FutureSoBrite we are passionate about creating fun, easy to use, video animation and multimedia learning programs designed to engage you and your kids in the learning process.
So take an active role in your children's education. Their future depends on it.
Join the FSB community now and receive access to a free lesson from the FUN Grammar 4Kids learning program.
At FutureSoBrite we believe that every child deserves a bright future, and that education makes all things possible. We believe great education doesn't just happen in school, it also happens at home. We are educators and parents who believe lessons learned at home are the foundations for lessons learned in life. Because teachers teach the class, but parents teach the child.